I would never call myself an athlete. It’s true that a few years ago I rode a bicycle a hundred miles in one day, but that was powered more by naive optimism than a natural inclination toward cycling. I’ve done enough Pilates to know what “navel to spine” means but still get nervous when it’s time to plank. I can’t do a pushup, and the one time I tried to run the Shamrock Shuffle, I was literally shuffling down State Street because I’d peed my pants in front of the Chicago Theatre. In my subsequent race photo, it looks like I’ve been shot.
So when I walk into Vibez Fit, a new fitness studio in River North that uses the Power Plate, the “leading technology in whole-body vibration training,” I’ve left my “Slay” tank top at home because I don’t want anybody to get the wrong idea. While I’m smiling and saying hello to my perfectly fit instructor, Asia, I’m under no illusion that I’m going to be good at this, and as I gaze down the gangway of purple-lit machines, inside I feel like 11-year-old Adrienne whose gym teacher won’t stop screaming “C’MON GUNN!” when she can’t magically levitate from the floor onto a four-foot wooden box.
I’m looking for a spot in the back when I’m informed this will be a private class in which I’m the only student. Oh. Good. But it’s only 30 minutes, so things are looking up. I’m told that the Power Plate was developed for Russian cosmonauts, that it “stimulates the body’s natural reflexes, causing an involuntary muscle contraction,” and that this is going to burn more calories, lead to detoxification, and reduce the appearance of cellulite. To be honest, worrying about cellulite feels like a luxury; I’m still figuring out how to lose the COVID 19.
Asia directs me to a Power Plate right next to her. She turns it on, and I swear to God, my teeth are rattling. It’s not vibrating so hard that I think I might fall off, but it is vibrating so hard that I suddenly have an awareness of my eardrums. The only muscle that’s ever experienced this much vibration is my vagina. I’m doing Fusion Vibez, which is a mix of cardio, barre, and Pilates, and very quickly I’m breathless. We’re working with a small rubber stability ball — holding it between our legs while we squat, holding it in the crook of our knee while we squat, making ballet arms while we squat. We’re doing leg lifts and triceps dips and planks, and I’m glad no one can see my face under my mask because I know it’s all twisted up and grunty like an Olympic powerlifter’s, except they’re just asking me to hold up my own body weight. But afterward I feel energized and happy, like I’m digging the vibez. Until the next day, when my quads hurt so bad I can barely walk and my vibez are lie down on the couch forever.