FlexxiCore Challenger – Phase 2 Trials – Summary Report

 

Introduction

The FlexxiCore Challenger is a health and fitness device that triggers our natural self-healing and self-balancing capacity with a combination of subtle vibrations and seesaw-like oscillations that mimic our gait as we walk or run. The FlexxiCore Challenger’s programming includes the option to enjoy constantly changing patterns of vibrational frequencies and oscillations over a 10-minute session – as well as a manual mode where speed can be set at a fixed speed, or varied at will (there are 10 settings), using the handheld remote controller.

The vibrational forces and oscillation of the Challenger’s platform trigger automatic responses from the muscles and nervous system of the whole body in a high-intensity rhythm, giving the benefits of intensive exercise within a short time frame. With regular use a variety of potential health and fitness benefits can be experienced, including toning and strengthening of the muscles and connective tissues, recovery from pain, tension and stiffness, improvements in posture, flexibility and poise, improved sleep, and a boost to circulation.

Despite the publication of over 200 clinical studies on the benefits of Whole Body Vibration training (“WBVT”) over more than 10 years, there has been some scepticism about its fitness benefits relative to more traditional forms of exercise. One trial published in 2007 with 220 older men and women that was specifically designed to compare the effects of WBV with regular exercise over a 12-month period. This showed that WBV training is as efficient as a conventional fitness program in increasing isometric and explosive knee extension strength and muscle mass of the upper leg. More remarkably, while the Fitness group performed cardiovascular, resistance, balance, and flexibility exercises for about 1.5 hours in total, the WBV group in this one-year study exercised for a maximum of 40 minutes – see The Journals of Gerontology

Trial Participants and Trial Format

The aim of these trials was to allow a group spanning various age groups and fitness levels with no previous experience of the FlexxiCore Challenger to observe the effects of regular use (“at least 3 times a week”) over 60 days. The group of 42 undertook a 60-day trial of the FlexxiCore Challenger. The age range was 39 years to 85 years. Twenty three of the 42 participants are practitioners in the medical, healthcare and fitness sectors.  Ash04

The trials were not intended to target any particular healthcare or fitness objective, but rather to allow participants to experiment with use and to collect certain measurements as well as their own subjective observations. The various benefits noticed by participants have been roughly classified in the list below.

Weight Loss and Reduction in Waist, Hip and Thigh Measurements

More than 50% of participants experienced more than 5lb weight loss and/or more than a 1-inch reduction in waist, hip and/or thigh measurements within 60 days. The correlation between weight loss and reductions in waist, hips and thigh measurements is shown in these charts.

One comment from an active British Horse Society Instructor specialising in Rider Biodynamics reveals something about the quality of the weight loss that can be achieved with use of the Challenger: “Have previously struggled to maintain 116 lbs. Now 110 or less. If I have previously got down to 112, weight went from face and I looked gaunt; [now, with Challenger] face is good, fat thighs gone! Have lost cellulite - very exciting - been trying to get rid of them all my adult life!" MW 63yrs

Even those gaining weight saw this as beneficial. For example, one of them who gained 1.5 kg during the trial had suffered from a number of ailments but noticed big improvements: “Feeling 20 years younger! No joint pains, no stiff back, neck or shoulder pain, my sleep has improved, pain has decreased considerably, allergies improved greatly, increased joint mobility.” EW 59yrs

Categories of benefits

We summarise below the effects observed by participants in each category. Next to each category heading is the number of participants who made specific reference to benefits related to it. We have given examples of the perceived benefits for each category. For more examples, see the full Trial Report.

  1. Energy levels and Stamina [Noted by 16 people]

As an example, this male Pilates Instructor saw a significant boost to energy and stamina: “More energy – better sleep, lower stress level throughout the day, less tired in the early afternoon” RH 55yrs

  1. Fitness / performance levels [Noted by 16 people]

This is how one participant, a Nutritional Therapist, described the improvements observed: “(day 25) I’ve started swimming again and notice that I’m faster and have more stamina and more core muscles. (day 27) I could swim longer than I used to. (day 60) Improvements in back pain, core strength, muscle strength, in performance (swimming, walking up the hill) – thinner waist and weight loss.” IR 47yrs

This male sports coach (squash and golf) reported “major benefits in releasing stress tension in the hamstrings; and in match performance and recovery.” MH 60yrs

  1. Posture [Noted by 13 people]

A striking illustration of the deep-seated and instinctive responses of the body when challenged by the forces generated by the Challenger is changes in posture, which showed up after 5 sessions for this 46-year old female:I feel when I am walking that I am using my right [leg] more symmetrically with my left leg. In about 7 years of trying, I have never been able to achieve this before with other exercise – my strength has improved.” KT 46yrs

For this Pilates Instructor it was not just a subjective feeling; her osteopath “noticed that my posture has changed and that my lower back is much more toned. He [the osteopath] will recommend FlexxiCore to his clients.” IR 44yrschallenger 04

  1. Strength [Noted by 12 people]

Improvements in strength may be observed after just a few sessions, and the effect builds with regular use over time: After 5 sessions: My knees are feeling much better oiled and legs stronger for my Tai Chi warm-ups in the mornings – amazing difference; my strength has improved. After 60 days: My knees do not ache (or creak) first thing in the morning when I do Tai Chi warm-ups. My body feels stronger in yoga – particularly upper arms and also legs overall. So yes, improvement in right leg muscle strength and muscle mass, cellulite is shifting a bit too. My wrist strength has improved – again I would say that I had a real weakness here. I also have poor circulation in my hands and feet and feel the machine is helping with this too.” KT 46yrs

The Challenger’s ability to strengthen muscles is not restricted to those with pre-existing weaknesses: This 55-year old male Fitness Trainer saw significant changes too: “ I was able to jog easier for longer, stronger legs – felt my back stayed relaxed through my 6-mile daily run.” RH 55yrs

  1. Toning [Noted by 11 people]

This example from a 44-year old female gives a good sense of the potential effects: body looks more toned, large loss of cellulite on thighs – loss of fat around waist/stomach. It is good for people who struggle with exercise. Makes getting toned and fit a lot easier.” SR 44yrs

  1. Pain & Headaches [Noted by 10 people]

Reductions in pain were noted, including shoulders, neck, head, wrists, knees, ankles and sciatic pain. This athletic (“walking 2+ miles daily”) 68-year old male reported improvement with pain from a 30-year old ankle injury: “1st 3 sessions: Ache at right ankle that has always been painful since I sprained it 30 years ago”. “Day 20: Noticing that my right ankle that has always been painful is more comfortable, less painful.” RT 68yrs

  1. Sleep patterns  [Noted by 10 people]

Plenty of ordinary exercise is not a guarantee of good sleep. This practising Pilates Instructor, who had sleep problems for years, found use of the Challenger transformed the situation:Haven’t slept well for years until started using Flexxicore. I had all but given up that I would ever sleep well again after years of poor quality sleep. It’s a real pleasure to sleep soundly and so improve on physical and mental energy - and definitely deal better with stress. Despite having to get up 2-3 times at night to let dogs out, I go straight back to sleep.” AM 62yrs

  1. Aches, stiffness, tightness, physical tension, flexibility of muscles and joints   [Noted by 13 people]

This example demonstrates the overall effect of relief from temporary or chronic tightness: “When I get out of bed in the morning I am more flexible and feeling good. Joints are freer. I am standing straighter - back and shoulders do not ache anymore. Great invention! I like that the body needs to keep adjusting to the actions and the speeds.” HW 68yrs

  1. Stress & tension release [Noted by 12 people]

At least 12 participants saw their stress levels reduce during the trials. Here are two typical comments. I find this system calming to my constitution. It is definitely relaxing.” MW 70yrs “More energy – better sleep, lower stress level throughout the day, less tired in the early afternoon.” RH 55yrs

The effects are noticeable even for those without marked stress problems: “Although I don't consider myself to suffer from stress related issues very much, I do feel that since using the FlexxiCore, stress and tension have reduced.”   JL 56yrsAsh03

  1. Circulation / Blood Pressure / Breathing [Noted by 6 people]

The vigorous nature of the exercise effects triggered by the Challenger naturally heightens blood and lymph circulation and respiration rates. The added benefit may be improvements that are sustained after use; here are some examples: “My breathing is much deeper and more even, since working with the FlexxiCore.” JL 56yrs

“I also have poor circulation in my hands and feet, and feel the Challenger is helping with this too.” KT 46yrs

“My breathing is much better too, it’s as if I breathe more freely, slowly and deeply. I can’t measure this for accuracy but it is something I have noticed along with a greater sense of ease in my general moving around. I was so very pleased to see my blood pressure reduced and stay that way. [136/83 moved downward to 120/80 by session 16, and stayed there at the end.]” PS 56yrs

  1. Balance [Noted by 8 people]

At least eight participants noticed improvements in their balance, often due to consciously working to improve balance problems they had previously. One participant paid attention to this aspect from the start of the trial: “[Day 5] have started to notice small improvement in balance, which had become quite poor before starting FlexxiCore work. [Day 10] Have noticed a continual improvement in balance in everyday activities. [Day 25] balance on one leg continually improving. [End] I am really happy with my ability to perform exercises longer without fatigue, along with continued improvement in suppleness and balance.” JL 56yrs

This 68-year old male also worked on improving his balance: “[Day 15] Balance is getting good now: trying to stand on one leg – with one eye shut. [Day 25] Easier to stand on one leg – with or without eyes shut.” RT 68yrs

  1. Motivation to Exercise [Noted by 7 people]

The participants in these trials started with a variety of fitness levels. Some were fitness enthusiasts; some admitted to finding it hard to get enough exercise; others were somewhere in between. For people who had a history of insufficient exercise, the combination of enjoyable and varied routines, convenience, and accelerated results (within a brief 10-minute session) meant that they were able to feel good about experiencing vigorous exercise on a regular basis. This was described by one participant in this way: “I also noticed my desire to want to use the FlexxiCore, and for this to be a way of getting back into exercise, which I have shunned for a very, very long time, compared to my 30’s when I was exercising 6 days a week and sometimes twice a day.” PS 56yrs. This was echoed by another: “I look forward to a session and find that the more I use it, the more I want to use it.” HH (age not given) Ash2 hi res Sm

One participant who admitted to disliking exercise previously found use of the Challenger “addictive”: “I never liked doing exercise before, and getting out of breath, hot and sweaty - so this is great. Just the benefits of exercise! The faster auto sessions are great as I feel they are really beginning to work the muscles of my legs and buttocks, abdomen as I adjust my posture. … It is a great way to release muscular tension at the end of the day by getting the muscles moving, having sat for longish periods at a computer. FlexxiCore Challenger is becoming addictive! … For those of us with busy lives, it is great to only need short sessions on the Challenger to feel the beneficial effects of doing exercise. I never felt that spending hours exercising was the best way to maximise my use of time. This is much more efficient for receiving the benefits in a shorter time. I am not looking to be an athlete but it is making my body flexible and supple without getting all out of breath. Great invention!” HW 68yrs

  1. Core strengthening, i.e. conditioning and stability of the inner core muscles [Noted by 6 people]

At least six participants saw definite improvements in core muscle strength within the 60 days of the trial. One female who said that a major reason for entering the trial was to “strengthen my core muscles” reported that she “felt stronger internally (core)” at the end of the trial, and logged her gradual improvements:

“Session 11: Core of body feels stronger. Session 17: Am getting closer to touching my toes, definitely feeling a stronger core. Session 22: Closer to touching toes – leg cramps at night have disappeared.” She also reported that her “posture improved, improved flexibility in hips… and ham strings have stretched farther than I ever expected they would!” HH (age not given)

A Pilates Instructor - naturally well aware of the core muscles - reported this: “Improvements in back pain, core strength, muscle strength, muscle mass (not measured but feel stronger), relief from pain (hips).” IR 44yrs

  1. Back care [Noted by 4 people]

Backcare specialists now know that exercise is the most important treatment for most back pain issues; rest is no longer the knee-jerk advice to those suffering from back ache. Use of the FlexxiCore Challenger can help with backcare in a variety of ways. For example, this participant reported on Day 12: “discomfort in lower back gone after exercise [with the Challenger]; instead lovely warmth and freer movement.” IR 44yrs

Back pain can often compromise one’s enjoyment of exercise. This participant found that by working to strengthen her back in the first sessions she was able to move on to more challenging exercises by Session 20: “I have spent a lot of the sessions in standing posture because it felt it was really helping my lower back, just varying the speed. Now the lower back is getting stronger I am starting to work on other areas using lunge, squat, core workout and bridge pose. I have used a variety of these in the following sessions.” HW 68yrs

This participant, who suffers from Chronic Fatigue, noticed the back care benefits particularly in relation to her PC keyboard work: “My lower back feels like it has got better, but it was and is affected adversely if I sit at PC long periods. The improvement is a feel of the muscle tone that is hard to describe. To help keep the core muscles toned, I think [the Challenger] is a great tool and [is] helping my back issues. JM 48yrs

This retired Chartered Accountant noted that “muscles seem stronger and more flexible; back aches, e.g. when gardening, are now very small; not tired at all when playing golf” ML 79yrs

  1. Bowels [Noted by 2 people]

At least two participants saw definite improvements in bowel movements. This participant saw remarkable improvements: “The biggest and most successful benefit is that I suffer from mild incontinence (due to earlier pregnancies) and have always found it very hard to improve my pelvic floor muscles. Without specifically targeting this problem, I’m convinced that the machine has had a major influence on this problem.” MB 61yrs

  1. Recovery

The original objective of the Russian scientists who developed Whole Body Vibration (“WBV”) technology on which the Challenger is based was recovery – specifically for the muscle atrophy suffered by their astronauts in space, and later post-performance recovery for their Olympic athletes. Only six participants in the Challenger trials specifically used the word “recovery” though it is clear from many of the comments covered by other categories of benefits in this report that other participants had in many cases experienced dramatic recovery from various conditions and/or over-exertion. Here are some examples of recovery from temporary conditions.

First, this Pilates Instructor used the Challenger as a recovery tool on Day 2 of her trial: “Went for deep vibration more than workout, as I wanted to release pull in L adductor. Stopped after 10 minutes: Pull in adductor gone, slight nerve pain still remaining.” She also made this comment about her use of the Challenger for recovery more generally: “[Day 29] After exercise and stretching session – great way to finish, takes edge off the post-workout pain/stiffness.” SA 54yrschallenger 01

This Sports Therapist noted the advantages of the Challenger as a recovery tool - even in one case when she had extended herself a bit too far with an exercise on the Challenger: “Aided my recovery from delayed onset of muscle soreness after a long bike ride - and also when I tried a new exercise on the Challenger doing too much!” DH 55yrs

Another (male) high-performance athlete (a Cantienica Bodyform* practitioner) reported “improved leg & hip flexibility and faster recovery after strenuous ski touring and strength training.” EB 48yrs *CANTIENICA Method for Bodyform & Posture is an “anatomically substantiated posture and movement concept”. 

Here is an example of recovery for someone less physically active, who had lacked any vigorous exercise in the period before her trial on the Challenger: “It did make it easier for me to get back to walking outside, after long periods indoors; I have in the past really struggled to walk uphill or fast. This time it was as if I was not starting again from scratch but my muscle tone was still strong enough to work well.” EJ 52 yrs

This Midwife, who is a ski and rock-climbing enthusiast in her spare time, made this comment: “Recovery period after work or sport seems faster” – MV 50yrs

  1. Bone Density

Though research has shown WBV to be an effective counter-measure against bone loss in later life, bone density measurements were not attempted with this trial, and subjective judgments would not be appropriate.

  1. Mental and Emotional Benefits

Participants were asked to comment on any mental and/or emotional benefits experienced during the trial. Here are some sample comments:

  1. Mental Benefits:

“I did notice in the beginning when I was sitting long days on computer that a session in between sitting was stimulating and positively affected my concentration.” SA 49yrs

“Helps mental alertness, feel more awake after using it.” SA 54yrs

“Mental energy is better. Thinking is clearer. It is helping me to stay focused and concentrated which is important for my writing.” HW 68yrs

“Definitely feel more positive, and doing it before starting work meant starting the day feeling I could cope and be alert. It puts me in a good mood for the day, feeling positive.” SM 41yrs

  1. Emotional Benefits:

“Improved mood, wellbeing, general outlook, less tension.” EW 59yrs

“I do think the motion [of the Challenger] has a healing effect in releasing long held trauma. I used to get spasm moments in my legs, arms and pelvis at night as a result of abuse trauma, these have now almost completely gone – I have not had any since using the Challenger. I have also lost weight and feel more like increasing my level of activity.” EJ 52yrs

“Being in control of my fitness & diet generally makes me happier, so that’s a positive outcome.” SB 44yrs

“My partner has commented that he feels my general outlook has been much more positive.” JL 56yrs

I have been a full time carer for my mother for 7 years now. I have gone through every emotion and feel utterly drained. During this trial I also lost my cat and my dog so it has been a traumatic time. Despite all that I do feel better able to deal with the stress. I feel more positive and I think my sleep is better although I get woken up through the night by my mother. Despite the strain of full time caring and lack of freedom in my own life and seeing my life quickly passing by, I definitely feel happier most of the time - I had a downer a couple of days ago but got over it.” VH 68yrs

 

Overall impressions

Participants were also asked to comment on their overall impression of the way in which the action of the Challenger affects their bodies. Here some sample comments:

“Very positively, fitter, firmer, stronger, resulting in more energy. I think skin tone is slightly brighter.” VH 68yrs

“I feel that I got the most benefits when I used the Challenger whilst really listening to the part of the body that I was working on. I experimented with flexing and relaxing muscle groups during the different speed settings and found that this enhanced the workout.” HH (age not given)

“I feel invigorated after every session, even if just for a moment, and actually feel I have done exercise and feel good about it.” SA 49yrs

“Seems to support my body, help me stand more upright, less slouchy. Has given me a waist, trimmed my thighs some, I have a bit more body confidence, I suppose.” EJ 52 yrs

“I loved the vibration through my body; I enjoyed very much feeling where the blocks were and moving my body position to try and get the vibration to reach those areas. The machine itself is very solid and the platform feels very safe and solid. This reflects the feeling that the vibrations were purposeful and beneficial.” MB 61yrs

 

“Would you recommend the FlexxiCore Challenger to your friends/clients?

Participants were all asked this question. Thirty six participants answered “Yes”. Of the others, one said “yes, but only if they have used a Power Plate before,” two did not complete the questionnaire (though did purchase the Challenger at the end of the trial), one did not complete the questionnaire (and returned the product before the end of the trial as they had health problems that prevented continuing with the trial), while another who returned the product for similar reasons answered “not sure”.

 

Benefits of the different speed settings

Participants were asked to comment on the options for controlling speed, i.e. the manual control and the three pre-set programmes with automated speed and frequency variations. Here some sample comments:

“They are probably the best settings I have come across on a piece of sports equipment. They are all valuable and different enough from each other that they don’t just seem like a gimmick, as many do. I found warm up and manual extremely useful in the beginning, and would always start a client on the machine that way. I still use the warm up session when I am not warm or when I feel a little fragile. It is good as a stand-alone setting or as a prelude to either stimulate or refresh. Over the weeks using the Challenger I found myself using stimulate the most and it is a definite favourite.” SA 54yrs challenger hset

I feel that having 'played with' the speed settings throughout the trial, I like the fact that the body doesn't get used to a particular speed / setting. It feels beneficial to know that the body doesn't become 'familiar' with the speed of vibration and oscillations. I also like the controllability of the settings, so I can use them according to how I feel on a particular day.” JL 56yrs

“I liked the fact that I didn’t have to think about changing the speed settings and to simply ‘work with’ what the Challenger was giving me. If I had to regulate the speed myself I don’t think that I would have challenged myself enough ….” HH (age not given)

Using the different speeds depends on how I am feeling – tired or headachy. I actually love the fast speed, stimulate – feel it’s really good for body – but can only do it for a couple of minutes. For myself I would say all the speeds have obvious benefit even at a slow speed for a few minutes. I am very impressed with Challenger.” VH 68yrs

 

Impressions during the first few sessions

Participants were asked to note and distinguish their feelings during “the first three Sessions”; “the next four sessions”; and “the remaining sessions.” Some found the enjoyment factor was there from Day 1; others reported feeling “a bit strange,” “mild nausea,” “twinges” and other initial feelings of apprehension and minor discomfort. These feelings generally changed quickly to positive feelings and outcomes within a few days. This comment on Day 5 was typical of those who started a little warily: “I feel I am definitely getting benefit from the machine and getting more confident using it. It is strengthening and balancing pelvic muscles. I am now actually beginning to enjoy it and look forward to doing a session instead of being wary of it!” HW 68yrs

Here are some examples of this type of progression:

For the first three sessions:Slightly strange, but got used to it – afterwards, more relaxed and awake and more length in my hamstrings.”

For the next four sessions:Hamstrings lengthen quicker – back relaxes after 5 mins – starting to feel stronger in legs.”

Remaining sessions: “Upper body and legs got stronger – being able to stand on 1 leg – due to an ankle injury; that was not possible before.” RH 55yrs

 

For the first three sessions:Feel as though getting a good workout – can feel muscles. I have had to be very careful due dizziness from neck (caused by being over-stressed) but even so I can feel the benefit in my muscles. I do feel invigorated.

For the next four sessions:Dizziness has gone, so I was braver with Challenger.”

Remaining sessions: “Using Challenger definitely relieves tiredness and invigorates, I feel much more motivated and positive, I’m walking faster and feel as if a load has been lifted from my upper back and I feel as if my posture is better” VH 68yrs

 

For the first three sessions:Apprehension – not sure what is happening. Some dizziness when knees are locked because the sensation travels through the body up to the head.”

For the next four sessions:More confident and enjoyment while experimenting, I feel that this is doing me a lot of good after years of inactivity.”

Remaining sessions: “I find this method of exercising and toning my body suits my lifestyle together with my rowing machine which gives the cardio-vascular aspect” MW 70yrs

 

Others found it enjoyable from the start, for example: Day 1: “I felt that in a short space of time (15-20 mins) my muscles were still feeling exercised 24hrs later and so I did not feel it necessary to repeat on a daily basis.” For the next four sessions:My knees are feeling much better oiled and legs stronger for my Tai Chi warm-ups in the mornings – amazing difference. I feel when I am walking that I am using my right more symmetrically compared with my left leg. In about 7 years of trying, I have never been able to achieve this before with other exercise – my strength has improved.” KT 46yrs

Day 1: Squats: Narrow and wide; Lunges: Lunges with twist; Plank; Arms: Triceps; Massage quads and calfs.

All these exercises were enhanced by using the Flexxicore, I enjoyed the challenge of the different speeds. The robust quality of the machine meant I felt very secure whilst completing each exercise. Definitely felt it was a very good warm-up and enjoyed the massage at the end. MB 61yrs

 

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