GUILFORD — There’s something of a shakedown going on at Planet Fitness here lately — and people are loving it.
A new machine has come to the gym. The Beauty Angel RVT combines infrared light with a vibrating platform that is said to stimulate muscles and provide therapeutic massage.
Clients stand inside a small capsule for 12 minutes, holding onto handles, while they’re beamed with infrared energy emitted by floor-to-ceiling lights. Meanwhile, the floor is rocking them at one of four intensities — vibrations ranging from low, medium and high to a mixed intensity.
People can’t get enough of it, said Christina Kostek, the fitness center’s manager, who admits she was skeptical at first.
“I watch people go into that booth, and when they come out, they have a glow to their skin and they’re smiling,” she said.
“I thought this machine was just for improving skin tone, eliminating the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. I’ve been surprised to hear people talking about how it’s helped with their circulation issues and eliminating some of their aches and pains.
“Also, they’re in such good moods. They practically come out laughing.”
That was the case with Lisa Polson of Killingworth, who has been going through a rough patch in her personal life, and so has started working out at the gym to help herself feel better.
Now, she can’t wait to do the Beauty Angel treatment every time she’s there.
“The light booth has really made me look better,” she says. “My skin looks great, and the vibration makes me feel toned. I let myself do it at the end of my workout, sort of like a reward. I think it should be called a mood booth.”
Infrared light — its use in this fashion is sometimes known as red light therapy — is in the safe range of the light spectrum, and has been popular in spas and salons. It is not like ultraviolet light, which is the type that causes tanning and skin damage. JK Products and Services, the manufacturer and distributor of the Beauty Angel RVT, is careful not to make any claims or to guarantee any results, but proponents say the infrared light stimulates collagen and elastin production and smooths skin’s fine lines and wrinkles.
Ashley Palmese of North Branford swears that using the Beauty Angel has faded a scar she has on her chest. “It was all raised up, and now you can barely see it,” she said. “I’m getting married in April, so I want this scar to disappear. I’ve come in 15 times so far, and I really do see a big difference.”
The company literature says all effects are “typically temporary and cosmetic,” and urges people not to use the device if they are taking a photosensitive medication. The brochure recommends using it two to three times a week for 90 days, and says using it once a week after that will maintain results.
Kostek said she was excited when Planet Fitness decided to install the machine because of the positive claims she’d heard about it. “It’s something that seems to make people feel better, and we’re a club that wants to stay ahead of the industry, and so we want to offer the extras where we can,” she said.
Use of the machine is included with a Planet Fitness’ Black Card membership, which costs $19.99 a month and entitles holders to use tanning booths and massage chairs as well. The gym has cheaper memberships available.
The vibrations are said to relieve tension, relax muscles, speed metabolism, stimulate circulation and, at the higher intensity, aid in fighting the outward appearance of cellulite.
That’s what interests Jennifer Sullivan of Branford, who said she had been using the machine three times a week for a month and saw a big decline in the amount of cellulite on her thighs.
“I think the vibration has really helped me get toned,” she said. “I work out four or five times a week, and I feel great. My joints are feeling good, and so are my knees. I don’t know how it works, but I love it.”
James Doherty of Branford, who’s been working out for the past 25 years, said he’s hooked on the device. He said he’s had four knee surgeries and has sciatica, as well as arthritis in his right leg — bad enough that it ended his baseball career. He said a few minutes in the machine eliminates his lower back pain.
“I work out twice a week, and when I do this machine at the end, I feel completely rejuvenated,” he said.
Contact Sandi Shelton at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter @sandishelton.