The thought of having to sweat it out in the gym to lose weight puts many off trying.

But a new fitness studio is promising to help you shift the scales even more than you would from a gruelling workout — simply by zapping the body.

Feel Electric, which has sites in London, Leeds and York, sees wannabe slimmers don a suit which sends electrical signals telling their muscles to contract, while doing lunges, squats and crunches.

Just one 20-minute session, which cost £25, is ‘equal’ to two-hours of high intensity gym training, the studio claims. 

Participants burn 500 calories per session, on average, according to Feel Electric. 

However, experts told MailOnline that the calorie-burning claims are ‘nonsense’ and ‘totally unfounded’ and say a 20 minute HIIT session can be just as effective.

A 20-minute session at Feel Electric (pictured), which has sites in London, Leeds and York, involves wearing a suit that sends electrical signals to the muscles to contract A 20-minute session at Feel Electric (pictured), which has sites in London, Leeds and York, involves wearing a suit that sends electrical signals to the muscles to contract

A 20-minute session at Feel Electric (pictured), which has sites in London, Leeds and York, involves wearing a suit that sends electrical signals to the muscles to contract

Just one 20 minute session is 'equal' to two-hours of high intensity gym training, with participants burning 500 calories per session, on average, according to the studio Just one 20 minute session is 'equal' to two-hours of high intensity gym training, with participants burning 500 calories per session, on average, according to the studio

Just one 20 minute session is ‘equal’ to two-hours of high intensity gym training, with participants burning 500 calories per session, on average, according to the studio 

During any normal workout, from lifting weights to running, the brain sends signals to the muscles to contract, which burns calories.

Do YOU know what counts towards your five a day? READ MORE

Health bosses advise eating at least five portions to boost levels of vitamins, minerals and fibre as well as maintain a healthy weight and heart. Seven strawberries, 12 grapes and one banana counts, as does two satsumas, three apricots and half a pepper Health bosses advise eating at least five portions to boost levels of vitamins, minerals and fibre as well as maintain a healthy weight and heart. Seven strawberries, 12 grapes and one banana counts, as does two satsumas, three apricots and half a pepper

Health bosses advise eating at least five portions to boost levels of vitamins, minerals and fibre as well as maintain a healthy weight and heart. Seven strawberries, 12 grapes and one banana counts, as does two satsumas, three apricots and half a pepper

Feel Electric customers put on an electro muscle stimulation (EMS) suit, which delivers low levels of electricity to muscles and nerves — mimicking the signals from the brain but delivering these at a higher intensity.

The technology, which has been used in sport for around 50 years, forces the muscles to work harder during the classes, which involve simple exercises, such as ski jumps and side twists. 

These can be done with handrail support if needed.

During the 20-minute class, which pushes people ‘as hard as they can go’, the studio’s personal trainers dial the impulses up or down, depending on each customer’s fitness. 

‘As muscles can’t tell the difference in the type of stimulus, this means users can work-out faster, and with less strain on the joints,’ according to Feel Electric.

It is this very effect that leads customers to burning 500 calories during training, the studio claims.

For comparison, Feel Electric says four hours of gym training with a personal trainer would only burn 400 calories, while two hours of HIIT would be needed to burn as many calories.

Feel Electric says one or two sessions per week is enough to stay ‘healthy and fit’. 

However, studies into EMS have yielded mixed results, with many noting that more research is needed to determine whether it works. 

Health chiefs in the US say EMS devices may be able to ‘temporarily strengthen, tone or firm a muscle’.

They are sometimes used by medics to boost strength following a stroke or surgery by delivering a shock to the weakened muscles, which makes them easier to move. 

However, none have been found to help with weight loss, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

What is electrical muscle stimulation? 

Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) is a type of electrotherapy.

It involves attaching electrodes — pads that adhere to the skin — which is attached to an EMS device that delivers impulses. 

These impulses mimic the stimulus required to make a muscle contract, which usually comes from the central nervous system. 

It is used by medics to ease muscle pain and boost muscle strength following a stroke or surgery.

But it is also offered in fitness studios, which offer workouts while hooked up to an EMS device.  

Health chiefs in the US say EMS devices may be able to ‘temporarily strengthen, tone or firm a muscle’.

But it notes that none have been found to help with weight loss. 

And there have been reports of shocks, burns, bruising, skin irritation and pain after using the kit — with some injuries requiring hospital treatment.

And there have been reports of shocks, burns, bruising, skin irritation and pain among people using EMS kits on their own at home — with some injuries requiring hospital treatment, it says.

Feel Electric says that while people can feel the electrical impulses, it is ‘completely safe’ and its trainers are always on-hand to dial it up or down.

Dr Adam Collins, a nutritionist at the University of Surry, told MailOnline the calorie-burning claims of EMS workouts are ‘nonsense’ and ‘totally unfounded’.

He said Feel Electric, which has seven studios in England, does not offer any evidence their customers burn 500 calories per session.

Dr Collins said: ‘EMS itself does not register any measurable change in energy expenditure.’

A 2020 study, by researchers at the University of Granada in Spain, suggests that middle-aged people may boost their metabolism and fat-burning capabilities if they combine HIIT workouts with EMS for 12 weeks. 

But Dr Collins noted that HIIT training by itself was ‘equally effective’.

He said: ‘You cannot substantiate the independent effects of EMS, let alone quantify it in terms of calories as [Feel Electric] have.’

Professor Lewis Halsey, a physiologist at the University of Roehampton in London, told MailOnline that, in principle, devices that make muscles contract will require energy and therefore increase how many calories a person burns.  

However, the figures from Feel Electric appear unlikely, he claims, as they suggest a person burns many times more calories from of EMS than a PT sessions. 

The number of calories it suggests are burned in the gym ‘seem rather low’, while the rate burned during EMS is ‘unrealistically high’, Professor Halsey said.

A person burning 500 calories in 20 minutes would be breathing ‘extremely heavily’ to provide enough oxygen to their muscles, ‘sweating profusely’ and be left ‘absolutely shattered’ by the end, he said.

Most people don’t have the physiology to burn 500 calories per 20 minutes and most people using the devices ‘aren’t experiencing this level of intensity’, he added.

HOW MUCH EXERCISE YOU NEED 

To stay healthy, adults aged 19 to 64 should try to be active daily and should do:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or:

  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or:

  • a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week – for example, 2 x 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of brisk walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

A good rule is that 1 minute of vigorous activity provides the same health benefits as 2 minutes of moderate activity.

One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days every week.

All adults should also break up long periods of sitting with light activity.

Source: NHS