The Flex Belt is one of the most popular electrical muscle stimulators (EMS) on the market, endorsed by many celebrities and which captured a lot of attention among athletes and the general public. The producer claims that using the belt on a regular basis aids significantly in training and improves the fitness of the abdominal muscles. But is it a myth or does it really work?
The Flex Belt Manufacturer
First of all, it is worth mentioning the manufacturer itself – Bio Medical Research Ltd is a company based in Ireland, with over 40 years of experience in developing, producing, and commercializing EMS devices for both medical and consumer use. In fact, over 5000 clinical institutions and hospitals all over the world reliably use their devices for physiotherapeutic procedures.
What Does the FDA Say?
Of all the arguments however, the one which is of utmost importance is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S has cleared this product as a class II medical device “for toning, strengthening and firming abdominal muscles”, exactly as cited. Given the vigilance and meticulousness of this government organization, it is highly unlikely that the company obtained the right to market this product without demonstrating that it leads to tangible results, that it does exactly what it is supposed to do and that it meets all the regulations for inoffensiveness to the human body, as well as for safety of the assembly and the utilized materials.
The firm backs up its claims of effectiveness through the independent research carried by Dr. John P. Porcari, professor at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse (working there since 1989), director of the Clinical Exercise Physiology program and Executive Director of the La Crosse Health and Exercise Program, holder of the Award of Excellence from the AACPR in 2010. Dr. Porcari is currently an established expert in the field of electric muscle stimulation devices (after conducting more than 20 distinct clinical studies focused on workout equipment, including the Flex Belt), he was even featured in a 2014 edition of the Time magazine in a similar context.
His study of the Flex Belt, published in 2005 in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, monitored a group of 24 adults who used the belt 5 days a week, for eight weeks relative to a control group. He came to the conclusion that the exercise has:
- boosted abdominal strength (by 58%) and endurance (by more than 70%)
- reduced the abdominal circumference (by an average of 3.5 cm= 1.4 inches) due to tighter muscles around the abdomen
- improved self-perceived parameters like abdominal firmness, tone (in all subjects) and even posture (in half of the subjects).
It is worth saying that significant results were also confirmed with similar devices of the Slendertone family of products, which are manufactured by the same company and have the same principle of functioning via EMS. This further adds credibility to the claims of effectiveness.
What Users Say
Last, but not least, there are hundreds of positive reviews on Amazon and eBay for this product by now, with a general satisfaction rate always exceeding 80%, which is a rather telling sign. But it is worth knowing that everybody, including the manufacturer, the athletes and every knowledgeable person would recommend this device as a means to complement your conventional regular exercise and healthy diet, rather than rely on it alone.