If you overdid it in the holiday treat department, you may want to check out some of Urban Bodyworks' services to supplement your current fitness regime

Wanting to increase my arsenal against the holiday bulge (hello, rum-spiked eggnog and buttery mashed potatoes with gravy), I headed to Urban Bodyworks, a weight loss and body sculpting studio along Yaletown’s marinaside owned by Jacqueline Webbe and Amanda Krystalovich, to check out some of their look-good-naked services: whole body vibration training, electric body sculpting, infrared sauna sessions, and sunless tanning.

I thought they'd all be lazy activities, but the first one didn't fit that category. Quick, yes. Easy, not so much.

Is Power Plate Training the Next Big Thing?

I’d long been wanting to try Power Plate training, and Urban Bodyworks is one of the few places that offers it in Vancouver.

Power Plate training is a whole body vibration workout that takes place on a plate that vibrates in three planes (front and back, up and down, side to side) at speeds of 25 to 50 oscillations per second, and I mistakenly thought that the machine would do most of the work.  

Mark Wahlberg, Cindy Crawford and Madonna are all fans of this time-saving, fat-burning workout that can be adapted for all fitness levels and, says Krystalovich, “clients can see improvements in muscle strength and flexibility, bone density, metabolism and lymphatic flow, and a reduction in stress hormones.”

It’s a quick workout, only 25 minutes, because you’re doing more work in less time, as "the whole body vibration triggers more muscle fibres to engage during every exercise,” as opposed to traditional strength training, according to the Power Plate website.

During my session with Krystalovich, and subsequent session with trainer Emma Moffatt, I was led through a range of exercises from squats (both feet on the plate) and push ups (both hands on the plate) to calf raises (one foot on the plate) and crunches (sitting on the plate) – the possibilities seem endless.

The Power Plate sessions were fun and rewarding but definitely challenging, not easy, as previously thought! I worked so hard during my first session that I worried my muscles might be uncomfortably sore the following few days, but to my surprise and delight I felt great and was back for my second workout a few days later.

Two factors could have played into my lack of pain. Some studies suggest that whole body vibration training, both strength training and stretching, may reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and proponents of infrared saunas say they reduce DOMS by causing you to excrete lactic acid buildup via profuse sweating.

Infrared Saunas Are a Favourite Healthy Treat

I’ve been a huge fan of infrared saunas since discovering them almost four years ago. Infrared energy is able to heat your body directly without raising the ambient temperature too high, so it’s much easier to breathe than in traditional dry and steam saunas.

You sweat an incredible amount during a session (so be sure to drink lots of water), which is wonderful for your skin and, says Krystalovich, other benefits include "improved sleep, joint stiffness, immune function, detoxification and metabolic rate, as well as a reduction in stress and even bodyweight."

A 30-minute session can burn a whopping 600 calories and leaves you feeling relaxed, limber and refreshed.

After my grueling workout on the Power Plate, I happily took Krystalovich’s suggestion of popping into one of their two infrared saunas – Webbe says they did extensive research before settling on Radiant Health Saunas, a Vancouver-based company that uses hypoallergenic Hemlock wood and carbon heaters to emit even infrared heat rays – for a 30-minute session.

Many clients opt for a sauna session after their workout, says Krystalovich, and Urban Bodyworks offers a "Power Hour" package that includes a 25-minute Power Plate training session and a 30-minute infrared sauna session for $65 (or 10 Power Hours for $599.99). Single sauna sessions, if you just want to go the relaxing route, are $32 (plus $2 for towel rental or you can bring your own) and a package of 10 is $299.99.

Electric Body Sculpting, the Laziest Way to Tighten and Tone?

Physiotherapists have been using electrical muscle stimulation, or EMS, for years to rehabilitate damaged muscle tissue, and somewhere along the line, bodybuilders and body sculpting studios have started using this technology (and calling it electric body sculpting) to tweak stubborn areas and increase muscle definition.

I saw Morgan Darden for my two 15-minute electric body sculpting sessions, which targeted the most popular areas where women request treatments: abdominals, inner and outer thighs, and buttocks. I saw almost no change in my stomach circumference after one abdominal session and a very modest reduction in girth around my hips and thighs (about one eighth of an inch), which Darden says is normal because I have a higher percentage of body fat in my lower body as opposed to my midsection.  

Darden says the treatment is "ideal for people who, even with the best fitness and diet, are challenged to achieve their ideal body shape," and Krystalovich adds that, “a single abdominal session equates to doing 200 crunches.” It was a very strange feeling to be lying still on a table while watching my abdominal muscles vigorously contract, but I enjoyed the after-effects of a tight tummy like I’d feel if I actually did crunches all by myself.

Getting you to do crunches correctly is another benefit of the treatment, and Darden says that Urban Bodyworks sees many new mothers who use the machine to regain their muscle awareness and "rebuild their abdominal contours."

Get a Safe Glow with Sunless Tanning

Sunless tanning doesn’t sculpt your body per se, but it can certainly give you a little boost in confidence, and sometimes that’s all you need to forge ahead with your nutrition and exercise regime.

I was hesitant to try Urban Bodyworks’ VersaSpa sunless tanning treatment, after a bad experience with a bottle of self-tanning cream over a decade ago, but the beautifully-bronzed staff assured me that the technology had drastically improved since my last foray into achieving a fake glow, and that their system was the best in the business.

The three-step process was easy and foolproof, and left me with a flawless tan.

A recorded voice tells you exactly what to do as you strike different poses while you’re misted with a pre-bronzing pH-balancing treatment, then misted with one of three intensities of bronzing treatments, and finally blow-dried before stepping out of the roomy, three-sided capsule (the open concept abates any fears of claustrophobia).

I have to say that I’ve been walking a little taller since my sun-kissed session, and nine days later still have a faint glow. This is a great way to get a safe, instant boost before a special occasion, beach holiday, or just because. A single session is $32 (or $35 with an additional moisturizing step) and a 10-session package is $299.99 (or $325 with the additional moisturizing step).

Urban Bodyworks, located at 1079 Marinaside Crescent, has a variety of packages, and BC Living readers will receive five free infrared sauna sessions (a $160 value) with the purchase of any package when they mention this article. 


Catherine Roscoe Barr, BSc Neuroscience, is a Vancouver-based writer, editor, and fitness professional. Before settling on the west coast she lived in Sydney, Toronto, Oregon, Montana, and practically everywhere in Alberta. She can be found jogging with her adorable dog, dining with her fabulous husband or voraciously reading anywhere comfy.