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The Healthy Skeptic: First Impressions of the Soloflex Whole Body Vibration Platform

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I was able to score a Soloflex Whole Body Vibration (WBV) contraption from a client whose husband had been impressed by Soloflex’s fantastic claims with regard to what their vibrating platform could do. After using the WBV for a couple of weeks, he abandoned the platform and it had been collecting dust in the garage. As my client was complaining one day about how he wasted his money on two – two! – of these things and wasn’t using either of them, I pounced and asked if I could borrow one.

Of course, she said yes.

Let’s start by talking about the platform itself. The WBV’s dimensions are similar to those of the old school Reebok step-up platforms that hit the scene in the 80s – though not as high off of the ground – and are smaller than I would have imagined. From the images in the manual you get the impression that the platform is bigger than it actually is. With my size 9.5 feet, my shoes are longer than the platform is wide, so when I stand on the device my feet hang off in front and in back. The length is also on the short side, so anyone that’s over 5’ 8” won’t be able to perform a proper lunge, or many other of the recommended moves, on the platform.

Speaking of the manual, it is a tribute to misinformation. On the front page the Soloflex folks provide us with a lesson in “over-extrapolation” when they tell us that, “Gravity is acceleration. Gravity can be induced by resisting a load (e.g. lifting weights), and now, by mechanical means (WBV). That means you can stand still on a WBV Platform and get a good workout.” Stand still and get a good workout? Research certainly does not back up this statement.

The back page – under the bold heading “It works for doggies, too,” – the manual tells us that, “The Soloflex WBV Platform ($495) along with static exercise, works like a moderate weightlifting program.” Taking into account the results of recent research, it’s being kind to say that this statement is a stretch. Unless of course Soloflex is referring to dogs lifting weights versus standing, or sitting, on the platform.

On the inside of the manual it says, “Just standing on a WBV platform will make you sweat.” I can tell you flat out that I stood on this platform for 10 minutes and did not break a sweat. In contrast, when I perform dynamic flexibility exercises I start sweating at around the 4-minute mark, as do my clients.

The manual also recommends visiting the Soloflex website to learn more about WBV but all that is provided are the same inconclusive and flawed studies that have been touted by the other WBVers as proof.

Here’s a little tip. When you read about a study in which positive results were achieved, be less impressed by the results if “older,” “untrained “ or “sedentary” individuals were the subjects and if the study lasted 10 weeks or less.

Older, untrained and/or sedentary individuals are often used as subjects in studies because they are almost certain to show improvement when any kind of regular exercise or activity is introduced into their lives. The human body will always respond to exercise and activity regardless of how long it has been deprived of it. Older untrained/sedentary subjects will show more relative improvements than their younger counterparts, as older folks have had more time to fall into disrepair. Some of the most startling improvements have been found in studies involving the oldest and most sedentary members of the population.

Studies that last less than 10 weeks should be viewed with a discerning eye, especially if the study also employed the above mentioned older/sedentary group. With the introduction of any new activity, any improvements found during the first 2 months are due to neural factors – learning – not increased muscle mass/strength. Simply put, as people learn new tasks they get better at doing them. Only after this initial learning phase can the impact of an activity or exercise on an individual be judged. By the way, this study from the University of New Mexico that discusses the adaptations to exercise serves as a great rebuttal to the folly being perpetrated by the pro- WBV crowd.

It really should be no surprise that the manufacturer of a WBV device would use the results of studies in this manner. If you’ve read my other pieces on this subject, you’re familiar with that old chestnut.

The WBV platform produces an awful vibration and sound when you plug it in and turn it on, and depending on where you have the platform it’s varying degrees of god-awfulness. On a wood floor, upstairs on a wood floor or anywhere upstairs for that matter, on ceramic tile or on carpeting. Pretty much any where you put this thing it creates quite a racket. Even in my basement on a thick rubber mat the sound was ridiculously unpleasant.

As a matter of fact, one of the reasons that my client’s husband stopped using the WBV was because of its inconvenience of use.

So for the sake of my continued domestic bliss I brought the platform to my training facility where the larger area and rubber flooring can somewhat dampen the sound produced by the WBV. In my totally non-scientific sampling of opinions, the results are unanimous in that people would never buy this equipment knowing that it produced this vibration/sound. It’s really that loud.

To stand on this platform is an extremely unpleasant experience. The vibrations rattle your teeth and are every bit as unpleasant – if not more so – than the sensations encountered when doing real exercise. Ten minutes stretching on the Soloflex WBV seems like 2 hours, and for the Soloflex people – or any WBV proponent – to make the case that sedentary individuals would find this method of “exercise” appealing is to be totally unaware of the nature of people who dislike exercise.

The person who is turned off by the idea of walking around the block or climbing steps several times a day is NOT going to stand on this platform for 10, 20 or 30 minutes, let alone perform flexibility moves or weight lifting exercises on it.

For anyone who is over 5’ 8” and can handle a decent amount of weight while performing exercises, the Soloflex WBV platform won’t get the job done. I can’t see how anyone using dumbbells of 50 pounds or more will feel comfortable standing, squatting, lunging or pressing this weight while standing on the smallish platform. Given the research that indicates the vibrations need to be closer to targeted areas for there to be a chance for WBV to have any effect, there’s no reason to bother with any upper-body exercises anyway.

But despite all of my reservations regarding the Soloflex WBV, I will continue to use it and report back on my experiences. And if I can get any of my staff or clients to give it a shot, I’ll be sure to include their comments in future entries. Although for what it’s worth the Soloflex WBV, thanks to the noise and sensation, has turned off several clients and all staff alike. And these folks aren’t even aware of the shaky research grounds on which its use is based.

Stay tuned.

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About Sal Marinello

  • TC

    Hello Sal,

    Thank you for testing on SOLOFLEX and pointing out all the disadvantages of this particular device. However, trying on a poor vibration training device is not the correct way to evaluate the concept and the effect of this training technique.

    Let me quote two examples:

    Example 1:
    I heard from TV news a month ago, someone in China bought a very cheap piston-controlled height adjustable office chair. Just a short while after she brought it home, the piston under the chair exploded for unknown reason while the lady was sitting on it. The lady’s buttocks were seriously injured and was sent to hospital. Put it in your way of thinking in evaluating WBV by trying on SOLOFLEX, perhaps we all shall keep away from chairs with piston, BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL DANGER!!

    Example 2:
    Someone puts a 5W light bulb on the ceiling in the sitting room and complain light bulb is useless in lighting. Where is the problem in this scenario?

    I am glad after many of us who stand for WBV, urging you to give it a try, you finally did. Unfortunately, you picked the wrong device for your first time experience on WBV.

    Let me point out some problems with SOLOFLEX and your trial:

    Regarding SOLOFLEX:

    1) SOLOFLEX quote the studies on WBV to support their product is misleading because their specifications are not even closed to the devices that were used in most of the studies.

    2) Although SOLOFLEX omitted to state the loading capacity of the its motor. It must be weak by learning that the whole device weighs only 35 lbs. If their motor was powerful, its weight would not be able to hold itself on floor and it would dance around. I did not read such happening from your thread so I guess it stays firm on floor while working. So, this confirm my guess that it is weak. For a decent WBV unit, its motors can generate tenth of G-force gravitational load, it therefore requires a heavy base, no less than 50 kg (100 lbs.) for home model or 100 kg. (200+ lbs.) for professional model!!

    3) A WBV platform without handrail is also dangerous because a decent device will create a wobbling action. The design of SOLOFLEX indicates either its designer is lack of knowledge or this device is “too gentle” for either therapy or training, it may help a bit in promoting circulation but no more.

    4) Using of external weight like dumbells or barbells. I have seen some WBV centres make use of external weights to enhance training effect especially for body-building and for elite sports. However, this kind of application should only be done in professional centre under supervision. For home use, I completely against it because the wobbling action of a WBV device will be a challenge to exerciser’s balance, exerciser may get injury when one intends to reach out to regain balance but hands are holding weights.

    Regarding Sal’s comment:

    1) Rattling teeth – yes it is a side effect of WBV especially with lineal mechanism and it is unpleasant. However, it can also be avoid. Firstly, if an exerciser is doing a stance pose, flex knees and raise heels a bit. Secondly, simply slightly open the jaw.

    2) Ten minutes on WBV like two hours – this is very subjective and personal opinion. Most people who enjoy doing WBV because duration is short and managable both physically and mentally. To compare with running on treadmill or cycling on static bike in gym for 30~45 minutes, WBV becomes a easier task for majority who are laymen and not addicted to sports activities. However, you are also right, for some really lazy people, even 10 minutes of WBV is too much, holding a static position like squat for 30-sec. is too difficult. No one no service can cater all people. WBV is just another form of exercises among swimming, jogging, Yoga, Pilates, Aerobic Dance, doing machines in gym …. Let the people to make their own choices.

    3) You sound against using laymen as subjects to study effect of WBV. Please understand except some athletic clubs using WBV as intervention in training program for elite sports, majority of WBV users are laymen, they receive WBV training for rehabilitation reason or for better health, general well-being. Recruiting laymen for studies make perfect sense to me.

    4) You quote a study trying to challenge WBV studies of less than 10 weeks. I do not have a recognised qualification to challenge any institutional study; however, I see noticable increase of muscle mass by WBV in my clients and they are either senior people, laymen and amateur sport players.

    Sal, if you truly want to test WBV through trial, first of all, you need to do some research so that you know how to select a good device for the trial. WBV device is very different from the tools that you daily use in your professional career, like weight disc. A weight disc is weight disc no matter who manufactures it; perhaps one has a better finishing than the other but it is a weight, that’s all. In WBV, devices can be varied in big difference between one and other. Just quote the example with light bulb again, a 40W bulb would be very bright as a table lamp, putting it on the ceiling for a 100 sq. ft. room, you will find it very insufficient.


  • You dont get it do you TC..

    Sal has picked that platform as he knows it is not a Vibration Training device and it already has had lots of bad reports. He is desperatly trying to support his previous blogs that this technology can’t work.

    Note: He still has not explained why he got Vibration and Electric current confused in another article.

    He is not fooling anyone anymore but himself.

  • TC


    I have been tired to communicate with Sal on the issue of effectiveness of vibration training.

    My response is actually not for Sal but for readers especially those who are new to vibration training; so that they would not be misled by Sal’s bias.


  • sal m

    in pointing out the shortcomings of WBV using the Soloflex product my aim is to keep unsuspecting consumers from spending their hard earned money on a product that does not – cannot – do what’s it’s advertised to do.

    i appreciate your comments. however, in light of the lack of research that exists to support the use of WBV for the vast majority of the population, and the way WBV proponets have misused, overstated and corrupted the process of gathering and presenting data, WBV shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    as a consumer and someone who has seen all kinds of gimmicks and gadgets come and go, i am pointing out that the research the WBV proponets use to support this method does nothing of the kind and that recent research has indicated that WBV may only have a narrow application, if any. and certainly not for people who are capable.

    WBV folks don’t seem to like the fact that the actual studies are being looked at in detail. there is no such thing as exercise without movement no matter what people in the lab coats say.

  • Di Heap

    Hey Sal,

    Watch who you are calling incapable. In New Zealand we have many elite athletes, big rugby players, sprinters, endurance athletes, cricket players and others who are very capable and yet they choose to pay $’s to use Vibration Training Machines. They are not Soloflex brand though.

    And Me. I’m just an average user of Vibration Training. I do some sport but not much over winter time here but I am definitely capable. I pay $’s to use these machines and I wouldn’t be doing that If there was no benefit to me in fitness and strength.

    Please try out a decent machine and then report back.

  • There are no studies on my site Sal. And I have been warning the public and yourself for ages about the bad marketers/manufacturors .

    But I think I am rightly concerned though that your past statements like….

    “this is nothing more than a bigger version of the electronic stim pads”

    “an incredibly flawed premise such as WBV.”

    Makes you look completely biased and lacking the knowledge to critic technology of this type.

    How can we trust you are even going to try a decent unit at some stage ?

  • Sal……

    The machine is meant to move you , so you move back into place. Trust me their is alot of exercise in that simple operation.

    The one you have is only designed to move the money from your wallet.

  • sal m

    Di Heap:
    high level athletes make use of a wide range of treatments and training methods, both good and bad. the fact that in NZ elite athletes and people like yourself choose to use WBV does not constitute any proof whatsoever or make up for the lack of research justifying the use of such machines.

    to make the case that someone has to spend between $5-$15k in order to get some kind of benefits from these machines – or pay to go someplace that has these machines – is even more ludicrous when you consider that there is absolutely no evidence that WBV can do anything that approaches what traditional forms of exercise offers. forms of exercise that in many cases do not cost anything or require much – if any – equipment.

    high-level athletes who have engaged in a variety of forms of weightlifting, dynamic flexibilty work, high-intensity anaerobic training, high-level skills and drills training for years, and then introduce WBV into their regimen, and you’re trying to make the point that WBV is responsible for producing some kind of benefit? not only isn’t this likely it isn’t even remotely possible to quantify or qualify.

  • So what you are saying is Athletes over the years have never benifited from any new technology that traditional training methods could not have gained them.

    Sorry but I strongly disagree. And I believe this shows how out of touch you are with how athletes really train today.

  • One question Sal..

    Do you lift man made weights or rocks ?

  • Wayne Campbell

    Elite athletes all around the world are benefiting from WBV, however this is only a small % of the population. WBV is slowly but surely being used more and more by the mass’s, many of whom dont normally excercise. These people are getting results, without needing or wanting to do any other form of excercise.

    Personally I do both WBV and Gym work. Sometimes I do long periods of WBV without gym work and during that time I still get good results. ( On proper machines – please research thoroughly!!)

    Reading Sal’s flawed and biased writing coupled with his unwillingness to to answer legitimate questions regarding his writing… I wonder does he have a vested? or just one of those dinasuars resistant to change

  • Di Heap

    The high-level athletes who pay money to use Vibration Training as part of their program obviously believe they benefit. Are they all deceived? Do they all have the time available to waste on a training that isn’t even remotely likely to help them achieve their goals? I think not!

    There are no sponsorships for these athletes in New Zealand at most brands of Vibration Training and so there are no celebrity/sportsmen endorsements expected. Maybe we are a nation of simpleminded persons? Yet we have lead the world in many discoveries and inventions. We’ll do this in Vibration Training and Vibration Therapy too.

    Sal, If you ever come to NZ please make contact with Lloyd and try out a decent Vibration Training Machine (come down here for a holiday. The skiing is good). If you ever go to Hong Kong make contact with TC. And in your country at least try to find a brand of machine that Kicks butt just a little!

  • TC

    Respond to Sal’s comment at #8:

    “….. absolutely no evidence that WBV can do anything ……….”

    Some people obviously like to believe only what they think that things should be and deny any evidence against their believe.

    Here are a few evidences on effect of WBV:

    Evidence One:
    Subject : Old lady at 70s / 5′ tall / 150+ lbs., with severe osteo-arthritis in right knee

    Her orthopaedic considered this lady not suitable for surgical treatment due to high risk of stroke as she was having coronary heart disease and hypertension as well. Her knee pain was unbearable and her doctor’s medication did not help much.

    We fitted her with an unloading knee orthosis which immediately relieved a great degree of knee pain. However, the orthosis kept slipping down. It is a typical condition that OA Knee patients are over weight because knee problem kept them from regular exercises; they have bulk but soft thigh and small calf. When we first fitted the orthosis on this lady, we could easily put a hand in between the cuff of orthosis and her calf.

    After receiving 3 weeks of WBV training with simple poses – Basic Stance / Calves Raise / Basic Static Sit-Up, totally about 10-min. Each session and 3 sessions / week, I checked her and found the space at the calf cuff of orthosis was gone which means the subject has gained muscle mass.

    In about 3 months, she reported happily that she has lost some pounds of weight. She said she had a winter coat that she could not buckle up at belly for years; now she could.

    The subject has not changed her life style or diet and she never does any form of physical exercises. We can therefore give credit to WBV for the happening of gaining muscle mass at calf and weight loss on this subject.

    Besides, the lady has also improved acuity and stability in gait.

    Evidence Two:
    Subject : Mid-aged lady with neuro-muscular dysfunction in right leg.

    The subject received a surgery at her right hip to remove a tumor. After the operation, she found losing strength on right leg. It is believed that she got nerve damage accidentally from the surgery.
    When we first interviewed her, she had already received standard rehabilitation programs from different physiotherapy facilities for a year, including resistance exercises and electrical muscle stimulation. Progress had been very small. She walked very slowly with help of a pair of elbow crutches. She was scared to go out without her husband as she felt she might fall. Muscle atrophy was significant in right quadriceps.

    After the first trail session of WBV, she said she felt muscle activities in right leg that she did not experience in previous rehabilitation programs and she was tired even the trial session was just about 10 min. She decided to stop other rehabilitation programs and started her WBV training. After about one and a half month, she got significant improvement of muscle mass and strength in her right quadriceps. She was able to walk with only one crutch and became confident to go out herself. Now after 4 months of WBV training, she resumed her duty as school teacher.

    Evidence Three:
    Subject : Male at age of 30+

    The subject injured his left knee in a soccer game and received ACL reconstruction surgery two years ago. Since the subject is very sporty involving in soccer, golfing, diving …., he has been very eager to regain strength on her left knee to enjoy his sport life. He followed the rehabilitation program after the surgery and received another few from different sports physiotherapy centres, he also went to gym regularly. However, progress did not meet his expectation.

    When he first came in, we could notice by sight that his left quadriceps is smaller than the right side. He said he regained about 40% of strength after all previous training programs.

    After about a month of WBV, he gained muscle mass on the left quadriceps and the sizes of two legs are almost the same by sight. He was so happy with the result and completed a 3-month WBV program. His regain of strength and power was even noticed by his soccer friends who were not aware that he was receiving WBV training.

    With these first hand experience and evidence in our practice, I do not need so-called research or study to tell me what WBV can or cannot do!


  • sal m

    i wonder just how much reading you actually have done.

    starting with the very top of this page where it states very clearly that this is an opinion piece. moving on throughout the article – and other articles – i also clearly state that what i have written on the lack of valid WBV is my opinion.

    WBVers don’t like that i’ve pointed out the flawed nature of the research that WBV is based on and how WBV proponents have twisted data to suit their marketing needs, and written about the continual flow of negative research in recent WBV studies. you and others have completely glossed over the fact that the studies don’t back up WBV use.

    so we get the continual stream of nonsense. like the above poster who basically says, “ignore the studies, i say it works.” this is the perfect defense of a phoney baloney product. perhaps one of the platform manufacturers can lift the post and feature it prominently in their advertising material. it’s the perfect anonymous anecdote.

    how too many of the WBV crowd have responded to an individual who dares to look at their product and disagree is interesting and it speaks volumes about the fragile confidence that they must have in WBV. apparently they prefer the puff pieces in which celebrities and others claim that their arms got more defined after 3 sessions, or that 3 months on a vibrating platform is responsible for their physique and not the lifetime of real exercise and proper nutrition.

    finally there is wayne’s laughable passage, “I wonder does he have a vested? or just one of those dinasuars resistant to change .” i do have a vested interest. a vested interest in keeping people from wasting their time and money on something that has no legit track record.

    and there are, and have been, exciting advances going on in the field for years, advances that actually are demonstrable and not based on anecdotes or scientific marketing double-speak. my bias is that i’ve read what the WBV crowd has to say, and as a result my advice to consumers is to move on. there are real advances and techniques that can be used with real exercise that i recommend people use. if that – and not following blindly in lockstep with those in the industry – makes me a dinosaur, well i’d rather be considered a dinosaur than a charlatan, especially if it’s a proponent of WBV doing the name calling.

  • Sal….

    Your vested interest is protecting your image and exposing your lack of education ,and the right to critic anything using technology.

    When you have finished trying to convince yourself and others this cant work, we can all move on to the real world, where please remember so far you yourself have not come up with any answers to help the obesity crisis that will actually work.

    And your deliberate attempt to discredit the real industry by picking the cheapest product you can find shows me you are getting desperate .

    And hence closer to the truth. Good luck.

  • Dr. Marco Cardinale
    Research Manager of the British Olympic Association

    Saturday, 11 August 2007

    “Low amplitude, low frequency mechanical stimulation of the human body has been shown to be a safe and effective way to improve skeletal muscle strength and power in healthy individuals.”

    Note: He is not involved in any company selling machines and is a top researcher and recently went on record asking PowerPlate to not use his name to sell products.

    Care to say something Sal..

    Like Dr.Cardinale is uneducated and wrong. And you are right.

  • Di Heap


    Your “opinion piece” differs vastly to what some other qualified Sports Professionals write and you have yet to try out a quality machine. Please get some advice or do some research, then try out a proper machine for at least 3 sessions.

    Then I’ll be interested to read your review.

  • Come on Sal..

    Dont wuss out now, say something negative about Dr. Cardinales statement. You must have another insult left in you somewhere.

    Come on man , dig deep.

  • Wayne Campbell

    Dont hold your breath for an answer Lloyd, Anyone reading Sals flawed and biased “opinion” and his responses to questions put to him can easily see that Sal is very selective in what he will or is capable of answering, further eroding his credibility.

  • Sal…

    Got your students to teach you the difference between electric shocks and vibration yet ?

  • TC

    Hello Sal,

    Just came across a statement on WAVE – Whole Body Vibration Device, from a U.S. exercise physiologist, Dr. Larry Leigh. He says …

    “There is nothing like this in the world”
    “You don’t understand until you feel it”
    “Its amazing”

    Sal, get a decent device and have a trial again!


  • Sal is probably licking an electric socket right now wondering why its doesnt feel ” amazing”.

  • JE

    Ah, the new America. Anytime someone has an opinion we don’t like we pile on and, of course that person is incompentent or has a sinister motive.

    Sal, thanks for trying to help us and for your well written article and response.

    By the way, my brother owns and swerars by his Soloflex vibrating platform. He uses it regularly and claims that he is painfree for the first time in several years.

  • Lloyd Shaw


    My comments are only directed into the incompetent and lazy” bracket because of Sals attitude towards new technology. He doesn’t seem to WANT change and only wants his limited perception of exercise to be peoples only choice .

    If Vibration Training had zero merit or did not follow basic rules of physics I could understand his concern we are all cowboy marketers , but calling descriptions of “load” and “g-force” as ” flawed science ” just to back up his own views is not on.

    He knows Vibration Training is in its early years so test results would be limited , but that goes for everything and anything that has ever been invented.

    I would not mind if he just said something along the lines of..

    ” companies are using the possible potential benefits of VT to gain sales , without doing the work or delivering the product ”

    …I could understand. But he doesn’t, he says we are ALL liars and it can NEVER work.

    I just wonder if he will be man enough to admit he was wrong later.

  • If you look at the visual review here you can see the soloflex right near the bottom.

    It says “These units have no real amplitude and are basically stable platforms that can be used for everything from Osteoporosis treatment, weight lifting to Pilates/Yoga type movements. They will range in size from a bathroom scale to the size of a small bed. Usually low profile and almost silent due to small motors needed to drive such a device (smaller than a coke can). Some medical devices fit into this category so they may be more expensive due to controlled electronics, but usually are cheap to build”

    So why is this not mentioned by Sal? With this information combined with the clearly different definition for other machines it puts his whole review in perspective. But I feel he should have told me that himself.

    It is good he is pointing out Soloflex is obviously full of BS and is not even selling a vibration training device. This is not a minor point that can be left out though.

  • I’ve been using my Soloflex WBV for years with excellent results.
    Holding two 30lb dumbbells I stand stationary for 1 minute … warm-up … good to go.
    Doing squats or squating in a stationary position … your muscles go crazy. You can watch them work!
    Any … I repeat … any … exercise is markedly enhanced by standing on the vibrating platform. You will need more time than you might think for your muscles to recover from a 10 minute workout.
    The skeptics are dead wrong. If you have a limited amount of time for workouts a Solo WBV platform is a smart investment.

  • Ariel Santos

    Boo. I love mine , great for toning and awesome with a good set if dumbbells