Do you remember using or seeing the Vita Master Fat Shaker from the 1950s? It made an appearance on the I Love Lucy television show. It was a machine that had two big belts on it that wrapped around your body. You stood on a platform and when you turned it on, it jiggled your butt and your belly. It was supposed to shake the fat away. It was a precursor to the vibration plates that many of us love to use today.
Remembering the Vita Master Fat Shaker made me giggle a little and it got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice to talk a bit about the history of vibration? Why do machines that use vibration for wellness exist? It would be a great introduction to vibration therapy to understand its history and benefits. That way, we can better decide how we can use it for our own wellness.
Vita Master Fat Shaker (A fun flashback!)
I remember the first time I saw one. It was 1967 and I was 7 years old. The machine was on my newly acquired great grandparents’ back porch next to the wringer washer, which still got daily use. My mom had just married my stepdad, and I was meeting his grandparents, Mudder (Mother) and Windy (William), for the very first time. I walked up to the pretty green and yellow box with belts and stood in awe, eyes wide open. I wanted to know what it was. I wanted to see it work. I’d never seen anything like it.
I didn’t get to see it work that day, but later, as a teenager, I was allowed to try it out. But before then, I heard the same story about Mudder’s pride and joy, several times. You see, Windy was called Windy, not because it was short for William, but because he could spin a yarn better than anyone in the valley. He would often sit out on that porch with friends, and tell us stories. We heard the Fat Shaker Story often. It went something like this…
Jiggle Giggle Gals
Mudder and Windy owned and ran the Weldon General Store in the 1940s and 1950s. They got lots of new and unique items in, and Mudder would invite the local ranch women over for a weekly luncheon in the back room and they would “sample” these new items, go through fabric swatch books, browse catalogs, and either buy some of the new stock, give Mudder reviews on previous purchases, or place orders. It was quite a successful tactic. During one of these luncheons, the women convinced Mudder to buy a Vita Master Fat Shaker for them all to try.
Mudder had her own funds, so without telling Windy, she ordered one. It was an exciting day, the day it was delivered, and once she got it unpacked and set up, she called all the women over for their weekly luncheon.
Well, what a day it was! The women all came early. They were all thrilled that they were going to get a ride on the Fat Shaker. They had invited all of their friends and female relatives. As usual, Windy held down the fort and ran the store while Mudder took all the ladies into the back room for their weekly event. It was typical for him to hear laughter coming from the back of the store. He often heard dishes and glasses clinking, and oohs and ahhs as the ladies expressed their delight over new and exciting items Mudder showed them.
This day was different, though, there was much more laughing. It was more like constant giggling, not the usual burst of laughter here and there. And there seemed to be a bigger group than there normally was. He also realized that the women were staying much longer than usual and that he was getting hungry. It was getting late and he decided that he needed to go to the back and urge Mudder to bring the luncheon to a close. He was famished and knew he would get to eat some of the leftover food. He needed his lunch.
So Windy headed back to the back room. He opened the door. His jaw hit the floor. His eyes popped out of his head! The room was full of women stripped down to their undergarments. They were all talking and laughing and cheering on the lady who was in the Fat Shaker. She just happened to be the largest lady in the room. And as windy tells it, “She was jiggling all over the place. I couldn’t close my mouth and I couldn’t look away! I just stood there in the doorway in awe. It was the wildest thing I’d ever seen!”
After that, the weekly luncheon of local women ended up with a new name. Thanks to Windy, from that moment on, they were dubbed “The Jiggle Giggle Gals.”
The History and Benefits of Vibration Therapy
How it all began.
So, as you can see, Whole Body Vibration is nothing new. The Ancient Greeks used vibration to help soldiers heal faster. Small areas were vibrated by sawing wood or plucking instrument strings on the particular area of the wound. Later, they came to understand that riding on a horse or donkey or in a carriage over rough terrain could vibrate the entire body for health benefits.
In the 1800s
In the 1800s, Jean-Martin Charcot became interested in Vibration Therapy when he noticed that individuals with Parkinson’s would experience health benefits from going on long train rides or carriage rides. He took the rhythm and motion of these modes of travel into account as he invented a vibration chair. The chairs he created were custom-made. The speed and intensity settings were variable for the unique needs of each patient.
In the 1900s
In the mid-century 1970s, Vibration Therapy was utilized by Russian Cosmonauts and Olympic Athletes. It was discovered that vibration increased muscle capacity and bone density which are both lost in space. And the Olympic team found that vibration was beneficial in speeding up recovery.
We are now able to have vibration devices in our own homes. Vibration plates have become affordable, and percussive guns are very portable. We are able to use vibration for relaxation, recovery, and lymphatic flow. Those of us with lipedema find that vibration plates are a vital part of our self-care routine. We stand or sit on them. We also sit on a chair and put just our feet on them, often with our hands on our knees. We find that some of the benefits are: increased blood circulation, a boost in mood, improvement in lymph flow (less swelling), decreased pain, and better sleep.
It’s interesting and exciting to know that vibration therapy has lots of benefits, especially for those of us with Lipedema. It gives us hope that living well with lipedema is truly possible. So today, give yourself a jiggle and a giggle – ride your vibration plate, and remember, anything is possible with lipedema!