The Flex Belt was shipped out pretty quickly to us, and we did some reading on their website before getting started. We saw that this is recommended for people who are already in good shape, and who work out regularly, which made us more optimistic about what it would do for Joey. Joey already works out 5-6 days per week, and at a pretty high intensity. For me, my biggest question was whether it would do anything that his workouts weren't doing already. Although we started out being a little dubious/skeptical, we figured that it couldn't hurt at all to do one of the 30-day programs. Each of these programs includes rest days, so you end up using it 5 days/week.
So, here's some information about the Flex Belt, and what we thought about it.
The Flex Belt came with 9 different programs built into it, that range from 20-30 minutes at a time. That made it pretty easy, since you don't have to do any programming yourself. The remote clips in really easily to the belt, and one of the best features is that there is a pocket that you can slide it into during the session. Once you start up the belt with the remote, you can set each side individually, on a range from 0-150. You probably want to keep each side around the same, but it's a nice feature that they can be changed separately. One thing that was very helpful is that if you hold the "i" button down (information), it locks the keys, so you can't bump into the remote and change things while you're in the middle of your session.
If you have any questions about the programs or the setup, you can look at the videos here.
The instructions were very clear for how to set up the gel pads, and it was easy to do that. We were unsure that they would last the entire 30-days actually, but surprisingly, they lasted just fine. I don't think they would have made it through 30 days of both of us using it, which is one of the reasons why only Joey tested out the product. The covers come off very easily and actually stick back to the gel pads every time, which was pretty surprising.Basically, there is some noticeable wear and tear to the pads and the covers, but not nearly as much as we expected.
One note - for anyone with a hairy chest, it will be a little more difficult to stick, but not in a way that it impedes the connection. It will just be easier for a girl, or a guy with a smooth chest.
There are a lot of different programs, and the first two are intro programs that are ~20 minutes, so Joey started on Program 3, which was the lowest program that was a full 30 minutes. He started with Level 40 on each side. As he got used to the intensity of the belt, he increased the level as well as the program he was doing, and ended with Program 6 and Level 150 on each side.
I asked Joey how he knew when he was ready to increase levels or programs, and this is what he said:
The instructions say to go to the highest level that you can stand to do it at, so if he felt completely comfortable with a level and a program, he moved up. You can feel it through your whole midsection as you go up, that everything starts contracting. When he started at Level 40 in Program 3, he could feel his abs contracting as a response to the belt. Eventually, he stopped feeling the contractions - he could feel the belt "buzzing"/"vibrating," but he could tell that his muscles were used to it, and were not really responding in the same way. At this point, he increased the Level and the Program settings until he could feel his abs contracting.
One point - this is not a defect in the product, but just something to be careful about - make sure that you have the belt centered. At the very high levels, if he was off a little, it started to hurt different areas because it was trying to contract something that wasn't there and lined up. Once he centered it, everything went back to normal. It's just something you want to be very aware of once you're at the highest level, and if it becomes misaligned, you will notice!
Also, if you've just done some abs exercises, don't do the Flex Belt right away! This isn't like doing 50 crunches, this is some serious abs work. If those muscles are already tired, this can be way too intense, and can actually cause cramping. I think that right there shows that this is a real workout.
At the really high levels, when it was really contracting, he felt like he had to clench his abs. If he didn't, the amount the belt tried to yank would hurt. In the end, this made him work his muscles even harder. Whether or not that's by design, he felt that it made the belt pretty effective.
So now it has been a few weeks since he completed the 30-day program, and he hasn't used the belt since. The real test is if he has any lasting results!
Joey said that the changes/results he achieved from the belt, he can still see. He has been maintaining the rest of his workouts since he stopped using the belt, and does feel that this helps maintain the results. He feels that if he had stopped workout out at all, that he probably would lose Flex Belt results a lot sooner.
In the end, I think that your own use of the Belt will depend on what you're doing in addition. This is generally a great way to amp up your midsection strength. If you're working out regularly, this could be a good thing to do every once in a while - whether it's the whole 30-day program, or just as a single abs workout. You could build it into your normal workout, or even use this while traveling, since it's pretty compact. If you aren't super active, then the 30-day program might be best for you, and you might want to do it at least every other month. I think this would be perfect for someone who has a desk job, and has a hard time keeping active. You can easily put it on while you're at work (although once Joey got up to the highest intensity, he definitely made some funny noises...)
Joey liked it enough that he bought a 3-pack of replacement gel pads. He envisions each set as lasting about a month, based on how the first set lasted, and would feel okay with buying one of those 3-packs each year. And now that we have this new set of replacement pads, I want to try it myself! I'm impressed with the results I can see, and even more, with the results that I can feel on Joey's midsection. I'm definitely not a great photographer, so it might be hard to see some obvious differences in the two pictures, but believe me, the differences are there. The "v-lines" are much more defined, and Joey says he just feels different, that his abs feel so much tighter. His stomach has also leaned out a bit.
Expect another review in the coming months, once I try this out myself!
If you're interested in trying out the Flex Belt yourself, click on this link.
Before picture (you can see the packaging for the Flex Belt in the background)