Katalyst Review

50 Words or Less

The Katalyst workout system allows you to get a full body workout in twenty minutes.  Builds strength without weights.  Safe and efficient.

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Introduction

Strength training is important not just to playing better golf but to leading a healthier life.  However, for any number of reasons – injuries, access, lack of knowledge – not everyone is able to lift weights.  One solution to that problem is Katalyst.  Using Electro Muscle Stimulation (EMS), Katalyst provides users with a full body strength workout in just twenty minutes.  I tested Katalyst for over a month to see how it could help my game and fitness.

Set Up & Ease of Use

When you unbox the Katalyst training system, you’ll find the Impulse Pack, Spray Bottle, and the suit, with each piece bagged individually.  There’s a base layer – top and bottom – and the suit – a vest, “shorts,” and two arm straps.

Initially, this feels like a lot of pieces, but the Katalyst app does an excellent job walking you through the set up process.  There’s also an onboarding video on their YouTube channel HERE.  Setting up your first workout will take several minutes as you learn how to wet the suit and get strapped in.  Subsequent workouts will take three to five minutes to get rolling.

The Katalyst app is intuitive and easy to navigate.  It pairs quickly with the Impulse Pack, and you can find a workout in just a couple taps.  Once you’re in a workout, the instructor explains everything clearly.  Overall, I would rate Katalyst as easy to use with a modest learning curve.

How Does a Katalyst Workout Feel?

When you start your Katalyst workout, you’ll see something like the screen above (there are numerous instructors in a variety of settings).  The bar at the top of the screen indicates whether the electrical stimulus is on or off – white is off, red is on.

Your workout will start with very light sensation.  The number at the bottom of the screen indicates the overall intensity, and you can fine tune each muscle group, if you choose.  Your instructor will dial up the intensity as the workout goes on, but you always have the ability to turn it up, turn it down, or turn off the instructor’s suggestions.

When the electrical stimulus is turned on, your instructor will encourage you to brace/flex/contract your muscles.  At low intensity, this doesn’t feel necessary, but as the intensity ramps up, it is.  The stimulus is not painful, but, particularly in the abs, it can feel like you’re being aggressively poked or pushed if you’re not braced.

There are four styles of workouts within Katalyst: strength, power, recovery, and cardio.  The strength and power workouts have the impulse on for four seconds then off for four seconds.  During the cardio and recovery workouts, the impulses turn on and off every second.  Accordingly, the movements are different.  During the strength workouts, you do isometric holds or movements like air squats.  In the cardio workouts, you are constantly moving.

Finally, it’s worth noting that I never felt tired or sore after a Katalyst workout.  If you’re the type that needs to feel like you’ve been through the wringer, this isn’t for you.  Personally, I loved the sensation of getting a full body workout and still feeling like I could play basketball with my kids or swing a club.

I have more on EMS workouts HERE.

Effectiveness

To evaluate the effectiveness of Katalyst, I gave up weight lifting for an entire month and did only EMS workouts.  At the end of the month, I evaluated my body composition, strength, and swing speed.  For context, I’ve been lifting weights consistently for over twenty five years.  I’ve done speed training on and off, and I manage my diet and body composition closely.

After a month of Katalyst training, my swing speed was at its all-time high.  I’m swinging the club faster now than I was at my peak last season, and it’s February in Chicago.  I am, of course, extremely pleased with this result.  I credit a lot of this benefit to the fact that Katalyst leaves my joints and muscles feeling fresh all the time, so I have more energy to swing the club.

Katalyst has been excellent with regard to body composition, too.  My weight is down about one pound on average over the month of EMS training.  I attribute this to the fact that I’m doing full body workouts rather than traditional weight lifting splits, thus burning more calories on average.

Finally, we turn to strength.  When I returned to conventional weight lifting, my compound lifts – deadlift, squat, bench press – were down just a few percent from their peak.  Given that I was comparing a twenty minute Katalyst workout to daily weight lifting that lasted at least twice as long, I consider this a substantial win for Katalyst.

It’s also important to note that the month away from weights gave two chronic injuries – my left shoulder and forearm – time to heal, and they feel better than they have in quite a while.  Overall, I found Katalyst workouts to be highly effective, extremely efficient, and they left my body feeling great.  

Longevity

Katalyst has a lot going for it when it comes to longevity, primarily the efficiency.  While it does take a couple minutes to get the workout going, it’s not much more time consuming than changing into workout clothes, and it’s faster than driving to a gym.  The workout itself is just twenty minutes – much less than traditional workouts.

It’s also a substantial plus that you will finish the workout feeling good.  You don’t need to worry about getting sweaty, being sore, or feeling tired.  After a Katalyst workout, you just get on with your day.

If there’s a downside to Katalyst, it’s that there’s not a ton of variety in the workouts.  Within the two big categories – Strength/Power and Cardio/Recovery – there are different movements, but it can feel repetitive.  However, for busy people trying to fit workouts into their day, Katalyst is unbeatable.

Value

The Katalyst system is not cheap: the suit costs $2,500.  It also requires a subscription which ranges from $30-$50 per month, depending on how long you sign up for.  While I could run the numbers to compare Katalyst to what you’re paying for a gym membership or Peloton or home gym equipment, I trust Plugged In Golf readers to be able to do basic math.

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What Katalyst really offers is time.  This system gives you great results in less time than it takes to watch a sitcom.  If you’re “too busy to workout,” this is the solution.  Katalyst is expensive, but there’s nothing like it.

Conclusion

I cannot give Katalyst a strong enough recommendation.  This system does everything it claims, providing a strength building workout in just twenty minutes with virtually zero risk of injury.  If you’re crunched for time or just want a totally new approach to fitness, this is something you need to try.

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Matt Saternus
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13 Comments

  1. Hi Matt,

    Do you think this contributes to strength increases and/or muscle hypertrophy? It sounds like strength went down just a touch compared with weight lifting, but do they have any data regarding strength increase (not relative to another exercise modality)? Do you think this somehow is a better “whole body” because it can fire many different muscle groups simultaneously? Thanks!

    • Matt Saternus

      Jim,

      I think you can absolutely get stronger and grow your muscles with Katalyst. As you note, my “losses” were relative to a fairly strenuous weight lifting program. Comparing Katalyst to a either inactivity or a less rigorous program would likely yield different results.
      Regarding the “whole body” side, Katalyst is undeniably more efficient than anything else. Whether it’s “better” depends on what “better” means to the individual. I will say again that I left these workouts feeling great. If I were to do traditional weight lifting across all major muscle groups every day, I suspect I would feel pretty worn down.

      Best,

      Matt

  2. Donald Conner

    Hi Matt, i’m curious if it hits all of the leg muscle groups? In the photos, I do not see anything related to the calves.

  3. Matt,
    1. Do you think the isometrics, “air squats”, and movement, that are part of the workouts could have a greater effect on improving one’s overall fitness rather than the EMS?
    2. You mentioned that the time away from lifting weights allowed a couple injuries to heal. Do you think that contributed to your increased swing speed more than the EMS workout? I know that I play my best golf (and my swing speed is up) when I don’t have any injuries that may be limiting my swing mobility.
    Thanks.

    • Matt Saternus

      Anthony,

      With the caveat that all this is just my guessing, not based on evidence:
      1) I think the EMS is much more important than the movements. I’m experimenting with doing virtually nothing while the EMS happens and so far the results have been good.
      2) My injuries weren’t impeding my swing, so I don’t think that was a significant factor in my speed.

      Best,

      Matt

  4. Don Morrison

    Excellent review! Can this be used without the monthly subscription?
    Thanks
    Don

    • Matt Saternus

      Don,

      Thank you!
      No, I don’t believe it can. The app shows that you can download workouts so that you can be offline and still use the system, but my strong suspicion is that if your subscription lapses, you will be “locked out.”

      Best,

      Matt

  5. Jim Schneck

    Hi Matt,

    Any further thoughts on this in the past few weeks? I think you were going to see how it does while not working out. I’m talking myself into it :)…

    Jim

    • Matt Saternus

      Jim,

      I’ve done several workouts where I just put the suit on and don’t do anything, and it seems the results are pretty similar. That testing is a lot less scientific than what I did for the review, but it’s something.

      Best,

      Matt

      • Ordered! And if I was about to have any regrets, having to take the measurements for that suit confirmed my decision 🤣

  6. First couple of workouts in. This thing is amazing and no joke! I got the intensity to a point where I could barely do the workouts and still have a long way to go to increase it. Will never max it out. And great support, zoom meeting with a trainer, etc. I was looking at it but glad Matt’s review helped me push it over the edge.

    Especially looking forward to the rotational power and golf workouts!

    Jim

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