There are two general types of WBV machine.  Common names for them are:

  • Linear, vertical motion.  Your body moves only slightly.
  • Pivotal, rocking motion.  Your body moves significantly.

The Whole Body Vibrator is a linear machine.  It vibrates vertically; it does not tilt.  For most Linear WBV machines, “horsepower” is irrelevant:

  • The motor is used to rotate a weight to produce vibration; basically a very large version of the gizmo that vibrates in your cell-phone.  A higher-power motor will not increase vibration intensity, but will merely spin-up the vibrating weight faster.  But even with a 1/4-horsepower motor, the Whole Body Vibrator spins up instantly.  For completeness, the motor’s power rating is indirectly relevant: a lower-power motor will not be built as “heavy-duty” as a higher power motor.  A very durable 1/4Hp motor (about 200 watts) is used in The Whole Body Vibrator.  A much lower-power motor could rotate the vibrating weight, but it would not be able to endure continuous operation under this vibration.
  • Motion amplitude will vary, depending on user’s weight relative to the the polar inertia of the rotating weight that produces the vibration.
  • Frequency is fixed.  It’s set by the motor’s electrical construction and AC power.

Because this WBV method uses few moving parts, linear WBV machines will generally last longer, and be more reliable through years of operating like they’re brand new.  A well built linear WBV machine is unlikely to develop squeaks or clanky noises.

Most WBV machines are the pivotal type.  They produce a see-saw type motion, making horsepower very important:

  • The motor is used to directly lift your weight.  The more you weigh, and the further out you stand toward the edge of the see-saw platform, the more power is required to lift you upward at a given speed or frequency.
  • Motion amplitude is fixed, depending on where you stand on the pivoting platform.
  • Frequency will vary (speed of pivoting), depending on user’s weight relative to the motor’s power to continue turning at the same speed when moving heavier people.

A pivotal machine is more likely to “wear out” due to impact and friction wear in the more complex mechanism required to convert a motor’s rotation into a “see-saw” motion.  They’re likely to develop clanky noises and squeaks because of their moving parts.


Linear method: the mass of the rotating weight is important.

  • Frequency is fixed.  Motion amplitude (or displacement) may vary significantly.
  • The “G’s” you feel are an effect of both displacement and speed.  So if speed is constant, but motion is reduced, then overall “G” impact will be reduced.

Pivotal method: the motor’s power is important.

  • Motion amplitude is fixed.  Frequency may vary significantly.
  • The “G’s” you feel are an effect of both displacement and speed.  So if motion amplitude is constant, but speed is reduced, then overall “G” impact will be reduced.

The bottom line is that each type of WBV machine has a VERY different feel to it.
You might be able to find a retailer that will allow you to try both types, side-by-side.  Unfortunately, no one can be told how they will feel on a linear WBV machine compared to a pivotal machine.  You have to experience it for yourself.