Just Call Me Cheryl

25th June 2010

It’s hard work being a celebrity…

Jill Glenn tries out a ‘body-designing’ treatment beloved of Cheryl Cole, Simon Cowell and the like – and discovers that it’s not all glamour…

Working for Optima has got me into some strange situations, but this – I think, as I regard my reflection in the mirror at Bushey’s new Hypoxi Studio – this must be one of the strangest…

I’m wearing a curious all-in-one neoprene suit, in which I’m about to be connected to a lymphatic massage machine. The air will be sucked out, and then I will be gently pummelled for 20 minutes. Hmmm. It sounds peculiar, but at the moment it’s the image I can’t take my eyes off – and it just makes me want to giggle. I certainly wouldn’t want my nearest and dearest to see me like this, although, given the intimate nature of the studio, I may have to allow complete strangers to witness my discomfiture, should other clients arrive during the process. As it happens, they do – but by then I’m beyond caring: a] they also look quite ridiculous; b] the massage was so pleasant that the immediate aesthetics are irrelevant; and c] I’m focusing on the exercise that follows the initial vacuum treatment.

The whole experience is all about future aesthetics. It would be foolish to forego the possibility of a body as sculpted as Cheryl Cole’s just because one felt silly in the outfit.

This, as Paul Cowen of Hypoxi Bushey explains it to me, is essentially a medical process. The idea is that fat burns more readily from parts of the body with strong blood circulation, and that the reason that certain parts of the body (think abdomen, think buttocks, think thighs) retain fat – even for those who eat a healthy diet and train extensively – is because the blood supply is poor. The Hypoxi machines are designed to isolate blood in these problem areas, therefore training parts of the body that are not usually reached.

The preliminary consultation includes a Body Composition Analysis that tells you everything you’d possibly want to know (and quite a few things you probably wouldn’t) about your weight, percentage of body fat, mineral levels, bone density, level of hydration and so on. There’s a heavy (I choose the word carefully) emphasis on the visceral fat area – basically, the amount of overload around your middle – which increases risk of really serious health problems such as heart disease. Body definition is not just about looking good.

The statistics are scary. That’s another reason for overcoming my natural scepticism. This machine is telling me something I need to know, and Paul’s enthusiasm for the results that can be achieved in a course of 12 treatments leaves me thinking that all this lying around looking like an urban spaceman might be worth the indignity.

After the lymphatic stimulation – a sensation similar to the ancient technique of cupping – it’s off with the space suit, and on with something that resembles a rubberised black ballet skirt, with a hard rim on the end, which clips into another Hypoxi unit to create a compression chamber. With your feet and legs under pressure, you pedal. The training is moderate, as you’re working in a calculated fat-burning zone. It’s weird, certainly, but neither unpleasant nor difficult.

Hypoxi isn’t a magic cure for weight problems (damn!); you also need to eat well, hydrate properly and commit to regular sessions – two or three a week – in order to see best results. But, and it’s a big but, Hypoxi claims that the results you’ll get will be better and more dramatic than anything you’ll achieve on your own. A flat stomach, they promise, is achievable without sit-ups.

Slim legs, flat stomach, firm skin. Who wouldn’t want them? Just don’t look in the mirror until you’re done…

See www.hypoxibushey.co.uk for more information.

Find Your Local