One writer, Justine Board, lost 6 pounds and a total of 22cms… we’re all ears

 We’ve all been there, cowering in a changing room with mercilessly unflattering  down-lighters  (step forward, Topshop), trying not to catch a glimpse of your own thighs before whatever you’re trying on is firmly in place. A mis-timed glance has been known to ruin a whole day for me, as what I had thought were a standard issue pair of thighs are transformed into a porridge-y lunar landscape of craters. So with this in mind when I was given the chance to sample a new training method called Hypoxi, which promised to not only help lose inches from hips, bums and thighs but also visibly improve cellulite, I jumped at the chance.

Here comes the science bit…

Hypoxi training is described as a “body shaping method” which combines gentle exercise with its USP – vacuum technology – to directly target fat in areas specifically prone to storing it, namely stomach, waist, hips, buttocks and thighs. The training method was developed in 1998 by Dr Norbert Egger, an Austrian sports scientist, who linked stubborn fat deposits specifically to poorly circulated areas of the body; areas that also traditionally prove the most resistant to diet and exercise.  The only way to burn this fat is by exercising the muscle – this we all know – but by simultaneously increasing blood circulation to problem areas, we can speed up the breakdown of concentrated fat deposits.

The Hypoxi machine is very similar to a regular exercise bike but encased in an egg shaped pod which closes at the waist as you sit on the bike (there is also a reclining version). A gentle vacuum system lowers pressure within the pod and encourages blood flow into the lower half of the body. Treatment consists of twelve 30 minute sessions over a 4 week period and involves gently cycling while the vacuum does its thing.

It couldn’t be more straightforward. Wearing loose fitting clothes so as not to restrict circulation – pyjamas are even recommended as an example of how laid back the process is – you climb headfirst into a neoprene skirt that fits snugly at the waist. The hem of the skirt is a plastic hoop that clips onto the pod as you sit on the bike, sealing in your bottom half. Once clipped in, you cycle at a leisurely pace for half an hour while a heart monitor ensures you’re not over-exerting yourself and a rev counter checks your pace. The sensation is strange at first when you feel the gentle pull of the vacuum, and faintly comical when the vacuum intermittently reverses and blows air back into the pod, (to ensure blood continues to circulate in your top half) causing the neoprene skirt to balloon up like a mini-mushroom cloud. Everyone else in the room is wearing some form of elaborate neoprene though and having air sucked and blown about around them, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed.

This is not a sweat-inducing spinning experience, think more a gentle wheel down a country lane. I genuinely found it a calming, therapeutic process, a chance to relax with a magazine or a chapter of a good book and I looked forward to the appointments. And three 30 minute sessions over a week is not a huge time commitment.

There is a nutritional plan to follow alongside the training that focuses on healthy eating. It’s suggested that you don’t eat for 2 hours after training and no carbs for 4 hours afterwards (but carbs only before training, to fuel the body). If you are training in the evening, the plan includes protein shake recipes instead of an evening meal. Apart from this the plan is straightforward and sensible – lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, steer clear of saturated fats, sugar and processed carbs, don’t mix protein with carbs and drink plenty of water.

And so after 4 weeks, what was the verdict? First, a confession: I followed the diet, but not to the letter of the law and I didn’t worry too much if I was out for dinner, or over the weekend. Notwithstanding, I lost a total of 22cms from my waist, bum and thighs and although Hypoxi doesn’t promise weight loss, I still finished 6 pounds lighter. Being stricter with the diet would have led to an even better result I’m convinced. More importantly, the skin tone on my thighs was definitely, noticeably smoother and firmer. I admit to being somewhat cynical at the outset but by the end was convinced. And I think that my skin tone has continued to improve even now the actual training has ended, and I am learning not to cringe so much at the mirror in Topshop.

My Top 5 Tips for Hypoxi Success

  1. Follow the diet. This will give the most dramatic results and it is not so draconian that it can’t be followed for 4 weeks. And drink lots of water – there is seemingly no situation where this is not good advice.
  2. Build the sessions into your working week. I found that going first thing in the morning before work had the least impact on my life, but find a structure that works for you. It is much less time consuming that the gym and you don’t need to shower afterwards.
  3. Take a book. Everyone has busy lives and this is the perfect opportunity to tackle the Tolstoy you’ve been putting off (or Grazia). Workaholics don’t need to ditch the Blackberry.
  4. Wear loose fitting clothing. A t-shirt and loose fitting sweat pants are ideal. Or pyjamas if it’s an early start!
  5. Try body brushing  alongside the diet and exercise. This will improve blood circulation and help improve skin tone. I recommend the Sae-Sei Mineral Loofah Body Polish Soap (£15, exclusively from Space NK), that combines a moisturising soap with a natural loofah for exfoliation.

Hypoxi treatment costs £496 for 12 sessions at peak time and £446 off-peak (9am – 5pm).

Hip&Healthy readers can take advantage of an exclusive 30% discount by quoting “Hip&Healthy” on booking.

Hypoxizone is at 27 – 28 Clement Lane, EC4N 7AZ

Tel. 020 7283 7070