All our lives, we've been told that spot reduction was impossible -- meaning that no matter how much we exercised, we might never lose our kangaroo-pouch lower abdomen, jiggly inner thighs or dimpled buttocks. After all, most women who workout tend to lose weight in their faces and upper bodies (read: breasts) first, before seeing any change, if at all, in their lower bodies.
So, when we heard of Hypoxi, a form of "targeted body shaping" invented by a Dr. Norbert Egger in Austria back in the '90s, you could say we were a bit skeptical. Not only did its name prompt others to ask if we had a disease, its barely-break-a-sweat exercise regime just seemed too good to be true.
What it is: Hypoxi is a "revolutionary therapy for the targeted treatment of problem areas," according to the company. For women, these areas would be the stomach, hips, butt and thighs, whereas for men, it's all about the beer belly.
There are basically two types of machines: the Hypoxi dermology machine, which uses a skin-tight pressure suit and vacuum therapy (like the Chinese practice of cupping) to firm and smoothen out the skin and the Hypoxi L250 and S120, both of which are basically stationary bikes encapsulated in egg-like vacuum chambers. Ideally, a person would do a combination of both machines three times a week to achieve the best results.
Atmosphere: Located off Queen's Road Central across H&M, the Hypoxi Hong Kong flagship studio feels nothing like a gym. There are only three Hypoxi machines and two dermology machines in the studio, so there is never more than 10 people in the studio at any one time, making it quite an intimate and private affair.
We liked the fire engine red Nespresso machine in one corner, chosen to match the red of the Hypoxi machines, we presume, while the walls are lined with aqua green bottles of Hawaiian Springs artesian water. Plenty of fashion and gossip magazines from the US and UK (and an iPad) are available for reading, while an Internet radio mix of top 40 hits plays out over the speakers.
The treatment: On our first day of Hypoxi, our measurements were taken from the waist down to our knees, while a very confident Hypoxi attendant told us that most clients achieved significant circumference (note: not weight or fat) loss after just three sessions. This of course, was not only due to Hypoxi but with the help of a specific diet to be followed while doing Hypoxi (more on that later).
We were then fitted with a heart rate monitor and strapped with a thermometer on our thigh (a temperature hike indicated increased circulation to the area), and slipped into a neoprene skirt with a frontal zipper and chest belt. This helped seal our lower body into the egg-shaped Hypoxi chamber while we pedaled leisurely for 30 minutes, making sure our heart rate didn't exceed 135 beats per minute while the neoprene tutu ballooned up and down during alternating periods of high and low pressure.
Before we knew it, 30 minutes was up and as expected, the temperature in our thighs had increased by about three degrees. This meant that the Hypoxi machine had been successful in driving circulation to our problem areas, stimulating the fat burning process in just the right places. The best part was, since we barely broke a sweat, we didn't need to waste time in the shower before heading back to work.
So does Hypoxi Hong Kong really work? Find out on page two!