Review of HYPOXI Hong Kong: Targeted Fat and Cellulite Reduction

Recently we kicked off Part I of our Bikini Body 2016 series, and last week we decided to stop by HYPOXI in Central, Hong Kong to trial their HYPOXI Dermology and targeted fat loss machines.

To my great surprise, I was still sore a week later from the EMS workout that I reviewed here, although admittedly that could have been from the bootcamp and acrobatics training I did over the weekend. So I was looking forward to HYPOXI's one hour free trial treatment that claims to allow targeted fat and cellulite reduction, because I had read reviews that said the treatment only required low to moderate exercise efforts.

What is HYPOXI?

HYPOXI was designed by an Austrian sports scientist in the late 1990s. The treatment uses vacuum and compression therapy (similar to Chinese cupping) applied inside a training pod, which is supposed to increase temperature (and accordingly, blood flow) to the areas where you want targeted fat loss. Usually for women, this includes the waist/stomach/hips and thighs/buttocks, and most women choose the 20 minute Dermology session that is supposed to reduce water retention, bloating and cellulite, as well as assist with skin elasticity; followed by the 30 minute training session, which is supposed to help fat (not muscle) reduction by stimulating blood flow to the fat cells in your lower body. HYPOXI's mantra is that its training machines help you target specific areas for fat loss through moderate exercise and their vacuum and compression technology, which isn't achievable through conventional work outs.

What do I need to do beforehand?

HYPOXI recommends that you eat a meal with some carbohydrates one to two hours beforehand. On the morning I went, I was feeling pretty exhausted from a weekend full of work and working out, so I ditched my intermittent fasting regime and had a cappuccino and a slice of toast.

You need to pack sports gear to HYPOXI - they recommend loose, long pants (does anyone wear loose work out pants anymore?), a long sleeve top, socks and sneakers.

What does the session involve?

The first part of my session involved getting changed into my sports gear (minus the shoes) and then climbing into a large black astronaut-like suit, putting my head into the top opening so that I could be fully sealed up. I was then asked to lie on a pod bed while various cables were connected to my suit.

Julia, the Managing Director, then helped tighten the suit as the machine was turned on, and explained that I would feel sensations like a "kissing octopus" while the nodes massaged me. Essentially the machine had two phases to it: for about eight seconds, it felt like someone was pressing against my chest and forcing me to take a deep inhale. This was then followed by the release of the pressure on my chest, accompanied by the odd sensation that there were tiny baby eels in my suit wriggling against my abdomen, legs and buttocks.
Surprisingly, although I had expected the "massage" to be therapeutic, I was actually more comforted by the pressure on my chest, which made me feel like a baby wrapped up in swaddling. I was hardly surprised that some people fell asleep during this part of the treatment - if I hadn't had a coffee an hour beforehand, I probably would have as well! What I liked best about this was that my knee, which occasionally gives me discomfort thanks to old snowboard injuries, really benefited from the spurts of massage from the nodes.

The second part of the session was the training segment. I was strapped up with a heart rate monitor (under the bra) as well as a thermometer (over my thick sweat pants), had a rubber-like skirt put over my head (which sat high up on my waist) and then asked to climb onto a bike inside an upright small pod. Julia explained to me that the skirt would seal the pod and the suction chamber containing the lower half of my body would then have air alternatively sucked out of the chamber and then blown back in, which would increase the temperature of my legs, and hence the bloodflow. There were times where I felt the resistance increased slightly due to the influx/removal of air, and by the end, the chamber was definitely feeling quite warm.

My goal was to peddle between 60-80 rpm, and keep my heart rate in the fat burn zone (so for my age, below 130). Julia commented that there must be a three degree rise in temperature of my legs for the machine to have worked. I began with a temperature of 27.8 degrees Celsius, which increased to 34.9 degrees Celsius after 28.5 minutes of peddling. By the end of the session, I had a very light sheen of sweat on my nose (I heat up easily), but other than that, I was feeling like it was not a work out at all, particularly given there were magazines provided to browse through as I cycled.

I was instructed not to eat for two hours after my session as this would cause the bloodflow to move away from my fat cells in my stomach/legs/buttocks and towards my internal stomach to aid digestion. I'm not entirely sure whether there is any scientific or medical evidence to support this, but I managed to hold off on eating lunch for two hours afterwards, just to ensure that I gave the treatment a fair chance.

How much does it cost?

You must buy a minimum of 12 sessions - a package of 12 costs HK$3,288 for the Dermology; HK$7,988 for the training machine; and HK$9,876 for both Dermology and training. The more sessions you buy, the cheaper the packages become.

The verdict

The first thing to note is that HYPOXI is not a one-off treatment. Julia said that results are seen in usually six sessions, and they recommend 2-3 sessions per week.

I liked that Julia was upfront about the Dermology machine and how it is not designed for fat loss, but instead for skin improvements and reduction in water retention. I didn't see any particular change in my skin or water retention, but I only went for the one-off trial session, so I suppose it's possible.

As for the training machine - being the type of person who enjoys intensive workouts that gets the heart rate pumping well over 130, I'm not sure that HYPOXI was for me. Having said that, I can imagine that for those who prefer a more relaxed form of exercise (particularly one that does not strain the joints!) that can be completed in half an hour, then this would be ideal for them. The HYPOXI staff will assist their customers with measuring their weight and waist/thigh measurements so you can keep track of your progress, which is very helpful.

I have to admit that I'm left with some doubts about whether HYPOXI is suitable for fit people who are after serious fat burn results, even if they point to studies done that demonstrate its effectiveness in aiding in weight loss. Having said that, what is most effective is HYPOXI's guidelines for eating: they recommend limiting carbs on training days (i.e. eat them before your session but not afterwards), no alcohol, and having lots of protein and vegetables - all of which, if you apply them to your two to three training days per week, will cause you to lose weight regardless of whether you are doing HYPOXI. In this respect, if HYPOXI is able to change your lifestyle by encouraging you to eat better, then you are going to see results. I'd recommend going in for a free trial to see if it's suitable for you, on the understanding that you will not (as with any sort of training!) see results immediately.

Tried HYPOXI before? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

xx Carmen

PS. This review was based on a one-off free trial offered by HYPOXI in Hong Kong.

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