July 16 2011
Part: 1 | 2
I’m in the beautiful dining room at private members’ club Alfred’s, having a bit of a breakfast dilemma. As Spa Junkie, business breakfasts have become increasingly testing, requiring me as they do to navigate the considerable caloric and carb-related hazards of “civilian” menus. Take this meeting, for instance: do I let myself off the hook and waste all the good work I have done? I decide to go for the organic steel-cut porridge; dare I ask for it with rice milk? “We can do it for you with soya, madam,” allows our waiter. Perfect.
“I will have exactly the same,” says the cherub-faced CEO across the table, throwing a convivial “I am all about health and wellness right now!” my way before turning back to the waiter: “With the soya for me too, please.”
And then, without pausing for breath, he asks: “Have you heard of vibrational training?” Almost bursting with excitement, he exhales a rapid-fire monologue. “It’s changed my life; I have lost more than a stone, and my body has never looked better,” and on and on. At one point I surreptitiously check my watch; he has now spent a good 45 minutes talking about his trainer, his newly emerged six-pack, his bitter divorce, the trials of beer bellies and how health and wellness are the new frontier in luxury. He has also managed to “BBM” Wayne, his own personal health-wellness guru, with whom I now have an appointment on Friday at 4pm.
Great. Now: “Shall we talk about your brand and how I can help you for a couple of minutes?” I offer – the whole point of this meeting, as I recall?
“I work on the SMART basis. Specific areas, Measurable results, setting Achievable and Realistic goals to an established Timeframe. SMART.” Wayne fires all this off firmly as he eyes me up and down. We take a few minutes to create my own personal SMART plan and then agree an initial set of four sessions in fairly close procession.
We start with basic yoga sun salutations on a vibrating plate that measures about the length of my body. This “XL VibePlate” is the next-generation vibrational training machine. You’ve heard of Power Plate? Well this is the evolution. The Power Plate works out your upper or lower body, not both at the same time. This machine has a plate that’s big enough to fit your entire body on, so you can do plank and upward- and downward-facing dog, bearing weight on your arms, shoulders or back as well as your legs and feet. And the XL is more gentle: it only moves up and down, whereas the Power Plate moves up and down and also from side to side. And, unlike Power Plate, you can set XL to a really low frequency that allows for gentle massage and relaxation at the end of a session.
I’m in down dog, all four “paws” on the floor with my rear high in the air, as the plate reverberates beneath me. Wayne starts to explain: “Whole-body vibration is a neuromuscular training method that uses vibration stimulus to improve muscular strength.” The theory, he explains, is that whole-body vibration stimulates the body’s natural stretch and reflex actions, which causes muscle contractions so even when you come out of your exercise position into “rest”, your muscles continue to work while you are on the plate. “In essence, you’re doing a double workout; every half hour on the plate is an hour on the floor.”
I spend the next hour flowing through the basic yoga asanas, and end on an assisted forearm stand. Finally, nirvana – I get to rest in savasana, corpse pose, flat on my back. Arms and legs turned out, utterly relaxed. “Put your head on the pillow, close your eyes,” he says in his low, soothing voice as he dims the lights, the machine vibrating at a much lower frequency, but still just perceptibly rocking. Then it stops, and my entire body tingles with the reverberations of the past hour. “Feel your body resonate? That is your Qi, and that’s why I call this the Qi Plate.” For the next few minutes I zone out, as he gets ever so slightly creepily spiritual on me.
Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, accommodation and treatments.