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Using the Hypoxi machine is a little like cycling in a life-support pod from a science fiction film, says Hugo Berger. Silvia Razgova / The National
Using the Hypoxi machine is a little like cycling in a life-support pod from a science fiction film, says Hugo Berger. Silvia Razgova / The National

Do these products make trimming down easy?

Hugo Berger tests contraptions that promise to get you thin.

Instead of tormenting yourself with painful exercise and/or joyless diet regimens, there are numerous contraptions out there that promise to get you thin the easy way. We tried out some of those on offer in the UAE to find out if there was any veracity to the manufacturers' claims.

Hypoxi machine

The claim Essentially, the Hypoxi machine is a sealed compression chamber with an exercise bike inside. It replicates the atmospheric pressures of working out at high altitude, thus increasing blood circulation and burning off unwanted flab. It's mainly targeted at "pear-shaped" women, those with excessive fat on hips, thighs and backsides.

What it involves Imagine being inside one of those life-support pods from a dated sci-fi film, except with your head sticking out, while your legs peddle away on an exercise bike. You're battened from the waist down into the machine with a wetsuit-style rubber skirt acting as a seal over the hole where your torso emerges. Beneath this, you cycle away for 30 minutes, while air is pumped from the chamber, creating a vacuum around the lower portions of your body.

Does it work? A clutch of celebrity new mums, including the likes of Victoria Beckham and Miranda Kerr, have reportedly attributed their return to pre-pregnancy slenderness just weeks after giving birth to the Hypoxi. But scientists are as divided on the issue as the research.

Details Twelve sessions at the Abu Dhabi Country Club, Al Saada Street, cost Dh2,100 for non-members and Dh1,900 for members.

Technoshape

The claim According to the company blurb, it's "the ultimate figure fixing solution, suitable for both men and women" that utilises "revolutionary patented technology to target fat burn from the midriff". Basically, it's a high-tech belt attached to an air supply that contracts tightly around your waist.

What it involves It's akin to trying to exercise while wearing one of those torso-crunching corsets that Victorian women wore. Something resembling one of those boxing championship belts, although less covered in bling, is secured around your midriff. Then you set off on a swift amble up a steeply inclined treadmill. All the time, pulse waves ripple through the belt, which apparently acts to heat up the fat around your midriff, melting it away.

Does it work? After one session, my stomach felt slightly more taut, although this may have been because I skipped breakfast that morning. Like the Hypoxi, some scientists are dubious to its claims of success. After all, a dozen sessions of any intensive exercise is bound to knock a bit of weight off.

Details Twelve sessions at the Abu Dhabi Country Club, Al Saada Street, cost Dh2,100 for non-members and Dh1,900 for members.

Heated girdle

The claim The Thermo Derm belt claims to work by "retaining the body heat so that there is a local temperature increase of 2C" leading to "increased local blood circulation" that drains "away excess liquids and eliminated residual toxins".

What it involves The instructions tell you to wear your girdle for eight hours a day, for at least two months. I tried this for a few hours and found the giant perspiration marks around my midriff were proving repulsive to other people, so gave up.

Does it work? If your goal is an overheated stomach, yes. If you aim to lose weight, probably not.

Details Around Dh100 at various pharmacies in the UAE.

Sauna suit

The claim A shiny tracksuit made from waterproof material designed to force the user to sweat off excess water while exercising. Spotted being worn by possibly unbalanced joggers running on Abu Dhabi's Corniche, and once at a local Lifeline gym.

What it involves Donning the suit and then partaking in physical activity.

Does it work? In a word, no. Unless you're a boxer or jockey eager to swiftly shed some pounds in order to make a weight class, it's virtually useless since any weight loss will be reversed once you drink water. In fact, it could well be dangerous, especially in these toasty climes. The health risks associated with sweating too much range from heatstroke to permanent kidney damage.

Details We've yet to find a place stocking these suits. Perhaps the manufacturers have come to their senses.

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