The Treatment That Wants To Be Your Gym

Even though I fancy myself a healthy person, when given the choice, I will gladly take a nap over exercise. This is because I am sane. So, when I heard about a full-body spa treatment that claims a 60-minute session is on par with taking a 10-mile brisk walk, I couldn't run there fast enough. Except, I didn't actually run because of, you know, that whole unnecessary exercise thing.
The treatment is called Pure Flow, and it's being offered at The Erno Laszlo Institute in Soho. From the waist down, you're strapped to a device that compresses your legs and pulses in sync with your heartbeat. Before my appointment, the Institute sent me a packet describing what my visit would entail, which read like a lazy girl's dream: It stimulates blood and lymphatic flow through counterpulsation technology, energizing you and helping with post-workout recovery. Okay, so it's not a workout in and of itself, but it could help you feel better and boost circulation.
They had told me to wear leggings, a loose top, and wire-free undergarments so that the compressions wouldn't hurt me. I felt like I was ready for a snooze — and then my technician showed me the bed I'd be sprawled across for the next half hour. Suddenly, I was nervous. I'm not a person who enjoys feeling trapped, and here I was about to have my legs strapped down for 30 minutes. My technician told me to relax, and that she'd come check on me throughout my session.
I laid down, and she secured the device around me. She also adhered three heart monitors to my torso to dictate the compression speed and ensure my body wouldn't have a funky reaction. (Since this treatment involves your heart, you're required to sign a waiver ahead of time.) I was free from the waist up, so she told me that I could read a magazine or use my phone. "Truthfully, most people fall asleep," she told me.
Once she turned on the machine, I felt like sleep wouldn't be in the cards. The compressions were unlike any sensation I had felt before. They kind of reminded me of a time when I was younger, and had somehow squeezed my younger brother's swimmies onto my arms. My legs jerked around so much that I texted my friend: "The lower half of my body looks like I'm having an exorcism." Eventually, tucked under the blanket, I began to feel cozy and safe. Sure enough, in a matter of minutes, I was asleep.
When the tech woke me up, I felt like I'd just come out of the deepest, most restful sleep of my life. As she unstrapped me, I noticed that my legs and butt felt a little sore, but she assured me that was normal. After helping me upright, she went over the rules for the next 24 hours: Drink plenty of water, and don't drink too much alcohol (the effects would be doubled, since everything's moving so fluidly through your system).
Rules memorized, I gently got up — and realized I felt incredible. It was like I'd just finished a rejuvenating yoga class, except I wasn't sweaty or disgusting. After leaving The Institute, I grabbed a liter-and-a-half bottle of water and walked from Soho to my apartment on the Upper East Side — a nearly five-mile trek that takes about an hour and a half. I felt like I was bionic. When I finally settled into bed for the best night of sleep I'd had in months, I wasn't the least bit tired.
Will I be working Pure Flow into my routine? Probably not, seeing as membership at The Institute isn't exactly cheap, and regular treatments won't replace the strengthening and muscle-toning benefits of a good workout. (Sigh.) But, this was a happy reminder that your body is a pretty incredible mechanism. Sometimes, you need to be strapped to a bizarre machine for a half hour to remember that.

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