Work it out: An enthusiast undergoes Hypoxi training on a cross-trainer Image Credit: Supplied

Hypoxi promises a more shapely body by targeting fat in the stomach, hip, buttocks and thighs — the eternal problem areas. It claims to improve the complexion in the process. It also recommends a pure carb meal before the session and minimum to no exercise after it. What's not to love?

So when I headed to The Address Dubai Marina's health club for my fix of Hypoxi, I was up to my nose with carbs and expecting a new me sans all imperfections — I'd also bought some clothes a size smaller, just in case. The gym was large and the view of the marina, if you looked in the right direction, was amazing. First, my height was measured. Then, I was taken into an antechamber of sorts for my body composition analysis. I stood on the machine, waiting for it to come to terms with my weight, fat and muscle mass. The numbers were, not surprisingly, horrifying, but my instructor gave me a fair score. He had obviously seen worse specimens.

I was taken to a room smaller than the antechamber — small, stuffy, uncomfortable. On request, a sweet female staff member from the spa took my measurements. Unfortunately, she was clueless about measuring for Hypoxi. Somehow the measurements were taken.

I was told I needed to concentrate on reducing fat around the stomach, rather than the thighs or buttocks and use the treadmill instead of the cross-trainer. Fair enough. I was stuffed into a tight bodysuit that made me look and feel like a barrel. Things were not looking up anymore.

I realised that the Hypoxi area was cordoned off from the rest of the gym — there was no view to enjoy. However, there was a small video screen on the treadmill. Some pipes were inserted into my bodysuit and I felt a vacuum being created. I was told to walk on the treadmill for 40 minutes, making sure my heart rate did not go above 150. Piece of cake.

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. The best way to be in my shoes is to let an octopus massage your stomach with all its tentacles. The sickening suction came in waves and felt very strange at first, but I got used to the heightened blood circulation.

I was impressed by the number of channels the little TV had, but there was no audio. Lesson: don't wait for the staff to bring you a pair of headphones, ask for it. There was also another problem: the tubes stuck to me kept pressing the treadmill's emergency stop button. This happened at least four times! There was no one around at the time. Make sure you don't let your instructor leave you, at least during your first session. I was asked to eat a pure protein meal after the session (for muscle repair) and not do any exercise after it.

All in all, it was a pleasant experience, but there are some definite teething problems at this stage. I would probably recommend trying to lose inches through good-old exercise and try Hypoxi if that doesn't work out for you. As I was stepping out of the gym, deep down inside I knew I wasn't ready for smaller clothes yet. You need at least eight such sessions to see any result — and that's why it's not me in the picture.