These days, we’re working longer hours and sleeping less, with our personal relationships squeezed into the few remaining minutes. It’s no wonder we’re always chasing the next option to help lose weight without exercise—the “Shake Weight,” 5-minute abs, or a diet that promises we can eat everything we love and still lose weight. Usually, these fads are a waste of time. Last we heard, scientists in California were even working on a pill called “516” that promises to be “exercise in a pill!”
But we may have stumbled across something that actually works, and best of all, you can find it in Singapore right now!
We were invited to try out something that seemed old school, yet new-fangled at the same time: hot stone therapy. Located at Far East Plaza in Orchard, Ganbanyoku, which means “rock bathing” in Japanese, tells us they use magma stones from Japan to heat the body from outside in.
What are the benefits? A whole smorgasbord here: detoxes and rejuvenates your body and mind, improves blood circulation, aids digestion and eases constipation, treats sinusitis, boosts the immune system, increases metabolic rate, improves skin’s radiance and moisture level, and more!
Why they really wanted us to try the treatment though was because they said it was great for post-workout aches and pains- delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS for short)- apparently it’s really good for relaxing the muscles and easing joint point.
How does it work? Essentially, it’s a 60-minute session: first you pop in, do the necessary registration and forms, and then change to a yukata (Japanese robe). You’ll be ushered into a room with several Ganbanyoku stone beds, which are heated to over 40-degree Celsius. You start out lying facedown for 5-10 minutes, and then move on to your back and sides for the remainder of the hour, and also place your palm and feet directly on the hot stone beds.
The crux of our experience- it’s a sweat fest. 40-degree Celsius doesn’t sound like much, but what got us raising an eyebrow was hot fast our heartrate started rising! We tracked the hour by having an Apple Watch on, and for most of the 60 minutes our heart rate was at around 100-110 beats a minute. The fat-burning zone for most folks is at around 60-70 percent of your maximum heart rate, which is where the hot stones were getting us really quickly!
Twenty minutes in and both our bodies and the Apple Watch was indicating that we were reacting like we were in a workout, with heart rate going as high as 125, and us sweating buckets. We had to keep reaching for the body and face towels provided- that was hot much sweat was pouring off our pores!
By the end of the hour, it showed we had burnt a total of 399 calories in 1 hour and 7 minutes- we had started the Apple Watch while we were in the changing room- which was incredible, given most of our one hour circuit and interval trainings hit about 4-500 calories per session… but we had just been lying down for an hour!
In addition, we did feel abit more relaxed and less achy from our gym session the day before, and perhaps science does back up some of the claims they make on that.
In a study from Finland, researchers looked at bathing in a far-infrared sauna, which uses infrared light in addition to heat to help penetrate body cells more efficiently. Recovery after strength and endurance training sessions was improved with 30 minutes in a far-infrared sauna.
This might be because infrared heat penetrates to the neuromuscular system, which somehow aids recovery, the researchers suggest.
While we certainly don’t suggest this might substitute exercise, perhaps it’s not the best way to spend a lunchtime or two during recovery days?
Watch the video below to see how our one hour went!
Rating: 4/5 stars
Ganbanyoku is at 14 Scotts Road, #02-29, Far East Plaza, 228213.
By Kelvin Tan, Editor for Men’s Health Singapore