Forget bootcamp… try facecamp!

January is gym month – everybody knows it. It’s when everyone decides that this is going to be the year when they really are going to take their fitness seriously, turn over a new leaf, get that six-pack they’ve been dreaming of. But what if this year you didn’t take your body to the gym, you just took your face?

I know, sounds weird. I thought so too when I heard about it. What does that even mean? I did a bit of digging, and it turns out it’s the latest thing to come over from America, and yes, it that’s right, it’s not a facial, it’s a workout. I decided to give it a go to see if it’s worth the hype. 

I booked into Face Gym at Selfridges in London, and turned up expecting at the very least to be ushered to a spa; this is a facial after all? Nope. This workout happens on the ground floor, in full view of passing shoppers having a good gawp at the people sitting with their eyes shut, coats on their lap while their face is prodded and poked. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. But I sat down and give it a go. 

My face was cleansed to get rid of the make-up I was wearing – except for my eyes. My workout session began with a pummelling with a squishy rubber ball by my ‘trainer’ Nicole. It was like the warm-up before the main event. Next was a facial massage, but not a relaxing ‘plinky plonky music and fall asleep dribbling’ kind of massage that I am used to. This was a pull and push your face into all kind of strange directions that probably looked very odd but felt amazing. Who knew getting the skin around your eyebrows squeezed hard could feel so good? Then the slapping began – my face was literally slapped from the neck upwards, working round to my forehead. I could feel my skin going pink as the blood rushed to the surface, but it didn’t exactly hurt, it was just unusual being whacked in the face over and over again. Then the Face Gym equipment itself was brought out; a two-pronged wand that is rubbed over the face, one side at a time. The weirdest thing happens as it passes around your mouth; I could feel the prickly charge of my metal earrings and the retainer behind my teeth. Again, it didn’t exactly hurt, it just felt odd, and I had a rush of metallic taste in my mouth. Nicole did one side, and then the other, then face creams were rubbed on, and that was it – job done!

Like any trip to the gym, you don’t necessarily see any difference after just one go; there is a sign right in front of your chair to remind you of this, stating: “Just like the gym, maintenance is key to getting best results from your face workout. Ask your trainer about our Facecamp Packages.’

So, did I see a difference?

Well, it’s a bit like when you decide you’re going to eat well for two days and do some sit ups – you swear you are now at least half an inch tighter and a size smaller. But are you really? Or are you just standing up straighter and pulling your tummy in where you used to let it all hang out? Did my face look any different? In a word, yes. My skin looked glowing, it felt tighter and lifted and this would definitely have been a good thing to have done before a night out. I can see what they mean about needing to keep up with the maintenance; one day of sit ups does not in fact a six-pack make. It’s a good marketing strategy as well, using the analogy of working out to reinforce the idea that having energetic tightening facials is something that has to be done regularly to see results – just like going to the gym. It’s clever. Having the session in the middle of a shop is not ideal; I’d have preferred to have been tucked away at least behind some kind of screening because you do look completely ridiculous while you’re having it done. The Face Gym wand and products are on sale so you can buy one to use in the privacy of your own home, but I don’t think I’d be able to slap myself about with enthusiasm and skill like Nicole did. That part of the experience was more S&M than GYM!

Would I recommend it? Yes, I’d say it does what it says, which is the definition of good service. My skin looked good for a few days as promised, and of course, it didn’t last, as it wasn’t expected to.  

Is it good value for money? It is more expensive than a purely cream-based facial, but that should be expected because of the equipment and techniques used. I would say yes it is.

Face Gym salons are opening up around the UK, and can currently be found in London and Manchester. Prices range from £50 to £525, depending on what you have done. I had the Holiday Skin Facial which costs £225. For more details head to www.facegym.com

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