No, it’s not a scene from Sandra Bullock’s training for Gravity. It’s Iobella in Los Angeles, which puts you and Pilates-like moves inside a pod heated to 98-100 degrees ostensibly for the purpose of “melting fat” while you sculpt and tone.
It’s a claim that’s hard to prove scientifically and may not appeal to those who dislike the magazine-cover promise. But it’s helped Iobella garner lots of buzz and woo lots of women.
Iobella, of course, isn’t the only game in town (now or ever) promising to expedite fat loss with heat. However, unlike old school spa methods of passive sweating (or vibrating belts), the exercises you do once in the Iobella pod are rigorous and help build muscle. So there could be a semantics problem here. Perhaps this is really Hot Pod Pilates?
Here’s what transpires:
The workout is one part of a three-pronged approach Iobella says will help women lose inches from targeted areas. (Spot training may be a myth, but it’s a common claim made by certain barre studios and other body-toning training programs.) Brought by Roxana Lissa from Argentina to Santa Monica in the fall of 2012, the method starts with a full-body assessment: armed with a measuring tape, an Iobella consultant takes full data from your body—measuring your arms, legs, hips, calves, etc., as well as your body fat and bone diameter. She plugs the data into Iobella’s proprietary computer program, along with your age, weight, exercise regimen, and other metrics.
A full picture (literally) emerges pointing to which parts of your body could lose inches, and how many. You kind of have to agree with the machine’s assessment because it’s what your training sessions are built around: It determined my calves had the most to lose, and my arms were fine. A fitness regimen of two or three Iobella sessions a week is tailored accordingly. Women—Iobella is not offered for men—are measured every six sessions, and also meet regularly with a nutritionist.
For the workout, you’ll climb into a pod where the temperature approximates your body’s. “The heat improves blood circulation,” which Iobella’s Golie Shamie says speeds up metabolism, and maximizes fat and calorie burning. “Think of it like heating up cold pockets of fat,” she says.
Resistance bands are attached inside the pod and you’ll put them to good use for leg lifts, donkey kicks, sit ups, and bicep and tricep curls. The heat definitely speeds up your heart rate, but isn’t uncomfortable. In fact, for many moves, your head is outside of the pod making it possible to get a breath of fresh air. Even so, you will totally soak through your tank.
Wouldn’t it be easier to heat the whole room? Iobella has an answer for that. Unlike hot yoga “this workout comes with a personal instructor. These are not classes; they are private sessions,” says Shamie. And there’s a practicality: “Our trainers do not need to be in a heated room for a full day of sessions.”
After the 30-minute pod workout, you pop in the shower, and prep for final phase of the treatment. It’s a 15 minute session in an O3 cabin (that’s oxygen with an extra O molecule added), which also looks like pod, only it has a chaise lounge in it. The claim is that the air is a cell booster—“hydrating, maintaining elasticity, and keeping the skin tight as you lose inches,” says Shamie.
It feels completely divine to bend and burn in the heat for a half an hour, and then follow it up with a cool, quiet room and cucumbers on your eyelids. So if it also “diminishes the appearance of cellulite,” fine with me. With lovely locker rooms, espresso, massage and facial services, the whole experience feels much more like a spa. Which is probably why it’s been so easy to get women—from celebrities to high power LA business-types—to commit. —Molly Creedan
For more information, visit www.iobella.com