When Jennifer Aniston reveals any of her wellness secrets, the world listens.
In a picture gallery posted on Instagram titled ‘Summertime photo dump’ in September, the Friends star, 54, uploaded a photo in strange-looking inflatable trousers with wires coming out of them.
It’s the Body Ballancer – a lymphatic drainage treatment that’s becoming an increasing favourite among celebrities, including Paris Hilton, Chrissy Teigen and Dame Kelly Holmes.
Part of the immune system, the lymphatic system is the thin tubes and lymph nodes that run throughout the body. Lymphatic drainage massage encourages excess fluid out and the movement of lymph fluids around the body.
It isn’t a new concept – you can do it at home with a dry body brush (as particularly loved by Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow) and celebs like Kim Kardashian and Anne Hathaway are said to enjoy lymphatic massages.
And it goes back even further than celebrity wellness fads – gua sha massages are an ancient Chinese technique, where a targeted tool sculpts your face and encourages lymphatic drainage.
The Body Ballancer is the high-tech version of this and promises a great deal of benefits.
A major benefit of lymphatic drainage treatment is to help keep your immune system firing on all cylinders, said Libi Roos, health and skincare aesthetic practitioner at the PHI Clinic.
“If your lymphatic system is pumping and working as it should, then your immunity will be quite high – so it’s directly proportional to a healthy immune system,” she suggested.
But high-tech normally means high prices, and that’s certainly the case with the Body Ballancer. Prices for one treatment at a clinic start at £70, and if you want to follow the celebrity trend of having your own at home, the Body Ballancer Gold will set you back more than £8,500.
According to Roos, it’s become such a celebrity favourite because they want to get rid of excess fluid before hitting the red capret. She claimed: “If you’ve got it at home and you use it daily or at least five times a week, you will see a reduction in cellulite – without a shadow of a doubt.”
What is it like to try?
The Body Ballancer comes in two parts – a leg suit and a jacket – I try the same as Aniston, which is basically a huge pair of inflatable trousers zipped up over your stomach.
The suit is plugged into a large machine and gets to work – essentially compressing different areas of your body.
It’s a slightly weird feeling, having your legs squeezed – and as I chose the deep tissue mode on the highest setting. It wasn’t for the faint of heart, and at times felt like my eyes were going to pop out, which sounds unpleasant, but it wasn’t – I could really feel my muscles relaxing as it worked.
Roos, who used to be a triathlete, said it’s great for recovery if you workout a lot.
“It will get all the lactic acid out of your system, help the muscles, relax the muscles,” she said – noting one of her trainers used to “insist on this for recovery”.
This I certainly felt – I had lifted weights that morning, and my legs felt immediately lighter afterwards, and next day DOMS were significantly reduced.
It also taps into the current health craze for all things to do with your gut, as it also gives you a stomach massage. Roos suggested it’s beneficial for gut health because it is “actively working on your colon”, which is “so important, especially when we get older” – and particularly for women.
“[if] we get pregnant our gut health gets completely messed up because the baby rests on your colon, and then perimenopause, menopause – the hormones sometimes block your gut.”
As for the other benefits? One try isn’t really enough to tell if it will help me dodge all the colds and flu around at the moment. Roos said you should ideally be using it three times a week which she admitted is “a bit of a stretch” for most people.
In the realm of celebrity wellness trends – spanning from the sublime (like meditation or cold therapy) to the ridiculous (looking at you, jade eggs), this is definitely on the more enjoyable end of the spectrum, leaving my body feeling like I’d just had a deep tissue massage.
If I had the dual luxuries of time and money, I probably would go in for regular lymphatic drainage treatments – just to see if it really is all it’s cracked up to be. But for now, I’m going to eat a few more oranges and hope my immune system pulls through this winter.