Joanna Reeves journalist for National Geographic Traveller visited the Epic Sana Hotel***** in the Algarve, Portugal and joined the Ultimate Reshape Program. Read all about her experience and what Transdermal Mesotherapy is, here:
“Will this hurt?” I ask, my voice muffled by the therapy couch.
“It may tingle a little, but it won’t be painful,” Cláudia, my therapist, replies with a patience that, quite frankly, isn’t deserving of such a pathetic question: I’m here for mesotherapy (an electrical firming treatment that also claims to take inches off your waistline), not open-heart surgery.
This is my first experience of an electrical therapy — and I’m a little sceptical. To me, it’s fitness that keeps the extra pounds at bay, but a recent bout of appendicitis — during which my energy levels nosedived — has caused me to lose tone, so I’m keen to try all I can to get back in shape. Which is why I find myself at the glossy Epic Sana Algarve, a five-star hotel in Albufeira that specialises in fitness, relaxation and detox escapes. With a meandering clifftop path ringing the rugged coastline, this fitness hotspot is ripe for exploration by foot — there’s nothing more grounding than jogging above crashing waves.
It’s day one of my week-long Ultimate Reshape programme, which includes three-hour daily workouts, a balanced, 1,400-calorie daily diet and a course of mesotherapy at Sayanna Wellness, the hotel’s heavenly spa. Having completed the first part, a gruelling boot camp session, it’s with aching limbs that I hobble to the treatment room, a soothing space decked out in calming browns and neutrals and dotted with Asian-inspired furnishings and bamboo wall art.
I’m asked to choose a body area and a goal. Firming the front of my legs, stomach or arms, or tackling stretch marks were all options, but I plumped for toning the back of my legs. Chest, waist and thigh measurements taken, I neck a glass of water mixed with artichoke extract; the pineapple-tasting drink is believed to help break down fat cells. Lulled by the sound of crashing waves and the masseur working the products into my thighs, I begin to relax. Then I’m connected to the machine via a padded bracelet around my wrist — and the tingling begins.
“Should it feel like severe pins and needles?” I ask. For sensitive skin — yes, apparently. Taking pity on me, Cláudia adds more padding to the bracelet and moves it to my ankle, where, blissfully, I feel nothing except the roller circling my thighs. Twenty minutes later — and with slightly pinker legs — I hop off the treatment table and retreat to the restaurant for a healthy salad — all the tastier for being made with the freshest of fish and garnished with herbs plucked straight from the kitchen garden.
And so it continues. Running, spinning, circuits. Blood, sweat, tears. And repeat. Day four, and my caffeine-withdrawal headaches have eased, my tummy has quit rumbling, the mesotherapy has become a welcome respite (although my skin continues to become super-sensitive mid-treatment), and I even make it to the restaurant post-workout, rather than staggering to my room, collapsing in a heap and dialing for room service.
And then it’s D Day: I’ve lost 1cm off my stomach, 1.5cm off my hips and my muscle mass has rocketed. While this is largely due to the intense cardio and diet, I’m convinced my thighs wouldn’t feel this tight or smooth without the mesotherapy treatment. On the final day, I treat myself to a relaxing massage, where Freddie, my therapist, melts away the tension in my body — particularly blissful on tight calves and aching shoulders post-workout — and I’m left comatose with relaxation.
A dip in the spa’s bathwater-warm relaxation pool — there’s also a swimming pool for racking up the lengths — and a wallow in the steam room and sauna is the icing on the cake. If you could have cake, that is. By the time the plane touches down in London, I’m feeling energised, fitter and inspired to follow the diet and exercise plan André and Gabriel, the resident personal trainer and nutritionist, have created for me. New shape, new attitude.
Details: The seven-night Ultimate Reshape, arranged via SIS Spa in Spain, with airport transfers, meal plan, accommodation, daily workouts and mesotherapy, costs from €2,810pp (£2,060).