Material World was invited to try a session at Anti-Oxidant Centre – Singapore’s first ganban-yoku (rock bathing spa) – yesterday. All four of us weren’t sure what to expect from this alternative therapy, except that we were going to be sitting in a hot room.
The owner Suli briefly explained to us how it works: we’ll be lying on heated ganban (granite) bed in a room that has been heated to between 39 to 41 degrees Celsius (about the same temperature as a hot yoga room). Humidity remains at about 30% and it’s been kept deliberately low so that customers can lie in the room for the full 45-minute session without feeling uncomfortable or faint.
However, the true secret lies not in the heat, but by the release of negative ions in these rooms. When absorbed into the body, these negative ions will neutralise free radicals. Free radical damage, as you’ll recall, is known to be responsible for many symptoms of ageing as free radicals ultimately destroy cells that are essential in supporting your body’s functions. Antioxidants can slow down this destructive chain and, consequently, the rate of ageing. With regular sessions here, you’re supposed to experience a number of benefits, including improved blood circulation, a faster metabolism, as well as more efficient elimination of waste.
But it wasn’t just the heated treatment rooms that emitted negative ions – the whole spa was made out of ganban and you can experience its benefits if you remain in the environment long enough. To demonstrate, Suli showed us a piece of bread and an egg that had been left in the open for more than a year. Though hard and inedible, the bread and the egg showed no signs of decay and had no odour!
You can also enjoy these benefits at home. The spa retails special antioxidant solution that you can apply as an additive to paint, wall plaster or concrete mix.
The benefits aren’t just at the cellular level though; we were also told that the amount of calories burned sitting in that hot room is equivalent to a 5k run … that’s pretty impressive for spending 45 minutes on your back, if you ask me!
It all sounds pretty miraculous, but what did the Material Girls think of the treatment?
“Why pay to sweat when we are living in Singapore? I hear you say. Well, the sweating is done in a room filled with negative ions, which are supposedly good for rebalancing your body. 15 minutes into the treatment, I found a persistent migraine ebbing away and my lower back felt much looser and relaxed. The room, while hot, is hardly oppressive and you can breathe easily inside. They say you don’t have to shower immediately after the “sweating” because the room is practically bacteria-free and therefore, no odours will form. I went home without showering and true to its promise, I didn’t smell. True story!”
“Before we started the treatment, we were told by the owner, Suli, that the average amount of calories burned during the 45 minutes is similar to if we had run 5km. I was impressed, but still slightly skeptical. However, about 10 minutes into the session, I realised he could be right. Perspiration was literally pouring off my body and gathering in small pools below my back. Although I initially found the heat uncomfortable, I soon got used to it. Upon Suli’s advice, I made sure to press my aching muscles against the heated stones, and felt the tension slowly dissipating. After 45 minutes, I was drenched in perspiration but felt totally refreshed. The delicious enzyme drink they served after the treatment, which is supposed to aid digestion, was an added perk-me-up.”
“I’ve never enjoyed heated-anything (sauna, hot yoga, hot soaks, etc). More often than not, I’d start to feel dizzy after five minutes, then I’d be forced to cut short my experience. Which is why I was a little apprehensive about trying out the ganban-yoku spa – I had to lie down on a heated bed for a full 45 minutes! The moment I entered the room, beads of sweat started to form on my forehead. After five minutes, my entire body was positively glistening. However, throughout the session, I didn’t have any trouble breathing, nor did I feel dizzy. It was a little uncomfortable, but that’s probably because I wasn’t quite used to staying in a heated room for so long. I could feel the benefits right after, though, as I left the place feeling rejuvenated and relaxed.”
“My partner is a fan of saunas and I endlessly make fun of him for it. ‘You’re in Singapore now, not Europe. You want to sweat? Just step outside.’ Me? I must admit that while I enjoy working out, I don’t like to perspire more than necessary; give me an air-conditioned gym over the great outdoors any day! Stepping into the ganban-yoku treatment room felt exactly like being in a hot yoga room and I must admit I found the heat a little oppressive, although I think this is partly due to the fact that I have a lower tolerance for it than most people. Still, I was determined to reap the benefits while I was there. True enough, after 45 minutes, the persistent pain in my lower back that had been there for two weeks had subsided and continued to do so though out the day. Post-treatment, I felt energised and refreshed and, last night, I slept like a baby.”
Anti-Oxidant Centre is at 1 Thomson Ridge. Tel: 6756 0636
A 45-minute session at Anti-Oxidant Centre goes for $39. From now till August 31, 2013, Material World readers get to enjoy a 45-minute ganban-yoku session for just $10. Simply quote “Material World” when you call to make your appointment. Valid for new customers only.