FaceGym can make you look years younger without lifting a finger, says Kate Freud
It’s hard to know quite what to expect when you first set foot in the FaceGym flagship studio on King’s Road, though I am assured no workout gear is necessary. I’m envisaging lots of facial exercises – a series of ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’, contorting the face into extraordinary positions the way my mother used to when I was young, in her never-ending quest to be wrinkle-free.
Now a mother myself, and with my own battle against wrinkles going on, I find myself in a swish, New York-style space, packed full of glamorous, glowing women. I feel old. FaceGym is described by its founder, Inge Theron, as ‘the world’s only gym studio for the face’, the idea being a warm up, cardio and strength session, and cool down, as you would expect in a full body workout. But unlike a gruelling slog in the gym, the joy here is that someone else does all the hard work for you.
The concept, Inge explains, was borne from necessity. Having spent years as the undercover Spa Junkie for the FT’s ‘How to Spend It’, she had tried every cosmetic treatment under the sun, and didn’t like the way her face was changing as a result. “I didn’t want to continue down the Botox route, but I also didn’t have time for laborious facials,” she says. “I decided to create a non-invasive procedure which mimicked what I did in the gym, focusing on muscle manipulation to tone, lift and sculpt in the shortest time possible.”
My therapist tells me there are 600 muscles in the body, 40 of which are in the face, so I agree it seems strange not to work them in the same way. I sit back in a reclining chair and the treatment begins. I chose the 40-minute ‘Signature Electrical’ which starts with the warm up; a gentle massage and exfoliate. Next comes an extraordinary, vigorous facial massage involving kneading, squeezing, pinching and rolling using the therapist’s lightening-quick hands. It’s a strange sensation at first – not entirely pleasant and not relaxing – but there’s something hypnotic about the rhythmic movements that becomes quite enjoyable. She works around the mouth, jaw and cheekbones before bringing out the FaceGym Pro, a handheld device she uses to work across the face. This is followed by the cool-down phase, which ends with a hydrating toner. I look in the mirror and immediately see a difference. One of these each week for a month and apparently the results are dramatic. Following my session, I pull up a chair at the Open Beauty Lab, Inge’s latest concept, where a mixologist blends a potent oil specific to my skin’s needs, fuelling my facial muscles in the same way you might have a protein shake after a workout. It’s a pretty impressive set up. And bearing in mind that throughout the company’s launch, Inge has had two daughters, Tesse, nearly two and Sissy, four months, I wonder how she does it? “One always feels guilt as a working mum, but I make it work as best as I can. We are an all-female business so family has to be a priority.” And, of course, she’s got the FaceGym to hide all the signs of those sleepless nights.