How much is a breath of fresh air in Shanghai worth? Priceless, some might say – especially on one of those smog-choked days where you can barely make out the buildings immediately opposite. A ten-minute slot at ReVita Life Station’s new oxygen bar, then, is positively a snip for just 40RMB (70RMB for 20 mins; 100RMB for 30 mins).
Part of a newly-opened alternative health clinic offering chiropractic medicine, kinesiology and acupuncture, oxygen therapy is more than just a respite from filling your lungs with crud, claim founders Dr Queenie Mei and Dr Alan Deng.
A hit of pure oxygen delivers an energy boost that’s better than coffee for refreshing weary bodies and minds, with none of caffeine’s addictive or jittery side-effects. Ironic, then, that the French-imported ‘Oxygenic Life Machine’ looks just like an espresso machine, albeit with a strange call centre-type headset attached either side (two people can be hooked up at a time, making for a more convivial experience).
Using a simple filtration system that draws in air and extracts, concentrates and delivers oxygen via a hose placed under the nose, the machine (yours for 3,000RMB) allegedly sharpens mental alertness, boosts energy levels and even protects against bacterial infections, says Deng, since most bacteria are anaerobic and can’t function in an oxygen-rich environment.
Before we don the headset, Deng puts us through a series of functional muscle tests to ascertain the strength of our lung meridian, including using our deltoid (shoulder) and serratus (chest-side) muscles to resist light downward pressure on our outstretched arm. We fail miserably.
Once we’re plugged in, we have to fight the urge to burst into a Britney Spears hit or utter the words ‘Connecting you right away’, and concentrate instead on inhaling the thin stream of cool air. Ten minutes in, there’s not much change in our energy levels, but after a further ten we definitely feel more alert, and perform noticeably better when the functional muscle test is repeated.
Impressive stuff, but who benefits most from oxygen therapy? According to Deng, it’s everyone from athletic types replenishing after a big sporting event to students studying for exams – ‘the brain uses 80 per cent of the body’s oxygen supplies,’ he says – to everyday folk suffering a mid-afternoon slump: ‘If I’m struggling at 5pm I’ll do ten minutes on the machine rather than have a cup of coffee.’
For extra health points, you can combine your oxygen blast with one of ReVita’s ‘functional drinks’ (88RMB), such as the ‘Slim & Trim’ or the ‘Ouch Away’ (anti-inflammatory), which blend organic protein bases with fresh fruit juice.