Let’s be honest, ladies: we secretly know all those quick fixes don’t really work, but we’re curious to try them anyway. I’d heard some buzz about Dasha Wellness ’s new $35,000 recumbent bike called PhysioRed – yep, this machine was supposed to improve conditioning, toning and weight loss with less exertion. Not the first time I’ve heard of a scheme to get in better shape by working out less.
There are two main ideas behind this machine. The first is that infrared, sauna-like heat allows you to burn more calories at your target heart rate with less exertion than on a regular bike. The second is that all the fat that isn’t burned by the combination of cardio and light is excreted in your sweat, thus detoxifying your system.
The official PhysioRed literature advertises that it burns “up to 2400 calories” per 40-minute session and that it accomplishes this by aiming 2,800 watts of infrared light (translation: heat) aimed towards “problem areas.” Yes, the thighs, the flabby arms, and all those little areas that we sometimes disguise with a little help from Spanx.
But could this actually work?
I wanted to find out so I asked Dr. Darren Pollack, Dasha’s co-founder and a veteran chiropractor, physical trainer, and six-time marathoner, if I could take this on a test spin in between some of the ultra-marathoners who use this as part of their training regimen and some of the new mommies who use this as part of their weight loss plan.
The machine looks a little like a NASCAR video arcade. It reclines further than most bikes, so pedaling in this cocoon-like device is sort of like lying in bed while you’re cycling in a heated MRI machine. Just like a regular bike, everything’s fully adjustable, including the level of resistance and the intensity of the light, which you can really feel when it’s cranked up high.
I pedaled and pedaled at a decent resistance for 30 minutes while watching an episode of Ugly Betty on the machine’s built-in DVD player.
The result? I didn’t see any flab melt away during that half-hour. Big shocker. However, I did feel strangely rejuvenated by the heat – kind of like emerging from a bikram yoga class, minus the rank smell of 30 equally sweaty people trapped in an airtight room.
Sara Blask is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and holds a Master’s degree from the Columbia University School of Journalism. Her stories have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Outside, Outside Go, Men’s Journal, The Smart Set, and Plenty, among other publications. She is the recipient of a 2009 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation for a piece she wrote about roast goose that appeared in the December 2008 issue of Outside Go.