Exercise is a tedious affair. Why the heavens made it far easier to eat fried chicken wings than do sit-ups, we will never know. So we were definitely intrigued when we were invited to try out a new body-sculpting treatment at an aesthetic clinic where each 30-minute session supposedly replaces 20,000 physical sit-ups or squats. And throughout it all, you just lie on a treatment bed in air-conditioned comfort without even breaking a sweat. Sweet, we thought. We don’t even have to dig out our crusty running shoes for this.

Currently, the non-invasive treatment only targets either your tummy or buttocks area, where most folks are likely to have flab. (“Treatment protocols for other areas are currently undergoing research and development,” Dr Calvin Chan, the clinic’s medical director, tells us). It was a tough decision — should we spring for tight abs or a perky butt? — but eventually we settled on our tummy, which could really do with 20,000 sit-ups after too many #cafehopping seshs.

How it works
Getting a tight bod without all the sweat and fuss of working out sounds too good to be true. But the Emsculpt technology aims to simulate the body-contouring benefits of exercise by using High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic (HIFEM) technology. HIFEM induces supramaximal muscle contractions in our body that builds muscle and burns fat. Simply put, this technology helps our body achieve an effect that we couldn’t humanly achieve as a mere mortal going through a few sluggish reps. Kinda akin to doing sit-ups with the furious frenzy of The Flash without even having to move. Hurrah, chronically unathletic people!

The treatment
We were told by the clinic’s staff to dress in loose comfortable clothes for our treatment (or change into the provided robe). First, we got ourselves comfortable on a treatment bed, before the staff strapped to our tummy a large, iron-shaped device linked to the Emsculpt machine generating the electromagnetic field.

The intensity of the field is adjustable — our therapist started our session at a low of 30 per cent to let us get used to the contractions. The sensation was similar to a suction pump slowly forcing our abdominal muscles to contract tightly, not unlike doing intense crunches. Initially, we felt mildly uncomfortable, even though there was no pain. Hello, unwelcome flashbacks of junior college NAPFA tests. We almost wanted to beg out of the treatment like we’d normally do at a PE class led by an overly-enthusiastic teacher.

But just like a breakthrough in getting into the fitness lifestyle, it’s all about gritting your teeth and bearing with some discomfort. We shouldn’t even complain, since we were already doing the bare minimum by laying on a cushy bed while a machine did all the hard work for us. Throughout the 30 minutes, the therapist slowly increased the intensity, which made the contractions even more vigorous. We thought we wouldn’t be able to tahan the full 100 per cent force, but surprisingly, our muscles gradually got used to the pressure. At the end of the session, our ab muscles actually felt taut, as though we had done, yes, 20,000 crunches.

We walked out of the clinic feeling like a Victoria’s Secret Angel. And there was none of the dreaded muscle ache the next day that you get from doing sit-ups, though we were cautioned that there might be a slight ache. “This treatment isn’t a complete substitute for exercise,” noted Dr Chan. Fair enough. But it is a shortcut to doing 20k sit-ups, albeit one that doesn’t come cheap. Emsculpt costs an eye-watering $900 per session, though each session can accommodate up to two people at no extra charge. For optimal results, at least four sessions over a two-week period is recommended. Other than splitting the cost, we say it’s better to get a ‘workout’ buddy for this, to while time away with and distract you from the contractions. Now, who’s up for another round of faux-Spartan workout?

Calvin Chan Aesthetic & Laser Clinic, #05-11 Wheelock Place, 501 Orchard Rd, S238880. Tel: 6732-4981.

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