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All wrapped up

PUBLISHED: 15:18 23 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:04 20 February 2013

massage

massage

Katie Jarvis gets all wrapped up

"If you get in any later than 11pm," I threaten my partying teenage daughter, "I'll come down on you like a ton of bricks."

"Well," she replies, sweetly, "you've certainly got the weight for it."

Children, like mirrors, reflect a brutal truth. Far, far worse in fact: in the case of children, you cannot drape a cloth over them, hide them in a dark cupboard, or desperately use tricks of the light to improve the things they're telling you. Or not without social services getting involved, anyway. In my youth, I had a metabolism the speed of a Japanese bullet train; at 40, there was catastrophic points failure and terminal derailment, and I've continued life's journey ever since on the metabolic equivalent of a rail handcart.

How many more metaphors do you want? The brutal, simple, straightforward truth is that I'm slightly more cuddly than I used to be.

The obvious answer is to eat fewer calories and exercise more. But it's so yesterday to go for obvious answers. So let's have a go at the 'slim wrap' offered by le spa health resort in Cirencester, instead. Beauty treatments always sound, if not entirely convincing, then at least fun. It's 60 minutes of pampered indulgence: Ena Sharples morphs into Victoria Beckham for limited time only.

"During this treatment, the unique le spa gel is applied to the required areas of the body and then firmly bound with soft thermal wraps," the website says. "This process transports excess water from fatty tissue where it is eliminated naturally by the body's own system allowing the recipient to lose inches quickly and safely from areas which might be prone to weight gain." Is this possible? Not a clue, but I'm more than willing to give it a go.

Lovely (slim) Monika begins my therapy by (as always, in these matters) asking me to take most of my clothes off (bar underwear): never something to put you at your ease, though you are allowed a towel to cover your blushing modesty. Worse, she then measures strategic parts of my body - thighs, hips, waist - and writes down the measurement. "This is so we can compare it with after the treatment has finished," she explains. The one that most surprises me is the waist size; to my horror, it's of a dimension that you look casually for within the white parts of body-mass index charts... then more hopefully in the yellow... desperately within the orange... and finally find within the red. It's of a size that puts me in line for most major Western diseases and possibly a few tropical ones, too. Sobering thought (alcohol, of course, being stuffed full of calories.)

Next, she does indeed apply gel all over me, followed by bandage-like wraps that are pulled breathtakingly tight. This is scarier than Thorpe Park's Saw ride and that moment when John Hurt's chest explodes in Alien, rolled into one; not because it hurts - it's tight, but manageable - but because the ascending wraps wobble excess fat further and further up your body until it simply has nowhere left to go. (Cue sounds of horrified screaming.) Monika, to her credit, bats not an eyelid.

When she has finished, I look the double of beautiful ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, though sadly not in life. Unable to move a muscle, if you were to blow on me at this point, I'd fall like a forest oak. Instead, Monika gently manoeuvres me onto a treatment bed and begins a facial massage. I know massages are meant to be relaxing, calming and tranquil. But I also know that I could not possibly relax, even under the care of Monika's assuaging fingers, trussed up like a mummy in the advanced stages of rigor mortis.

Sometime later, I'm pretty sure that I wake myself up snoring. "Was I asleep?" I cautiously probe.

"I did wonder, maybe, at one point," Monika says, with extreme kindness.

She finishes the massage and we undo the bandages. I can't say I look or feel different, but the tape measure tells another story. I have lost several inches in total from around my body. I can't understand how or why this has happened but, according to Monika, the treatment will encourage my body to expel excess fluid and give it a kick-start.

Slim wrap has a loyal following. Some use it regularly as part of a weight-loss programme; others use it specifically to fit into party dresses for one night only. (Bandages removed, of course.)

What I can say is this. Scientists might well pooh-pooh any of its claims, and possibly with good reason: not being a scientist, I wouldn't know. But, if so, they miss a truism. For as with many of these processes, it's the almost-accidental effects that are the most beneficial. The sight of my bulging flesh, fighting for its life among those bandages, is not one I'll treasure forever. And the waist measurement is a wake-up call. It's time to change my ways.

· A slim wrap at le spa takes 60 minutes and costs £65, including a 40-minute Royal Orchid facial. For more information, call 01285 653840 or log onto www.lespa.com. le spa is at Stratton Place, Gloucester Road, Cirencester GL7 2LA

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