I’M lying in a citrus-scented room near Spitalfields market, a moist herbal mask over my face and eyes. Tinkling oriental music is playing, and a woman in a white, clinical uniform is seated in front of a big orange screen at the front of the room, with a microphone affixed to her head, encouraging us to relax, to let thoughts go, to focus on our breathing and the sensations we feel.
Those sensations are intensely pleasurable. For the secret to these sessions of “E-Rejuvenation” (the E stands for energy) is the “energy expert” personally assigned to each of us. Trained in the art of stimulating meridians (Chinese medicine’s idea of energy points in the body), they work a silky massage over your shoulders and back, your face, your neck and your collarbones. Then, suddenly, in unison, you hear the clatter of drumsticks as the team of experts begins pummelling your arms, legs and feet with rounded sticks. Just when you think you can’t be more relaxed, the energy MC, consultant Sarah McCrum, asks you to come back to the world. Snores stop, people wriggle, and there’s an atmosphere of being in a room of children all waking up from a delicious sleep. It’s not exactly the type of place you imagine high-powered City people spending their lunchtimes. Yet that is exactly the profile of the customers, who – after the session is over – put their stilettos and jackets back on, and stride out, energised, into the world.
The purpose of “e-rejuvenation” is concrete: to achieve goals, such as to increase productivity or improve health, not to simply pamper. Most people sign up for packages of several sessions – on completion of a six-session course, 67 per cent of clients reported having achieved their key business goal. The statistics don’t stop there – from a business perspective, these sessions seem well worth their hefty price tag. Eight out of 15 people valued their improvement in productivity at an average of £388 per day (ranging from £30 to £1,000 per day). Meanwhile, the “total productivity” increase for 15 clients, averaged over 6 weeks, was worth over £93,000.
So how exactly does it work? This is where things get a bit murky. At the beginning, McCrum explains a kind of theory of energy – as modern people that race around constantly trying to achieve more and faster, our batteries run down. We recharge them temporarily – with exercise, nights out, chocolate. But what we need is a new, real, lasting energy source – to plug ourselves into the mains, as it were.
The technicalities of energy transfer are not possible to spell out – so I can only report how I felt. The first notable thing is a sense of sleepiness after the session, but not grogginess. Since each is followed by a kind of group chat about observations and how participants are feeling, as well as challenges people are thinking about, the brain is left in an awake state. The body feels terrific – the facial skin super soft, the back relaxed. I felt clear-headed after one session, and for the rest of the day I shunned distraction more effectively than usual and got down to business very well.
Of course, the question is: would I have been any less productive if I had just lain in a room on my own and listened to calming music? Possibly not, but I certainly wouldn’t have achieved the same level of relaxation – I have a chatter-prone mind and the combination of a sensual, aural and cognitive aid to relax was uniquely quietening and, indeed, rejuventaing.
I went two more times and also felt good after each session – but the results weren’t crystal clear to me. There’s no doubt the body and mind interrelate, and the body feels heavenly in these sessions. The lasting impact of this seems hard to measure. Even trickier to gauge, but I suspect more important, is the power of suggestion – McCrum tells you about your inevitable increase in energy and productivity and speaks persuasively about letting go of excess worry. It’s a combination of mantra and philosophy and the intelligent recipient of these sessions will try to reshape their relationship with pointless, bad energy – best defined as worry.
The idea that your productivity will magically improve seems dubious. But in zeroing in on your body’s capacity to wholly relax, the mind is more likely to follow. Add a drizzle of Chinese philosophy and the power of suggestion and I suspect you’ll like what happens.
Introductory offer: Energy Boost: five sessions for the price of four, £392. www.erejuvenation.co.uk.