Fab in a flash
A hectic schedule is no excuse for letting yourself go. Here are 10 beauty treatments and workouts that take 30 minutes or less
Tabata Workout - 4 minutes
Claim: a highly intensive workout scientifically proven to significantly improve your fitness level and boost your metabolism in four fast and furious minutes. Invented by sports scientist Dr Izumi Tabata, it's said to be more effective than longer workouts, including other high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
What: consists of eight 20-second intervals with 10-second rests in between. Works best after a decent warm-up to get the pulse up, and a warm-down and stretch to finish.
Verdict: hard to beat for efficiency, but we'd recommend it more as a quick metabolism boost or add-on to your workout. Contrary to rumours, it probably won't make you vomit, but if your blood isn't pumping in your ears, then you're not working hard enough. Proof? Look at the cyclist in Tabata's lab in the official trailer at tabataofficial.com - he's practically in tears.
A variety of free, simple Tabata timer apps are available on iTunes/GooglePlay, and official workout DVDs are due to launch later this year
Scenes (top and above) from the gruelling, eight-set workout invented by Dr Izumi Tabata (pictured above left, in lab coat). Photos: SCMP Pictures
Look Good Naked's Lunch Express - 30 mins
Claim: a full-body, high-intensity fat-burning routine with strength building and cardio, plus a free lunch to go.
What: you warm up with a series of mobility exercises, then launch into group circuit training using big cylinders called ViPRs ranging from 4kg to 20kg, for 60 second intervals with 25-second rests. The class ends with a gentle warm-down, and you're handed your reward - a healthy lunchbox.
Verdict: short, intense and effective. You'll feel yourself working all sorts of muscles you didn't know you had. Having the instructor there means you'll push yourself much harder than if you're working out alone. The lunchbox was hearty and delicious; tender chunks of steak with roasted vegetables and fresh spinach. It'll save you the rush-hour queue for a takeaway, and ensure you don't succumb to post-workout junk food cravings.
Costs HK$850 a week for five 30-minute sessions and five lunches. Look Good Naked, 3/F, 50 Stanley Street, Central, LGN-Fitness.com
Absolution Organic Made-to-Measure Facial - 30 mins
Claim: a tailor-made, massage-based fix using a cocktail of organic serums from the French brand.
What: a hand pressure-point massage relaxes you before the "jaquet" cleansing technique (a "pinching" movement on the skin) is used to increase circulation and squeeze out any excess dirt from pores. Absolution cleansing water is then used to wipe your skin clean. Next, the therapist mixes a cocktail of serum and creams according to your skin concerns. The blend is worked into the skin. A "twist plucking" technique is used to stimulate the skin as well as relax tense facial muscles. A face mask follows, along with a rejuvenating scalp or hand massage. It finishes off with the application of an anti-ageing eye contour booster and a day moisturiser.
Verdict: a super relaxing, nourishing facial. Ideal for a quick pampering break.
Costs HK$350 at 10/10 Space, 1/F Fairview Mansion, 51 Paterson Street, Causeway Bay
Premium Eye Treatment with Stone Massage - 20 mins
Claim: a warm stone massage around the eye contour detoxifies, and reduces dark circles and puffiness.
What: after cleansing and toning your face, a rose oil capsule is massaged around the eyes in a circular motion, followed by a gentle massage with smooth, hot black stones. A hydrating eye mask is applied and left on for six to eight minutes while a head massage is given. More Elemis serums and creams are layered.
Verdict: skin glows, while eyes appear wider and less puffy. Great for tired eyes or dehydrated skin in need of a quick spruce or a pre-party boost.
Costs HK$480. Sense of Touch, 52 D'Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, senseoftouch.com.hk
Curves 30-Minute Workout - 30 mins
Claim: a complete circuit-training workout for women, including cardio, strength training and flexibility, which helps you burn up to 500 calories.
What: jump onto an open station, work on it for 30 seconds (a recording prompts you to change to the next one), then step onto the recovery board. Finish two rounds on the circuit. Hydraulic resistance-training machines allow you to perform cardio- and strength training at the same time. The workout ends with five to seven minutes of stretching.
Verdict: A fun, speedy workout that you can feel in every major muscle group. You get one-on-one time with the trainers so you can adjust the intensity of your workout.
Costs HK$548 a month, plus one-time service fee. Curves Hong Kong, 9 Chiu Lung Street, 5/F EuBank Plaza, Central, curves.com.hk
Exotic Asian Cleansing Body Scrub - 30 mins
Claim: a full body scrub using a blend of Asian ingredients, which leaves your skin clean and refreshed.
What: a quick foot wash using bath salts is followed by a thorough body rub with a blend of rose petal, fig, ginger and citrus elements, mixed with essential oils. After a shower, a lotion is applied.
Verdict: you are left perfectly polished - your skin soft and nourished. After the treatment, you're given time to linger in the fabulous shower booth, with body jets and a stone-tiled bench.
Costs HK$480. Bodhi Spa, Level 3, Conrad Macao, Cotai Central, Macau, sandscotaicentral.com
Plateau "All-in-One" Body Shaping - 30 mins
Claim: a fast, non-invasive treatment that boosts metabolism and collagen production, reduces fat and cellulite, and firms up skin.
What: a device using TriPollar Radio Frequency technology is rubbed up and down the targeted body area such as the legs, tummy or arms.
Verdict: regular sessions are needed for serious results, though after one visit, the skin already feels smooth and warm. The therapist says it's like having done a good session of exercise (the cheater's way).
Costs HK$900. Plateau Spa, 11/F Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, hongkong.grand.hyatt.com
Beauty Real Fast - 10 mins
Claim: beauty basics in a speedy 10-minute slot. Includes brow threading, manicure and pedicure.
What: as its name indicates, this spa specialises in express treatments, but this one is its record breaker. Once you settle into the plush chair, the therapist begins by threading, trimming and shaping your eyebrows. All you have to do is choose the shades of nail polish, then relax and let the therapist work her magic.
Verdict: quick and efficient as promised, the staff deliver freshly painted nails and tamed brows in 10 minutes, without making you feel rushed. Book in advance.
Costs HK$230. Fast Beauty, 83A Hollywood Road, Central, fastbeautyspa.com
Oxygen Blast Emergency Energiser - 30 mins
Claim: a quick complexion pick-me-up and oxygen spray for extra hydration and radiance.
What: the therapist starts out with a quick fruit acid peel, followed by an enzyme pack. While you wait for this to dry, the therapist massages your décolletage and back with antioxidant vitamins. A hydrating hot towel wipes off the pack. The last stage is a five-minute oxygen blast - a breather for your skin.
Verdict: it's non-fussy, and leaves your skin aptly hydrated and fresh. An ideal after-work, pre-date tonic for your skin.
Costs HK$660. Bliss Spa at W Hong Kong, 72/F W Hotel, 1 Austin Road, West Kowloon Station, w-hongkong.com
Gentlemen's Tonic Express Facial - 30 mins
Claim: your standard men's facial, minus a few steps (no steam or extraction) for men on the move.
What: the treatment begins with a towel placed carefully across your hair. Then it's onto the facial, which consists mainly of a cleanse and scrub. A vitamin-based face and eye mask follows, which is left to work its wonders while you receive a relaxing and deep-kneaded head, shoulder and chest massage.
Verdict: it's nothing fancy, but most men prefer it simple. A quick lunchtime fix.
Costs HK$500, Gentleman's Tonic, B47-48, 15 Queen's Road Central, gentlemenstonic.com