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New York Has a Gym Dedicated to Facial Workouts

FaceGym's Saks Fifth Avenue studio
FaceGym's Saks Fifth Avenue studio | © FaceGym
It claims its technique – which involves electric currents and facial “flicking” – improves skin’s texture and muscle tone without surgery. But is FaceGym worth the hype?

Among New York women of a certain age and income bracket, cosmetic tweaks are commonplace. So are the associated horror stories of Botox or fillers gone awry. Enter FaceGym – a concept that aims to lift and strengthen the muscles of the face for a non-invasive lift.

Unlike your average facial, which is essentially a process of slathering the skin with as many different products as possible, FaceGym focuses on the anatomy of the face. Using the same physical arc as your average exercise class – a warm-up, cardio, strength portion and relaxing cooldown – its aim is to target the 40-plus underused muscles of the face, giving it a more toned and lifted appearance.

FaceGym founder Inge Theron is a bona fide health and beauty expert. Besides launching her own company, she pens the popular Financial Times column ‘Chronicles of a Spa Junkie’ – testing fitness classes, spas, detoxes and anti-ageing treatments with a skeptical approach. On one such assignment, a face-lifting procedure left her housebound. It was then that she began searching for a way to get similar results without the risk, and the FaceGym technique was born.

Theron now has two studios in London, plus a New York location that opened in spring of 2018, on Saks Fifth Avenue’s shiny new beauty floor. I arrived there one afternoon to experience the $95 Signature Electrical, which employs FaceGym’s branded skincare products, facial massage and tactically applied electric currents for immediately visible results.

Warming-up with the face ball © FaceGym

Like all good workouts, a session at FaceGym begins with a light warm-up. My trainer helped me limber up by rolling a small red ball – not unlike a shrunken version of the ones used in pilates class – across my cheeks, jawline and forehead. Its rubbery texture caught the flesh and maneuvered it upwards, lifting and loosening as it went.

This was followed by the cardio portion of the facial – a vigorous flicking motion that gets the circulation pumping – and a strength-building procedure that was equally intense. First the trainer applied what felt like deep tissue massage to my delicate facial muscles, working them with her fingertips until they relented and softened. Then she broke out the Pure Lift device – an electrical wand that uses currents to contract the face in a series of twitches that were sometimes ticklish, occasionally borderline painful.

My session finished with gua sha – a flat tool made from cool jade that’s used to gently lengthen the muscles and smooth the skin.

FaceGym isn’t a passive self-care treatment – it’s full of weird sensations, not all of which are pleasant, and it left my jaw muscles feeling a little sore for a couple of days afterwards. That being said, post-workout I could see an instant difference – reduced puffiness, a clear lift and a glow that made make-up feel unnecessary for the rest of the afternoon. If only there was an exercise class that could promise the same.

Culture Trip was the guest of FaceGym.