This extraordinary inflatable suit that I’m wearing in the video is a Body Ballancer – so what is the Body Ballancer and what can it do for you? The short answer is: it’s a medical-grade compression therapy system, and it can do an awful lot. Here I talk you through the key benefits – from reducing cellulite and water retention to improving our sleep by bringing down stress levels – and Jules Willcocks, founder of Body Ballancer, explains why keeping our lymph system working at its best is so good for our general health, as well as making us look and feel fab.
Here’s the transcript of our talk, when I sat down with Jules Willcocks from Body Ballancer to find out more about this extraordinary piece of medical technology.
ALICE HART DAVIS: You used to only find this kind of equipment in salons, or clinics, or spas but particularly since the start of the pandemic, a lot of people have been buying them to use at home.
TILLY: This is fantastic [LAUGHS]
AHD: Tilly’s got the giggles
T: This is so good.
AHD: Oh, good. Good. Have you ever seen one of these before?
T: No, no. Never. I’ve seen you be the body of the bed. I’ve never actually seen it in real life.
AHD: Yeah. It is mad because you think, ‘what on earth is this?’ but, I mean I know it works. I’ve used it before and got amazing results.
What Is the Body Ballancer?
AHD: I’m here with Jules from Body Ballancer and I’m going to get the lowdown, because this is an amazing piece of kit and what is it?
JULES: The Body Ballancer is you know part of a family of equipment or systems known as compression therapy and basically the Body Ballancer is a specially designed suit that basically fills with air in a very specific and controlled way to stimulate the lymphatic system.
The Ballancer Unboxing
AHD: What I’ve got in here is the base unit for the Body Ballancer. The power behind the compression. ‘Compression Therapy System’ it’s called. If you’re wondering what I’m doing with the compression therapy system, if you’ve heard of this treatment, you may know that it’s great for cellulite, but what it’s also really good for is our lymphatic health and that’s the whole lymph system that runs throughout our body.
AHD: These are pairs of trousers that I can wear with it.
What Is Lymphatic Health?
AHD: I’ve known you for a number of years and have tried the Body Ballancer on various occasions and that has generally been the features I have been writing about, helping cellulite, but the thing is this is a really serious piece of kit, isn’t it? And what exactly is lymphatic health and why should we be so bothered by it?
JULES: In short, the lymphatic system is responsible for the absorption, transportation and elimination of excess fluid from the body.
J: And that excess fluid build up as part of the completely natural metabolic process of blood flowing around our system. Some of that blood actually comes out of the capillaries and it bastes the body tissues in a lovely nutrient-rich fluid and in so doing creates waste. So, the fluid is there, not only is it excess fluid, but it contains waste and toxins but if they’re not basically picked back up by the lymphatic system, and transported out of the body then they can cause a number of ailments. You mentioned cellulite, you know, basically, cellulite is more to do with fluid than it is to do with fat.
AHD: Is it? Okay.
J: Yeah, indeed. So, I think we’ve all seen photographs of, you know, very thin models or celebrities being shamed for their cellulite. How else can they be so slender? It’s nothing to do with fat, it’s basically a build-up of that fluid and toxins in the tissues, but women are particularly prone to it because of our hormones.
AHD: Because of our hormones, yeah.
Setting Up the Body Ballancer
AHD: So, it comes in two parts. I mean mostly, you just want the trousers. This is what they look like. You connect it up to here and this makes the air chambers all the way up these trousers which come up to here inflate in an overlapping series and that gently squeezes your lymph system. What you can have as well with this is the jacket. Set it going and it works to just gently compress all the way up from the extremities of your body working inwards, so our lymph drains properly, and I mean this is a very serious piece of medical technology. This is the jacket. This is the trousers. This is the powerhouse and I’ll link it all up and show you what it looks like when it’s on.
Instructions on the Body Ballancer
AHD: So, if somebody buys one of these, do they get full instructions on how to use it?
J: Absolutely. So, for the home use model, I have a specially designed brochure, which is a quick start guide. So you don’t have to worry about the manufacturer’s user guide, which is quite technical. So this is very nicely produced, very easy to follow, plug and play. I also provide a treatment guide that says if this is what you want if you want a sports massage then choose that programme at their pressure. So it’s very, very simple.
Using the Body Ballancer
AHD: I’ll set it up on here because this is where I like to lie to watch TV. I’ve always preferred to watch TV lying down and I’m going to put one of those on one side, click. Nice reassuring click. Put this one this side. What happens if I? Yes. Plug and play.
Ballancer treatment time. now all I’ve got to do is climb into it, zip myself in. press ‘go’ and then lie down and relax. And it makes this sort of ‘whirring’ sound, I’ll show you how it is but it’s not a disturbing noise so you can watch telly with other people without them saying ‘what is that?’
J: The manufacturer of the Ballancer, they are renowned as the global leader in compression therapy. A company called Mego Afek. I would say, that if you were to say to me ‘what is the USP of this device?’ That’s where I would point to. They’ve been making these devices now for over 40 years. For about, I’d say almost 30 of those 40 years, they’d made them for purely medical applications.
AHD: Such as?
J: like surgery, to treat life people with life-changing conditions such as lymphoedema.
AHD: Okay, that’s where the fluid simply gathers. You know with lymphoedema particularly if you’ve had lymph glands taken out.
J: Yes, yes. Absolutely.
AHD: After breast cancer treatment or something
J: That’s exactly right. So, lymphoedema is caused when somebody has a compromised lymphatic system. So, it’s not able to manage the volume of excess fluid and these garments are clinically proven, they’ve been clinically designed to address that build-up of fluid. So, it’s not an aesthetic device simply meant to treat cellulite, it’s not just about cellulite.
AHD: Sure, but that’s a very handy side effect
J: Indeed. Absolutely. So, they are clinically designed and clinically proven to do what they say they do.
Trying The Body Ballancer Jacket
AHD: So, this is something I haven’t tried before. It’s the Body Ballancer jacket and this is going to be a bit like a straitjacket. Let me get the camera so you can see a bit better. Wrap it and zip it. It’s alright. Zip that up. Hey Alf, come on, come and sit with me and then I’m going to adjust the machine. Let’s put it on medium pressure and sit back. Watch out, Alf. How does that feel? It’s inflated up the sleeves. It’s going from the edges inwards. Really strange, is it going to go down the sides as well? I bet it will do. Okay, it’s coming over my shoulders. Can you see that round the back? Again, it’s not unpleasant. I wonder if I should put the pressure up. I can just about reach. Do that. Oh yes. Gone up to nearly 50 on the pressure, this is a tight squeeze up the arms.
Is It Painful?
AHD: It doesn’t hurt at all, does it?
J: No. not at all. Not one bit.
AHD: Not even if you have a big tough sports massage?
J: No, because of the pressures that these devices go to, so I’ll talk about the pressure. So, each of these devices, whichever one you get, go from 20 mmHg to 80 mmHg. What’s that? That’s a very good question! MmHg is just a measurement of pressure. It’s the millimetres of mercury and as a reference point, if you’re standing waist-deep in water, pressure at your foot is 70. The thing with these devices, because they are designed for well people, they don’t go to high pressures. If you have a device that is for someone who has lymphoedema, so they have very large misshapen lymph nodes, the pressures can go much higher because it needs more pressure.
J: But for well people, 80 mmHg is more than enough and that is a really good, strong sports massage.
AHD: Okay. Now you have two models of Body Ballancer, don’t you? Could you explain what those are and what’s the difference between them?
J: Yes. Well, first of all, I’d start by saying that when I started the business back in 2018, my business model did not consider selling to consumers at all. I had 2 models and I was going to sell one model to smaller businesses, maybe one-man bands, and the higher-price model that was going to go to the big clinics for surgical as well as non-surgical treatments. But, of course, come the pandemic in March 2020, a lot of people were suddenly starting to take a great deal of interest in their health.
AHD: So, individuals were buying them directly from you?
J: Absolutely and still continue to do so.
AHD: So, if you get one to use at home, should you try a few programmes to see what you prefer? Should you vary them from time to time to get a different effect. What’s the best way to use it?
J: That’s a really good question because so much of it is down to personal preference. There’s really only one hard and fast rule and that is related to the pressure that you use on the machine.
AHD: You might think more is better?
J: Yes, because everyone does. But I make it very clear in the literature that we provide that when it comes to moving fluid and when it comes to getting all the benefits from good lymphatic health, less is more. So, it’s lower pressure. The lower the pressure then the more you are activating the lymphatic system. Which isn’t to say, if you’ve been standing on your legs all day and it’s hot and they’re tired, I will get into my machine and I will put it on a really high pressure because it feels great.
AHD: I was thinking when you were saying that, of course, when you go for manual lymphatic drainage, it uses the lightest touch and it’s just moving the lymph because the lymph system is pretty near the surface.
J: Near the surface, extremely delicate.
AHD: So, you do not need to batter it.
J: No, absolutely not.
Wearing the Body Ballancer Jacket
AHD: So, it’s rhythmic squeezing like with the leggings and yet you can only use one of them at a time. Either the legs or the top because you have to plug the hoses into the machine and there’s just 2 sockets there. I can see Alfie’s ears twitching every time a new cell inside the thing inflates. So, we’re going from the wrists, up to the armpits, around the shoulders, down the back, onto the hips and then it deflates.
J: You will see volume reduction with the Ballancer and even now I use mine at least, you know, 4 to 5 times a week, and my leggings will feel looser after I’ve got out than when I got in. Now, if I jumped on the scales, would I weigh any less? Of course, I wouldn’t.
AHD: But would they not be shifting… oh it’s not shifting of the fluid, that’s still in the body, but it has been removed from the lymph system.
J: I will weigh less in about 30 to 45 minutes after I’ve been to the loo. Because it’s basically again taking that excess fluid that’s sloshing around the tissues, and getting it into the lymphatic system which drains
AHD: Where it will be eliminated
J: Where it will be eliminated. So, you will absolutely have inch loss. I recently, reposted something on my Instagram account of Gillian Anderson having a pre–Golden Globe treatment to get her in her dress.
AHD: But she’s so slim! Slender as a reed.
J: Yeah, what can I tell you, but she was even more slender when she when finished. So, it is seen as a pre-awards treatment to have.
AHD: What are the benefits of good lymphatic health?
AHD: Okay, so they’re clinically designed for lymphatic health and what are the benefits of lymphatic health? Because there’s health benefits as well as aesthetic benefits.
J: There are. Yeah. 100%. You know the thing is, I will often find myself apologising for the immense number of benefits that you can get from you know having a Body Ballancer and using it consistently but I’m very keen to point out that they are the benefit of good lymphatic health. That you’re, that you’re gleaning. The most important one I would say is that, if you have good lymphatic health then your immune system is automatically boosted.
AHD: Okay, so we’ve got immune health as the number one benefit
J: Yeah. Gut health
AHD: How does lymphatic health help gut health?
J: Well as I said, in the gut particularly, there is a very large collection of lymphatic tissue and our small intestine is lined by billions and billions of these tiny finger-like projections called villi.
J: And that just increases the surface area for us to absorb nutrients and that kind of thing. Within each villus, there are 2 main vessels. There’s a blood capillary and there’s the lacteal and the lacteal is the lymphatic vessel.
J: Now, everything, except fat, can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the capillary. But fat cannot, so basically, the lymphatic system is responsible for absorbing all the fats that we eat. Whether that is, you know, £100 a bottle of extra virgin olive oil, or something we got from the burger van. Doesn’t matter. It’s picked up by the lymphatic system in the gut and it doesn’t take much imagination to see that that area could become congested. It could, you know, end up causing bloating, gas, intestinal issues – and the beauty of the Body Ballancer, I have to say, is every time you use it, you get an abdominal massage.
AHD: Wow, which is quite a rare thing. Otherwise. Really specialised technique.
J: It is. Yeah. Absolutely. You don’t get many manual massages in this country where they focus on the abdomen and what that helps to do is to basically make sure that that area remains clear and decongested.
J: One of the most common forms of feedback whether it’s male or female, is after they’ve had a treatment they’d say, ‘My God, I slept so well’ because it really does induce feelings of relaxation.
Can Men Use the Body Ballancer?
AHD: So, men can use it too. Because I’ve met this treatment through clinics, which offer it alongside aesthetic treatments or simply for the aesthetic benefit of cellulite smoothing. I haven’t thought of it as something blokes can climb into too, but of course. So, what are the benefits for men because they don’t get cellulite?
J: They don’t, no. That’s just not fair, is it? No, they don’t get cellulite and they’re rarely concerned about skin tone or ‘volume reduction’ but you know as I said to you earlier, and you laughed, and people do but men have lymphatic systems too.
AHD: Of course.
J: And so, all of the health benefits that I touched on earlier such as an improved immune system, gut health You know reduction of stress, you know they also suffer from, obviously, stress and cortisol build up and that kind of thing but also, particularly, if you have a, you know, a man who’s physically active, this machine can give a fantastic sports massage. And what it can do is, effectively, I hate the term but it’s accurate, ‘milk’ any lactic acid from the muscles.
AHD: Oh, from that delayed onset muscle soreness? Yes. Wow
J: Yes. Absolutely. You know with the professional model that we have; you can have sports massages programmed that will switch between deep tissue sports massages to lymphatic massage to basically get t the fluids moving and out of the body and it will do that automatically.
My Final Thoughts
AHD: To recap, this is a gold standard device for compression therapy that helps you look and feel amazing, and you’ll ask, ‘what can it do?’ ‘how can it do that?’ It’s brilliant for improving the look of cellulite, tackling fluid retention, so it’s good for treating heavy legs and reducing body volume. There’s a sports massage which is fab for muscle recovery after exercise, and it offers a heap of serious health benefits for immune health and gut health and the soothing way those compression waves chunter along mean it’s really great for stress reduction too, and improving sleep. There are two versions to the device. There’s the 505 which is straightforward and very easy to use, and that is most popular for home use. And then you’ve got the more customisable and programmable 606, which is the version a lot of clinics and spas usually go for.
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