BODYROLL is a lymphatic drainage and recovery therapy brand new to SA, which claims to burn calories, reduce cellulite, flatten tummies and remove toxins from the body. Naturally, we had to try it for ourselves.
BY Wanita Nicol

If you’ve never heard of BODYROLL, that’s probably because it didn’t exist in South Africa until a few months ago when Estonian Annely Vihmann decided to bring the popular European treatment to SA, opening the country’s first BODYROLL studio in Cape Town.

Annely likens BODYROLL to a deeptissue massage with lymphatic drainage. “It is like your detox. It’s the best thing on a Monday morning if you’ve had a hard weekend and you have a little bit of a hangover,” she chuckles.
Babalas aside, though, the benefits of BODYROLL are numerous. In Estonia, it’s often marketed as a weight-loss treatment because of its effectiveness at breaking down fat
cells and reducing the appearance of cellulite. “It’s not a replacement for exercise, but it works well alongside your workout programme,” says Annely. “I have girls coming in who use it for losing weight and getting rid of cellulite. It works like dry brushing – only dry brushing is really hard and boring while this has the same effect.”

The cellulite-busting effect is only one of the benefits. The treatment has actually been around for years – in high-performance sports centres as a recovery tool for athletes. A session before a workout improves mobility, while doing it after you train works as a
replacement for foam rolling. “It’s like a foam roller on steroids that’s doing the work for you,” Annely chirps. Like deep-tissue massage, BODYROLL also has health benefits in
that it promotes lymphatic drainage. “Every single person needs to do lymph drainage,” says Annely, “and I don’t think we do it enough.”

There are different BODYROLL programmes you can do. I did the 45-minute, full-body session, which targets 15 body parts, spending three minutes on each (a 60-minute option devotes four minutes to each area). These timings and focus areas are modelled on deep-tissue massage. The machine looks and feels like one of those self-massage rollers that have polished wooden knobs sticking out. The therapist sets the speed and the roller starts turning. “If the speed is higher, you tone your body more, but if you start with a high speed right away, you’ll feel it the next day,” Annely cautions.
The therapist guides you through a sequence of body positions that have you pressing a particular muscle group against the roller so the machine can work effectively. Every three minutes, it pauses briefly, giving you a chance to get into the next position. There are optional infrared – good for boosting circulation and delightfully warming on a cold day – and colour therapy functions.

Wear tight-fitting activewear and socks – bare skin gets sticky and affects the movement of the roller. Avoid clothing with zippers or buttons because they could get stuck in the machine, triggering an emergency stop. Same for long hair – a bun is your friend. Bring a bottle of water and sip throughout the session. Note: It’s not advised to do BODYROLL while pregnant or regularly breastfeeding.

As with massage, some positions felt a little painful in that hurts-so-good way; others just felt like blissful relief. My love handles felt itchy when they had their turn. “Itchiness is where you have fat deposits – what you feel is the blood circulation and fat cells breaking down,” Annely told me later. For weight loss and cellulite reduction, Annely recommends a 10-session course upfront, doing BODYROLL every second day, and then once- or twice-weekly maintenance sessions. She says people normally start to notice a difference after the second or third session. The next day I was surprised to find my love handles were noticeably smaller after just one session! No doubt – I will be back!