I bet you have heard about blogging Queen, Xiaxue, almost getting into a legal tussle with a slimming centre because she had blogged about how their gua sha (scraping) and ba guan (cupping) treatments were painful and ultimately did not result in any significant weight loss for her.
I was told that the founders of that particular slimming company are, supposedly, ex-clients of Absolute Slimming, and had set up shop and tried to replicate what they experienced during their slimming treatments there.
Without prior knowledge of acupoints and how they work, just randomly sticking suction cups onto your clients will not result in weight loss, as it’s just ultimately guesswork. Perhaps, if you cover your client’s body entirely in ba guan cups, you might get lucky and hit the right spots. But like Xiaxue mentioned, your client will look like a “tentacle” due to the many round bruises.
I had the opportunity to speak with Irene Chye, founder of Absolute Slimming, to find out why customers have almost nothing but praise for the business she founded in 2002 and has been managing since, what she thinks about clients or staff setting up businesses to rival hers, and why her treatments work when similar-looking ones have failed.
[Read about how I have gone undercover and reviewed many slimming centres, all of which have not worked for me]
1) How did you get started with using gua sha and ba guan to help people achieve weight loss?
About 12 years ago, when I was still a housewife, single, and raising three kids, I became interested in the idea of TCM-based slimming. After learning the basics of acupoints from a friend in China, I experimented with using gua sha and cupping as a way to help people lose weight with no rebound. It was a lot of trial-and-error, but over time my knowledge of acupoints improved, and so did my customers’ results. Also, there are certain foods that cannot be consumed while the treatment is ongoing – and it took many years for me to identify them.
Over the course of one month, our cupping and gua sha treatments will speed up your metabolism, reduce your appetite and tone your problem areas, helping you to lose 4 to 6 kg in the process. During this one month, our customers will be required to follow a flexible diet plan which varies from individual to individual. Once we have stabilized the increase in your metabolism, you should be able to resume your normal diet after treatment without any rebound.
2) One thing that amazes me about your business is how you clearly state the prices for your treatments on your website. Why do you do this?
Before setting up this company, I actually went into a previous slimming business with a partner, and that business failed after about a year. There were some practices I did not agree with, so I ensured it did not happen again in Absolute Slimming.
My business partner at that time was happy to offer clients who looked like they are rich more expensive packages and fewer discounts. Similarly, my clients have shared with me that they have been to slimming centres with treatments that do not work, but the consultants will tell them that it’s all “stubborn fat” and that they have to upgrade their package to one of a higher price, and eventually they will find that those do not work too.
At Absolute Slimming, our policy is that we will never sell you treatments you don’t need. For example, most people require eight treatments over one month because that’s what it takes to ensure their weight loss does not rebound in the future. Anything more than that is just unnecessary. And for underweight customers who come to us looking to get rid of a specific problem area, we recommend only six treatments.
I’ve been told that I’m too honest to be a businesswoman, but I believe that as long as we conduct our business fairly, everything else will fall into place.
3) How long do these ba guan bruises usually last and why did Xiaxue’s last an usually long time?
The bruises usually fade in about two hours. The gua sha done on Xiaxue was too vigorous and therefore those reddish marks quickly appeared after the ba guan was done.
Also, I use a special homemade cream for the ba guan. It is my own concoction so it is unlikely you can find a similar one elsewhere. Sure, you can buy these little ba guan cups online, but not this cream.
4) Having had clients who learn about what you do and set up businesses to rival yours, have you become less open to teaching your staff about what you know? Does this also mean you have to serve all clients yourself?
My business has expanded from being home-based to this current outlet in Holland Road Shopping Centre. Scaling up means that I need to teach my staff everything I know and have them serve clients alongside me. When I first found out about my ex-clients replicating my life work, I took it pretty badly. Because I had little formal education and I’m not an aggressive business person by nature, it just seemed like the odds were stacked against me. It took me a while to accept that as long as I was good at what I do, there will always be competition around the corner, and I’ve learnt not to take it personally. And even though there is competition, I must not hold back from providing quality training to my slimming therapists!
Moreover, in the last 12 years, I have refined my slimming technique to the point that my success rate is 99%, with no rebound. I am so confident about my results that I offer a money back guarantee – if you follow my program strictly but still do not lose weight, you will be eligible for our refund policy. I’ve been in business for over a decade and till today, only one customer has ever asked for a refund.
And because my satisfied clients often refer their friends to me, I am happy to give them a token of appreciation in the form of complimentary heat treatments (priced at S$90 each).
5) This gua sha & ba guan treatment has to go alongside a strict no-carbohydrates diet. What do YOU eat on a daily basis?
There are some people who are very lucky – no matter what they eat and how much they eat, they do not gain weight. Not me. Just like how milk causes some people to get diarrhoea, and how seafood causes some people to break out in rashes, rice causes extreme weight gain in some cases. It all depends on what type of food your body is sensitive to.
Unfortunately, my body is extremely sensitive to rice. Eating rice causes me to put on weight so I don’t eat very much of it – just the occasional fried rice meal and that is it.
For breakfast, I’ll have wholemeal bread, with perhaps some peanut butter. Lunch involves some vegetables and meat (I tell my clients to take two servings of vegetables and one serving of meat) and I eat almost the same thing for dinner.
I have a weakness for chocolates, biscuits and I love the green tea kitkats! :D But of course, I tell my clients that they must not eat these while on the program.
6) Give us an idea of what your clients can (or cannot) eat while undergoing treatment at Absolute Slimming.
Our diet plans are extremely flexible, even though some may consider it to be somewhat plain. During the 1 month of treatment, our clients are required to completely eliminate carbs from their diet, unless it is non-processed carbs we’re talking about (for example, wholemeal breads). Vegetables are great, except for a few with very high sugar content. Most fruits are fine, but it’s important to remember that because they have different caloric content, we prescribe different fruits to different customers based on their needs. We do not have a standardized diet plan as everyone’s physiologies are simply different.
Some additional tips:
Make sure that you only eat till you are 70% full for lunch and dinner. Our treatments help to shrink your appetite, and it is important that you avoid ‘over-expanding’ your stomach during treatment.
Buy a weighing scale. The progress you make will serve as motivation for you.
Irene offered to let me try this program and I passed on the opportunity to my guest writer, Kirbie instead. She’s preparing for her upcoming ROM ceremony and will be a more obedient client for Irene. (I have a weakness for chocolate too)
Here’s Kirbie, before her first session at Absolute Slimming:
Also, this allows me to give an objective take on whether Kirbie looks like she has lost some weight. If I’m on this diet, I might try to convince myself that my clothes feel looser even when they are not, simply because I would have gone through all the diet-related sacrifices.
Thus, my next post on Absolute Slimming will be a guest article from Kirbie. Stay tuned! :D