The words “personal massaging device” make one spontaneously vibrate with the effort of suppressing a thousand schoolboy jokes, but let’s pretend we are better than that. The Hypervolt, a name that positively screams “fragile masculinity”, is the latest product from Hyperice, a company that usually specialises in foam rollers and ice compression packs with a name that is weirdly reminiscent of Müllerice.
The Hypervolt (£374.99, performbetter.co.uk) looks sci-fi and fun; like Barbarella’s gun. It doesn’t want to be fun, though; it wants to speed up muscle recovery after intense exercise, using percussion therapy. This has nothing to do with nervously air-drumming in a doctor’s waiting room, while you sit expecting the results of your blood test, and this review is also nothing to do with that, so stop worrying and get it together, man. Percussion therapy involves vibrating muscles at high speed, to stretch them out after the tightening effects of exercise, as well as loosen the connective tissues surrounding them. It is not intended for lazy people such as me, who rarely exercise and store all tension in their thoughts. (What if the doctor says I’m not lazy – that there’s actually something wrong with me? Would that be better or worse? Immaterial. Focus.)
Other at-home percussion massagers are available, notably the Theragun and TimTam, the latter of which is not to be confused with an Australian version of the Penguin chocolate snack. In action, however, those devices sound like the power tools they are, with decibel levels approaching Brian Blessed at a waxing salon. The Hypervolt plays its ace immediately. Turning it on, ramping up the three speed settings, there is a superb dampening of sound in the soft-touch handle. It is perfectly comfortable to hold and, even on its highest setting, has only slightly more volume coming out of it than a toothbrush. (An electric one, obviously.)
Crucially, there is no trade off in power. Even purring away on the lowest setting, it hammers 2,000 times a minute, making it five times more effective than François Truffaut’s autobiographical film, The 400 Blows. When it is applied to a bicep on its most powerful setting, it is like I have grasped an electric fence and can’t let go. Applied to my neck on the same setting – not advised – it shakes my eyes, like watching the film Cloverfield, if less traumatic. This is a key selling point of percussion therapy: the desensitising effect of being pummelled at high speed means sore muscles can be targeted, while bypassing the pain of manipulation by human hands. Strangely, it checks out.
As the device thuds back and forth into my flesh in a blur, I can feel deep tissues being rapidly pulsed, while at the surface there is a sort of numbness, as if my nerves don’t understand what the hell is going on, and can’t react. It is the physiotherapy equivalent of waterboarding. Perhaps more accurately, I feel like a cut of cheap meat being tenderised.
There are four attachments: a spongy ball, a bullet, a flat coin and a fork, which apply different surface pressures. Sticking the fork in me, I am soon done. My calves feel tired but loose, like a couple of shanks ready for the pot. I try other areas with the ball, then the bullet, noting how easy it is to become estranged from one’s own body. I start to lose recognition of the familiar shoulder, chest or thigh. Instead, I see my boneless chuck, my beef cheek, my brisket. I steer clear of the tenderloin, because honestly, this thing is a velvet jackhammer. And it’s one that runs for hours with no palpable decrease in battery.
Is there a happy ending? Not exactly. I don’t exercise at the kind of intensity that requires athletic recovery gadgets, especially not at this price. But I am aware there are people who do. This thing definitely isn’t designed for pleasure, but it’s no swizz either. Hypervolt supplies a lot of bang for your buck. The fact remains that this gun isn’t aimed at me, and for that, I am grateful.
The highest setting throws out 3,200 percusses a minute, which is fewer cusses than that time I stepped on Lego, but nonetheless impressive.
Wellness or hellness?
Wellness. It is very pricey, though – I’d trade it for 400 Müllerices. 4/5