Lately every time I am out and about I see men and women, of various ages, running and thus keeping themselves fit. While the obesity is on the rise, more and more people start taking their fitness and lifestyle more seriously (exercise and healthy diet can actually help to reverse the ageing process), yet when it comes to the way our face looks, beauty and fitness aren’t necessarily mentioned in the same sentence and this is where Carme Ferre, a facial fitness expert comes in.
Carme hails from Tarrona in Spain and has a professional background in economics, having worked in investment banking for Salomon Smith Barney and City Group. But as we all know, many roads lead to London and Carme moved to the capital in 1998. She worked hard and had children, but combining a very high pressure environment with family commitments isn’t easy and eventually something had to give. Not the one to rest idly and twiddle her thumbs, Carme started planning her future and it involved….’training the face to retain its taughtness and youthfulness naturally.’
Did you actually know that 10% of our muscles are actually in our face and they can be ‘divided’ into 57 muscles in our face and neck. Carme trained under Eva Fraser, an anti-ageing doyenne, learning about the basic facial fitness. As we age, our skin, especially around the jaw and neckline, tends to sag and for some of us the only solution is to have a face-lift, however there are plenty of women who prefer the ‘natural’ option and that is where Carme and her expertise come in.
Carme has a very youthful face and her skin looks healthy and even. She is really lithe (I sooo want to be that fit and luckily Carme also teaches pilates in her studio in Notting Hill, so you can combine both-facial fitness for the face and pilates for your body, ending with a healthy glow and improved overall fitness). Her airy studio is based in her house basement and it is very light and welcoming. A cool reformer machine sits next to the table with chair and mirror, in front of which you will be sitting and learning how to actually ‘re-awake’ your face muscles. She started teaching friends last March and the word started spreading (I was actually introduced to Carme by a friend of mine), so she opened her studio to clients in January of this year and haven’t looked back since.
I am a big proponent of face massage, as women in my family truly believe in its long-term benefits and Carme seems to be passionate about it as well. She will teach you the facial fitness technic in four lessons, lasting between 1hr15min to 1hr30mins. You learn the technique sitting in front of the mirror and later you will get materials and cloth gloves (you will find out why below). Most of us look in the mirror in the morning, some with happiness, some with trepidations, as we brush our teeth and go through our morning skincare routine. Most of us, however, don’t have the luxury of time and do it as quickly as we can before running out of the door.
Carme makes it her mission to actually make you look at yourself in the mirror, thus re-acquainting you with your face. During the first lesson you will learn about the basics and take home ‘stage one notes’ (normally there is a two week break between this lesson and the next one) which you will need to put into practise every other day, between the session. During the second lesson you will get to use the cotton white gloves ( when I ask Carme what they are for, she tells me that they act ‘like a rubber band’, adding resistance to the facial exercises. After the second lesson your face will be definitely ‘buzzing’ from the energy and increased blood flow-no blusher needed! You then progress to lesson three, two to four weeks later, culminating in the exercise revision during your fourth and final session. After this course, Carme says that most of her clients notice a marked improvement in skin’s plumpness and definition in the face, so I would say that it would be perfect for those women who are starting to be unhappy about how their face looks-after all, prevention is always better.
Carme is a firm believer that facial massage and facial fitness should be taught by mothers to their daughters, in the same way we focus on teaching our kids how to brush their teeth but facial fitness, I have to say, requires a certain level of maturity, as some of the exercise that Carme and I did made me want to giggle,as I looked at my reflection in the mirror. Carme is a very ‘precise’ practitioner but at times I tried to follow her with my eyes, instead of looking at myself in the mirror.
The first things that starts to ‘sag’ in our face is our cheek bones, so Carme shows me a great ‘smiling exercise’ to counteract that. Try smiling and lifting a specific muscle group to the count of six-I thought it would be easy but within minutes you realise that you are actually working your face muscles and boy, do they feel it. We also did an exercise to focus on nose and forehead that is somewhat reminiscent of the snarling dog (you lift for the count of six and release to the count of three)-one of the reasons why one-to-one sessions are perfect, as I can’t imagine doing this together with my best friend.
During my ‘taster session’ we then moved to the exercise for the lower side of the face, which has as its main objective to act as a natural facelift. You need to pull your head back, bite up your lower lip and smile-all to the count of ten. It really tones your muscles-I can guarantee that you will feel it there and then. What is also particularly nice is that you have mellow jazz playing in the background, unobtrusively, putting you at ease with yourself. You also get taught eye brow/eye-lid massage exercises.
At the end of the session Carme gave me a Chinese ear massage, which almost instantly relaxed me even further and then followed it up with the most wonderful face ‘tapping’, while you get into the ‘chilled zone’-after all, after you exercise, you need to do a cool down session.
Carme makes a serious point of you needing to do face exercises every other day, making them part of your daily routine and the results. Provided you follow her instructions precisely, results are sure to follow. She says that ‘my job is to teach, convince, if you like, the client how to use my exercise tools at her disposal in order to look natural’. Carme takes her job seriously, so don’t expect idle chit chat-she gets down to business almost straight away and doesn’t let you sway. You will certainly be surprised at how hard some of those initial exercises will feel, so you will need to focus and learn the correct technique.
After my lesson, I left the studio with a slightly flushed face and with my facial muscles pleasantly aching. I didn’t look too different compared to how I looked when I arrived but I believe that facial fitness does work and the effect will be cumulative. We smile, we frown, we run and so does our face and the best way to age is to do it with grace and precision. Facial fitness is certainly a great way to enhance your skincare routine and make you look younger than your ‘passport age’.
Each one-to-one private lesson costs £140, with the four sessions course costing £560 and if you need a further ‘refresher’, you will pay a reduced rate of £120. You can also discuss with Carme a ‘no material option’, where the lesson lasts 45 minutes and you exercise your face with no materials. Classes take place Monday to Thursday, 9am-3pm at Facial Fitness & Pilates.
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 221 6427