Photograph by Kim Reenberg, Styled by Melissa Levy; Hair by Sabrina Szinay for Kevin Murphy at the Wall Group; makeup by Susie Sobol at Julian Watson agency; digital technician: Todd Barndollar at Capturethis; photography assistants: Andrew Harrington, Kiri Wawatai; fashion assistant: Raymond Gee; model wears Hesperios briefs
“You have a bit of what I call hail-damage cellulite,” says Ashley Black, self-described Fasciology guru and best-selling author of The Cellulite Myth: It’s Not Fat, It’s Fascia, as she peers at my thighs. I swallow nervously. “Don’t worry, we can get rid of it,” she assures me. Despite her lighthearted critique (and book title), Black’s fascination with fascia—the fibrous tissue that surrounds every muscle, organ, joint, and nerve in your body—runs deep. As a child, Black suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and was nearly felled by a staph infection in her hip when she was in her 20s. Her struggles with pain, she says, turned her into a “research-crazed guinea pig.” She read countless books and took courses on nutrition, anatomy, and physiology; somehow, all roads led her to fascia. The premise is simple: Fascia connects practically everything in the body, so unhealthy, or “bound” fascia can pull or bunch tissue and negatively affect circulation, nerves, muscles, and joints, which in turn can cause pain, headaches, fatigue, and a more benign, but bothersome, affliction—cellulite.
Black’s manual treatments (read: you lie on a table and she kneads your fascia) are in hot demand among professional athletes, business titans, and celebrities. But it was her desire to help the rest of us that led her to invent the FasciaBlaster (from $65, ashleyblackguru.com)—and if her legions of loyal followers (nearly a million on Facebook alone) are any indication, she’s onto something.
Devotees use their FasciaBlasters—plastic clawed batons that look like the love children of a sex toy and some kind of medieval torture device—as a cure-all for everything from back pain and fibromyalgia to unwanted inches, saggy skin, saddlebags, scarring, and wrinkles (there is a special FaceBlaster for the latter). Some are even reporting hair regrowth. You heat up problem areas with exercise, sauna, or a heating pad, and then briskly rub (or “blast”) them with the FasciaBlaster for three to five minutes, a few times a week. Bruising is common, but this, apparently, is a sign that it’s working. If all this screams late-night infomercial, just look at the daringly bare before-and-after photos in the invitation-only forum on Facebook.
Black, who blasts five days a week in order to “keep moving,” is working on her next book, which will focus on back pain, and hopes to open comprehensive Fasciology centers in New York and Los Angeles next year. Still, she doesn’t want women to look to her as their overall health model. “I’d love to be a size 2 and have no body fat, but I like food and vodka a little too much,” she says, chuckling. “However, if I can give them a tool that gives them more control, well, then I’ve accomplished something.”
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