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U.S. Open Headline Of The Day

August 29, 2011
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Novak Djokovic’s Secret: Sitting in a Pressurized Egg

By HANNAH KARP

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic hasn’t earned his No. 1 ranking by taking the conventional road. There’s his odd ritual of excessive ball bouncing before serves, which can break an opponent’s concentration. There’s his new gluten-free diet, which he’s said has helped him feel stronger on the court.

But now there’s something truly weird: the CVAC Pod.

Ever since last year’s U.S. Open, Djokovic has been trying to improve his fitness by climbing into a rare $75,000 egg-shaped, bobsled-sized pressure chamber.

The machine, which is made by a California-based company called CVAC Systems and hasn’t been banned by any sports governing bodies, is one of only 20 in the world. Unlike the increasingly trendy $5,000 hyperbaric chambers many professional athletes use to saturate the blood with oxygen and stimulate healing, the CVAC is a considerably more-ambitious contraption. It uses a computer-controlled valve and a vacuum pump to simulate high altitude and compress the muscles at rhythmic intervals.

The company claims that spending up to 20 minutes in the pod three times a week can boost athletic performance by improving circulation, boosting oxygen-rich red-blood cells, removing lactic acid and possibly even stimulating mitochondrial biogenesis and stem-cell production.

Djokovic is so convinced that the pod helps his game that during the U.S. Open, which starts Monday, he’s staying (for the fourth year) with a wealthy tennis-trainer friend in Alpine, N.J. who keeps one of the machines on his property.

Djokovic has never mentioned the pod publicly before. He acknowledged using it for the first time last week during a sponsor event in New York after he was asked about it for this article. “I think it really helps—not with muscle but more with recovery after an exhausting set,” he said. “It’s like a spaceship. It’s very interesting technology.”

Very interesting, no doubt, but all I can think of is Sleeper. Wasn’t that the Woody Allen flick with the “large vibrating egg”? Turns out no, it wasn’t. My memory is going. That was Annie Hall.

And, while we’re at it, here’s some Sleeper anyhow (Orgasmatron and whatnot).

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One Comment leave one →
  1. jco permalink
    August 29, 2011 11:28 am

    I am so getting one of those.

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