Under the microscope: The Big Ox personal flavoured oxygen canister in Polar Rush (£6 for 3.5g, www.thebigox.com; also available from www.shop. harveynichols.com)
In theory: The trend for oxygen bars originated in the 1990s, like all bizarre crazes, in Japan before hitting clubs and parties around the world, until everyone decided there were better things to do on a night out than stop for a breather. Now small personal canisters of concentrated oxygen are on the shelves of beauty halls and spas. Big Ox's blurb helpfully informs that "oxygen is an essential gas for human beings" and claims that its 89 per cent oxygen blend (normal air contains about 21 per cent) can help boost energy, particularly during exercise.
In practice: Road-testing this on a busy weeknight at the gym was a mistake: there is something untoward about inhaling from what appears to be an aerosol in a public place. Retiring to the changing-room mid-session, I then had a mental work-out trying to figure out how to use the canister. When I finally cracked it, inhaling from the can felt strange then really quite relaxing.
Observations: Perhaps it was the five-minute recovery time spent in the changing-room grappling with the device, but I did feel subtly – very subtly – energised after using it. The mint flavour is pleasantly refreshing, before becoming strangely synthetic. No other side-effects to report, apart from a few odd glances from fellow gym-goers.
Analysis: Oxygen inhalation is one of those emperor's-new-clothes fads that will have the more sensible among us spluttering in disgust at the thought of paying for good old-fashioned air, and there is no solid scientific evidence to suggest that incredulity is unfounded. But, if nothing else, this is entertaining.
Prescription: If you fancy a novel pick-me-up, there are worse things to waste your money on. However, the sensible will probably save their pennies and get outdoors for a few gratis lungfuls.
Further experiments: If you're still intrigued, OGO Oxygenated water has 35 times more oxygen than normal tap water (www.healthoxygen.com). And it might not be thanks to the O2, but Natura Bissé's Oxygen Body Cream is light as air (www.spacenk.co.uk).