CONTRAPTION OF THE WEEK: The Slendertone Gymbody 8. Ever found yourself thinking, "Hmm, I wouldn't mind a clip-on neuromuscular stimulatory device that could make a flabby tum a thing of the past, but I find those awkward straps terribly offputting"? Well, your prayers are spookily answered with Slenderton's Gymbody 8 - a "light, compact, battery-operated muscle toner" that employs eight adhesive pads rather than straps. The pads are applied to "specific areas of the body that require shaping up", the switch is thrown, and the stimulation begins. Slendertone reckon that a daily 40-minute session over a three-week period should lead to "a flatter, tighter stomach and bottom". They also claim it's "ideal for use at home or while travelling," but attempting to apply the pads on a crowded bus is not recommended. The Gymbody 8 is priced pounds 109, and is available by contacting the "Slendertone Hotline" on 0345 697278.

BRAKE FOR THE BOARDER We've had skateboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding, and now snakeboarding promises to make the world of foot-accessory sports even more confusing. However, its champions say that, linguistics aside, it's a different proposition to the others: "You're strapped to the board," says Andrew of Snakeboarders UK, "which consists of two pivoting footplates connected by a crossbar. So, using a combination of upper body and foot movements, you can propel yourself without ever having to touch the ground - even uphill.' There are three basic models available: the pounds 80 Comp, the pounds 120 Pro and the pounds 150 Freestyle Pro. There's also an inevitable accompanying range of baggy clothing covered in impenetrable slogans. For details ring SBUK on 0181 960 0555

VEG OUT As the world goes multi-vitamin mad, it's worth bearing in mind that most of the capsules on the market are made with gelatin, a by-product of animal slaughter; but now Solgar have introduced Vegicaps, in which the capsules are made from pure vegetable cellulose and contain no animal products. Many Solgar lines are now available in Vegicap form, including the newly-released Advanced Proanthocyanidin Complex, an anti- wrinkle treatment containing pine bark and grape seed extracts (pounds 10.99 for 30), and Echinacea/Goldenseal/Cat's Claw Complex, an anti-cold treatment containing three potent herbs said to strengthen the immune system (pounds 9.09 for 30). Solgar lines are available from selected health food stores.

FIT TO BURST A late entrant for book title of the year is a new American work, The Good News About Women's Hormones, written by Geoffrey Redmond, MD. Amongst the "Good News' within is this tip for those times when your period, or any excessive liquid intake, leaves you feeling like a beach ball: Go Swimming. "It's the best exercise for women with fluid-retention problems," reports the Doc. "The pressure of water on the legs tends to push fluid back into circulation and then to the kidneys for elimination." However, keep a clear exit line to the nearest toilet to prevent any premature elimination...

THE GENTLE TOUCH If you're fed up with the "no pain, no gain" school of fitness, you might want to investigate the burn-free exercise techniques demonstrated in The Supple Body by Sara Black, a new book featuring gentle step-by-step routines that work out every part of the body - from the back to the face - without the stressing and straining. There are over 300 photos illustrating each step of each routine, most of which combine yoga and t'ai chi with more traditional exercises. The Supple Body is published by Hodder Headline at pounds 10.99.

TOP GEAR At last - a mountainbike that makes going up a mountain feel like coming down a hill (or something). The six-speed Autobike looks and behaves just like a normal bike, with one important difference; its automatic gear-shift facility means you can soar up inclines and trundle down declines without having to lift a finger. It's designed to keep you cruising at 65 revolutions per minute, no matter what the terrain, but there's just one snag: it's only available in the US at the moment, priced $299 (without shipping costs). But don't get saddle-sore: both Raleigh and Sturmey Archer are rumoured to be working on their own versions.

BURN THIS Wrinkles could soon be a thing of the past, at least according to the adherents of a new form of anti-ageing surgery arriving here this month. Laser wrinkle surgery has a surgeon wielding a "laser handpiece" like a silver pencil, which fires a burst of high-intensity light at the inflicted area, vapourising the wrinkle and leaving a fine coating of ash. It may sound alarming, but we're assured that the heat penetrates no deeper than half the thickness of a human hair, leaving no burning or scarring. The surgery typically takes around 30 minutes, and a follow-up ointment means that all the swelling and redness have disappeared after 10-12 days, with the skin fully healed after about three months. "We can improve a person's appearance anywhere from five to 20 years, depending on the number of wrinkles treated," contends surgeon Jeffrey Dover, so if you've got anything from around pounds 400-pounds 5000 to spare, go for the burn at London's Harley Medical Group (phone 0171 631 5494 for details).

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