Professional tennis player Novak Djokovic is having a career year, winning two major tournaments and suffering only two losses all year. What can he attribute to his success? He says spending time in this pressurised oxygen chamber is part of it.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the CVAC Pod simulates conditions in high altitudes and can help improve circulation, vision, reaction times, endurance and power, all while boosting red blood cell count.
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 $US5,000 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.
CVAC Systems say on their website that other applications for the pod could include scientific research, medical and veterinarian practice, along with "general wellness". Djokovic claims the CVAC Pod helps him recover quicker between matches (which is why he's spending his US Open staying with a tennis instructor in New Jersey who owns one). Some are sceptical as to the machine's effects, citing a change in Djokovic's diet and overall mindset as the key factors in the improvement of his tennis game.
But goddammit this thing reeks of the future, and if we can't at least consider the possibility that sitting in a $US75,000 chamber can offer the same effects as an intense workout, we might as well give up the concept of innovation altogether. [WSJ, CVAC]