Swag bags at this year’s Grammy and Oscar Awards include gift certificates to get frozen. It makes sense for Los Angeles dwellers, but for the majority of North America in February, the concept is sounds…redundant, at best. But perhaps we can consider it balance for the 110-degree yoga classes we’ve joined en masse.
Using extreme temperatures to pique the immune system obviously is not new. Saunas and polar plunges have historical roots in many cultures. Cryotherapy, an ancient-made-new, anti-aging, pain-reducing, anti-inflammatory, sports-recovery treatment is a tech-savvy take on the cold side of the idea.
Think of it as a freezing sauna cooled by -264 degree liquid nitrogen in which you stand mostly naked. Hesitant, are you? Think willingly exposing yourself to unnatural levels of cold sounds like frosty hell? Doubt that something so uncomfortable could be good for you? Valid points. Also very negotiable points. Even my sister-in-law, who said her first cry experience at Chill Cryotherapy in Westfield, NJ, made it feel as her nipples were “either going to cut through steel or fall off” wants to go back.
If you’re still looking for an excuse, time can’t be one of them. The initial appointment is a quick intake form, a minute in the changing room, and one to three minutes in the cryo-chamber. C’est tout. As for the price, if it is in your budget at all, measure it against the effects and experience instead of the minutes. Trouble finding the therapy won’t work either. Cryotherapy centers are quickly opening in cities and suburbia.
So let’s go.
Walking into KryoLife in midtown Manhattan almost feels like a futuristic sci-fi scene. There is so much white – white lab coats, white robes, white clogs and socks, gloves, and bright white light.
There is the hissing, semi-hydraulic sound of the cryo-chamber’s door opening and closing. Robed men and women, talking easily as regulars at a hair salon, as they slow pedal stationary bikes to rewarm their limbs after being the treatment.
The super-friendly technician was as casual as if I were going for a spray tan. “It’s great,” she said while giving me some tips to stay calm during the deep freeze.
Watching the frigid vapors spill over the top of the steely five-foot cylinder made even one minute seem eternal. “I’ll talk to you the whole time,” she said, as she opened the door.
My clogs, mittens, skivvies and I stepped in.
The liquid nitrogen and your lungs are not friends. Neither are the cold and the fine blood vessels in your hands & feet. So, head above the clouds and hands and feet enshroud. (Hey, it’s a sexy look.)
This … was as cold as it looks and sounds. As soon as the hermetic door shut, goosebumps started pricking my legs. It was impossible not to march in place and pull my arms toward my chest. Parts of my skin tingled, then stung. My organs felt like they were getting an ice bath. By the three-minute mark, I thought I would never be warm again.
“How much longer?!” I chattered out.
It was like appealing to a Cross Fit training partner.
“You got this! almost there!” she said. And then opened the door.
The blood started pumping back into my limbs immediately. And then, it got so good. Just like the Finnish sauna experience, within a few steps, my legs started to feel like they were filled with helium. My abdomen felt strong and my mind was calm, sharp, and almost a little high. Everything was light. My skin felt super soft. If more people had this burst of happy energy, this world could be a kinder place. At least for as long as the effects last.
As good as one session felt, 10 sessions (spaced no more than three weeks apart), are suggested to see optimum results. What exactly are the potential results? Cryotherapy is considered a whole body treatment, so they vary. Skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis, chronic muscular pain, arthritis, and weight management are all purportedly helped by cryotherapy. It’s a fine list with growing reason to be believed.
It only takes three minutes to see for yourself.
327 South Avenue West
Westfield, NJ 07090
57 West 57th St., Ste 712
New York, NY 10019