I’m beginning to think that you’re hot or you’re cold. More specifically, you either prefer heat or cold—whether it be in the temperature outside or your workout activities, and maybe even your emotions. And while my proclivity runs more cold than hot, I still had resisted the buzzy, beloved ice box torture chamber that is cryotherapy—until now.
A little background: Cryotherapy is technically anything with the use of very cold temperatures or ice to treat the body. But we now usually associate the word with the standing chambers and saunas (chambers are when it’s full body; sauna is when it’s neck down and the face is out of the treatment) that expose the body to sub-zero temperatures for a few minutes.
Cryotherapy’s supposed list of benefits runs long—from pain relief to treating muscle soreness and reducing inflammation, to collagen stimulation, and some even claim cellulite reduction. How? Well, cryotherapy works to reduce the body’s temperature evenly with dry cold, which can achieve a significant reduction in inflammation, and a decrease in cortisol in only a few minutes. Yep, you’re possibly one to three minutes away from clear skin, pain relief, and zero cellulite—well, kind of. Within the first session, you can expect increased energy; and within 10 sessions, improvements in skin’s appearance and overall wellbeing. It’s a continuous process, not a one-time thing.
The Nordic in me went to investigate these claims (and I then actually showed up because it was too late to cancel the appointment). I can’t overestimate how frightened I was arriving at the new, very beautiful, very state-of-the-art NYDG Wellness to hop in their very ‘cool’ liquid nitrogen Cryo Sauna. My incredible technician Luna Reiley eased me a bit though, and metaphor’ed the minutes-long treatment to as if you had just consumed the greatest cup of coffee: Euphora. Exhilaration. Jolt of energy. Okay then, I’d love all of that, thanks so much.
I was taken to the cryo room and took off all metal jewelry and wiped away any moisture, like sweat, as both will basically give you freezer burn or frostbite. You’ll also put socks and booties on to protect your feet, as well as gloves. You’ll keep your underwear and bra on, and that’s about it to protect you from the tundra.
I stepped into the sauna (basically a very, very small circular closet), and because NYDG has the super luxe version, it automatically lowers you down to shoulder height. My expert determined that I’d do two minutes in the chamber, as most beginners should start around there. The absolute max is three minutes. Temperatures can vary, too; beginners are usually around -120 degree and temps can go down to -150 degrees depending on expertise, body type, etc. I stayed at the “highest” temp possible, -120 degrees.
I was as ready as I’d ever be for my body to go into “the state of shock” as Reiley told me it would (the reason for those euphoric after effects stated above). “That’s why we keep it at a very limited threshold, we only want to rejuvenate your body and kickstart the metabolic processes in the body, so you get that rush of endorphins and adrenaline.”
The machine started, and immediately smoke from the liquid nitrogen started pumping out. Oh, and hey, it was pretty damn cold. Reiley told me to focus on the conversation she was trying to hold with me about my day’s meals, but I on the other hand mostly want to just complain about the temperature. (Did she know how cold it was in here? And is it okay if my thighs feel freezing? (Yep, that’s where most people feel it apparently.) And hey, it’s really cold, is that okay?) Two minutes of complaining like a toddler, and I began to forget about the temperature. And just like that, the machine shut off. It was over.
I briskly walked my freezing thighs over to the mirror to admire my instant and abundant euphoria and adrenaline, but all I felt was tired (probably from all the complaining). Each person is different, and while some people feel an energy boost, others experience a “so tired you’ll have the best night of your sleep” effect. Reiley said that an impeccable night of sleep is an added bonus, but guys, in this day and age, I’d lead with that fact. The tiredness kept through the evening, and I crashed hard, sleeping soundly.
Was it as cold as I thought it’d be? No, it was even colder. And one treatment in, it’s hard to talk about the pain and cellulite reduction, or the additional energy boost. But I can say that a lot of people swear by it, and its benefits after continuous use. And maybe the peer pressure is getting to me, but hey, it’s worth another round of investigating, or at least another night’s of great sleep, right?
Cryotherapy treatments start around $20 and go up to $50 depending on the machine and expertise. Make sure you go to a reputable place where your safety is always first and foremost.