When the heat of summer is on, right now it feels like 100 plus in New York City, it’s hard to remember the frigid, snowy days when I willed it to be warm and sunny. The grass is always greener certainly applies to weather. This week, I was lucky enough to find a little bit of winter to tide me over until the fall. I tried the trendy whole-body cryotherapy treatment at Kryolife (New York City). Yes, it has gotten so sweltering in the city that I’ve resorted to freezing myself, plunging into a chamber of -211 F for three whole minutes, on purpose. After reading about the treatment and thinking about it for a while, I knew I wanted to try it. That didn’t mean I wasn’t a bit nervous (after all the FDA just gave its stamp of disapproval due to potential risks and lack of evidence for benefits). My colleague had recently experienced cryotherapy, and she had no complaints and came back in one piece, so I booked my appointment.
I felt at ease walking into the bright, cheery boutique space. The assistants were helpful and reassuring as my nerves amped up with anticipation. I donned a white robe and white gloves, slipped my feet into thick white socks and clogs, and waited my turn. I knew going in that the liquid-nitrogen chamber is much colder than the coldest reported temperatures in Antarctica, so it would send my body into survival mode, releasing endorphins and sending blood to my core to stay warm. But what does that actually feel like in real time? Honestly, I thought the chamber was still warming up (or freezing up) for the first two minutes I was standing inside. My helpful technician talked me through the whole session, asking how I felt and what I thought. Maybe it's because I grew up playing in the snow and cold in Colorado, but I loved it (here I am smiling after two minutes as proof). My teeth started chattering, I shivered all over, and my legs felt the icy chill nearing the three-minute mark and then it was all over. I stepped out and was talking nonstop with a goofy grin. Those endorphins definitely kicked in and kept me energized the rest of the day. Before I left, I lingered in the relaxation area sipping warm tea and swapping freezing stories with other clients, who I learned all had unique experiences when they dipped their toes in cryotherapy. Some people have screamed, others sing, and some spin around in circles to pass the time in the chamber. There’s nothing like a shared 'survival' experience to bond with strangers and if it relieves sore muscles and inflammation and leaves me with an extra pep in my step in the process, I’m cool with it.
Check out our June issue for more on cryotherapy and how your spa can add it to the menu.