On an arbitrary Thursday, one of my good friends called me and asked me to join her for a cryotherapy appointment completely out of the blue. While munching breakfast, I decided to do a little research. I had heard of it briefly in a few different articles, but it was just touted to be for professional athletes. Funny enough, as I was leaving my apartment to go meet my friend, the local news: NY 1, was playing in the background and I heard a snippet mentioned about a gym with a state of the art cryotherapy machine that everyone seemed to rave about.
In short, cryotherapy is a treatment where you body is exposed to extreme temperatures that dip to -240 Fahrenheit, (about -115 C). That’s right! I was about to try a full body “sauna” that for 3 minutes would dip to -240 degrees!
When we first got to our appointment, we were greeted with warm smiles and were asked to fill out a comprehensive questionnaire about our medical histories and health. Afterward, we were led to small dressing rooms where we both got undressed down to our undies and were given socks, shoes, and robes to put on. The shoes were so warm I felt right at home immediately.
After putting on our gear, we were led into the room next to the changing hallway. We were welcomed with tea, and while getting cozy, we asked questions about the service. We were both going to try the full cryotherapy experience, and go for the full three minutes in the machine, followed by a 6 minute nitrogen facial!
What felt to me like a very special trip to a spa, I noticed what was a super routine gentleman in the waiting room with us. I asked one of the staff members who was making my cup of “haute body tea” if they had regulars that came every month, and to my complete and utter shock, she told me that there are people that go every single day. My friend M and I hadn’t been into the machine yet, and we were now excited and a little anxious to see what all the fuss was about.
After our cup of hot tea, we were led to the room with what I can only really describe as a large standing freezer with an enormous window. The attendant took our robes, and we went one at a time into the machine. Here’s what it feels like broken down.
The moment you enter in, you feel like you’ve opened a very cold, large freezer and the air gives you a little “hug”. Once you’re in, you realize just how cold it truly is, and you feel like you went outside in your skivvy’s.
Your body tries to heat itself and mine seemed to give up getting warm again pretty quickly.
The attendant will tell you that you might start to feel pins and needles all over. I felt it mostly in my legs immediately after he uttered those words. Your friend with you will make you laugh and the attendant will make conversation and keep your brain busy while the time goes by every so slowly. Thankfully M and the attendant had a great sense of humor about my small shrieks to the cold air and we even danced around a bit!
The attendant will tell you that you’re almost through and then you start daydreaming of all the times you were far too hot. My mind went to how uncomfortably warm my hot yoga classes at Equinox can be. Somehow, that was actually a very good coping mechanism. I wasn’t sure I could do the full three minutes because I don’t have as much endurance as my friend who trains hard at the gym almost every day. The attendant also lets me know that the more you shiver, the more fit you most likely are. I don’t shiver once throughout the whole thing but shiver violently afterwards for a good ten minutes.
For whatever reason after I took my exit out of the giant freezer, the first thing I said was: “I’m so thankful for the outside world” and we all laughed for five minutes straight. Maybe I was giddy from the endorphin rush, or maybe it was just because we are two women who went in a freezer for vanity and a serotonin boost.
After our full body “dip”, it took me a few minutes to warm up. I did some light exercise to try to force myself back up by riding the stationary bike they had in the holding room. For a moment I was a little alarmed because my legs were beet red, (which is a very weird thing for someone with my always tan complexion to be,) but it went away within a few minutes. Next it was time for the facial.
The facial wasn’t anywhere near as jarring. The technician took a nitrogen hose and went over my face lightly for 6 minutes. It was cooling and lightly refreshing, but I did shiver a little bit during the treatment. Silly me wore makeup, they didn’t ask me to remove it. It froze a touch but melted back to its normal state quickly, I still wouldn’t recommend wearing during the treatment.
After the entire experience I felt like I had energy to last for days, and so did M! We power walked to Bergdorf’s and the frigid, January weather suddenly didn’t seem quite so bad.
Three hours later, I still felt like I had a huge surge of energy – a non jittery, caffeine feeling. I had so much pent up that I went to the gym twice in the same day! I went for a two mile run before the treatment, and then a few hours afterwards, I felt like also doing a HIIT routine. Did I mention that I didn’t have any caffeine? And, I wasn’t sluggish without it! I felt like afterward I had such a burst of endorphins, kind of similar to after a great run.
While I have no idea of the lasting effects (if any) I think cryotherapy is so so much fun and I’m looking forward to the next few days to see how my skin reacts to the facial!
Have you ever tried a crazy spa treatment like cryotherapy before? If you have, what was it? Let me know in the comments below!