In the Deep Freeze

I stop at a red light as is expected on my drive home. It’s one of the longer lights so I look around a bit. On my left across the opposite lane is an advertisement I haven’t see before. It reads:

Next | Health
Cryotherapy
NOW OPEN

It’s accompanied by a picture of a dark figure surrounded by thick mist. It looks like an alien movie poster- not sure if that’s the effect they are going for. On the other hand, cryotherapy? It’s a term I did not expect to see today. I take note to look it up later.

Once home I complete another 2000 words of my book Artificial. I take a break and walk to get coffee at the nearest Starbucks, somewhere I haven’t been in a while. Turns out that Next | Health has taken up residence across from my coffee spot.

I walk in (coffee first of course!), to ask about this new therapy.

“Hey, so can you tell me about cryotherapy?” I ask.

It’s the lady on the comfy couch waiting for her turn who replies, “It’s amazing,” with a number of encouraging nods.

The employee explains simply that cryotherapy is a cold blast with a number of health benefits.

“But how is it different from being out in the cold?” I ask, I need more to go on. Especially after growing up in Canada, surely they would have advertised and monetized the benefits of winter by now if that was the case.

She says it stimulates circulation by bringing blood back to the core, then releasing it again once back at room temperature. It stimulates collagen production, increases recovery time for athletes, promotes endorphin release that benefits mood, prevents and reduces inflammation and enhances the immune system.

I’m not convinced. Especially after eyeing the cost of each 2-3 minute session at a staggering $60, just for a trip to the freezer?

“I’m a member, do you want to try? I can bring you in with me,” says the lady on the comfy couch. Of course I say yes, and thank you!

The customer adds, “It’s helped me with my ankle problems… it’s reduced the inflammation. And I sleep so much better.” She says she has also noticed an increase in vivid dreams.

I fill out a health waiver, and change into the cryotherapy outfit. Socks, slippers, mittens under gloves, and a face mask to protect the extremities. Oh, and a towel. I’m given music to help pass the time in the freezer, I’m not yet ready to call it cryo.

“Tap if you need to come out and we’ll open the door for you!”

“Okay!” and in I go. Have you ever seen nitrogen escaping? Or that whoosh of cold air when you breath out in the winter? Well a whole cloud of that rushes out of the standing chamber, and I step in.

At first it’s not too chilly. Then it’s fucking freezing. My skin tightens, my nose is cold. Then my arms and legs which aren’t protected by the towel begin to burn in the cold. I’m just about to tap out by the time the session ends and they open the clear door.

Someone else is already waiting for their turn. There seems to be a constant flow of people lining up for a cryotherapy session.

“How do you feel?” she asks.

“Cold!” is all I feel at the time. I change, look at the membership options and say thanks, I’ll need to sleep on it. My skin does feel tighter, and, opposite to what I would expect, my muscles do feel more relaxed. I usually never remember my dreams, but that night I remember one.

Now, later the next day, I don’t feel any different than I would on any other day with or without cryotherapy. Although, I’m interested in the science behind this and if I find $249 to spare for a monthly unlimited (limited to one session per day) membership, I would definitely freeze my ass off for 2-3 minutes a day to satisfy my curiosity.

Time to dig a little deeper. This deserves a bit of research so I’ll let you know what I find out about cryotherapy next time round. Pretty neat eh!

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