As you babes all know, self-care has been one of my 2017 priorities and I love checking out all of the resources NYC has to offer, whether it be meditation centers, vitamin boosters, acupuncture, cupping, inferred saunas, or most recently, whole body cryotherapy. Last week I finally made it to a whole body cryotherapy session and I loved it (so much more than I had anticipated). Here's the low-down on cryotherapy, some of the benefits I experienced, and why I think you should consider trying it yourselves.
Cryotherapy is short exposure to extreme cold, whole body cryotherapy (WBC) takes place in those chambers you see popping up all over your Instagram feed. This extreme and very low temperature stimulates receptors and prompts the body to take blood from your extremities and bring that blood to the core to protect your organs, activating a Central Nervous System response. This causes the release of endorphins (you babes know how I feel about endorphins) and decrease of inflammation (hello faster recovery from exercise). Cryotherapy is also thought to improve skin tone, rejuvenate cells, increase energy and metabolism, and potentially provide an immune system boost too. Rumor has it, cryotherapy also burns 500-800 calories in three minutes since your body is working to stay warm.
While we only recently started seeing these WBC chambers pop up, the process of using cold temperatures for health benefits has existed in different ways since the 1700s to decrease pain and muscle spasms, improve recovery, slow cell aging, and just improve overall health. I personally have been aware of the benefits of cold therapy for a few years now and on more than one occasion a trainer or therapist has encouraged me to get into an ice bath or cold tub for post-workout and injury recovery. But, the idea of plunging myself into a tub water and sitting there for 10 to 15 minutes was too much for me. Not only do I hate being cold (yes, I’m the girl that is always cold, always hot and very rarely a comfortable temperature) but the idea of slowly dipping myself (or plunging myself) into a cold tub took more disciple than I had when it came to making myself cold and uncomfortable on purpose.
So, needless to say, any therapy that would allow me to have the benefits of cold temperatures without the prolonged process or self-motivation seemed promising and I knew I had to try it out. So, last week, I had my first whole body cryotherapy session.
Here’s how it went down. . .
I arrived at the center and was greeted at the front desk. I had to fill out a waiver and was specifically asked about any underlying medical conditions I may have had that could exclude me from the treatment. Here, it is so important to make sure you understand what is happening to your body and be honest and open with the staff. There is a lot still unknown about these cryo-chambers so make sure to make yourself educated and ask questions if you have any.
I was then given a robe, socks, and gloves and was instructed to strip down and meet the attendant in the hallway in nothing but the robe, socks, and gloves (yup, completely naked under there). The attendant then led me into a room where the cryotherapy chamber was located. She gave me a run-down on what to expect and what the process would feel like. I entered the chamber (only my head was sticking out) and was told to take off my robe and put on an extra pair of gloves. The attendant told me that the best way to get through the three minutes was just to dance to the music playing in the background and talk to her through the process (the attendant stayed in the room for the entire three minutes to make sure everything was safe). So, it was time to get this party started. I took off my robe, put on my extra gloves, and just started dancing to the beat. Yup, there I was just dancing naked in nothing but socks and gloves in a freezing cold chamber (can you say – 200 degrees) for three minutes.
Honestly, the three minutes was over way faster than I had expected. I had thought that the temperature would be unbearable, but I really wasn’t uncomfortable until the last thirty seconds or so. Mostly, I just had a pins and needles feeling in my legs, but wasn’t anything too painful or uncomfortable. I actually found the whole intentionally being freezing thing more tolerable and enjoyable than I had expected. I knew I was only in there for 3 minutes total and my competitive side kicked in so I knew I had to stick it out. Plus, dancing to the music and making small talk with the attendant was much better than watching the clock slowly tick.
When the three minutes was up, the attendant handed me my robe and I exited the chamber. The specific location I tried out had heated massage chairs that you could use for ten minutes following your session to get your body warmed back up and your blood flowing. This was a nice added benefit, but all things considered, I was surprised at how quickly my body warmed up naturally before I even made it to the chair.
I felt awake and rejuvenated the rest of the day. I slept like a rock (which isn’t my normal M.O) and my muscles felt fresh for my workout the next morning (although after my first Corepower Yoga Sculpt class the feeling was short-lived). Based on my WBC experience and the benefits I felt from the therapy, I will definitely try it again soon.
So, would I recommend that you babes all run and try out WBC for yourselves? Yes, but be smart about it. While my experience was positive, there is a lot about WBC that remains unknown. If you are excited about WBC and want to give it a try, do your research, ask smart questions, find a center you trust, and make sure your health can support the therapy. If you’re not sure WBC is for you (or at least isn’t for you right now), try a cryo session on a specific part of your body as a test to see if you want to try the whole-body experience. Have you babes tried cryotherapy? I’d love to hear your experiences!