Cryotherapy emerged around 2015 as a recovery method for elite athletes.
Irene Jiang / Business Insider
  • Whole-body cryotherapy involves standing semi-naked in an cryochamber that blasts you with air between -120 and -150 degrees Celsius.
  • Cryotherapy first emerged as a wellness treatment for elite athletes, but has gained mainstream popularity because of its purported benefits which include pain relief, increased metabolism, and improved mood.
  • I went to a cryotherapy clinic in Manhattan to try cryotherapy for myself, and I actually found the experience to be soothing and pleasant.
  • However, while I felt refreshed and slightly less sore afterwards, I'm not convinced that cryotherapy is the miracle treatment some claim it is.
  • For more stories go to www.businessinsider.co.za.

Baby, it's cold inside.

Embrace that cold. That cold is good for you.

At least that's what proponents of cryotherapy claim. Cryotherapy emerged around 2015 as a recovery method for elite athletes and slowly found its way into mainstream wellness culture.

For 2-5 minutes, clothed only in socks, Crocs, and gloves, you stand in an insulated cryochamber that is filled with air that ranges between -120 and -150 degrees Celsius. Supposedly, this triggers a shock response from your body, which then redirects bloodflow from your limbs to your core.

Cryotherapy proponents claim that the treatment offers a whole host of benefits, including increased metabolism, heightened endorphin levels, weight loss, muscle pain relief, improved skin, and glossier hair.

However, the science behind cryotherapy is a little shaky. Although some research suggests cryotherapy may help reduce inflammation, there are no credible studies that conclusively support claims that cryotherapy is a cure-all.

Still, a cryotherapy session is only 2-5 minutes long. Always curious, I went to a cryotherapy clinic in Lower Manhattan to see what it was like for myself.

The space was an odd mix of scrappy and futuristic. The ice theme was strong. I was greeted by Anya at reception.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

It turned out that Anya also facilitated treatments. She was eager to get me into the chamber, as it was still cold from a previous client's session.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Anya found cryotherapy after she broke her leg. She told me that after starting regular whole-body cryotherapy sessions, her leg pain disappeared. Cryotherapy is also supposedly capable of relieving muscle pain.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I had just spent a week trying out various fitness classes, so my body was very sore. I was looking forward to the relief that I hoped the treatment would provide.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Anya led me to a dressing room, where a luxurious robe and thick wool socks awaited me.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

There were three nifty sizes of Crocs provided for my convenience.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The cryochamber is an insulated chamber with an adjustable platform. Cold air is pumped in from a liquid nitrogen tank, and the temperature is regulated by the machine. Anya chose to put me in for three minutes at -120 degrees Celsius since this was my first cryotherapy session.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I entered the chamber and Anya closed the door. An engine whirred. The platform rose slowly until my head was just above the upper limit of the chamber.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

At Anya's instruction, I disrobed and handed my robe to her over the top of the chamber. Cold fog seeped into the chamber from the bottom. I felt pleasantly cool.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Anya handed me ski gloves to wear. She told me that the cold would increase in intensity. However, while it certainly got colder, I never found the cold unbearable.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

In fact, when my three minutes were up, I found myself wanting more. My judgment might have been clouded by the fact that this was a sweltering August day.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Anya handed me back my robe, and that was that. I felt refreshed, as if I'd just plunged into a pool of cold water or stood outside in the snow naked.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I definitely noticed that my muscles felt slightly less stiff and sore, but not to the extent that I'd hoped. I wasn't sure that the effect was much different from that of taking a cold shower.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Even though cryotherapy was less intense than I'd expected, it was thoroughly enjoyable. Anya also said that the effects of cryotherapy build with regular sessions. Although I'm skeptical about its myriad purported health benefits, it was a soothing experience that I'd do again and again if I had the cash.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

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