fitness

Ice, ice baby! Why the Cryo trend is red hot

You wouldn't choose to go out in the snow wearing just your underwear, right? You wouldn't then choose to stand there for a solid two minutes, right?

Well, I wouldn't...but when I was approached to try the hot new trend in Cryo therapy, I jumped at the chance. I knew it would be cold but I didn't expect it to feel like that!

Sure, cryotherapy is nothing new - burly footballers have been using ice baths for decades to aid muscle recovery, aches and pains.

But in our time-poor society, there's a quick fix concept gaining momentum.

Instead of soaking for 15 minutes in an ice bath (brrrrr), you can just step into a futuristic chamber of nitrogen mist for only two minutes... and I know which one I'd rather pick from the two options!

A post shared by Karishma Sarkari (@karishmas) on

HOW IT WORKS

The Cryo process involves dropping your body's core temperature so low that your body goes into survival mode and your blood focuses on your core organs before freshly oxygenated blood rushes back to your skin and extremities when you return to room temperature.

The increased metabolic rate from that process has also led to Cryo also being hailed a beauty and weight-loss treatment, not just a therapeutic one.

So, I decided to give it a crack.

I'll admit I was nervous to try it out - I had seen a report on 60 Minutes about people dying in the chambers when the procedure wasn't done properly. Turns out I didn't have to worry about that. As soon as I walked into CRYO Clinic in Sydney's Edgecliff, I was put at easy by the friendly staff (I think nerves were written on my face but they were pros about it).

I visited the CRYO clinic in Edgecliff, Sydney (pictured). Image: Supplied

I visited the CRYO clinic in Edgecliff, Sydney (pictured). Image: Supplied

My main concern, given my less than tall stature, was being able to have my head stick out of the cooling tube, as was required.

So before I stripped down, I was taken for a test run to see if the adjustable platform could be elevated high enough. Turns out it could be...so, happy days...I didn't have an escape clause.

RIGHT, LET'S GET STARTED

I was taken into a small closet type room to get changed while a video played on screen, telling me how it all works but as I watched, my eyes wondered below the screen, to the warning note.

"If you feel dizzy, faint or nauseous you must tell the clinician immediately". Ummm.... "is that a common side effect?" I wondered (OK, panicked!)

Never-the-less, I went out to the treatment area in my plush robe.

"How are you feeling?" lovely Rochelle asked. Again, I'm sure it was written on my face.

"I don't know if I need to pee or if I'm just nervous!" I confessed with a giggle, while simultaneously looking around for the bathroom.

Apparently though, it's a common feeling and funnily enough, just hearing that suddenly made me feel a whole lot calmer.

Before getting into the chamber, which dips below -110C, I was given gloves and fluffy ugg boots to wear over the socks you're asked to bring with you. Once you step into the cupboard-like tube, you disrobe, wearing only your underwear, along with gloves and booties to protect your extremities.

INSIDE THE CRYO CHAMBER

As the blast of cold air started, cool tunes played - including Ice, Ice Baby! - to keep the mood light. I was instructed to walk on the spot as the nitrogen mist (think dry ice) moved around my body.

The one mistake I made was with my hands. You don't move them like you do your feet, so you can put them anywhere. I chose to keep my arms crossed in front of my chest but staying in that position without any movement and in the cold, left my triceps feeling that painful sort of stiff for a few hours.

Being in the Cryo chamber certainly didn't feel as intimidating as it had looked in photos.

Yes, it was cold as the temps dropped to around -115C but I didn't get the shivers or the shakes as I expected to or sometimes do when it's very cold outside.

As a beginner you only spend two minutes inside the chamber and it went fairly quickly as the clinician chats to you, almost in an effort to distract you.

Temperatures get cold...soooo cold! Image: Karishma Sarkari

Temperatures get cold...soooo cold! Image: Karishma Sarkari

HOW IT FEELS AFTER

Heading back into the room to get dressed, another video started to play revealing how you can expect to feel in the next 24hrs.

"You may feel lighter," the video tells me. "YES! Yes, I do feel lighter! Hoorah, it's working," I thought.

I was told most clients feel a burst of energy over the next couple of hours after a rush of Endorphins fill the system and people will often have a deep, solid sleep the night of a treatment.

I was so excited to hear this as we said our goodbyes - in and out in about 15 minutes - not only had I survived but a superhero-style "hour of power" was imminent.

Back down to Earth (and room tempertaure). Image: Karishma Sarkari

Back down to Earth (and room tempertaure). Image: Karishma Sarkari

Sadly, I waited all afternoon for that to kick in, and I only felt more tired as the day went on. And sadly again, while I was more tired, I didn't sleep more solidly than any other night.

I had returned to the gym earlier in the week after a few weeks off, so I had a few aches and pains I was hoping would be helped along after the treatment but they pretty much remained the same.

And while my skin did feel ever so slightly firmer for the next couple of days, I quickly realised there's little benefit in a one-off appointment, you need multiple treatments to really see the glowing skin or weight loss rewards that some people boast about.

If I were to do it regularly, it might work in this way - the science adds up and it's not too harsh on the hip pocket to give it a regular try.

However, I'm not sure I felt enough in the first instance to rush back for more.