I Tried Cryotherapy Like Laurie Hernandez and This is What Happened to My Body

I Tried Cryotherapy And This Is What Happened to My Body

I’m a gym rat. On any given night, most days of the week, you can find me sweating it out, hoping to relieve some stress or burn off at least one bite of the Shake Shack I had for lunch. I’m also human, and can’t help but indulge in quick-fix health tricks when they make headlines. So when I was offered the chance to stand in a cold-temperature chamber for a few minutes to give my body a boost, you bet I was in.

The popular health craze I’m referring to is cryotherapy — a treatment that uses extreme cold temperatures to stimulate the body. You may have recently seen Olympic athletes posting about their chamber experiences on Instagram. These grade-A sports folk have traded in the archaic idea of post-workout/post-game “ice baths” for this trendy, effective and quick treatment. Gold medal gymnast, Laurie Hernandez, for instance, often shared photos of herself getting her cryo’ on in order to keep her fitness game strong throughout the Rio Olympics.

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Something must be working if the world’s top athletes and hottest celebs are spending time in a liquid nitrogen-filled chamber. So, what gives? Science says the quick treatments have the ability to alleviate pain and inflammation of the muscles, boost metabolism, tighten skin, and improve overall energy. The treatment has also been said to be helpful for those with painful joint disorders, rheumatoid diseases and the like.

There are countless cryotherapy locations popping up all over the country, but I was lucky enough to try out one of NYC’s most popular, Kryolife. The company prides itself on holistic approaches to overall wellness. Not to mention, it’s a hotspot for the city’s socialites and almost all east coast athletes. And I can see why: The location is clean, all white, and welcoming — basically, a breeding ground for ritzy Upper East Siders. I happened to catch a glimpse of a few of these women, decked out in their pants suits and Lululemon gear, presumably on their way to hot yoga. I, on the other hand, entered in jeans, sneakers and a messy top bun — and fifteen minutes late, of course.

Kryolife’s general manager, Rosa Mosomillo, broke down the science of cryotherapy for me, after questioning how just three minutes in cold temperatures would affect my body. "The first 30 seconds are when the brain starts sensing that there's a temperature change. The signal comes from the skin receptors; our temperature and our treatment only goes right below the skins surface. So, as soon as the temperature change is activated through the skin receptors, it sends a signal to the brain. The brain then starts activating the body to respond and protect it,” Mosomillo explained. “All our protection comes from our blood resources so as soon as our skin temperature gets below a certain degree, the brain activates all our blood flow from our legs up to the upper body where all our vital organs are kept. That area stays relatively warm; the brunt of the cold is felt on our lower body extremities, and that's two reasons: one, the blood in your legs is rushed up to your core, and two, liquid nitrogen is used to cool the air, and liquid nitrogen is heavier than oxygen so it stays in the lower part of the unit.”

Mosomillo’s description was spot-on with what I, myself, experienced. After stripping down to nothing but a robe, socks and clogs, I entered the room with the cryotherapy chamber — and I must say, the fear set in. "How much cold could a Jersey girl like myself take?" I thought to myself. Turns out, more than expected. The treatment, which spans between a minute and a half to a maximum of three minutes, puts your body in subzero temperatures — anywhere from -184 F to -256 F. The chamber, which reminded me of a futuristic time machine, was elevated and with an open top, so those with claustrophobia need not worry.

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