You’d be forgiven for thinking it is crazy to choose to stand virtually naked in a -140 degree capsule, but cryotherapy is the coolest new trend that everyone from celebrities to athletes is trying.
Its fans include Mo Farah, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lindsay Lohan and Millie Mackintosh, and its benefits are said to be huge, from improving muscle recovery to helping with skin conditions and reducing inflammation.
It’s even said to make you lose weight, through boosting your metabolism, although a lot of cryoclinics are reluctant to promote that factor.
So, after hearing all about it, I decided to test the chill at LondonCryo.
LondonCryo is a cryotherapy clinic in central London. Unlike most UK cryotherapies which only go down to -90 degrees, LondonCryo offers a service that reaches -140 degrees – and that’s bloody freezing.
The clinic is run by Maria who discovered cryotherapy when she was finding it hard to recover from her sports training. Maria was so taken by the mental and physical benefits of the treatment, she decided to quit her job as an accountant and set up LondonCryo.
When you arrive at the clinic, you are asked to fill in a medical form, that’s the longest part of this whole process. Then you change into swimwear or underwear, boots, socks and gloves, that’s all you have for protection. Some brave gals even go topless!
Then, you’re escorted to the CryoCabin, which looks a bit like a sunbed, but appearances are where the similarity ends.
When you’ve entered, the cabin emits a nitrogen mist and is cooled to the temperature of -140 degrees. You remain in the cabin for three minutes for the treatment (any longer and it could be harmful).
During that, you’re asked to clasp your palms together and do some small calf raises or even walk in a circle if it is too uncomfortable or cold.
Maria or another colleague is there with you the whole time to talk you through the process or let you out if you can’t stand it any longer. The three minutes flashed by in an instant.
When I emerged from the CryoCabin, I was covered in goose pimples and utterly freezing.
The temperature is meant to trigger a flight-or-fight response in your body, which causes a rush of endorphins and adrenaline. After my treatment, I was chirpy, energised and noticed a glow on my skin – it was as if I had drunk three espressos in quick succession, without the crash a few hours later.
Honestly, it was pretty chilly but nowhere near as bad as I thought. I was colder on my Northern Lights tour last month!
LondonCryo says the treatment:
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Releases endorphins to help with mental health
- Reduce inflammation and aids recovery
- Boosts your metabolism
- Eliminates toxins in the skin
- Helps with insomnia
(And quite a few more benefits which you can read about here.)
But it’s worth noting that cryotherapy remains unresearched and the verdict is still mixed. The US FDA said the “so-called ‘treatment'” hasn’t been proven to have any benefits. A study from 2015, however, found athletes performed better, and recovered more quickly, in running tests after one whole-body cryotherapy treatment.
Another review said there wasn’t enough evidence to support the use of cryotherapy to relieve muscle soreness after exercise.
It’s worth taking all of these new treatments with a pinch of salt but I always think, if it works for you, keep on doing it. And a lot of people are feeling the results of cryotherapy.
My experience left me feeling uplifted and energised, but I wouldn’t run back to the CryoCabin due to the cost and the fact I’m not that into my training, so perhaps the effects are somewhat wasted on my tiny muscles!