About five months ago, convinced by a handful of friends, I joined ClassPass. I figured what better way to motivate myself to workout than with mandated classes and penalty fees for skipping? Well, somehow between the holiday and a mini vacation last month, I managed to get to the end of the cycle with 25 credits remaining in my ClassPass bank. Realizing this at work on the last day of the cycle, without gym clothes, I needed to find some way to use up the credits -- which brings me to cryotherapy.
There are a handful of wellness opportunities on ClassPass, but they typically cost more credits than I'd prefer to use on one session, so most of the time I opt for fitness classes. However, this month was a different story, so I signed up for a 20-credit Whole Body Cryotherapy Session at Advanced Cryo NYC in Soho. I’ve always been intrigued by cryotherapy’s promise to burn an exorbitant amount of calories while reducing cellulite, wrinkles, AND improving energy levels and sleep, because like you’re probably thinking, 3 minutes in a freezing chamber, it must be too good to be true. So, I decided to bite the bullet and head downtown to see what the fuss was all about.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t advise going in New York in the middle of November, when temperatures are hovering in the 30s, but here I was, in my puffer coat headed to stand in a -274 degree chamber for 3 minutes all in the name of health and beauty.
I arrived at the address in Soho and at first, couldn’t even find the entrance of the place (gotta love NYC construction), but shortly thereafter, found the buzzer and took the elevator up to the 8th floor. The place looked very much like a spa, and they offered me tea and a waiver upon arrival. I tried to ask some questions, i.e. “Is this going to be HORRIBLE??” and they politely told me to read the waiver (whether it was horrible was not in fact disclosed in said waiver). I briefly read through it and confirmed I didn’t have any health issues before they escorted me back to the changing room.
My technician handed me a robe and some fuzzy socks and politely asked me to strip completely naked despite the robe which I'd toss once inside the chamber and the socks (I’ll admit I assumed undergarments were part of the picture so this was a bit of a surprise). She also told me to remove any metal jewelry, as I would assume this had to do with the whole skin sticking to a metal pole in winter concept. After I’d put on my robe and slipper socks, I came out and she walked me to the cryo chamber which was a cylindrical spaceship looking thing that was open at the top. We waited for it to rev up, and then I hopped in and threw my robe over the side. From there, she handed me gloves - naturally the gloves and socks were designed to keep me from getting frostbite on my extremities (COOL!). She then elevated the platform in the chamber so that my head looked over the top and pressed go.
The next thing I knew, I was engulfed in a cloud of -274 degree air. My bare skin instantly prickled with goosebumps and within 30 seconds, I was already asking how much longer I’d be in there. By a minute and 15 seconds, I was numb in most places. My technician continued to try and make small talk with me, and despite my chattering teeth, I tried to keep up. But frankly, just playing one 3-minute pop song would have sufficed. Either way, I could not get my mind off the knives of cold air attacking my whole body.
It was the first time I could say I related to that line in Titanic where Jack says, “It hits you like a thousand knives stabbing you all over your body. You can't breathe. You can't think. At least not about anything but the pain.”
Luckily for me, the pain ceased after the 3 minutes concluded.
When I very joyfully jumped out of the chamber, I’ll admit I was extremely energized. My skin was still prickling and looked like it belonged more to a chicken than a human (hey there goosebumps), but I did feel pretty good. I was also extremely red from the neck down, which I suppose makes sense, given the climate.
So, was it worth it?
I did feel very energized immediately following (although I can’t say that the effect has lasted over the past week)
I mean I fortunately don't really suffer from chronic pain at the moment, so I can't really say. I can say that the cryo process was painful though....
Can anyone really tell if something burns 500-800 calories? I’m a little skeptical that just standing around for 3 minutes in freezing temps can burn 800 calories, so I’m going to say probably not….
Was my skin texture improved?
Once the goosebumps and redness dissipated, yeah I actually do think it made a difference but I would venture to say long-term effects would probably come from repeat visits.
While it was a very interesting experience, I can’t say with certainty (especially after one trip) whether the treatment holds up to its promises. I also don’t think that the uncanny similarity in the words cryo and crying is a coincidence. However, if you’re into trying new things in the health and wellness space and may be slightly sadistic, I highly recommend.