Come into the cold
In the midst of hellish Texas heat, doesn’t 150 degrees below zero sound divine? You can literally immerse yourself in that thrilling chill at CRYOTHRIVE at root•ology.
“We want people to have a great experience,” said Cynthia Kemp, owner of CRYOTHRIVE. “You will feel energized and excited. The treatment releases endorphins, so it really lifts your spirits!”
“It” is an electrically cooled, true whole body immersion room — the only one of its kind in the area.
As “new age” as this treatment may sound, using cold to treat pain and inflammation goes back to 2500 BC Egypt. It was referred to in the mid-19th century literature as a way to treat headaches and neuralgia. The first modern chamber was built in Japan in the 1970s, designed for alleviating the pain of arthritis.
More recently, any athlete is familiar with the post-workout routine of submerging injured joints and muscles in ice baths. In addition to these benefits of extreme cold, the list includes reduced inflammation, better sleep, chronic pain management, reducing stress, weight loss, faster recovery after surgery, and even easing symptoms of depression.
Kemp cited a man who has treatments twice every day as the only way to get relief from the effects of multiple sclerosis.
Of course, Kemp makes no medical claims, but she is happy to share the literature from tens of thousands of studies about the treatment.
But enough theory.
“Do you want to try it?” she asked sweetly.
Now I grew up in the Midwest, where every instinct tells you to layer on wool-based garments to keep the frigid winter away from your skin. Here was someone asking me to strip off and purposely step inside a column of freezing air.
So that’s what I did.
You shed your outer clothing, taking care to cover any fleshy protuberances such as toes, nose, fingers, and ears. Then you are led to a cubicle the size of a two-person shower stall.
The maximum duration is three and a half minutes. Three and a half minutes doesn’t sound like a long time. That’s like waiting for the toast to pop up.
But when facing minus 150 degrees, naked, it takes on the proportions of Byrd’s trek to the pole.
So what they have you do is think of the duration of one song, which is piped in during treatment. I chose “Come Together” by the Beatles. As the door opens, you are surrounded by a swirl of fog and cold air. This is the moment of truth. Fighting your instincts, you step inside.
As the air pumped in and the music played, I found the experience... well... exhilarating. Soon I was dancing back and forth, air boxing, and making little hops just because it seemed the thing to do.
The sensation is difficult to describe. It was definitely not what I expected. I have been outside in blizzards and in 26 below temperatures. Heck, I’ve showered outdoors while it was snowing. But this, this standing nearly naked in minus 150 degrees, felt nothing like those experiences. It’s like standing in a cascade of cold, crisp, cleansing air.
An attendant waits outside the door monitoring you every second. She calls out the countdown, and provides encouragement. At any time, you are free to push open the door and step out. But you won’t want to. In fact, you are almost reluctant to leave.
My ambient skin temperature dropped 32 degrees, from 90 to 58. Short-term I felt invigorated. It is akin to that feeling of coming off the ski slopes, or stepping into the farm kitchen after breaking up the ice in the stock tank.
The long-term effect was similar to having a deep tissue full body massage. Deep sleep and rejuvenation. These are common responses, according to Kemp. She emphasized that cryotherapy is not the same as applying an ice pack to an injury. The value is the body’s reaction to cold immersion.
“People are finding profound, life changing results with cryotherapy,” Kemp said. “We have a lot of hikers and runners, and people who do cross fit and yoga. It is going to help sports teams and dancers.”
Kayla Rees, salon manager, described her experience, which aligned with mine.
“I enjoyed it,” she said. “I definitely felt I had a lot more energy, and that night I slept very well. It’s hard to explain; I just felt better.”
And in the heat of a Texas summer, that may be the best reason of all to come into the cold for three and half minutes.
CRYOTHRIVE is located inside root•ology at 1102 North Llano Street in Fredericksburg.
The grand opening will be held on June 28 with a ribbon cutting at 4:30, followed by a reception.
Treatments are now being given.