Mega babe Victoria Beckham ends all of her showers with a blast of ice cold water. The freeze-out is reportedly superb for tightening up skin, shrinking pores and inducing a natural boost of blood pumping energy. Not one to give up hot showers, I need my hand-held to experience any freeze-out, even if it is a state-of-the-art wellness treatment.
I went to “the world’s most advanced cryotherapy chamber” at chic NKD NYC in midtown Manhattan to indulge in a cool 180 seconds of below-polar temperatures, ~300, give or take. Scientifically developed in Poland, whole-body cryotherapy is a European cure-all beauty treatment with an endless, and vague, list of benefits, the treatment is said to remove toxins, sharpen senses, and recover like a pro-athlete. Cryotherapy is still relatively new in the US, but has attained a fan club of endorsements from pro-athletes, who are replacing ice baths with cryotherapy chambers, and self-help celebrities like Tony Robbins, who has installed a unit in each of his homes for a morning blast.
After a quick office consultation to determine my depth of willingness and overall health, I was given the choice to blast only my lower body, upper body, or full-body. I opted for full-body on the beginner setting, because, hand-holding. I was then asked to undress, robe-up, slip on some heavy duty socks and crocs and get ready for my treatment.
I felt very cavalier about the whole experience, until I was completely naked, confined to a tiny chamber, with my own personal cheerleader/attendant voicing words of encouragement and pushing me to dance. I then had the realization that a panic attack could very well be the side effect of this dubious beauty treatment that the FDA does not endorse.
But I kept on shimmying and smiling, and ignoring the cutthroat transformation my nipples were undertaking. Every thirty seconds I was coached to rotate like a roast chicken, rotating 45 degrees to keep myself moving, distracted, and from reciting “I’ll never let go, Jack!” It got cold, real cold, but weirdly not as brutal as spinal-clenching New York winter storms can be, yet also not as cold as a pre-season dip in the Pacific Ocean. It felt more artificial, as it is a dry cold from liquid nitrogen, and more of a light burning sensation from a can of WD-40.
Around the two and a half minute mark, and hitting -300 degrees (Fahrenheit) I was about to yell for mercy, and just like that it was over. Maybe it was relief, maybe it was placebo, but I did feel an extra pep in my step and an adrenaline rush akin to runners high. My body acclimated back to normal temperature by the time I had changed back into my clothes.
The extreme cold essentially shocks the body into a flight or fight mode. Just long enough before inducing frostbite, blood rushes to core organs, picking up nutrients and eradicating shameful toxins. It cleans you out by effectively switching up blood flow. The result is a flush of endorphins, increased energy levels, a reduction of pain and inflammation, and perhaps photoshop-quality pores. I was potentially overshooting the mark thinking that this would also be a cure for cellulite, it wasn’t, but I did feel an increase of energy that afternoon.
Would I do it again? Probably not, but I’m grateful for the experience. I was told that NKD NYC’s most frequent visitors are Equinox trainers who are intense athletes seeking ice bath swelling relief without the clean up of ice baths. In 2016, the FDA essentially said that cryotherapy wellness claims are bogus and reported that very little evidence has been found in the effectiveness of the treatment. Overall, cryotherapy seems best suited for professional athletes who are battling inflammation or those with chronic pain, neither of which I was able to provide a stance on.
If interested, three-minute sessions at NKD NYC are $75. If not, there’s always a cold shower…