I am the girl who is perpetually freezing, so cryotherapy could have gone one of two ways for me: Destroy me to pieces or feel like an average cold night by the bay where I beg for my boyfriend's jacket.
When I first heard about this new wellness craze intended to reduce inflammation, pain and soreness from workouts, I had my doubts. Could three minutes in an excruciatingly cold chamber really accomplish all of that?
On the Thursday morning of my appointment, I rolled out of bed groaning with aches. Leg day at the gym had taken me down hard, and my joints felt stiff. Not to mention, I had a throbbing headache and general midweek grogginess. It was the kind of morning that I needed a double-shot of espresso and a reset button.
Instead, I was about to freeze my butt off, voluntarily.
Matthew Bergman, owner of Chiltonic in Hillcrest, greeted me as I walked into this new cryotherapy business in the bustling Trader Joe's shopping complex of Hillcrest. He explained how the nitrogen vapor fills the chamber, taking the temperature to 135 degrees Celsius below zero and temporarily lowers the surface temperature of the skin to stimulate the body's cold response.
In essence, it's a sore body's dream come true - and it's far less laborious and shocking to the system than taking an ice bath. Cryotherapy allows you to chill your problem areas quickly without affecting core temperatures. You don't get wet, your hair and makeup go untouched and you are in and out of there in under 10 minutes.
This location of Chiltonic has already seen its fair share of Barry's Bootcamp aficionados, elite football players and those suffering from various autoimmune diseases. This was one of the more revealing things that I learned from Bergman; those who suffer from chronic medical conditions can also use cryotherapy as a way to deal with daily pain. Treatments reduce inflammation, increase circulation and release those "feel good" endorphins.
Athletes have actually been using cryotherapy for over 30 years. Bergman shared with me how the Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban brought cryotherapy to the team in 2011, and they went on to win the 2011 NBA Championship game. Whether or not those two things were related, this caused a spike in fans interested in receiving similar winning results.
After filling out a short questionnaire assessing my health status, we determined that I would be best suited at the level one temperature (the lowest out of three), and the Chiltonic staff walked me to a private changing room.
I suited up in heavy wool socks, booties and two sets of gloves to ensure all of my extremities were safe, and a robe to be removed once I was properly standing in the closed machine. Cold, dry nitrogen vapor filled the chamber as my head poked out from the top, able to talk easily to the cryo-tech who stays with clients throughout their three-minute session.
I expected to be cold, but what I certainly did not expect was to be entertained. My cryo-tech Ky popped open a deck of cards for a game of "lightening trivia" while my skin tingled. Asking me everything from "What's the most important virtue?" to "Would you rather be 90 and smart or 90 and good-looking?" (integrity and smart, I said), my Miss America pageant answers strategically distracted me from any discomfort taking place.
As soon as I exited the chamber, I could feel my body reheating itself. Here's what else I felt: More mobile, flexible and headache-free. Literally, instant relief from my rough morning. I was refreshed and invigorated. My mind was clear. My legs rested, free of pain. I returned to the office feeling perfectly rejuvenated, just as you might feel after a plunge in a cold pool.
Three minutes flew by with the engaging staff of Chilltonic by my side. The cost of cryotherapy is much higher than simply icing your own muscles though, with Chlltonic offering a $40 charge for first time clients. Most patrons choose packages for repeat sessions, either once or a few times per week. These can range from $180-$700 depending on frequency.
Chiltonic - Hillcrest
Address: 1040 University Ave. #B210, Hillcrest
Phone: (619) 866-5785
Price: One session is $40 for first time clients; $65 regular price for single sessions
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