Trying Cryotherapy for the First Time

Last week, we lost our Cryotherapy Vcard. At the only full-body cryochamber in North America (not even our eyeballs were spared). Here’s how it went:

As part of a BC adventure, I stayed at the spa-centric Sparkling Hill Resort. About 45 minutes north of Kelowna in Vernon, even the non-cryochamber temp at the resort is approximately one million times colder than the W+A HQ in San Francisco. The inside of the main cold chamber is actually the coldest place on earth, at -190 Fahrenheit. Of my 24 hours on-property, this was my favorite/strangest/most challenging wellness experience.

If you’ve never tried cryo, it’s cold. Colder than you think. If you are used to cold winters (in Antarctica), maybe it won’t be as much of a shock to the system, but for me it was such a swing from anything I’m used to that it was almost out of body. My limbs lost feeling in about 15 seconds, I became a little disoriented around the 1.5 minute mark, and was ready to jump out around 2 minutes. The whole process takes three minutes and the only reason I remained in for the final minute was because my cryo spirit guide and Sparkling Hill staffer Jeanette (who does the treatment twice a day with no headband or double bagged gloves - BALLER) was so nonplussed about the whole and I didn’t want her thinking this Californian wellness ‘expert’ couldn’t handle the chill.

After the three minutes were up and I thawed out, I felt amazing. Alive, vibrant, not cold, generally stoked. My defrosting high was real. The most interesting part of the process, for me, was what happened to a new and pesky lower back pain that I developed after a multi-week SoulCycle binge. Bike settings must not have been right. The day after cryo, it felt worse - magnified and tweaky at every twist and stair. The day after that, though, it disappeared. In every workout since then, from lifting to barre to dance cardio) I haven’t noticed it AT ALL. Weird, possibly coincidence, but also totally possibly due to cryotherapy.

How it all works:

According to Sparkling Hill, ‘the blood vessels build a protection zone to maintain core body temperature. The effect is that during and after the cold treatment the nervous and circulatory systems are given a boost. The chamber is dry cold which makes it less uncomfortable than the equivalent in Antarctica -  which never gets this cold. In the fully-monitored chamber wearing light clothing, socks and shoes, a protective head band, face mask and gloves, the skin temperature drops to 5°C.’ The first treatment is $45, and a 10-pack is $300 CAD.

Its benefits are not exactly proven but people from professional athletes to crossfitters and those looking to keep deeper wrinkles at bay espouse its benefits. All I know is that my back is feeling great and I normally start layering parkas at sub 50F, so it’s a big win for me!