See why top models like Crystal Renn and Maryna Linchuk are using cryotherapy for an instant body boost.
It never ceases to amaze me the extremes people will go through to look better. Some of it is just crazy or even seems unsafe! The latest? Freezing your body? Ouch! Take a look at one woman's experience:
On a recent Tuesday morning, I was shaking in my Stuart Weitzman booties—not only because of the blistering cold outside but also because I was on my way to my first cryotherapy treatment. I was, admittedly, a little scared.
Cryotherapy, originally developed for rheumatoid arthritis patients, is now a thing among models, athletes, and beauty junkies. It requires spending a few minutes in a chamber where it's negative 264 degrees in order to improve your sleep, increase your metabolism, boost your collagen production, reduce your cellulite, and smooth your wrinkles. Sounds slightly terrifying, but promises major results...so, with my face contorted like that emoji with the giant eyes and no mouth—just so curious—I booked a session.
I took the first available appointment at Kryolife, a New York City-based studio that offers whole-body cryotherapy. As I walked in, co-owner Joanna Fryben, the woman responsible for bringing cryotherapy to the States from her native Poland, greeted me. Forty-something-year-old Fryben looks like a cross between Gwyneth Paltrow and Anja Rubik, and does not have a single wrinkle in sight, which quelled some of my fears about freezing my body (well, at least the ones related to my resulting appearance, not the actual experience, that is).
Fryben led me to a dressing room, where I was instructed to dry off any sweat (lingering moisture could result in a mild case of frostbite) and change into a robe, knee-high athletic socks, wooden clogs, and white Mr. Peanut gloves. Naturally. "It will be the strangest outfit you will ever wear," warned Joanna from outside, but there is a reason for the odd getup. "The blood gets cut off from your extremities so you need to protect your hands and feet," she instructed. On went another pair of mittens over my white gloves.
We entered the space reserved for the treatment, a luxe Aspen cabin-like room complete with glossy wood floors and a white sheepskin rug. I shed my robe and stepped into the "cryosauna," which encased my body up to my neck, with just my head sticking out. Almost immediately, I was practically numb from the waist down, shaking uncontrollably. "You are doing beautifully," cheered Fryben. "Twenty seconds left!"
After a full three minutes, my skin temperature had dropped to a cool 32 degrees, putting my body in overdrive in order to achieve homeostasis. "Just being exposed to the cold, not even exercising, is going have an impact on the amount of calories you burn," said Fryben. You remember that girl in college who always kept her dorm room cold because she heard it helped boost your metabolism? She was on to something, and cryotherapy is that in the extreme. It's said to accelerate the metabolism for hours after a session, burning an additional 500-800 calories in the 5-8 hours following a treatment. Yes, a three minute
treatment, which makes it basically the easiest workout of my life.
Back in my dressing room, I checked out the results in the full-length mirror; my thighs appeared tighter and my skin gave off a luminous glow. I wondered if it was just my imagination, but according to Fryben the results are real, if temporary. "When you enter the machine you are basically fighting for your life according to your brain," she explained. "These temperatures trigger your cold receptors and give you this fight or flight response. Your lymphatic system is being activated as your blood is being pushed to your core. That blood is being nourished with enzymes and oxygen, and it is being delivered to every single cell in your body so you can perform at the highest level." That explains the glow. As for my thinner thighs, cryotherapy is known to curb cortisol levels—the hormone responsible for water retention. Fast and effective: no wonder models like Crystal Renn and Maryna Linchuk turn to cryotherapy. (Dudes seem to like it too, with Daniel Craig reportedly using cryotherapy to get in shape for Skyfall
In order to see truly
major results, Fryben suggests doing 10 to 20 consecutive treatments as close together as possible (preferably every day), taking a break for about two months, and repeating. "Since you can't stay in the machine for more than three minutes, you need to do it more often in order for the inflammation to be decreased," explains Fryben. But at $90 a session, it looks like I would need to freeze my spending habits and really throw all my earnings at cryotherapy before I can have legs like Gisele Bündchen.
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