Chilling Out with Icebox Cryotherapy

As I looked at the tall metal chamber in front of me and heard the machine revving up, I began to wonder what the heck I’d gotten myself into…

Let me backtrack a bit. A few months ago, I noticed that my fitness buddy, Cara Weaver, spoke highly of Icebox Cryotherapy on her website. She said that this type of therapy was one of the most amazing ways to recover after a hard workout. And that was enough to pique my curiosity.

I’ve always been game to try anything that keeps my body in fighting shape (think massage and chiropractic adjustments). So it seemed natural for me to want to try this therapy that embraces immersing the body in nitrogen — in gas form — in a way that’s similar to how athletes immerse themselves in ice baths.

The treatment was developed in Japan in 1978 and has been popular in Europe for years — Icebox is the first cyrotherapy location in Georgia. The benefits of immersing the body in this cold environment for two to three minutes range from reduction in pain and inflammation to healthier skin. (Icebox’s website does a fabulous job of providing extensive information about the benefits, what to expect, etc., so check it out.) Also, athletes from both the Atlanta Hawks and the Falcons, and former Olympians use Icebox’s services, so that led me to believe that there might be something to it.

Please note that, as with all things, there are some people who should not use cryotherapy including those who are pregnant and have heart and blood pressure issues. (Again, see the FAQ section of the website for more detail.)

This past Saturday, I headed over to Icebox’s location off of Roswell Road in Buckhead and was greeted by the co-owner, Alia Alston, who served as my technician for the treatment.

Alia became interested in cryotherapy to deal with her own pain management — it helped her avoid surgery. She was wonderful about asking if I had any questions, which I didn’t because the website had done such a thorough job of filling me in on what to expect!

I was sent me into a little room to get undressed. For the treatment, you take off all of your clothes except for cotton panties, cotton socks, and booties. (Icebox provides the socks and booties and will provide the undies, too, if you don’t have any with you.) You’re also given a robe to wear to and from the machine.

After I had donned the “uniform” (see the picture) and a pair of gloves to protect my hands, I made my way to the treatment chamber. As the machine got going, Alia had me remove my robe (your head is the only thing visible to the technician) and the gas started wafting up (it doesn’t smell like anything).

It. Was. Cold. But thankfully the time really did fly by — because Alia chatted with me the entire time. My legs got super cold, as did my fingers. I would recommend propping your hands on the side of the chamber (as the technician will advise you to do) to help keep your digits from getting too cold (it took a while for the sting in one of my pinky fingers to go away, while every other part of my body was dandy). But it was never unbearable.

Three minutes of gaseous goodness later, I was sent to put my clothes on and then directed to a exercise bike for 5-10 minutes of easy riding to help get the blood flowing.

So how did I feel? Well, I felt a “high” that was kind of like the way you might feel after a few cocktails but energized. My muscles — including the right hamstring that has given me issues in recent months — all felt a little looser. I had drunk the Kool-Aid and wanted more.

The tricky part is that this therapy isn’t cheap (disclaimer: my treatment was free, as I was trying it for an article I’m working on for the next issue of Urban Lux Magazine). Individual treatments are $70 a pop or you can opt for packages like the “Jump Start,” which is recommended for new clients and provides two treatments for $100.

Alia explained that they recommend that new clients come in two to three times in the first week to “jump start” the positive effects on the body. Then you can do it as frequently as you like. With that said, I enjoyed the way I felt after the treatment so much, I would absolutely want to see how I felt after a few regular treatments.

But I might have to save up my pennies first. I learned an important lesson after my first session: clothes shopping + cryo-high = bank account in need of a recovery treatment.

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