By Trevor C. Hale
DUBAI—I’m standing in a giant tube of freezing smoke. It’s so cold that ice crystals have formed on the hair around my belly button. I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve been in a minus-250 degree situation. Welcome to cyrotherapy. Cyrotherapy, derived from the Greek words for cold and cure, was pioneered in the 70s in Japan, but has only recently become a fitness fad to help reduce inflammation, enhance athletic performance, and slow the signs of aging. My wife and I decided to give it a go after seeing motivational speaker Tony Robbins talk about it on TV. He runs a lot, presumably over hot coals from speech to shining speech, and the cryo helps him manage inflammation. And I’m sure it helps keep the size of his massive face under control.
So here I am in my skivvies, slippers, and mittens standing in a shoulder-high “cryosauna” metallic tube with a nitrogen mist oozing about like dry ice. Bubble, bubble, freeze, and trouble—this is not your father’s carbonite chamber.
As the mist continues to pour in, it gets very cold. I try to take my mind of the chill and remember the brochure: The freezing temperature causes the body to enter fight or flight mode, sending the blood to vital organs to relay more oxygen and nutrients. The process supercharges the blood with anti-inflammatory proteins, muscular enzymes, and higher levels of oxygen causing toxins in the body to be broken down and carried away. Once the session is over—it only takes three minutes—the enriched blood is flushed back into the rest of the body, providing an endorphin rush. It is said to help knees, ankles, back pain, any kind of kink. Some of the research says it reduces cellulite and freezes fat cells.
Mmmmm. Frozen Fat Cells!
According to the interweb, “The effects on your skin are immediate—you get the healthy glow, improved circulation, and then with time, because of the boost in collagen, you see lasting effects in the smoothing of the skin tone and reducing wrinkles.”
We searched for cryotherapy here in Dubai, and found a place with two $100,000 cryosaunas just down the road in the Emirate’s Towers. A session in Dubai runs about $100 per frozen pop. The place seems to have a steady stream of customers, mostly bigger Emirati men in their crisp white robes. Obesity is a growing (!) concern throughout the UAE and these gents are probably here for weight loss.
A search also turned up Cryotherapy Birmingham, located just across from Soho in Homewood. According to cryotherapybirmingham.com, they have a $25-per-session cryo-special. Judging by the similar look and feel of the cryo-websites, I’m guessing it’s a franchise of a cryo-conglomerate. The site has testimonials from Dr. Andrews, “Bubba,” and Paul Finebaum. I’ve called and emailed but have yet to make contact with a carbon life form there.
It’s f-f-freezing! Only one cryo-minute to go!
Will I have super powers after this?
I imagine with every session I’ll be able to access higher percentages of my brain, like in Scarlet Johansson’s Lucy. I’ll soon be teaching levitation yoga and solving Rubik’s Cubes telekinetically. Like Sting, I’m tantric. I’ll discover and translate ancient Aramaic scrolls, the contents of which will unite Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. Only Westboro Baptist will be left to rot. I’ll defeat ISIS after leading negotiations for a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine.
30 cryo-seconds to go!
My frozen belly button hairs are becoming sentient. And with continued cryotherapy they will grow to compete in an epic Game of Thrones to decide who will rule over my soon-to-be majestic torso. Winter is here!
I’m at 70 percent cryo-brain capacity and am writing this with my cryo-mind.
Three sub-freezing minutes felt like…at least five. I’m cryo-shaking all over. I mount the cryo-elliptical machine in the cryo-room to get the cryo-blood flowing as my cryo-wife enters the cryo-tube for her cryo-turn. As I pedal the machine, still Frozen, I tell myself to “Shake it Off” and “Let it Go.” See there, I’m younger already.
Cryotherapy is not FDA-approved, and certain medical conditions like hypertension and deep vein thrombosis can limit who should undergo the treatment. It’s always important to talk to your doctor before trying any new treatments.