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Cryotherapy: Talk about freezing your assets

It’s frightfully cold outside right now, in London, anyway (I can’t speak for the rest of the world I’m afraid). In fact it’s so cold here that just last week I managed to slip on a sneaky bit of black ice and fall spread-eagle on the pavement in an oh so graceful manner. (I’m still paying for that – my hip currently feels like the hip of my 98-year-old Grandma.)

Despite this incessant chill, however, I recently opted to take part in a spot of full body Cryotherapy by 111Cryo. A new beauty treatment at London’s Harvey Nichols, it’s inspired by rugby players’ penchant for jumping into a bath of ice to help with those post match aches and pains, and is hardly the first thing that springs to mind when the world is making you shiver.

Despite this clear conflict of ideals, I was too intrigued by the supposed beauty benefits it offers to pass up the chance to try it out. And how cold could -90ºC really be? I’m warm blooded after all. I got hot in Iceland.

Very it turns out. And by very, I mean I almost had a panic attack upon entering the chilled glass chamber – a little box* you’re steered towards clad in nothing more than underwear, gloves, socks and snow shoes and placed in for exactly three minutes until you can escape.
Once I got past the initial shock, however, and had a little jig to the Beyonce that was blaring through the speakers, the temperature became much more bearable, and although I could feel my eyelashes and nostrils slowly freezing over – a normal occurrence I promise – I could see the clock on the wall slowly ticking towards its end and the cold didn’t feel so cold anymore.

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In fact it was almost worth it, for the benefits of this extreme treatment far outweigh the 180 second ordeal. Renowned for helping with inflamed joints and muscles – a fitness junkies’ heaven as the blast of coldness will speed up recovery time – it’s also a gem for both the skin and weight loss.

For the latter, they say that the body kick-starts itself into a post-treatment warm up process, spurring on the metabolism and helping you lose up to 800 calories in the mere hours afterwards. If you’re as averse to the gym as I am then this will be music to your ears – and allows for a guilt free splurge, no?

For the skin, it’s all about that coveted youthful glow. Aiding the skin’s natural recovery system, the freezing temperatures help tighten the pores and resurface the complexion, stimulating collagen production in the deeper layers for a firmer appearance. You’ll emerge with a glow akin to the euphoria of first love – fresh, flushed and invigorated – ready for anything, impervious to all.

If you’re considering taking a stab at this line of treatments – a series of five or 10 sessions is advised as benefits ware off pretty quickly – then here’s five pointers to help you prepare. It’s a worthy cause, but one that really should be psyched up to. Trust me.

  • 1. Be aware. You’ll look a bit silly as you pad from the changing room to the chamber – underwear, snow boots, gloves and a face mask a good look do not make. But no one cares and no one’s watching.
  1. 2. Remember to breathe but don’t breathe too deeply. Your initial instinct will be to panic, breathing frantically and taking freezing cold air into the lungs. Relax and opt for short, shallow breaths at a medium pace.
  2. 3. Move. Remember to move. I was so stunned I just stood there trying to see my hands through the fog until my therapist prompted me to jig about and lift my limbs – it made the time pass much more quickly.
  3. 4. Speaking of time – don’t stare at the clock. A watched pot and all that.
  4. 5. Marvel at the fact your body and your mind can actually withstand this temperature. Any longer and it wouldn’t be good, but during those three minutes you’ll feel invincible. Like Wolverine, set in an Arctic clime.

* (disclaimer – not suitable for claustrophobics)

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