BRB, filling my bathtub with ice to recreate this at home.
In Elite Daily’s I Tried series, we put products, recipes, and routines to the test to show you what living like your fave stars and characters is really like. In this piece, Kim Kardashian’s recent ice bath experience gets put to the test.
Lately, ice baths are everywhere. Harry Styles posted a photo of himself immersed in one during his Love On Tour, and Lady Gaga has been raving about them for years. Most recently, Kim Kardashian documented an entire ice bath session on her Instagram story in September, and TBH, it looked like a less-than-relaxing experience. And yet, her videos had me intrigued. I mean, this is a woman with all the resources in the world at her fingertips, and yet she chose to freeze her butt off in cold water. What gives?
Ice baths are, by definition, freezing, and therefore not exactly my idea of a good time. But learning Kim K is into this centuries-old practice made me desperate to try it myself. (After all, isn’t that why she’s the ultimate influencer?) So, I made it my mission to try an ice bath for myself to see if it’s really worth the Kardashian-level hype.
To really get the full experience, I went for my ice bath treatment at none other than Remedy Place, the same high-end spot Kardashian went for hers. The social wellness club’s flagship location is in Los Angeles, but the company recently opened a new location in New York’s Flatiron District in September. Kardashian and her krew went there to christen (Kris-en?) it shortly before its official opening, which is when she took the plunge.
Walking into Remedy Place, it’s easy to see why Kardashian chose to go here. The minimalist space is reminiscent of Kardashian’s own home decor. It’s super chic and zen, with gray, black, and beige hardware offset by lush greenery — in the center of its lobby sits a large olive tree. Dr. Jonathan Leary, Remedy Place’s founder, says the design is intentional, meant to establish a tranquil atmosphere the second you walk in.
But even the ambiance didn’t ease my nerves about getting into a freezing tub of water. As I toured the premises, I wondered how, exactly, does an ice bath help one unwind? Thankfully, Dr. Leary had answers. He says the practice reigns supreme in decreasing inflammation by causing vasoconstriction of the blood vessels and decreasing blood flow.
Beyond that, ice baths can also boost endorphins. “You get a dopamine spike for up to 48 hours,” Dr. Leary says, evidenced by a 2014 study published in the North American Journal of Medicine and Science that found that cold water immersion could increase dopamine concentrations in the blood by 250%.
Ice baths are also believed to be a mega calorie-burner. In an interview with Kourtney Kardashian's lifestyle site, Poosh, fitness trainer Bec Donlan said studies found that a full ice bath session “can burn anywhere from 300 to 500 calories as your body works to reheat itself.”
Further, a 2015 study out of the University of Central Florida suggests ice baths are an effective anti-inflammatory method that combats muscle soreness. But even though professional athletes have been using ice baths for precisely that reason for years, much of the medical community still disagrees about any long-term benefit the practice may reap.
Still, that all sounded good enough to me, so after a tour of the two-story club — with an area dedicated to vitamin IVs, a bed complete with lymphatic drainage technology, and an “accusound room” that also doubles as a spot for movie nights — it was time for me to begin the treatment.
Before plunging into the 39-degree water, I was informed that Kardashian first began her session with an hour-long infrared sauna session (part of Remedy Place’s "Private Contrast Suite" package, which costs $200). And since the whole point was to get the Kardashian experience, that’s what I decided to do, too.
Step 1: Sauna
This was my first time committing to a full hour-long sauna session. The first few minutes were surprisingly (and deceivingly) easy — that is, until the 120-degree heat started creeping up on me. It got so hot, I had to take a few breaks for water and air. The experience was difficult, but that’s kind of the point. “We call it adaption training,” Dr. Leary says. “You’re teaching your body how to handle extremes,” which can help you handle stressors more effectively, he says.
Step 2: Ice Bath
After all but frying in the infrared sauna, the ice bath actually started to sound more tempting than daunting. But there were two important steps to take before making the plunge — first, an 11-minute guided breathing session which, similar to Ujjayi breathwork in yoga, helps the body persist in times of distress. For the second step, a Remedy Place technician handed me special neoprene socks to wear during the plunge. These were meant to protect my feet from getting too cold during the plunge, which can be particularly unpleasant and painful for these appendages.
Then, the technician asked what songs I wanted to play while I endured the procedure. Naturally, I chose my one true hype song, not only because it’s a banger, but also because I knew it would last me the entire six-minute treatment and then some: “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)(Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift. (The irony of playing a Swift song while following Kardashian’s routine was not lost on me.)
As for Kim? It’s an Ariana Grande playlist (also a bit ironic!) including “7 Rings” and “Stuck With U” featuring Justin Bieber.
As soon as the instrumentals intensified (following Swift’s line, “In your drawer, even now”), it was time to begin. The technician counted down from three, and when she was done, I made the plunge. But the second my body made contact with the near-frigid water, all my conviction went out the window. When I say nothing could prepare me for how cold it was inside that ice bath — not an infrared sauna session, not breath work, not even T. Swift — I truly mean it.
Luckily, those first few seconds were indisputably the toughest part. Strangely enough, I felt my body adapt to the temperature with each passing second, just like Kim K did. Don’t get me wrong, the water didn’t get any warmer — but, slowly, my body began to adapt, which motivated me to sink deeper into the bath until everything but my head, shoulders, and arms were submerged. That was about as deep as I could go as a first-timer, though advanced practitioners submerge everything below the chin, including their arms.
When the technician let me know I was already more than halfway through the session, I knew I would be able to stick it out for the entire six minutes. That initial shock of the cold slowly morphed into excitement, and I could feel the energy boost hit my system almost instantly. (Was this the revered dopamine spike I was promised?) The cold was certainly a thrill, and thinking about the health benefits I learned about helped me stick it out til the very end. Finally, the technician began to count down from three again, and then it was time for me to get out of the tub.
Ice Bath Reactions
The first thing I noticed when I got out of the tub was that my legs were very red, which didn’t surprise me — that was where I was feeling the cold most throughout the plunge. Still, I wasn't expecting to have such a visceral reaction to leaving the tub. I found myself filled with nervous laughter as I experienced a distinct feeling of euphoria. I felt like I’d just downed three shots of espresso, then chased that with a Celsius.
Dr. Leary mentioned I may notice some physical differences in my body even after just one session. When I got home, I followed up on that claim, and was surprised to note my abs appeared more toned and I felt less bloated. Whether this was the ice bath, the sauna, a combination of both, or just a coincidence, I was feeling good.
Come nighttime, I was surprised to notice that I was tired much earlier than usual. This is actually a good thing — for me at least — since I tend to have a hard time falling asleep at a reasonable time — or getting enough sleep at all. By 11:30 p.m., I was out like a light. (If that doesn’t seem as early to you as it does to me, lucky you!)
Kardashian has consistently come under fire for the lengths she’ll go to for her physical appearance — from rapidly losing 16 pounds to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress to saying she’d eat poop if it made her “look younger.” But, when practiced safely, this ice bath ritual could actually be a Kardashian regimen worth following.
Not only would I try Kardashian’s ice plunge ritual again, but I actually intend to make it a part of my routine — not weekly (who has the time?), but maybe bi-weekly or monthly. Above all, I loved how it made me feel — the initial energy boost followed by an easier time falling asleep is more than enough to keep me coming back.
Surprisingly, I’m less excited to repeat the sauna component of the ice bath ritual. But because it’s recommended to spend some time in the sauna before taking the icy dip, I’m going to try it again. One idea I wish I’d thought of earlier? Bring! A! Book! It’s a great distraction from the heat, especially if you want to stay disconnected from social media while you try to unwind.
Remedy Place’s prices aren’t cheap, but they aren’t totally prohibitive. In fact, you can even book saunas and ice baths separately if you’d rather do without the other half of Kim’s routine. An ice plunge comes in at $50 per person, and a sauna session will cost you $100.
If you’d rather get the full, luxe Kim K experience, book the Private Contrast Suite, which allows you to go back and forth between the sauna and the ice bath to your heart’s content. It’ll cost you $200, plus an additional $50 for any person joining you for the treatment.
I don’t need as much privacy as Kim K does (obvi), so I’ll be sticking with the à la carte options. But still, I think even that will help me feel great — and get a little taste of Kim K’s life while I’m at it.