You've been there before: You're scrolling through your Instagram feed when you see your favorite celeb post about their favorite new product — a face serum, vitamins that will make your skin brighter, or a specialty food service. You can't help but want to be like the stars, but are the products worth it? In Elite Daily's new series, I Tried, we put it all to the test. We're trying those products as well as celebrities' health and wellness tips, recipes, and life hacks. We'll do the leg work and tell you what living like your fave star is really like.
You wouldn’t guess it from the way she consistently busts out jaw-dropping choreography at her concerts, but Lady Gaga battles chronic pain. Her struggles with fibromyalgia, combined with her rigorous performance schedules, can take a serious toll on her body. And while I can't say I know exactly how she feels, since I’ve never walked in her wildly tall and fabulous shoes, as an avid fitness fan, I do understand the importance of physical recovery. After an intense workout, I'm sometimes so sore, it's hard to get out of the bed the next morning, let alone drag myself into the gym again. So when I heard about Lady Gaga’s sauna and ice bath routine, I was interested in following the Mother Monster's footsteps.
Gaga has been very open about her experiences with fibromyalgia, which can bring on soreness, fatigue, and pain all over the body. To help with her symptoms, she's explored a variety of treatments, many of which she's shared with her fans on social media. She wrote about her sauna and ice bath process in a November 2016 Instagram post:
When my body goes into a spasm one thing I find really helps is infrared sauna... In order to not overheat my system and cause more inflammation I follow this with either a VERY cold bath, ice bath (if you can stand it, it’s worth it)... it helps me to keep doing my passion, job, and the things I love even on days when I feel like I can’t get out of bed.
In the years since that post, Gaga has continued to document her hot-and-cold remedies on social media. Most recently, an October 2019 Instagram shows her gritting her teeth while submerged in an ice bath, which she captioned: "Post show routine: ice bath for 5-10 min, hot bath for 20, then compression suit packed with ice packs for 20. #rocknroll#enigma#gaga#gagavegas#vegas"
According to experts, Lady Gaga’s routine isn't just a bizarre trend. Ben Greenfield, founder of Ben Greenfield Fitness, confirms there are numerous benefits to subjecting yourself to a freezing ice bath, including strengthening your immune system, helping with sleep, promoting muscle recovery, and even increasing your metabolism. To reap the most benefits, Greenfield recommends icing after a hard workout to prevent excessive swelling and to relax your muscles. Similarly, there are a ton of health benefits from sauna use, including reducing depression and anxiety symptoms.
I decided to give a version of Gaga's sauna and ice bath ritual a shot to see if it could work as well for me as it apparently has for her. Here's how I did it:
I started off with my typical full-body workout. To ensure I’d be wiped out, I combined HIIT with weight training. Of course, I was properly exhausted afterward and ready to collapse on the couch. This time, however, I followed in Gaga's footsteps and headed to my local spa.
I chose to sit in the Finnish sauna, which was heated to a whopping 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the recommended time in a Finnish sauna is 15-20 minutes, I found myself a comfortable spot and peacefully settled in. As a newbie to the sauna tradition, there were times when the experience felt like being stuck in a blazing-hot desert, but I pushed through and lasted 10 minutes.
3. Ice Bath
Then came the portion I was least looking forward to: the cold bath. Though it didn't have actual ice in it, the water was chilled to 50 degrees to get similar results. Once I mentally prepared myself, I took the plunge, submerging myself up to my neck. Full disclosure: I barely lasted a minute before caving in and hopping out into the refuge of a warm towel.
Experts recommend completing the hot-to-cold ritual three times during one session, so that's what I did. Each time I repeated a step, I was able to last a little longer in the respective temperatures. By the third go-round, I was finally able to reach the recommended 15 minutes in the sauna, but could still only handle a few minutes in the cold bath. However, since I was able to spend a bit longer in the cold bath each round, I'm sure I’d be able to chill (literally) in an ice bath for 5-10 minutes like Lady Gaga if I made the practice part of my regular fitness routine.
As soon as I left the spa, I immediately felt the effects of what I had just done. Not only was I physically recharged, but I also found myself in a happier mood. Since there have been links to regular sauna use and a longer lifespan, I'm hoping to maintain consistent visits to the spa. Though the ritual is too time-consuming for me to do every day, I’ll definitely aim to do it at least once a week to ensure quicker recovery after my tougher workouts. The world better watch out, because this Little Monster's fitness game is about to be so fierce.