Whether you're an athlete, non-athlete, trainee, non-trainee, it's something that fits everyone and everyone's lifestyle.
"Oh, good," I thought as I stepped off the busy gym floor at Drive495 in SoHo and into a tiny room containing a state-of-the-art freezing chamber.
I had just wrapped up a 20-minute interview with Don Saladino, the owner of premier training studio Drive495, and my stomach was in knots as I did my best to prepare, mentally and physically, for a round of cryotherapy.
Read: spending three minutes in an octagonal chamber with nearly every part of my body submerged in nitrogen vapor.
Don had just finished explaining the seemingly endless benefits of cryotherapy, but all I could think about was how I'd end up looking like Han Solo at the end of "The Empire Strikes Back."
Don led me into the cryotherapy room and told me to undress down to my underwear. Afterward, he instructed me to put on the provided gloves, socks and what looked like a pair of water shoes.
Don gushed over the benefits of cryotherapy, saying,
A huge word in this industry the last 5-10 years has been 'recovery.' Coaches are realizing now it's not [just] about the training session, it's about how you get that athlete to repeat [training sessions] optimally. That's the goal of anyone day in and day out. We want our energy level high.
Dr. Jennifer Solomon, a sports medicine physiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery, echoed those sentiments, saying,
The whole idea of hot and cold is removing toxins and allowing blood that doesn't have those toxins or those inflammatory components into that area.
Sure, I want high energy levels, but I also wanted to make it to Sunday to watch the AFC and NFC Championships.
Don, whether he sensed my nervousness or not, continued,
If you get off a plane, if you're jet lagged, if you just had surgery done, if you have an injury, if you're just stressed, if you're working out a lot -- whatever it is that's getting the best of your body -- you can go in for three minutes and really reduce the inflammation in your body.
The more he spoke, the more Don turned my anxiety into excitement. I mean, even if it was the worst thing in the world, it's still only three minutes, right? Plus, all the benefits he mentioned seemed too good to ignore.
If LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kobe Bryant, Usain Bolt, Daniel Craig, Demi Moore and countless others do it, so can I.
I stripped down and suited up. This was it. No turning back, no chickening out.
Don pre-cooled the freezing chamber while I said a silent prayer and thought about my girl, family and friends.
Once the chamber door was locked, my body was hit with the first wave of nitrogen vapor. It was cold, to say the least, but it was certainly bearable.
Give me one quarter turn every 10 seconds.
Soon enough, the temperature inside the chamber lowered even further. But instead of feeling cold, it felt as if my muscles were on fire, particularly my arms.
As I kept rotating my body, the temperature steadily dropped below -100 degrees Fahrenheit.
About halfway through my three-minute session, I found it increasingly difficult to breathe. I tried to remain calm as my body went into what can only be described as survival mode. Keep in mind, I had no conception of time during my session. Don kept me updated throughout the process.
Then, we hit the coldest stage of the 180 seconds, and I couldn't tell whether I was on fire or about to freeze to death. Practically my entire body was enveloped in -184-degree temps, and I couldn't recall a single cryotherapy benefit Don mentioned earlier.
My experiment finally ended. When I came out of the freezing chamber, my legs felt like jelly. As I dressed, though, I started to feel a rush I'd never experienced before. With each passing minute, I felt more rejuvenated -- euphoric even.
As I said peace to Don and headed to catch a train, I felt almost stoned. I was happy, and I felt the energy of drinking 15 cups of coffee with none of the jittery side effects.
I'm not sure how my life would change if I participated in cryotherapy regularly, but I can certainly see why athletes, celebs and everyday folks are crazy for cryo.
I was scared before and a bit during my session but as soon as it was over, I wanted to do it again. Despite my best attempt, I'd say the whole experience is kind of indescribable and certainly something everyone should do at least once.
Cryotherapy isn't cheap but if you're in NYC, I highly recommend heading over to Drive495 to for a truly unique experience.
*Check out the Instructions below to receive a 40 percent discount for cryotherapy at Drive495:
1. Visit the Drive495 online store. 2. Enter code: ELITE5. 3. You will be prompted to create a login before purchase goes through.