I’ll try anything in the name of health and wellness, as long as it resonates with me on some level. This is why you won’t see me on a cleanse where I starve myself or ingest anything involving chemical powders. You will, however, find me going into sub-zero temperatures in the middle of an already freezing winter. I’m talking about cryotherapy.
My gateway to cryotherapy was Wim Hof, who combines breath work with cold temperatures. According to his website, the intention is to help people reach their maximum wellness potential by getting them back to their natural rhythms. I’ve heard of expeditions where Wim Hof trains people – regular, everyday people – to trek up snowy mountains in their underwear (or something like that). Though I considered it for almost a second, I decided the occasional ski trip will be as close as I get to that experience, at least for now.
Then I heard about cold plunges. Maybe you’ve heard about the Polar Bear plunge where people jump into freezing cold bodies of water for charity. A cold plunge is sort of like that, except the charity is your health and wellbeing. While this intrigued me, I was concerned I’d have to get my hair wet, making this a less appealing option. After all, consistency is key to seeing any real change for most things wellness. You don’t eat spinach for one day or workout one time and expect to notice a difference. I needed something more sustainable for me.
That’s when I came across cryotherapy. Since it seemed like it would give me comparable benefits to a cold plunge but in a dry way, I decided to give it a shot. Luckily, there’s a cryotherapy place right in my town called ChillRX. Since it was right around the holidays, they were running a special where I could try 5 of their services for $50 total, or $10 each. Sold!
Read on to learn more about each service I tried, in the order I tried them.
***This post may contain affiliate links. As a Sakara and Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This is at no cost to you but helps me run my website.***
Cryotherapy was what brought me in originally so this is where I started. The reported benefits of cryotherapy are reduced inflammation, increased energy, better sleep and improved metabolism.
I checked in for my session and was directed to a changing room where I stripped down to my bra, underwear and a thick pair of socks they provided, plus a robe to walk from the changing room to the cryotherapy pod room. Once in the room, a staff member had me put on clogs, gloves and a headband to cover my ears. The session itself lasts 3 minutes, and the staff member will adjust how low the temperature goes based on your experience level and/or comfort. I started somewhere around -160 degrees Fahrenheit and in subsequent sessions went to -180 degrees Fahrenheit.
For my session, I got to pick my song (“Girls Like You” by the Naked and Famous). Then I removed my robe, stepped into the chamber, and pretty much danced around in there for the entire 3 minutes. Someone is always right outside the chamber, and knowing I could tap the window at any point to come out meant it wasn’t scary at all.
Honestly, for someone who doesn’t like to be cold, I loved this! I found it exhilarating and fun. I can definitely see myself doing this whenever I need an energy boost, especially in the hot weather months when I feel so sluggish. This wound up being my second favorite treatment I tried (and no hair washing needed).
The next treatment I tried was a CryoFacial. It’s the same concept as whole body cryotherapy, except localized to one specific area, which in this case was my face. Now here’s the thing about me. I don’t like facials, and I never get them unless someone treats me to a spa package that includes one. Even then, I always try to trade the facial for a comparable service.
However, I remember reading countless articles in the 90s where models and movie stars would splash ice cold water on their face to tighten everything up. I figured since this was a dry version of that beauty trick, I could get down with it. In addition to tighter skin, other benefits are supposed to be increased collagen production and reduced wrinkles and pore size.
I sat in a room while a staff member directed freezing cold air onto my face. It wasn’t unpleasant at all, and it felt like my skin was getting tighter. Afterwards, I had a bit of a glow, but overall, I was neutral on this treatment. It’s definitely one of those things I’d have to do multiple times to really give it a chance to work, but I don’t think I can get over my ambivalence towards facials to invest the time and money. This wound up being my 4th favorite out of the 5 treatments, but I didn’t dislike it.
As always, I’m going to keep it super real. I’m immediately skeptical of anything that boasts words like “slim” in its title. I think there’s a huge problem in society where people are constantly being sold quick fixes when the truth is there aren’t any shortcuts. That said, I felt the same initial attitude towards the Sakara metabolism powder, and now I can’t imagine my life without it (or the bars). I decided to reserve judgment and keep an open mind.
Unlike the previous therapies, this wasn’t a cold temperature service. Instead, the Slim Pod uses infrared heat combined with red light therapy and vibration. The supposed benefits include detoxification, weight loss and lymphatic drainage.
When I walked into the room with the Slim Pod, my first thought was it looks like Dante’s Inferno. After I got inside, my next thought was that it IS Dante’s Inferno. Truthfully, I didn’t like this at all. I shut off the vibration completely and basically stared at the clock willing it to move faster until I was done. I was sweaty and gross afterwards, and if I slimmed down at all, it was probably temporary water weight from sweating. Hard pass and my least favorite service.
The whole reason I became interested in cryotherapy in the first place was because I wanted to boost my circulation. I tend to run cold and have to wear the thickest, fuzziest socks at night in order to sleep comfortably. I’ve tested my thyroid and gone to acupuncture, and the feedback I get is my circulation could use a little help. Since it’s the most pronounced in my legs, I was pretty curious about compression therapy.
Compression therapy is said to be great for muscle recovery, enhancing blood flow (yay!) and lymphatic massage. The actual session itself was really fun. The staff member stuck my legs into these full-leg padded “boots”, gave me some options to increase or decrease pressure and then left me alone. I laid there for 30 minutes reading a book while the boots worked their magic, which is what it felt like for me.
This turned out to be my favorite treatment of all. I only want to read while getting a full leg massage from now on, but since that’s not realistic, I’m definitely treating myself to a compression therapy session after long flights and tougher workouts, like a Spartan race.
Here we go again with the heat, I thought. If you’ve ever done a traditional sauna, an infrared sauna session is similar, except dry. In my case, it also utilized light therapy. It was a nice option to be able to play my own music. As someone who doesn’t easily sweat, I do feel there are benefits to working up a sweat that I can’t otherwise get.
The reported benefits of an infrared sauna are similar to the Slim Pod: detoxification, weight loss, and a metabolic boost. Between the two, I hands down preferred the infrared sauna. As far as my actual experience though, I found it boring and uncomfortable in the sense that sitting in a hot space for an extended period of time didn’t feel good. I do, however, believe in the detoxification benefits, especially during the cold and flu season. This service landed right in the middle for me, which is saying something since I DEFINITELY had to wash my hair afterwards.
Overall, I don’t realistically see myself as a consistent cryotherapy girl, but I’m definitely hooked on compression therapy. As travel and meetings are becoming more and more frequent for me, I’m looking forward to getting off of a long flight and going straight to compression therapy. I’ll definitely incorporate cryotherapy and the infrared sauna in here and there as well.
Have you tried any of these? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, which do you think you’d like?