When I was asked if I’d like to try out a brand new cryotherapy treatment in Leeds City Centre, I’ll be honest, I was slightly nervous – I’m a committed cold-weather hater and also a (slightly dramatic) claustrophobe.
However, once I looked up the claimed benefits, including anti-aging, improved skin tone, mood, increased energy levels and even weight loss, three minutes in the cryo chamber at -120 seemed something even I could manage!
I arrived at the brand new Future Therapies clinic in the Central Arcade on a cold day, feeling slightly stressed, tired and already chilly from the walk through town. But setting foot into the clinic I was welcomed by Sara Turner and Ian Hamilton, the two owners of the business, and they immediately put me at ease.
After filling in some brief paperwork, Sara explained the menu of treatments available – and if you don’t fancy a full body trip into the cryo chamber, there are loads of options! Localised cryotherapy has actually been available for a couple of years, where specific areas of the body are treated to either spot-reduce inflammation or injuries and also as facial treatments. Cryotherapy is also now being used to treat serious cardiac illnesses, as a treatment called EECP, which specifically reduces angina symptoms. You can read more about this here
Moving through the reception past the smaller treatment rooms, clients then enter the room that houses the full body cryotherapy chamber. It basically looks like a giant fridge with a window! The chamber was being cooled down ready for the afternoon’s treatments when I arrived and Sara explained the different temperatures that can be reached. I was definitely a beginner, so the temperature was set to 115-120 degrees sub zero. With experience and becoming accustomed to the temperature, it can be further reduced so that the body gains the maximum benefits. Sara had experienced as low as -147 degrees. This is also the level that professional athletes, who regularly use cryotherapy, would experience. The coldest I’d ever been was during a brief trip to Helsinki at -15 degrees, dressed head to toe in North Face thermal clothing, so to be honest, I was totally fine with beginner!
Whilst the chamber was being cooled, I changed into – definitely one of my worst fashion moments, but a completely essential look – headband, face mask, gloves, knee socks, towelling shorts and crop top plus my footwear nemesis – Crocs! As much as we laughed at the outfit, it’s obviously essential to maintain a level of protection over body areas with thinner skin, such as your limbs, ears and nose/mouth. You also have to remove all jewellery, in case it freezes into your skin. So no arguing with that, either!
After a few final checks, I was ready to get into the chamber. I took my dressing robe off and had to quickly step into the giant fridge to avoid all of the cold escaping (It literally can fill the room, like dry ice.) The chamber at Future Therapies doesn’t use liquid nitrogen like some others, just cold air – so as scared as I was, it’s definitely the safest possible option.
There’s a timer on a screen so you can see your three minutes counting down, which definitely helps to reassure you! But after the initial shock and catching my breath for the first few seconds, I was surprised at how quickly I managed to get accustomed to being in the chamber and was feeling relatively calm. You can get out if you need to whenever you like just by pushing the door, but as Sara had explained that the benefits really come into effect during the final minute, it’s pretty motivating to stick it out.
You can play music in the chamber too, and Sara was encouraging me to move around – so everyone got to see some of my dance moves for the duration of the treatment, but it helped the time go by quicker!
When the timer is up, you exit as quickly as you get in to the chamber – by the last 10 seconds, you can definitely feel that you’re essentially standing in a giant freezer and its slightly uncomfortable. But the second you get out, you are literally on a high! My energy levels soared and I had an instant boost that lasted for the rest of the afternoon, the equivalent of drinking a LOT of coffee, but without the edginess!
I warmed up again within 10 minutes and walked out warmer and definitely less stressed and happier than when I’d walked in 20 minutes before. My leg aches from the gym had improved massively and I also saw an improvement in the tone and condition of my skin for the next couple of days. My eyes were brighter and I even felt more toned in general (but that was probably just in my head, as to achieve weight loss you need to undergo around 12 sessions.) You can burn between 600 and 800 calories per session, so it’s cheaper and obviously quicker than a PT session!
As unnatural as it might seem and feel, in the moment that you’re stepping into the chamber – a bit like you’re putting yourself through a weird Bushtucker trial on I’m a Celeb – the short-term effects of cryotherapy really impressed me. I’ve already booked another session. During the busy party season, it’s a great energy boost and you can honestly feel the difference.
I still hate the cold, but now I know that I can handle a -120 cryo chamber. See, it’s THAT good.
Find out more and book online at futuretherapies.co.uk
Photographs supplied by Emma Streets.