Weight loss? Fewer wrinkles? Body soothing? Within a fraction of the time it takes to boil an egg? Sounds miraculous, sign me up!
And that is how I ended up spending three minutes (mostly) naked in a minus 130 degree Fahrenheit chamber within London's luxury shopping mecca, Harvey Nichols.
Slightly larger than an old-fashioned red British telephone box, this is the U.K.'s first electric whole body cryotherapy (WBC) chamber and the clinic has hosted around 2,500 appointments since opening last August. Its more established forebears - cryotherapy chambers which use liquid nitrogen to achieve the same freezing temperatures – have been around since launching in Japan in the late 1970s.
Both methods tout a similar litany of benefits. In addition to those listed above, cryotherapy's proponents claim the treatment can help with improving sleep and focus, restoring exercise-beaten bodies and bringing pain relief for certain conditions.
"The extreme cold in a way shocks the body into a response and we want to trigger this response which is a response of fighting back. So all systems are on. The heart starts beating faster, the blood flow increases and the brain wants to contain this stimuli that it's getting from outside," explained Dr. Yannis Alexandrides, founder of 111CRYO, the clinic that developed this chamber.
The key difference between electric and liquid nitrogen chambers is that in order to avoid gulping down toxic fumes, the gas-fuelled version requires the client's head to remain outside the box.
This is both commercially impractical and triggers less of a physiological response given the body is subjected to a variety of temperatures, claims Dr. Alexandrides whose electric version allows the client's entire head and body to be treated at once. Given that hot liquid nitrogen rises, the feet are submitted to the lowest temperatures, with the vapors warming marginally as they rise up to the neck and head, which are exposed to room temperature.