Can you imagine stepping into a box that looks a little like a time machine from a science-fiction movie, closing the door and being immersed for five minutes in dry ice that hits temperatures of -70c to -198c? And all this in the name of health and fitness. Welcome to the latest celebrity must-have treatment, Cryotherapy.
With claims of weight loss, immune boosting, a fitter body, even a possible cure for depression, this is just what the stars are queuing up to subject their bodies to in the latest must-have treatment known as Cryotherapy. The icy treatment is believed to be behind Gemma Collins’ recent weight loss, and even Olly Murs is a fan of this latest craze.
On a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to join the celebrities in trying the supposed wonder treatment at “Ice Health Cryotherapy Spa” in London’s trendy Kensington. There is certainly nothing cold about the actual spa. It is warm, stylish, clean and welcoming.
Now, to be honest, I have a breakdown if the heating goes down in the winter, so cold is not for me. Spa owner Alla Pashyriska assures me that I will be able to handle the treatment. Alla has run the clinic since 2017 and has treated many athletes and stars.
“Everyone is a star here”, she tells me when I push for more names. Alla is very enthusiastic about cryotherapy. At first you have a feeling that she could sell snow to eskimos. However, you soon realise that she just has a vast knowledge of the treatment that she cannot wait to share with you.
I am taken to a private room for a consultation. Having just turned 60, I’ve had a little trouble losing the lockdown weight, despite getting straight back in the gym. Plus, I have a few recurring injuries from working out.
So, what is cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy, sometimes known as cold therapy, is the local or general use of low temperatures in medical therapy. Cryotherapy may be used as a treatment for a variety of tissue lesions and it is used in an effort to relieve muscle pain, sprains and swelling after soft-tissue damage or surgery.
I am going to be entering a cryotherapy chamber created in in the 1970s by Japanese rheumatologist Toshima Yamaguchi and introduced to Europe, the USA and Australia in the 1980s and 1990s. While treating athletes, they discovered it aided in weight loss, depression and even some skin conditions.
Alla, a former teacher and psychologist, is in the process of creating her own line of equipment. Her Kensington clinic has the latest technology and even has a cryotherapy facial machine (I will fill you in on that in a bit). Alla’s machine first heats you up, and then the cold comes – and the process only takes five minutes once you’re in the machine. Alla tells me the results vary from person to person, but most people see instant effects after one session. A series of ten is advisable for the best outcome.
Alla tells me to remove all my jewellery, and she leaves the room as I strip off to my undershorts (but leave my socks on). I am provided with soft, fluffy boots and plastic gloves.
The cold shoulder!
Once inside the chamber, the door is closed. I am a little apprehensive, as I suffer from claustrophobia (something I have not told Alla). Nevertheless, any fears soon pass, and it is a pleasant, secure feeling. Alla passes me some proper winter gloves to put on, and I put my head through a small tent that is placed over the chamber, which I have full control of. Alla feels that I could go for a high setting, as it would be great for me to see just what can be achieved with the treatment. This does not fill me with instant excitement, but not wanting to give her the cold shoulder I tell her, “full steam ahead”.
The base of the chamber lifts you up so your face is out. Alla is in the room the entire time, and as the warm air caresses me it is a lovely feeling. Alla looks more excited about the treatment than I do. To be honest, having been in the hair and beauty industry for over thirty-two years (twenty-five of those also as a reviewer), I have written about virtually every fad, beauty trend and slimming treatment you can think of, from colonic irrigation to being locked in a room with the lights being turned off and on to “aid my aura”. In the back of my mind, alarm bells were ringing. What exactly would five minutes in this Doctor Who machine do for me?
Have a little dance.
The warmth is quite quickly replaced with what feels like being stroked by an icy breath. I am convinced that my shorts are getting wet with the cold air, and my calves feel very cold. I am surprised when Alla tells me we are at -180c, and to “have a little dance about” if I feel like it. It is not uncomfortable. The fear of the unknown is the worst part, but before long the five minutes are up, I am being lowered to the base of the machine and Alla helps me out.
First of all, my shorts are completely dry (it was my imagination). This is usually the part, when I have tried fat freeze (did nothing), or a body wrap, or any toning slimming treatment, when the technician tells you just how amazing it has all been and you are a new person.
For once – gasp – I genuinely felt like I had had a two-hour massage. My whole body was relaxed. The bloating in my stomach area (seriously) had gone down visibly, and the pain in my knee and back had decreased enormously. Cryotherapy works as an anti-inflammatory treatment, and it was just what my body needed.
When Alla suggested that, although my face was fairly tight, the facial machine would be worth trying, I was straight on to the couch before you could say FREEZE ME. Alla tells me it works well with Botox and other aesthetic treatments.
The Red Carpet Cryofacial Treatment, used for the face, is carried out by a handheld machine, and as the temperature lowers to -145, Alla works around my face, focusing on the areas she thinks need more attention. Again, on paper, this should not be relaxing, but I managed a snore or two and it took only 16 minutes to perform. This was followed by an LED treatment – yellow for pigmentation and sun-damaged skin – called “Sunflower” to finish off.
Again, it was relaxing, and my skin looked like I had had a peel, but nothing to write home about. When I got home, however, it looked like I’d had two seasons’ worth of mesotherapy and a peel. My face looked surprisingly fresher with fewer lines around the eye area. Alla had worked a little more on that. Really worth trying.
The next day, my stomach is much flatter than usual, although I took in a Chinese the night before. My sleep was greatly improved, and my body feels ache free. If there is any criticism, I feel a little too relaxed today. Would I recommend that anyone looking to lose weight try Cryotherapy? You bet! If you have a sports injury or are inflamed, if you can – run to that ice. You won’t regret it.
There is some evidence that cryotherapy can aid cancer treatment, but you must speak to your doctor first. Alla won’t treat you without a doctor’s letter in that case. Cryotherapy is something that is on my list as a must, not a fad, and it is here to stay.
A one off treatment costs £95.
A block of 5 is £85 per session.
A block of 10 is £75 per session.
A block of 20 is £65 per session.
Everyone pays after the first session as it’s then easier to decide how many to go for.
There’s no expiry date, and the packages can be shared between friends and family.
Find out what happened when Steven met the Foot Queen of London.