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Would you step semi-naked into a vat of vapourised liquid nitrogen as cold as -190 degrees Celsius?
Fastest man in the world Usain Bolt and football megastar Cristiano Ronaldo are reportedly hooked on doing just that. So are a number of world-class footballers, Formula One drivers, basketballers and even Hollywood stars like Daniel Craig and Demi Moore.
It’s called whole body cryotherapy, and it involves the use of low temperatures in medical treatment. Just think of it as an extreme take on the concept of ice baths.
First created in 1970 in Japan, whole body cryotherapy is a three-minute process that places the body in a pseudo-emergency state, tricking it into thinking it is at risk of freezing. As the body reacts to signs of hypothermia, maximum efficiency of bodily functions is stimulated.
Before you turn away in disgust, know that I tried it for myself and experienced no pain at all – but more on that later.
In fact, the low temperatures trigger muscle regeneration and immune-system stimulation, while releasing hormones like endorphins. Post-treatment, the body circulates blood rich in oxygen, enzymes and nutrients.Basal metabolic rate is also raised and the body is said to burn an extra 800 to 1,000 calories in a single session.
To be more specific, here’s exactly what whole body cryotherapy may do for you: relieve pain, allow quicker recovery from workouts, promote anti-inflammatory effects, reduce cellulite, aid weight-loss and increase collagen production for anti-aging effects.
Where to find it
Adren How, the founder and CEO of ONLY, first came across whole body cryotherapy during the 2012 London Olympics where he learnt that gold medallist athletes were using it to excel in their particular fields. Upon discovering that no country in Asia had the technology, How decided to introduce it last October.
He is a regular user himself, stepping into the chamber once to twice a week after a gym session or a stressful day at work. How says the therapy has improved his workouts, healed his back pain issues and often leaves him refreshed after.
So far, more than 2,000 people have tried it in Singapore, including local S.League football team Tampines Rovers.
First-timers to whole body cryotherapy are only allowed to do it for 90 seconds, as the body may not be able to take the shock if given the full three minutes.
And the first 10 to 20 seconds are crazy cold, as I found out when I stepped into the chamber dressed in only my undergarments and a pair of winter gloves.
I was instructed to keep turning in circles, in part to distract me from the cold and also to allow the entire body to be exposed to the vapour that is released from one side of the chamber.That helped and even as the temperatures dropped, the cold became more bearable.
My head was out of the open-top chamber and I had to keep blowing away the vapour, as it is not recommended to inhale too much of it. As I mentioned, there was no other discomfort and I could feel the coolness tingling on my skin for a good six hours after.
The Absolute Zero store also offers other cryotherapy treatments where a controlled beam of liquid nitrogen is used to conduct Cryofacials and Cryoshaping for problem areas like the hips, tummy and thighs. But whole body cryotherapy is indeed the full works, and because of its short application time, the non-invasive procedure can be done every day if you like.
Whole body cryotherapy treatments start from $188 at the Absolute Zero concept store, located at Pacific Plaza #03-15.