The Man Who Came In From The Damp
If you don’t fancy the 30-hour trip to St Petersburg to jump into a frozen lake, CRYO in Edgecliff can give you a freeze just as cold.
I quite like the shock of being cold, in fact, really cold. A plunge into water so crisp it leaves you questioning how it hasn’t frozen solid, is all you need to give your body the boost it needs for the rest of the day.
I’ve travelled around the world to do this. I ditched Sydney’s roasting summer and went to St Petersburg instead, where I plunged for a full five minutes into a hole cut into the ice of a frozen lake.
While visiting friends in Norfolk, I walked over a frost covered beach to swim in the North Sea. Five years ago I travelled to Harbin in Northern China to compete for Australia in the Winter Games Swimming Competition, in a 25 metre cut hole in the frozen Song-Zhu river, where the external temperature was minus 36 degrees.
The air at Harbin was cold. So cold my feet stuck to the ice. When I raised my fists in victory after winning the final, I did a faintly ridiculous double fist pump of personal and national pride, only for the hair under my arms – still wet from swimming – to freeze instantly and crack noisily as I put my arms back down.
All of this is interesting only because on Tuesday, Hunter and Bligh tried out Cryotherapy at the appropriately named CRYO on New South Head Road near Edgecliff Station in Sydney’s Inner East.
I went for two reasons; to see if it actually works, and because I don’t mind the cold.
Cryotherapy – the idea of plunging yourself into the cold and then warming yourself up again – isn’t new. It’s as old as Russia and Finland and Sweden or any Baltic state you care to mention, where they’ve known for centuries how good it feels. And if you add vodka, that’s a whole other article.
The idea is that it has great health benefits, can fight hypertension, inflammation, cause weight loss and aid recovery – which are all well and good, but let’s be frank, they’re unproven ideas that are great for marketing.
In keeping with the overall health theme, CRYO in Edgecliff looks like a modern German Dentists clinic and is staffed by professional young women, who are well trained, efficient and know the systems and processes.
After being signed in, you’re taken to a private booth where you lock the door, strip and put on a very nice cotton waffle weave robe. On the wall a screen plays a video displaying the process and what to expect. Next you sign a disclaimer so if you are hurt or injured in any way, the business can ensure they informed you of the risks.
Once the admin is over you can embark on your icy journey. The frosted glass doors at the end of the cubicle open to where, with your technician, you’re taken to your tank. All this is done to keep privacy and is a very nice touch. Here, you lose the robe, put on the gloves, socks and ugg boots and strip into what looks like an open ended pressure vessel. Essentially it’s a tank with the top cut off and a door you can step into and be surrounded by the cold.
Image from Cryo
Then they pump in the gas.
The gas, Liquid Nitrogen, is minus 196 degrees, rushes into the vessel and immediately becomes a kind of dry freezing fog wrapping around your body. You don’t have to fear the Nitrogen, 80 per cent of the air you breathe is Nitrogen, and in its cold vapour state it will settle so it isn’t shooting past your head. That said, I wouldn’t recommend sitting down and breathing it in. I’ve never had Nitrogen Narcosis (the effect of too much Nitrogen in your bloodstream), but what I have heard, it isn’t great.
Image from Cryo
Now look, it is cold in the tank – not Russian lake or Chinese river cold, but the kind of cold as if you’ve got an ice pack covering the entirety of your body.
Because I was a newbie and the company has strict safety procedures, I was only allowed in the tank for two minutes, and for me, that wasn’t really enough. I’m biggish; 196 centimetres tall and 114 kilograms, so I felt I could have taken quite a longer hit. Frankly, I would have preferred more time in the chamber, but it would have been a fruitless discussion.
And did it work? The short answer is yes. I could feel the effects of the cold on the damaged rotator cuffs in my shoulders and on my permanently tight hamstrings, and changing back into my clothes I got a brief burst of the post-cold euphoria.
All of that wore off on the short walk back to Edgecliff Station, but the young technician who froze me noted that from what they’d learnt, my body could take a longer freeze, but as a precaution for first-timers there is a limit of two minutes.
To be honest, if I could bring back that feeling of the post-Russian-lake-swim without the 30-hour trip to St Petersburg – I would consider it.
1300 332 796
226, New South Head Rd, Edgecliff
Catch the T4 line train to Edgecliff Station of park under the shopping centre on New Beach Road.
How Much: $90 for your first session.
Summary: Extremely professionally run, and fun, if you like the cold.
Images courtesy of Cryo Facebook