The latest health and wellness craze to hit Australia involves standing in a machine that fills with nitrogen vapour as your body is frozen in temperatures of up to -130C.
It’s called whole body cryotherapy, and when I was invited to try it out at Boronia’s Tru Fit Wellness Studio, I couldn’t say no. But I was slightly apprehensive!
Studio owner Tracey Farrell said cryotherapy sends the body into survival mode, with blood going to the body’s core.
The fresh blood goes to the body’s organs, getting rid of toxins, she said.
Purported benefits include reduced inflammation, accelerated injury recovery, skin rejuvenation and weight loss.
Ms Farrell said whole body cryotherapy originated in Japan in the 1970s, and started by treating people with rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Now, the sessions are popular with athletes, with many booking in regular freezes at Ms Farrell’s studio, which she runs with her 19-year-old son Jacob.
Even the Australian cricket team wants to take a look at their set-up, she said.
Ms Farrell said the studio had Victoria’s first impact cryotherapy machine, which differs from other machines mainly due to its safety features.
There are three levels, and people stand inside for up to three minutes, going up to -110C to -130C, depending on experience and general feeling.
Don’t worry about getting stuck in there. The safety mechanism means it shuts off every 31 seconds and all visits are supervised.
With that in mind, I got changed in to my bathers and put on gloves, thermal socks and shoes, and a robe.
All jewellery below the neck must be removed to ward off frostbite.
Going into the machine, which was shut around me, my head poked out the top and I handed my robe to staff.
I was slightly nervous, and my first thoughts as the temperature dropped was that it was cold — obviously!
I was encouraged to turn around a few times and I just wanted to keep my body moving to distract from the freezing air.
Three minutes seemed a lot longer as the temperature gradually dropped — -70C, -90C, down to -110C.
As I adjusted to the cold, I really enjoyed it, like I was revelling in some kind of extra energy.
It was a strange feeling.
After the session, I sat in an infra-red sauna for 15 minutes, which Ms Farrell said warmed the body up quicker and promoted more blood flow.
I really was just thawing out. As I looked at the temperature, which ticked over 40C, I still had goosebumps.
I spent the final part of the session on a vibration exercise plate for a few minutes to further encourage blood flow.
After one session, I felt incredibly energised. But I think it would take more than one session to notice other physical effects.
The Farrells opened their studio a few months ago and also offer high-altitude training simulators and salt therapy.
People can get their first cryotherapy session for $50, with extra sessions $70, although there are cheaper package options available.
Find out more at trufitstudio.com.au or phone 0432 344 660.
This story also appears online for Leader here.