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I froze my body through cryotherapy for the sake of journalism, AMA

Charlotte Observer Sports reporter Jonathan Jones raises his protected hands after a session in a cryotherapy chamber at the Charlotte Athletic Club's Cryofix Charlotte on Tuesday, June 30, 2015. The Charlotte Athletic Club's Duke Energy Center location is home to CryoFix Charlotte - the first whole body Cryotherapy chamber in Charlotte. Players from the Panthers, Hornets and Hounds have used the chamber - the treatment is known to help reduce recovery time from training and injuries. Cryotherapy offers other benefits for athletes and non-athletes such as reduced muscle and joint pain, increased energy and healthier skin. During a 2-3 minute "freeze" session, clients stand as the chamber is cooled with liquid nitrogen to a temperature of around -220(degrees) to -240(degrees) F. The rush of cold releases endorphins and rapidly circulates oxygen-rich blood throughout the body - providing an energy and mood boost and increasing the body's healing properties.
Charlotte Observer Sports reporter Jonathan Jones raises his protected hands after a session in a cryotherapy chamber at the Charlotte Athletic Club's Cryofix Charlotte on Tuesday, June 30, 2015. The Charlotte Athletic Club's Duke Energy Center location is home to CryoFix Charlotte - the first whole body Cryotherapy chamber in Charlotte. Players from the Panthers, Hornets and Hounds have used the chamber - the treatment is known to help reduce recovery time from training and injuries. Cryotherapy offers other benefits for athletes and non-athletes such as reduced muscle and joint pain, increased energy and healthier skin. During a 2-3 minute "freeze" session, clients stand as the chamber is cooled with liquid nitrogen to a temperature of around -220(degrees) to -240(degrees) F. The rush of cold releases endorphins and rapidly circulates oxygen-rich blood throughout the body - providing an energy and mood boost and increasing the body's healing properties. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

I wrote a story about doing cryotherapy in the Observer this week, but I have more to say. Let’s call these frozen leftovers.

First, a bit about cryotherapy: It’s one of the newest feel-better-quickly health fads in the nation. A chamber fills with liquid nitrogen and it should make you feel refreshed, less sore and even have a boost of energy. You also burn around 500 calories because your body goes into survival mode.

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Charlotte Observer Sports reporter Jonathan Jones smiles as he takes a session in a cryotherapy chamber at the Charlotte Athletic Club's Cryofix Charlotte on Tuesday, June 30, 2015. The Charlotte Athletic Club's Duke Energy Center location is home to CryoFix Charlotte - the first whole body Cryotherapy chamber in Charlotte. Players from the Panthers, Hornets and Hounds have used the chamber - the treatment is known to help reduce recovery time from training and injuries. Cryotherapy offers other benefits for athletes and non-athletes such as reduced muscle and joint pain, increased energy and healthier skin. During a 2-3 minute "freeze" session, clients stand as the chamber is cooled with liquid nitrogen to a temperature of around -220(degrees) to -240(degrees) F. The rush of cold releases endorphins and rapidly circulates oxygen-rich blood throughout the body - providing an energy and mood boost and increasing the body's healing properties. David T. Foster, III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Since going in the tank at Charlotte Athletic Club — and exposing my body to temperatures of -220 degrees Fahrenheit — last week, I’ve had several frequently asked questions from my friends and some readers. Feedback could go either way when I have a line like “… and then I stripped down to my boxers,” but everyone was cool.

So here are a few FAQs that I hope I can answer for you.

You looked a little uncomfortable in those pictures. Were you?

Well any time you become an icicle, you’ll probably be uncomfortable. But yes, I was slightly uncomfortable.

Here’s the deal: When you go in the chamber you step up on a platform. That platform moves up and down depending on your height, but the day I went it apparently wasn’t working.

I’m around 6-foot-3, and that platform was at a height that would have been perfect for someone 6-foot-1. So I ended up with my head hitting the top of the tank.

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Charlotte Observer Sports reporter Jonathan Jones goes in for a deep chill in a cryotherapy chamber at the Charlotte Athletic Club's Cryofix Charlotte on Tuesday, June 30, 2015. The Charlotte Athletic Club's Duke Energy Center location is home to CryoFix Charlotte - the first whole body Cryotherapy chamber in Charlotte. Players from the Panthers, Hornets and Hounds have used the chamber - the treatment is known to help reduce recovery time from training and injuries. Cryotherapy offers other benefits for athletes and non-athletes such as reduced muscle and joint pain, increased energy and healthier skin. During a 2-3 minute "freeze" session, clients stand as the chamber is cooled with liquid nitrogen to a temperature of around -220(degrees) to -240(degrees) F. The rush of cold releases endorphins and rapidly circulates oxygen-rich blood throughout the body - providing an energy and mood boost and increasing the body's healing properties. David T. Foster, III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Of course, it could have been worse. The platform is there so that you aren’t fully submerged by the liquid nitrogen gases. If you inhale too much of it, you’ll pass out. It would have been great to get a little bit more of my chest and upper arms in the cold, but I’d rather not pass out.

Was it as cold as you thought it would be?

So, funny story.

I’m about 1:15 into the 3-minute freeze when I look at the thermometer, which reads -140. I think to myself, “Holy bad words it’s going to get -100 degrees colder than this?”

I phrase it in a different way to the specialist there, who then told me it was actually in Celsius. I did some crude math in my head and decided I wasn’t going to get frozen much more.

At the risk of giving off this fake machismo, I think I could have handled it being colder. But then again, when you get to -220, what’s a few more degrees?

The shrinkage question

This is the most common question I’ve gotten. “What happened to your…well, you know?”

Here’s my honest answer: I don’t know.

When I told friends about this before I went, they all joked with me about it. I had it in my mind that I had be cognizant of what happened when I froze. But the truth is I was so damn cold that I forgot about everything else and just wanted to survive the three minutes.

It wasn’t until after I was out, dressed and back at home that I thought to myself, “Oh yeah, what did happen?”

Would I do it again?

I’m on the fence. It was a good feeling for a few hours afterward but I woke up the next day feeling about how I normally would feel.

I don’t have a lot of aches and pains, and for the few that I do, I’m not sure I’m willing to shell out $30 any time I want them to go away.

That said, I’d still recommend it for folks who regularly work out and want a boost. Doing it during lunchtime would probably be best.

As I wrote, there are some conditions that would prevent people from trying it. But if it isn’t risky for you, it’s worth one freeze at least.

Photos: David T. Foster, III/Charlotte Observer


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Jonathan Jones @jjones9
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