I Got Flash Frozen In A Cryotherapy Chamber...For Science
Given my colorful history of putting my body through strange, painful, and rigorous activities for high fives and page views, I knew I had to try this thing out for myself. Two emails later, I had an appointment to get flash frozen à la Han Solo in Empire, which was as exciting as it was terrifying.
This is what happens when you let a bunch of people stick you in a chamber full of sub-zero nitrogen gas.
Before we get too into how I got frozen in carbonite , here's a little bit of background info about KyoLife and Cryotherapy. First developed in Japan, the birthplace of people doing unorthodox things for unknown reasons, Cryotherapy—or NeuroCryoStimulation—works by pumping in nitrogen-iced air into a giant chamber, bringing temperatures down to 264 degrees below zero.
The air doesn't penetrate the skin, but rather acts along the lines of an all-encompassing ice pack, decreasing inflammation, constricting blood vessels, and relaxing muscles. It's been used to improve skin tone, reduce signs of aging, manage pain, and mitigate depression.
KryoLife has been freezing notable celebrities for about a year now: Usain Bolt, Daniel Craig, and Demi Moore to name a few.
The preparation for entering the Chamber of Doom was easy: I stripped down to my boxers, wiped away any stray sweat, threw on a pair of clogs, put on a pair of wool gloves, and did mental jumping jacks knowing I was about to be colder than the Abominable Snowman's c*ck on a good day.
When I asked my chamber technician if I had to go in naked, she told—in so many words—that I have to wear boxers to ensure my penis wouldn't freeze off. Something about "exposed extremities," "inevitable frostbite," and "penis-shaped glacier."
Simply put, cryotherapy sends your body into fight-or-flight mode. As your time in the changer increases, blood pumps vigorously around the body, increasing your oxygen supply and pushing out harmful toxins.
The extreme cold releases an ass-load (not the technical term) of endorphins, which they say burns up to 800 calories in three minutes. This tricks your body into literally thinking it's about to die—hence the increased blood flow.
KryoLife's website says the cold is "chilly but tolerable"—a phrase akin to "you won't feel a thing" moments before your dentist sticks a ten-inch needle into your gums. I knew a -264 Fahrenheit blast of arctic all over my exposed flesh would be a tad worse than "chilly" and "tolerable."
As I prepared to step into the chamber, I thought of Demi Moore's supple skin—if the mother of Bruce Willis' ugly children could stand three minutes of arctic air and mental strain, I could too.
Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining: if I'm stepping into a chamber that pumps out gas at -264 degrees, I know I'm going to feel it—and boy do I hate being right all the time. To put it simply, I would have died in there and my body knew it.
I didn't think I would even last 30 seconds, a sentiment that really came across with my string of profanities and gasping yelps of pain. It was the coldest I had ever been in my life and my brain knew that.
Panic mode quickly washed over me as I jumped around, desperately trying to bring warmth to my body. The only thing I could hold onto was the knowledge I would be out of the chamber soon and my penis was going to live to see another day.
The second 90 seconds felt different, because I simply stopped feeling the cold. Jessica Silvester, the NYMag reporter who stepped in the chamber, set it up very nicely: "A full minute into my deep freeze, I am neither hyperventilating nor convulsing, just feeling numb from the waist down."
I found this part to be the most disturbing, as my body was no longer freaking out, but rather accepting the cold temperature and shutting down in response. This was that point in To Build a Fire where the man begins to feel warm and fall into "the most comfortable and satisfying sleep he had ever known." I had stopped hyperventilating at this point and managed to smile for a few photos.
Post-treatment, I indeed felt more energized and pumped up—of course, I knew it was the endorphins doing their job.
The KryoLife staff, comprised of assorted athletes, swear by this machine and some use it twice a day every single day. I don't doubt its benefits, but to live a life where you spend 10 minutes a day frozen in a chamber? I mean, what the hell.
At the end of the process, I felt neither brave nor accomplished—and nothing like Han Solo, which is standard for me after a long workout at the gym or refraining from Taco Bell and ice cream. I felt like a weirdo—like someone looking at all their open tabs after some alone time.
At the end of the day, I want to take pride in the way I manage my health and weight. I want to feel like I've earned those lost 800 calories through the sweat pouring out of my body, I want to finish a workout and have my lovely girlfriend look at me in the eyes and say "I love you," to which I'd simply reply: "I know."