x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Freeze tried: giving Dubai's new Cryo Health spa a cool-headed appraisal

We visit the GCC's first cryotherapy spa, which uses extreme cold to make you look younger and to treat health conditions like arthritis and gout.

Neil Vorano has the full body treatment at Cryo Health in Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National
Neil Vorano has the full body treatment at Cryo Health in Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National

It’s hot; there’s no denying that right now. The UAE is in the throes of summer and the mercury-bursting temperatures that come with it. But there’s a new beauty and health treatment available in Dubai that might make you appreciate the burning sun just a little bit more.

Cryo Health, in Emirates Towers, is the GCC’s first cryotherapy spa, using extreme cold – down to -160°C – with claims to make you look younger while treating a myriad of health conditions such as arthritis, gout, sports injuries and even depression. Demi Moore may be a fan but, tellingly, it’s also used by major sports teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Wales rugby team, who believe the treatment is effective for faster healing.

The first step after walking into Cryo Health’s blindingly white office is to change into a plushy housecoat and ankle-high paper bootees; this is not good for my masculine identity. Nor is the first treatment I tried – the facial.

I’ll be honest with you; lying on the therapy bed, I become very apprehensive seeing the cold vapour seep out of the wand, with the temperature reading on the machine jumping around -140°C. “Don’t worry,” says Kai Stubbe, one of the partners behind Cryo Health. “You’ll be surprised at how gentle it is.”

And he was right. As the therapist brings the wand towards my face, the air – cooled with nitrogen and mixed with oxygen – doesn’t have that same startling shock as you would feel with an ice pack. “Because there is no physical contact with the skin, you don’t feel pain,” adds Stubbe. In fact, it feels like a walk in a very cold wind as the therapist circles the wand and cold air around my face, stopping in various areas to really chill my face. Don’t get me wrong – it’s extremely cold. At some points I have to ask the therapist to move away, the tingle of what feels like early frostbite nipping my skin. But a sensor right on the wand tells the therapist your skin temperature, so they are aware at all times when to move on.

The cold air is meant to release adrenaline and antioxidants, improve blood and oxygen circulation and help tighten the skin, among other benefits. My procedure – just over two minutes in total – wouldn’t be enough to see any changes, as it’s advised to repeat every one to two days for two weeks.

My next treatment is localised soft-tissue cryotherapy. As I have tendinitis in both shoulders, I want to see what it could do for my condition. The treatment is similar to the facial, where the wand is used to circle over the injured area for the same two to three minutes, deeply cooling the affected areas. And I am surprised at the immediate results – I have all the sensation in my shoulders but none of the lingering pain that I didn’t even know was there just a few minutes ago. Again, for full treatment of injuries, multiple visits are required.

The final procedure is the scariest: in another room stands a tall cylinder that looks like a futuristic torture chamber. Cold, white vapour swirls up from inside.

“This technique is great for athletes to help their bodies recover after a hard workout,” says Benny Parihar, another partner. “Many of them can go for another hard workout in a few hours.”

Before I step in, he adds: “Your body will move much of the blood out of your extremities because of the cold. Then, when you’re out, you’ll feel that energy come back in a few minutes on an elliptical.”

Funny, he didn’t mention how utterly cold it is to actually stand inside. I’m enclosed in the machine with just my head popping out, and the vapour begins to swirl around my body, which reacts with uncontrollable shivering as I slowly turn inside the chamber for full effect of the frigid blast – though, admittedly, it’s easier to take than a cold shower. But my teeth are chattering and as I come up to the two-minute mark in -120°C temperatures, I’ve had enough.

With my housecoat back on, I do a few minutes at medium pace on the elliptical trainer to warm up, and I feel the blood flow back into my extremities. It’s supposed to do that, increasing the oxygen around your body and getting rid of toxins. It’s also supposed to release adrenaline and endorphins and help with weight loss as the body works to bring back its heat levels.

In fact, all of the treatments are invigorating; my body feels more alive as I dress after the session is done. Both Stubbe and Parihar, who is also a partner in Platform 3 Fitness in Dubai, say they feel serious athletes in Dubai will be interested in this procedure, and the two hope that after it catches on they can add more cryo chambers across the city. At Dh350-Dh400 per session, all this cold can certainly add up, but for many, the health and beauty benefits will be worth it.

Cryo Health is located at The Boulevard 1 in Emirates Towers. Visit www.cryo-health.com for more information


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