All the times I’ve been cold, it’s been associated with unpleasant scenarios. Such as waking up in a tent in the middle of the night only to discover my sleeping bag is woefully inadequate. Or the time I unexpectedly got drenched in the rain, miles from home. So why I’d willingly step into a SaiSei cryotherapy chamber where you’re blasted with air as cold as minus 140’C, I have no idea.
Ok, so I do know. I’m curious. And the PR company were very persuasive. And it sounded rather sci-fi (even more so when you learn that SaiSei means ‘regeneration’). Like something from Doctor Who. However, it was the much-lauded benefits which swung it for me. As a mum to a freshly baked bundle of screaminess and to a rapidly growing chunk of a toddler, I often spend my time hunched over, stuffing a boob into the baby’s gaping maw. And when I’m not doing that, I’m lugging my two-year-old around after he decides that his legs don’t walk. Which always seems to happen at the far end of the park from home. Whilst I’m also carrying the baby. It’s safe to say, my body is always a little bit broken at the end of the day. I’d go as far to say that parenthood is one of the most active ‘jobs’ you can get. Screw the gym, carry children instead!
SaiSei Cryotherapy was set up by Nyame Ikasaya, a wellness and fitness strategist. With over ten years helping improve his clients’ health, cryotherapy took it that one step further. He has a fitness studio in Stoke Newington which is where the cryotherapy also takes place. When I rocked up with my sister, I also brought with me an extremely hostile toddler who refused to let me put him down and my baby, who smiled at everyone. Luckily however, iPhones are a fantastic distraction for toddlers and full body cryo only takes a few minutes (even if it feels like longer!) Thank you to my sister and the Push PR team for all the cuddles you gave the baby.
To prepare for the cryotherapy, you’ve got to strip to your underwear (pants and bra) and wear two pairs of socks and gloves which are provided; these protect your extremities. Wearing a dressing gown to protect your modesty, you then step into the cryotherapy chamber, whip off the dressing gown and throw it out. Ta-daaa! This is where the fun starts. With you head poking out the top, the chamber fills with nitrogen vapour which cools down to -140’C. Strangely, it’s not a bad cold. It’s definitely cold – so cold that even my goosepimples had goosepimples – but not in the way that it chills you to the bone. This is apparently because it’s ‘dry’ cold. My knees were starting to feel weirdly achey and painful which is a sign that there’s inflammation there. Throughout the two and a half minute experience (which seems to last MUCH longer), Nyame is there making sure I don’t freak out, telling me to move about a little. I felt like a fish out of water trying to get my breath and I was making some rather bizarre faces – it’s a very strange experience but not hugely unpleasant.
Once your time is up, the gas is turned off and you’re given back your dressing gown. Back in the changing room, I quickly put my clothes back on, noticing how much of a plucked chicken my skin looked. The goosepimples were still there! With clothes back on, you heat up pretty quickly.
The benefits and how it works
Cryotherapy was initially designed to help relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis but it was discovered it could have a much wider range of benefits – from injury prevention and repair, to weight-loss and more. The cold air on your skin makes your blood rush to your vital organs, giving them a boost of oxygen, nutrients and enzymes which also increases metabolism. As a result, your immune system kicks in and produces more white blood cells which starts a healing process.
And the treatment doesn’t stop there because once you step out the chamber, your body releases endorphins and nutrient rich blood from your vital organs heads to your extremities. Healing starts as lymphatic drainage steps up and metabolism works overtime which also helps your body break down excess fat.
Can you have cryo whilst breast-feeding?
Surprisingly, yes! And I’m sure it was a nice change for my little one to have iced milk on such a warm day… One thing I absolutely cannot stand is cold boobs – it’s SO painful. But cryo didn’t seem to cause any pain in this area. Hurrah. (I don’t mean you can literally be having a full body treatment AND breast-feeding at the same time. But the good news is that cryo doesn’t affect things like supply).
After the treatment, I definitely felt more perky and energised, which is no mean feat considering I’m a sleep-deprived mum of two. Everything felt a little tingly but ‘tight’ and I walked away feeling refreshed by the experience. It’s a fantastic treatment for busy people as the sessions are short and ideal for those with aches and pains – whether they’re caused by exercise or from carrying a 12kg toddler awkwardly back from the park. For athletes, they’re the convenient form of ice baths – but without the wetness and hassle of preparing it and drying off afterwards.
I’d also previously had localised treatment on my shoulders which are always tight and I definitely felt the benefits from that – they felt achey but in a good way afterwards and the treatment was quite relaxing, if strange.
It’s a thumbs up from me!
What: A deep-freeze treatment which has formerly only been available to a select few but which can help many ailments from arthritis, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and more.
Where: SaiSei Cryotherapy 19-20 Barn Street, Stoke Newington, London N16 0JT
Who’s it for: Anyone with aches and pains – either localised or whole body. It’s also great for those looking for a bit of a beauty boost too; their facials are supposedly amazing!
How much: Prices vary depending on treatment and number of sessions required. Contact SaiSei directly for prices.