Cold therapy machine one of four in the nation
Villain Mr. Freeze, made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1997 movie "Batman & Robin," uses a handheld ice gun to encapsulate his victims in cold, but Anya Ferry, co-owner of CryoStudio of Austin, uses a padded cylinder filled with nitrogen gas.
CryoStudio, which opened in April 2011, utilizes a recovery technique known as whole body cryotherapy to help individuals recover from an assortment of maladies.
"Your body basically does a systems check and goes, 'OK, where do I need to send these resources to?'" said Ferry, who co-owns CryoStudio with her husband, Derek.
Cryotherapy works by briefly exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures, causing a chain reaction that starts with the body restricting the blood flow to limbs and extremities, Ferry said.
"Your arms and legs, all those blood vessels constrict, and all that blood rushes to the core because your body's defense says, 'I have to protect the important organs,'" Ferry said.
Nearly naked patients enter the cryo chamber for about three minutes. Surrounded by an icy, dry nitrogen gas cloud, the temperature gradually decreases to between -220 degrees and -274 degrees Fahrenheit.
"It's like you've walked naked into a deep freezer, like the walk-in ones used in restaurants," Ferry said. "It's chilly, and it gets progressively colder. The last 30 seconds are the most challenging. Towards the end it feels like you are in a snowstorm."
Only this snowstorm is completely dry. Temperatures that low carry frostbite risks if any part of the body is wet, an unfortunate condition that American Olympic sprinter Justin Gatlin experienced in 2011 after entering a Florida cryo machine with sweaty socks, according to a New York Times article. CryoStudio, however, carries dry socks and wool shoes as an extra precaution.
After the session, the blood that centralized around essential organs becomes reoxygenated and nutritionally dense at a very quick rate, Ferry said. When patients step out of the cryo machine, this rich blood is released along with adrenaline and endorphins, providing the boost of energy and healing properties the therapy touts, she said.
"[It's a] pretty amazing experience" said Tim Childers, a cryo therapy customer. "I walked in stiff from a tough week of training and left feeling ready to throw down some more [exercises]."
The machines are new to the United States—CryoStudio has the fourth machine in the nation—so research is sparse. That doesn't stop Austin track and field Olympian Leo Manzano, as he and Childers continue to frequent CryoStudio for recovery purposes.
CryoStudio, 6836 Bee Caves Road,, Bldg. 2, Ste. 101, 900-3838, www.cryostudioofaustin.com