People are paying upwards of S$200 to spend 3 minutes in the coldest place on Earth – here’s why

Thousands of people, including world-class atheletes like basketball player LeBron James, boxer Floyd Mayweather and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo swear by it.

Whole body cryotherapy, which has its roots in Japan in the 1970s, made its entry into Singapore over the last few years and is a procedure where you stand nearly naked in a chamber filled with nitrogen gas that brings the temperature down to about -150 degrees Celsius.

It lasts only about two to three minutes, as any longer and you could literally die, as one case involving a woman in Las Vegas in 2015 has shown.

It’s supposed benefits include everything from reducing soreness and muscle aches, to relieving chronic back pain.

To put things in perspective, the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was -94.7 degrees Celsius.

So these cryotherapy chambers take you to temperatures unheard of on Earth’s surface.

Intrigued by the unconventional therapy method, Business Insider paid a trip to Evolve’s new cryotherapy centre, called Cryo Fit, to check it out for ourselves.

Cryo Fit opened to the public in August this year at Evolve Mixed Martial Arts Centre’s outlet at Far East Square.

It is one of only a handful of operators in Singapore which offers the service that typically costs upwards of $200 per session. Each session at Cryo Fit costs S$225 and we were given a complimentary trial session.

How does cryotherapy work?

Cryo Fit

Cryo Fit’s general manager Mr Jason Petlueng explained that the sub-zero temperatures in the chamber triggers the body’s systemic response.

That is, it clears toxins from the blood, stimulates the production of enzymes and hormones, and increases the flow of oxygenated blood throughout the body.

In other words, the temperature shock that the body is subjected to forces the body to start producing “super blood”. And this helps to decrease inflammation, boost recovery, and aid athletic performance.

“One of the secrets to cryotherapy is that the air is completely dry, with 0% moisture. That is why you can withstand the negative temperatures. The temperature only goes skin deep, so your muscle tissue and core temperature does not change”, said Mr Petlueng.

But it’s not just a treatment for athletes.

It also helps people who suffer from aches and stiffness from sitting at a desk all day.

In the US, the treatment is also popular among the elderly – as it helps to reduce muscle inflammation.

An ice bath on steroids 

Straits Times

So what makes it different from an ice bath?

While an ice bath provides relief to a localised area, cryotherapy “produces a much much stronger reaction, with a more intense production of enzymes, nutrients, hormones” said Mr Petlueng.

Our Verdict? 

We were briefed on what to expect before stepping into the chamber, and the idea of having to deal with -150 degrees Celsius of cold air for three full minutes seemed daunting.

But surprisingly, the three minutes went by a lot faster than expected, and it didn’t feel all that cold.

People have different reactions to the cold, and while some come out feeling refreshed, others can’t stand being in the chamber for more than two minutes.

Personally, I felt refreshed after coming out from the chamber, but that effect lasted for a mere 15 minutes before it wore off.

Mr Petlueng warned that most effects are only felt 24 to 48 hours after the treatment session, and that it was no “miracle cure”.

Like any other therapy session, if you go more often, the effects are likely to increase.

“After going one time it’s not a miracle solution where you won’t feel any pain,” he said. 

Perhaps with my recently sprained ankle (which was somewhat timely), I was hoping for a miracle recovery after my session of cryotherapy – which of course, I did not get.

But was it worth it?

While I felt refreshed initially, I did not feel any real effect after the 24 to 48-hour period.

That being said, if you have some spare cash on your hands or if you’re looking to experience the coldest temperature on the face of this planet – happy freezing.

And who knows, you may just get hooked on it.