I travel a lot for work—and by a lot I mean I get more of my sleep and work done on planes than in my own bedroom. So when I recently heard about a three-minute solution to jet lag, I thought "Count me in!". That is, until I heard that those three minutes would be spent practically naked in a cryotherapy chamber at 166 degrees below zero.
Said to improve sleep disorders, reduce stress, and significantly assist with jet lag symptoms, cryotherapy treatment is also used with athletes to speed along recovery after exercise and help with muscle pain.
Heading to the South of France to partake in week-long festivities at the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix leaves little time to get over jet lag, so I decided to brave the cold and try the cryotherapy chambers at the 150-year-old Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, remodeled last November adding cryotherapy to its list of luxe treatments.
Before heading in, the spa attendant went over a medical questionnaire (in English, luckily!) confirming that I am indeed healthy enough to try the treatment. She then handed over socks and slippers, a face mask to cover my nose and mouth, and a sweatband to keep my ears warm. "What should I wear besides this?" I asked, expecting some sort of super fluffy (and down-filled) robe like something you'd wear at an ice bar. Apparently here in Monaco the choice is between swimwear and lingerie — your pick.
As I undressed, the attendant gave me the run down: The first 10 seconds are spent in a chamber that's -76°F (or -60°C) and then you have to push through the heavy, meat locker-like door to the main chamber, set at -166°F (or -160°C). The maximum amount of time you can spend here is three minutes, and each 30-second segment is announced over the intercom, counting down the painstakingly cold seconds while music plays to keep your mind somewhat distracted from the cold. As James Brown's "I Feel Good" blasted in my cell, I felt anything but good, trying to dance and pace to keep from turning into an icicle myself.
As the timer hit the two-minute mark, I was out of there like a race horse, throwing in the towel and grabbing for my clothes (luckily I brought a scarf, despite the 90-degree heat). As I'm dressing, I learn that I didn't do too bad for the first time, since the average amount of time spent in treatment is between 2.5 and 3 minutes. The attendant also tells me cryotherapy is usually better with friends than alone. Well, at least I know for next time so I can somehow coerce a friend to do something this crazy with me.
I don't know if it was the rush from the treatment or the extreme cold, but I did feel slightly more refreshed after the $60 (Or 55€ treatment), thinking I could take on the world, or at least manage the rest of an event-filled week, without wanting to collapse.