When I first heard about cryotherapy, my mind went straight to when they unfreeze Austin Powers in the most quotable movie of my fifth grade year, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (yeah, baby!).
Turns out, it’s nothing like that at all. I’m pretty sure if it was, no one would do it. Or, maybe they would, a la Walt Disney (is he or isn’t he?). Either way, I had a great experience at OC Cryosport, and it sounds a lot scarier than it really is.
I am the first to admit that I’m the biggest baby in the world when it comes to temperature. At 65 degrees, I bundle up like I’m about to face the Arctic tundra, so I went in pretty much assuming I would absolutely hate this experience. I did not.
It was actually pretty cool, no pun intended. You change into a robe before stepping into the chamber, and remove the robe once inside. For 3 minutes, you are hit with a dry shot of cold nitrogen, the point being to reduce inflammation in the body.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t that bad, and frankly, your body feels a little numb so you don’t really notice it anyway! The last 30 seconds are a little tough, but owner Spencer Link does a great job of keeping you entertained to take your mind off of the fact that you are literally freezing.
Once it’s over, you step back into your robe and are enveloped into a warmth that can only be described as heavenly. I left OC Cryosport feeling invigorated, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, free of neck pain.
Marie Spada: What inspired you to open OC Cryosport?
Spencer Link: I had an athletic history. When I was in high school, I had two shoulder surgeries on each shoulder for labrum tears from football. Obviously, I’m familiar with ice baths, and I’ve always stayed active ever since I quit playing football, but this came about by chance. Someone my dad worked with in the past told us about Impact Cryotherapy. They were a brand new business that had just started, and we gave them a call. They gave me the opportunity to go travel with them back East in Tampa, Fla. for Spring Training. They had a machine in a van, and they were going to all the different Spring Training locations for baseball and providing the players with therapy with their machines. While I was there, I saw tons of positive feedback from the players. They really loved it, and even swore by it. Also, they liked that they could do it multiple times in a day. It wasn’t a time consuming process, and it was colder than an ice bath, but less painful. That’s basically when we got started, and things started to snowball into what we have now. I tried the therapy myself and really saw a difference.
MS: How did it help your shoulders? Do you still have pain?
SL: I don’t have pain, actually! It helps my shoulders in that I can train harder, and I only do it when I feel my body needs it. It allows me to recover a lot quicker than I normally would have. The only time I get sore anymore is if I’m really overdoing it. I know my body now; so I know what to stay away from.
MS: How do you set yourself apart from other cryotherapy locations in the area?
SL: OK, great! I’m really glad you asked that. We’re trying to offer an experience. For example, you have an experience when you go to a hotel of checking in and receiving great service. We wanted to provide that with a spa-like experience. We keep it very clean and professional. We want people to feel comfortable. It’s an intimidating process for you to strip down and get into a tube or tub? for 3 minutes, so we want to make it as comfortable as possible, like a hotel. We try to make it so when you’re coming in here, it’s comfortable. We don’t want you to feel like you are dying to get out. Our Impact machine is our No. 1 attraction. It delivers a better quality on a more consistent basis. It has three different temperature levels. We start everyone on No. 1 and work them up from there. From what I’ve been told, there’s only one temperature setting on the other machines in the area. It obviously gets very cold, and you’re going to want to get out after 3 minutes. Other machines don’t get as cold, so they have to put people in them for 5 minutes, or make the person spin around because it’s not hitting your whole body. On this one, it’s very uniform, so you don’t have to spin around. From the feedback I’ve gotten from clients, they come in here and say it’s a huge difference. It also goes up to your neck; so much more of your body is exposed [to the cold].
MS: Tell me about the machine in the van!
SL: That was our first project! We were fortunate enough to get with Google and drive the van up to them for their employees for a month. That was a great experience not only for us as a business, but even for me as a person just to see that culture. It goes hand-in-hand having a van and a location, so we did that before we opened here.
MS: Do you plan on opening a location in LA?
SL: No, but we have to walk before we can run. We are working with someone in Northern California to open one, and he’s looking to open up under our brand. We are totally open to opening other locations, but we just have to make sure we have everything dialed in first.
MS: It seems like there is a trend going on in each extreme: one for infrared saunas and one from cryotherapy. How do these two complement one another, or is it even safe to alternate?
SL: Absolutely! I wish we had infrared here! You want to do the cryotherapy first, because you don’t want to go into the cryotherapy chamber sweaty, because it will freeze the sweat. That’s also why you don’t want to do it right after a workout. You want to make sure you’re totally dry. But it would be great for someone to do the cryotherapy first and follow it up with an infrared sauna. It’s because the whole process of infrared saunas and cryotherapy is vasoconstriction and vasodilatation, which is when your blood vessels are shrinking and expanding. Obviously, they’re two different extremes, and both are beneficial.
MS: What are some of the benefits of cryotherapy?
SL: The No.1 benefit is inflammation reduction. That is the No.1 one thing our clients come to us for. It’ll help bad joints, and a lot of athletes do it to recover quickly, because it really speeds up the recovery process. Our three words up here are: ‘recover, rejuvenate, revitalize,’ and that’s what it’s helping you do. The feeling that you get immediately afterward is revitalizing; it’s a rush. Usually, that’s why I do it every Friday before I start my weekend, because I work out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then I have my two days off for rest. I feel like I get a lot out of the cryotherapy that way.
MS: I hear that it helps with weight loss. Is that true?
SL: I would say that’s minimal. Obviously, everything complements each other, so you’re going to want to have a good diet, a good exercise plan, and this would help that, but it’s hard to measure. A lot of places sell that, but I just say it’s going to help you feel better. I don’t like to definitively say, ‘Hey, this will help you lose 10 pounds’ or anything like that.
MS: How cold does it get and how long do you stay in the chamber?
SL: You stay in for 3 minutes, though we do have settings for 1 and 2 minutes. We also have three different temperature levels: Level one gets you to negative 80 Celsius and negative 140 Celsius, depending on how cold you want to go. It sounds really crazy, but honestly people always say it’s not so bad, because it’s dry. And it’s only 3 minutes long!
MS: Is there anyone who should not do therapy?
SL: Anyone with a pacemaker, anyone who is pregnant or nursing, and anyone undergoing cancer treatment should not do it. Other than that, it’s pretty open.
MS: How long does it take before one can expect to see results from a cryotherapy treatment?
SL: We generally like to have people start out with a package of three or five, and have people come back with one or two day breaks in between. That will allow them to get a feel for how it’s working. Just like anything, you’re not going to go to a workout class once and come back 10 pounds lighter, but if you set yourself up to see results, you will. When I first started, I did a package of three, and did Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. In between, I would do high intensity workout sessions. Generally, people’s preferences are different: Some like to come in the morning to get it out of the way, but I think it’s better to do it at the end of the day. When we sleep, that’s when our body is recovering, so it’s best to do it before you sleep for the best results.
369 E. 17th St. Unit 11
Costa Mesa, CA
949.432.3221 | occryosport.com