Matt Blackwell tries out the coldest craze to sweep Muscat – cryotherapy
The Sultanate is in the grip of a cold snap. But it’s got nothing to do with the weather.
Although it’s been popular in sporting circles as a method of treating professional athletes for several years, cryotherapy has now come to Muscat and is available to everyone at The Wellness Centre in The Walk at Al Mouj Muscat.
“Cryo” comes from a Greek word that translates as “icy cold” and the treatment lives up to its frosty name, plunging the body into temperatures well below zero, achieved through the use of liquid nitrogen. Claiming benefits ranging from weight loss to muscle recovery, it’s fair to say my interest was piqued, and it turns out many of Muscat’s residents share my curiosity.
“The response has been really positive,” says Charly Spurrell, cryotherapy manager at The Wellness Centre. “It is the only place in Oman where you can have the treatment so there’s been a lot of interest. People have a lot of questions because for many, it is something they haven’t seen before.
“A huge amount of our members are now using cryotherapy regularly as part of their training programmes.”
Looking at the whole body chamber with no idea what lay in store, I couldn’t help feeling a few pre-treatment nerves as I changed into the dressing gown, gloves, socks and soft boots provided.
Charly, who was sent to the US for her cryotherapy training, soon puts me at ease and we get things under way. As a first-timer, we started with the basics at level one, at which the chamber is cooled to minus 110°C for the three-minute treatment. At level three, the temperature inside the chamber goes down to minus 150°C.
To begin with, it’s cold but bearable. Charly stays throughout the entire process, ensuring my safety and answering any questions, and by the second minute, it feels as if I’ve been playing in the snow back home in the UK for half an hour. The third minute was a struggle as a slight tingling sensation entered my limbs but then it was all over.
A quick check of my skin surface temperature and the thermometer reads minus 18, probably the coldest I’ve ever been in my life.
However, far from freezing and miserable, I feel on top of the world. A huge feeling of well-being pulses throughout my body and my energy levels are sky-high. After the treatment, Charly recommends that I take to the exercise bike to help with getting the blood flowing again and it feels as if I could compete in a stage of the Tour of Oman. If only I wasn’t a month too late.
“The whole body treatment works from the inside out. It’s a systemic response and a good way to deal with pain management,” Charly says. “It also has an anti-inflammatory effect that is naturally caused by the shock of the treatment and speeds up recovery. It gives you a metabolic boost, improved energy levels and also helps with weight loss.”
Next up is a local cryo treatment on my shoulder, used to target specific areas of pain or tension and to help with mobility, and a cryo facial. The sensation as the liquid nitrogen vapour passes over my face is a strange one, but as the muscles tighten I’m left with a rosy-cheeked glow.
Additional benefits include stimulating collagen production, which in turn improves circulation around the body, reducing the appearance of blemishes and fighting cellulite.
The result of my cryotherapy experience is the best wake-up call I’ve had for a Friday morning and with bags of energy, I’m ready to tackle the day, whatever life throws at me.