Plunging yourself into minus 85-degree cold is always going to be a shock to the system, but there’s something adrenaline-inducing about plunging there straight from a sizzling 90 degrees.
‘Shocks’ aren’t always a bad thing. For the skin and muscles, they can work wonders — enter the Harvey Nichols’ ice-cold cryotherapy chamber and its new heat pod: a full-body, infra-red cocoon designed to make you sweat.
This exercise is known as biohacking: a process of “tricking” our bodies into implementing the same responses it would if you were freezing cold or hot and sweaty. Or, for maximum results, both in quick succession. Experts say that the two together will burn calories, boost muscle recovery and leave skin glowing.
The treatment is popular with athletes and A-listers looking for instant results: subjecting the body to -90 degrees Celsius for two or three minutes constricts blood vessels, producing a fight-or-flight response in the body.
Circulation and collagen will increase, inflammation will reduce and muscles will relax — plus you’ll get a rush of endorphins. Everyone from Kate Moss to Cristiano Ronaldo have given it a go.
Heat at Harvey Nichols is a dry-heat, infrared sauna body pod set between 30 and 90 degrees centigrade, the first of its kind in the UK. It’s designed to make you sweat, and even at 65 degrees, you’ll be dripping within minutes. The 30-minute treatment has you lying in a space-like machine, head peeking out, in front of a touchscreen. From there you can adjust settings to suit your mood: to up the sweat count, you can do a HIIT class with resistance bands or some (really) hot yoga — the screen shows your calories burned and experts say you can burn up to 600 calories in one half-hour session.
There are also meditative options. The pod comes with a choice of aromas and LED light colours, a massage option using vibrations. You can have also a facial in there. Sweat produced during our Heat sessions promotes detoxification of cholesterol, heavy metals and other toxins.
Then it’s time for the Cryotherapy Chamber. The two chambers used in tandem is the “ultimate” form of contrast therapy, a technique known for stimulating metabolic activity and circulation without putting it under stress. This makes it a popular injury-recovery method but it’s not just for athletes.
Going hot and cold has known benefits — results include improved cardio fitness, muscle recovery, cellulite loss and better sleep.
It’s a wonder treatment for skin: heat makes your blood rise to your body’s surface and opens pores. Cold brings the blood back to vital organs and contracts pores to regular sizes, reinforcing your body’s natural defence system. Sessions have also been proven to increase endorphins.