Cryotherapy–Why Hanging Out In A Cold Sauna Isn’t A Bad Thing

This morning I woke up feeling groggy. That doesn’t happen to me often, but after two nights of eating junk and being out late, I had a tough time getting out of bed for a 9am workout class at Studio Elevate in Culver City.

Long story short, I made it to the class but afterward I noticed the shop next door was opened, and I had seen pictures of it on Instagram and wanted to see exactly what was inside.

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This place is called Cold and Thirsty. It is actually an organic cold pressed juicery that NOT ONLY offers juice. They offer something unique (there is only one other place in Los Angeles that currently has this!) called WHOLE BODY CRYOTHERAPY.

So what is this cryotherapy?

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It is a cold sauna in which the chamber is filled with liquid nitrogen that reaches frigid temperatures nearing -250 degrees fahrenheit. It is supposed to have incredible anti-aging properties and helps decrease inflammation after workouts. It also has benefits for weight loss and chronic joint disorders and is said to be able to decrease injury recovery time by 50%. Sounds cool, right? Well it is…VERY COOL. So cool I decided to try it.

So how does this thing work?

Once a person is in the Cryo-chamber, your bodies skin receptors send a message to your brain that you’re freezing. The body reacts by rushing all the blood in to protect your vital organs. In doing so the blood is detoxified and oxygenated. The body then sends a map of your central nervous system to the brain. Once you step out of the machine and begin acclimating to the normal temperatures, the blood rushes back out and the body focuses on healing the problematic areas. One session is supposed to be good, but ideally, a person would want to come back multiple times to really see progress in skin tightening and inflammation issues.

So in deciding to try a session, I was lead to the back area where the Cryo-chamber is held. The facility has two changing areas where you disrobe and they give you a robe, special socks and gloves to wear in the chamber and these yellow rubber boots to put on your feet. Sexy, huh? No, but you want to keep these specific areas of your body protected in the chamber. You have to make sure your body is completely dry, so while it is good to have this procedure after a workout, make sure you have wiped sweat from your body before you go in the chamber.

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When I got into the chamber, I was immediately raised to the top where my head was sticking out. I was told to take off the robe and hand it over the top to the person monitoring the chamber. Then the session began. It is said to start with 2 minutes for your first session and work your way up to 3 minutes. One might think a temperature of under 250 degrees would be brutal. I am not going to deny that it is cold, but it feels refreshing and invigorating. I was reminded of being a kid and going to Halloween parties where the parents would have bowls with the liquid nitrogen ice cubes that looked like smoke was coming out of them…so I was technically inside one of those. Although I wasn’t standing on ice…kind of crazy!

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Two minutes is up before you know it. The chamber is turned off, you are lowered back to the ground and handed your robe in a matter of seconds. Then I went back into my dressing room and put my clothes back on.

How did I feel after? My legs took the longest to thaw out, but I have been having a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders and it does feel somewhat alleviated, which is nice. An hour later, I still feel refreshed. The owner of the shop said the initial feeling should last 2-3 days. They do recommend coming frequently and have different packages you can purchase.

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Overall it was a very cool (literally) and unique experience! You can find more information about Cold and Thirsty here.

CLASS PASS SERIES: Combination Classes Rule!

When it comes to workouts, I think I have done it all…seriously! Everything from Crossfit to Pilates, to HIIT training workouts to hot yoga, to spin class, dance class, boxing…you name it I have tried it! While I do love many of the classes I have tried, at some point you get bored and it is time to mix things up.

Well, some of the programs out there are literally mixing things up by having combination classes. What that means is that an hour long workout class is not dedicated to ONE but TWO different workouts. Studio Elevate Los Angeles in Culver City does a class like this called Reform and Ride, where it is half Pilates with a reformer and half spin class…and now I found Evolution Fitness, which is located in Culver City on the border of Playa Del Rey.

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This fitness center is partially a physical therapy clinic, with adjustment tables located on one side of the facility and class area/equipment taking up most of the rest of the room. There are personal trainers there who take clients one on one, indoor cycling classes, circuit training classes and TRX classes. TRX is a suspension trainer, which is a portable performance training tool that leverages gravity and the user’s body weight to complete various exercises. A person can do anything from jumping lunges, bicep curls and  planks using the TRX. It makes the exercises much more challenging, in my opinion.

Evolution Fitness offers a class called Sunset Cycle/TRX mash-up, which is a class with 25 minutes of indoor spin/cycle, and 25 minutes of TRX training. The spin part was relatively unchallenging for me, but being that I have done a million spin classes at this point in my life, that is to be expected. I like the fact that one of the walls rolls up in the building so you get fresh air while doing your workouts. Sometimes spin classes are so hot and crowded! This class was not.

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After the spin, each member is guided over the TRX equipment for 25 minutes of training. We did everything from rows and curls to planks and pull-ups. This was definitely the more challenging part of the workout for me, utilizing my core stability, which is something I am working on and getting better at (thanks to pilates with the reformer!!). It was also nice that the last few minutes of this class were dedicated to cooling down and the instructor had us get out foam rollers and stretch.

I highly recommend trying a combination workout class, you get the best of both worlds!

By the way, Evolution Fitness has a parking lot down the street from the facility that is ONLY for members to use, which is a nice benefit so you don’t have to go crazy looking for parking. They have bathrooms onsite but no shower.

EVOLUTION FITNESS

6826 South Centinela Avenue

Culver City, CA 90230

CLASS PASS SERIES: HIIT On Melrose Avenue…

I was supposed to work this giant event in San Diego today that got canceled, so I had some extra time on my hands and decided to try a class from a place I never heard of that wasn’t located in my immediate vicinity.

This place is called the Phoenix Effect and it is located on Melrose Avenue. This snazzy little boutique gym is in the heart of what used to be a popular shopping area. Parking is rather tricky, as they only have two tandem spots in the back. Your best bet is to park at a meter on the street and pay.

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The gym has an open front greeting area where you will sign in with their friendly front door receptionists, who are super nice and informative about what you will expect in the class you take, where the bathrooms are and they will also give you a towel for your workout if you ask for one.

The actual gym itself is one room. It is not that big, but they have it set up so you can get your workout in efficiently. I really dug the incline wall they have in the back with the rope…alas, it was not used in the today’s workout.

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The gym has several different classes-Burn, Fire, Lift, Fix and Funk. I took the Burn class, which is a HIIT (high intensity interval training) class. As you know from my experiences at Burn 60, Circuit Works and Sweat Garage, I love these super fat burning workouts. I do believe over time combined with the right nutrition, they can help sculpt your body and improve your overall athletic conditioning. The other classes can be found here.

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There are no treadmills for this program. It is 10 different stations ranging from butterfly sit-ups to kettle bell swings. Each station you spend 45 seconds doing your maximum effort of whatever the exercise at that station is. Then you get a 15 second rest, then you do a second set of the same exercise. You rotate through all 10 exercises like this. Then you do a second rotation, but this time it is for 35 seconds with a 15 second rest. Sounds like a lot? It is!! You will be sweating by the end of this class, no doubt.

The gym has a bathroom and cubby holes for your belongings in the back of the room. No showers are available. They also like to take a group picture at the end…but no one harasses you if you want to avoid this, which I did.

THE PHOENIX EFFECT

7264 Melrose Avenue 

Los Angeles, CA 90046

CLASS PASS SERIES: Megaformer Pilates…A Lesson In Discipline For Me!

Ever since I can remember, exercise for me has been about large movements. Long runs, steep hills, intense stair climbs…if it was intense, I was doing it. Of course, this meant with time, I was always overdoing it, always tired and almost always in pain.

On one of my many beach runs I had parked by this adorable workout studio tucked into the Marina. I saw a super fit instructor yelling at a group of people in a pink room full of contraptions that honestly, before I knew what they were, looked like medieval torture devices used to stretch people to death. I kept hearing people talk about how great the workout was, and when a deal came up to try a few classes, I decided to jump onboard. I cannot even begin to tell you how much that decision changed the way I look at fitness forever.

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So a little more about this place…The Studio MDR is a boutique Pilates studio with two locations. One is in Marina Del Rey a few short blocks from the water on Washington Boulevard. The second one is on the other side of Lincoln going east on Washington and is considered in Culver City.

The outside of the studio is wall to wall window, with the logo imprinted over the building, so it is not too difficult to find. The inside of the studio…what can I say? It is adorable! It is very girly and unique, filled with the latest in trendy workout gear, water bottles and toe socks (socks you wear when using the Pilates reformers). The room is saturated in bright pink, white and silver hues. They keep it super clean and smelling fresh, which is a definite bonus. The staff are very friendly and attentive. The music is always great…upbeat and fun.

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So you see, this Pilates class is not exactly traditional. This machine is what we call a Megaformer. Basically, that is a 10 foot long, 250 pound Pilates machine on steroids. So if you think Pilates classes are easy, this class will make you and ANYONE you know, think again. The workout targets many different smaller muscles from various angles. It is designed to develop core strength and muscular endurance, burning calories and working smaller muscles to fatigue with higher repetitions. Each movement lasts about 60 seconds and there are typically close to 60 movements in a class. This is a high energy class atmosphere so prepare to work and feel the burn…for days after…SERIOUSLY!!

I would recommend this workout only to people with at least a baseline level of fitness. I don’t think a fitness newbie would be quite ready for this. I would say to start out with a regular Pilates class with the regular machines first a few times.

I now see how a slower, small muscle focused workout can produce even greater results than some of the longer, faster more intense workouts. I still get very sweaty and out of breath taking this class, but don’t experience the joint and muscle pain I often do from long runs. It is a great way to switch it up and get different physical and mental results.

There is a bathroom and water fountain, but no showers. There is metered parking in front and free street parking all along Glencoe, just be sure to read the signs!

 

THE STUDIO MDR EAST

13357 W. Washington Boulevard

Venice, CA 90066