By Carol Niemi For The Crier
One of the newest companies headquartered in Dunwoody, Impact Cryotherapy, makes cryosaunas and is already the leading manufacturer in the U.S. Though its main business is selling its machines to other businesses, it has just opened Impact Cryotherapy-The Studio, its first retail operation, to offer customers the chance to experience a range of cryotherapy and related services in a convenient location.
But what is cryotherapy? And what is a cryosauna?
Cryotherapy is a form of physical therapy and healing that uses freezing or near-freezing temperatures to promote natural healing and wellness. Like traditional ice packs and ice baths, it can decrease pain and inflammation and enhance healing. But it offers several advantages over those traditional cumbersome methods.
As anyone who has ever had an injury knows, ice packs can treat only one small area at a time and must be applied for 15 to 20 minutes multiple times a day over a period of days. For most people, an ice pack is not a pleasant experience and can cause frostbite if left on too long. As a result, people seldom finish a prescribed regimen of ice pack therapy.
Athletes have long used ice baths – which constrict blood vessels, flush waste products and reduce swelling and tissue breakdown – to help their bodies recover from heavy workouts and stress. Recommended times for ice baths are usually 15 to 20 minutes, but some people can’t tolerate more than a minute.
The fact is ice can do damage. And it’s not just cold, it’s also wet and can make you feel miserable.
Enter the cryosauna, a human-size booth that administers cryotherapy for the whole body. But rather than the 20 minutes of an ice bath, a cryosauna achieves results in only two or three minutes and is much colder but drier because instead of ice, it uses liquid-nitrogen cooled air.
“It offers the same benefits as cold therapy to manage inflammation and stimulate recovery by increasing blood flow,” said Margie Driscoll, vice-president of marketing for the company. “I’ve used it post running while training for a marathon.”
Because of their advantages, cryosaunas have replaced ice baths in the regular regimen for college and professional athletes and have become increasingly popular at wellness centers and spas.
“The fitness world absolutely gets this,” said Driscoll. “They’ve been using ice baths for a long time, but this is colder, faster, neater and more consistent.”
Impact Cryotherapy – Impact Cryo for short – is the only U.S. manufacturer of cryosaunas that actually makes the product in the U.S.
Founded in 2014 by Dunwoodian Richard Otto and Bob Atwood to make the best cryosaunas in the world, the company and its 22 employees have now sold more than 360 units in 43 states and 8 foreign countries. Its headquarters are at 53 Perimeter Center East in Dunwoody, and its manufacturing plant is in St. Louis.
Impact Cryo sells its cryosaunas to chiropractors, cross-fit gyms, sports teams, health and wellness businesses, physical therapists and luxury spas – including the likes of the spas at Sea Island and Ponte Vedra, Florida, as well as the Albany in the Bahamas, a luxury resort Forbes magazine calls “the most exclusive resort in the Bahamas.”
Unlike other manufacturers, Impact Cryo’s own people personally service and support every unit and train each new customer at the customer’s location on how to use it – even when it means flying staff to Australia to do it.
Impact Cryotherapy-The Studio is the company’s first foray into direct contact with consumers. Last week, this Crier writer was a guest at The Studio and experienced all of the services firsthand.
Located in Rivermont Station shopping center on Holcomb Bridge Road, The Studio is obviously brand-new. The décor is bright, clean and modern, with the healing aroma of lavender permeating the air. A manager and an assistant manager are there to administer every service, answer every question and make you feel comfortable and pampered.
At every visit, customers have the option of experiencing all four services: whole-body cryotherapy in a cryosauna, NormaTecâ Recovery System compression therapy, Cellumaâ LED light therapy and local cryotherapy.
Each of the four services promotes a different kind of healing. The cryosauna offers total-body healing and well-being. The compression therapy, which is administered by air forced up and down through huge sleeves reaching from your ankles to your hips, offers the benefits of massage while allowing you to remain fully dressed. While you’re getting compressed, you can also undergo LED light therapy on your face to manage pain, reduce wrinkles and improve your complexion. After all of that, the technician can apply local cryotherapy to your face to tighten your pores.
The centerpiece of a visit to The Studio is the Impact cryosauna. Before entering the booth, you remove your outer garments and put on a warm silky-soft robe and thermal gloves, socks and booties. It’s the last time you will be warm for the next few minutes.
While you’re changing, the technician sets the thermostat on the cryosauna – less cold for you on your first visit. You enter the cryosauna through a door, hand her your robe and duck so she can pull the lid over your head – the only part of your body not in the booth. Then for two to three minutes, you keep moving! At the end of your time, the technician hands you back your robe and you exit into the warm room, with a feeling of energy and well-being throughout your body.
According to a handout at The Studio, cryotherapy appeals to a wide variety of people – about 50 percent male and female, with 75 percent in the 18-to-49 age range. Most of them use cryotherapy mainly for either pain management or workout recovery, though some use it also for mental well-being and weight management. Most regulars use it at least once a week.
“Cryo makes chronic conditions livable and manageable,” said Driscoll.
To introduce people to cryotherapy, Impact Cryotherapy-The Studio is currently offering a first visit with all four services for free, plus 20 percent off the first purchase of a package or a membership. All four services are included in every visit.