Finding Relief with Cryotherapy
Jul 26, 2018 11:00AM
By Jordan Venema
By Jordan Venema
Photos by Kelli Avila
FROM THE 1979 THRILLER “Alien” to the 2006 black albeit prescient comedy “Idiocracy,” cryogenics has been begging the question for a while now: Can we really live forever? While science fiction has mostly focused on the study of cryonics – freezing and preserving a body to be reanimated at a later time – it actually belongs to the wider science of cryogenics, which is as old as, well, ice.
Loosely, cryogenics is the branch of physics that deals with the effects of extremely low temperatures. Think of it like the next level beyond refrigeration. And while the science behind cryogenics is advancing, as a healing method, cryotherapy is nothing new. Athletes ice their joints after games, and ice baths are increasingly found at spas, but when you’ve not got enough ice on hand you can go for a freeze and squeeze at Visalia Cryo.
Visalia Cryo is the brainchild of Tyler Alexander, owner of Elite Team Visalia, a gym that trains in the jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai style of martial arts. According to his wife and business partner Rosalinda Verde Alexander, Tyler was listening to a podcast by comedian and UFC commentator Joe Rogan, who also has a black belt in jiu-jitsu.
“In the podcast he was talking about cryotherapy in L.A. and how much he was loving it, and how much it was helping him recover, so Tyler decided to open one in his gym,” says Verde Alexander. That was 2015, “and since then it has grown into something bigger.”
In May 2018, the Alexanders moved Visalia Cryo from inside Elite Team Visalia and into its own building, “just right next door to the Planing Mill,” says Verde Alexander. Elite Team Visalia moved to the Oak Street location as well, but now the two businesses operate in their own unique locations.
Though Tyler started the business as a therapy for the fighters and athletes who trained at Elite Team Visalia, Verde Alexander stresses cryotherapy is for everybody.
“We have a range of clients from age 14 all the way to 76,” she says. And if you thought most clients were MMA fighters from the gym next door, you’d be wrong. “Not anymore,” says Verde Alexander. “Most of our clients are really baby boomers.”
So what is cryotherapy, and what is the appeal? Why are people stepping into what looks like an overgrown brewing vat fitted with a beer koozie? The machinery itself may look mundane, but it’s really tradition meets technology.
“I’d say more like space-age – technology with a very ancient technique,” clarifies Verde Alexander. “The cold has been used forever to alleviate inflammation in the body, preserve the body.”
The space-age aspect is the oversized freezer that can drop to negative 300 degrees.
“We’re talking Saturn, Jupiter temperatures,” chuckles Verde Alexander.
Which, if we’re being honest, sounds terrifying, but Verde Alexander says that’s the biggest hurdle for first-time clients: fear.
Clients disrobe before stepping into the cylindrical chamber, which fully covers their body, “and we don’t leave your sight,” she says. “You could even climb out on your own.”
“But it’s not cooling your core temperature down, just your skin,” says Verde Alexander, who uses the machine three times a week. Clients are never in danger, and the “freeze” isn’t uncomfortable, she adds. “It’s like walking through the freezer section at Winco. It’s not as bad as you think.”
But unlike walking through the freezer section at a grocery store, three minutes of cryotherapy increases metabolic rate while providing relief from inflammation, chronic pain and post-work soreness, which is why people are willing to pay $30 for three minutes of therapy.
“I can’t tell you how many people are like, ‘So you’re telling me you want me to pay $10 a minute?’” says Verde Alexander.
Except that since Tyler opened Visalia Cryo three years ago as therapy for his gym, the business is so hot it’s threatening to thaw.
After three minutes of the “freeze,” clients are given complimentary compression sleeves to help recirculate blood through the body, putting the squeeze in “freeze and squeeze.”
Traditional therapy meets new technology, and the results are showing, says Verde Alexander.
“People aren’t stiff any more, and they’re off ibuprofen, and there’s less cellulite on the back of their legs and it’s good for the skin, and it has positive effects against depression and anxiety because it breaks off neuron pathways in your brain and rebuilds them.”
And this might just be the beginning. According to Verde Alexander, Tyler is hoping to expand Visalia Cryo to include other treatments.
“He really has a vision of making Visalia Cryo at the forefront of holistic recovery.” •
Visalia Cryo • 760 E. Center Ave., Visalia • (559) 249-5677
www.visaliacryo.com • Find them on Facebook and Instagram