Chasing Down the Muse: My comfort zone just got wider

As the soft dove-gray morning sky edged over to blue, I found myself longing for a "fix." I thought back to how it had all started and how much had changed.

When daughter Jenna came to me with the idea, I scoffed. She had to be kidding? This was so very far outside my comfort zone as to seem virtually impossible. Being Jenna, she kept talking, though. Being me, I kept shaking my head. Finally, I agreed to make an appointment for the trial session just to be done with the discussion. I could always cancel, right?

Let's start with my comfort zone. I like the temperature to be somewhere between 68 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much wiggle room there either.

Desert heat and mountain snows are not for me. So the idea of minus-184 degrees Fahrenheit for any amount of time just was not even thinkable.

What Jenna was proposing was that I try whole-body cryotherapy. This method of cryotherapy was developed in Japan in the late 1970s to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Since then, studies have established this as a powerful treatment for inflammatory disorders and injuries, and many professional athletic teams have their own cryotherapy units to help to decrease recovery time.

While the treatment is primarily about healing the body, side benefits apparently abound. There seems to be a boost to the body's metabolic rate. This can have benefits in helping with weight loss. Endorphins are raised, which can help with mild depression and sleep problems as well as create a pain-relieving effect. The treatments profess to accelerate the production of collagen, improving skin elasticity and texture.

So why was I so resistant? That comfort zone thing, of course. That was my bottom line. Cryotherapy seemed unbelievably cold!

Yet, here I am two plus months later needing my "fix."

IceLab, which operates out of Wardance Training Center near John Wayne Airport in Costa Mesa, is where I drove that first day. After talking with owner Monika, signing paperwork and having my blood pressure taken, I undressed and donned a bright pink robe.

Monika handed me heavy socks and gloves (that extremities thing) and talked me through what was to take place. That day, I would not go to the coldest temperature or the longest time (about three minutes). We would see how it went. Needless to say, this was reassuring.

I stepped into the cylinder and handed Monika my robe, and the elevator base lifted my head above the rim. There were the eager, smiling faces of Jenna and her trainer, Bridget. Were they waiting for my reaction? You bet.

Surprising myself more than anyone else, I was hooked the first time I tried this form of cryotherapy. No, I did not cancel that first trial appointment. In fact, I did a double session that day and signed up for a month and then another month after that. If, reading this, you are shaking your head in disbelief, you are only mirroring my own thoughts, then and now. Clearly, things do not always make sense.

My comfort zone now has an asterisk next to it — *except for the extreme of nearly 250 degrees Fahrenheit below zero for up to three minutes.

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer and director of the Sawdust Studio Art Classes in Laguna Beach. Always fascinated, inspired, and titillated by the beauty and the ever-changing mysteries — and surprises — of life, she can be reached at or by phone at (714) 745-9973.

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