Health treatments that sound insane but are actually super legit
When it comes to my health and wellness, I’ll try pretty much anything. As a fitness professional, I’m always working out (read: aches and pains on the reg), so I already get frequent acupuncture treatments, where they attach electrodes to the needles placed in my forehead. I take about 20 supplements at each mealtime and get bi-weekly B12 shots. I dry brush every evening and use castor oil packs on my abdomen a few times a week (to improve digestion and reduce inflammation). Suffice it to say, I’m not afraid to take a chance on some cool health treatments. So on my quest for better mental and physical well-being, I tested some new and rather bizarre-sounding therapies, which took me into a freezing cold chamber, had me floating in a pitch-black tank and indulged me in an orchestra of crystal bowls. Read on to find out how it all went down.
Naturally I was intrigued when I saw a lot of pro-athletes I follow on Instagram doing cryotherapy, which mimics the benefits of an ice bath without having to get into the freezing cold water. My curiosity brought me to Andrew Robertson, the founder of Northern Cryo, on King Street West in Toronto. Despite the “Hot Tub Time Machine” comparisons, this machine is cool…well, actually, it’s bloody cold. Yes, the device exposes your skin to minus -120°C for between two and three minutes. Apparently, the cooling of the body causes the brain to send more blood to your core in an attempt to keep the body warm. When the treatment ends, all this oxygenated blood rushes out to the limbs, detoxing the body, increasing circulation, reducing inflammation and giving you a rush of endorphins. Women can go in with underwear on or naked (I chose the former), while men need to cover up their private parts.
Everyone keeps asking me if I was cold. Hell, yes—I was freezing! But somehow it’s totally bearable. After 150 seconds in the CryoCabin, I felt excited, refreshed and, well, addicted. Maybe it was the endorphins or maybe it was Robertson’s powerful overview of the health benefits that did me in: Cryotherapy helps with arthritis, osteoporosis, fatigue, insomnia, migraines, autoimmune disease and weight loss. Um, where do I sign?! I’ve been going once a week for the past month and have no intention of stopping. So far it has really reduced my aches and pains and also has helped with general fatigue. It’s $35 a session AND it only takes five minutes.
Ever come home after a long day and just want to shut off the outside world and soak in a warm tub full of bath salts? Well, that’s exactly what float therapy offers, except instead of soaking in your cozy bathtub, you’re immersed in an eight-by-four foot sensory deprivation tank. I’m not claustrophobic, but when I first walked into my private room at Float Toronto, I got a little nervous. While the room looks like a luxury spa—filled with dark stone, dim lighting and soothing music—the tank itself looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. Before I got in, I had two concerns. One: Is it possible to get locked in? And two: Do I have to get my hair wet? The float pro told me I could prop the door to the float chamber open slightly with a towel until I get used to the sensation. As for the hair, unfortunately, it was about to get wet.
First impressions? The 34.1°C water was surprisingly comfortable—it’s supposed to mimic your body temperature so you don’t know where you end and the water begins. The thousand pounds of salt in the tank makes you feel totally weightless. As it turns out, once you’re in, the chamber feels quite roomy and it’s not scary. I quickly felt comfortable enough to close the door all the way and experience the full effect of the sensory deprivation. Best of all, I didn’t obsess over my large to-do list during my hour-long session. As for it’s benefits, floating is supposed to reduce muscle pain, blood pressure and stress, among other things. I felt all those benefits immediately and would definitely recommend everyone try it at least once. But I do have a few complaints. The wet hair thing means that I have to plan my sessions around hair-washing days. Also, even four days later, my ears are still bothering me from the salt water. Finally, it’s $65 for one session or $120 for three, so I see this as more of a treat than a weekly staple.
I couldn’t have timed my first sound therapy treatment better if I’d tried. I was having a bad day—I felt tired, stressed and had horrible writer’s block. But when I met my sound therapist, Philip Jacobs, at Helix Healthcare Group, I was instantly calmed. He welcomed me while waving burning sage around the large room to clear the energy. Then, he directed me to lie on the floor, wrapped me in a big blanket and put my feet up on a large box. Behind me casually lay maybe a dozen crystal bowls of different sizes, a gong, a triangle and an instrument that looked like a didgeridoo. Before he started playing, he put a few acupuncture needles in my head and hands, carefully choosing the points that would help with my stress and creative blockages. For the next hour I felt completely surrounded in the music. Jacobs played the crystals and chanted—in fact, it didn’t sound like a voice at all, it almost sounded like a synthesizer. It was beautiful but not something you’d want to play in the car, if you know what I mean.
Jacobs said this therapy is particularly good for those suffering from depression or addiction. Though I wasn’t seeing him for those issues, I did feel relaxed and refreshed. Part of me did wonder if lying down in a cozy blanket under any circumstances would have the same effects. All in all, it was a cool experience and one that was very much needed that day, but it’s not something I’d make part of my regular routine.