Cryotherapy (cryo) — the act of exposing the body to sub-zero temperatures as low as minus 220 degrees Fahrenheit to stimulate multiple wellness benefits — has continued to gain popularity over the years in the recovery realm.
For Joel Tallman, the CEO and president of MUV Brands, this is because the offering is foundational and aligns with the mission of many health clubs. As such, he partnered with The Covery to start bringing the offering along with other recovery modalities to his facilities.
“Cryo is a huge thing,” said Tallman. “It works in conjunction with our fitness operations in reducing muscle pain, joint relief, speeding up healing, increasing caloric burn, etc. All these things are consistent with what our health club members want to do.”
This is the reason Rob Barr, the athletic director of the Detroit Athletic Club, decided to add cryo as an offering at his facility.
“The whole journey of living longer, better is a focal point of our facility,” explained Barr. “It incorporates all aspects of health, wellness and recovery. When researching therapies that would be beneficial to our members, we couldn’t leave out cold therapy. We chose cryo as it was the best application for our facility and takes a shorter period than other modalities. The application of extreme cold activates the body’s natural healing powers that help reduce pain, inflammation, speed up metabolism, and detoxify the blood and body of toxins among other things. Currently, we offer both localized cryo for specific areas of the body through CRYO Penguin by CRYO Science and a total-body chamber through Cryo Innovations.”
While both facilities have added the offering, they understand the biggest factor preventing other clubs from jumping on the cryo train: the expense.
Tallman said the cost for cryo equipment would probably be the most expensive thing put into a health club. As such, it’s a significant investment.
“It’s also an investment in payroll, because it needs to be appropriately manned and monitored,” added Tallman. “It’s a significant step to go from the HydroMassage, the Human Touch massage chairs and percussion therapy into an apparatus with cryo. I do think it’s the expense to get into it, the expense to maintain it and then appropriately educate the members on it. That’s huge in health clubs.”
On the other hand, Barr said the upkeep is minimal and the cost is manageable once you dial in everything.
“The expense is the liquid nitrogen,” said Barr, if going with a nitrogen-based system. “However, you want to maximize the use by scheduling whole-body cryo sessions near one another to decrease having to cool the chamber down. We typically get 25 to 30 full uses a day where the localized cryo typically can be used for 40 to 50 treatments.”
Before diving into cryo, both Tallman and Barr recommended to educate staff and members on the offering.
Barr said the companies they purchase through offer staff training, literature and certifying videos to give you extra peace of mind. “All of our staff go through the training to get their certificate prior to being able to run the machine,” he noted. “Once they have completed the certification, they work with a seasoned operator prior to being left to run it on their own.”
While cryo is gaining popularity and is a “cool” product to bring inside your club, you need to ensure your members want it, and that you can operate it.
“I would highly recommend you be very familiar and know what you need for your members and facility,” said Barr. “Additionally, make it a priority that your staff is knowledgeable about all aspects of cryo, and they feel comfortable explaining and operating it. We use ours more as a retention tool than for profitability. You will need to decide your reasoning for the offering at your facility. At the end of the day, cryo isn’t for everyone but it is a great offering for most.”
Tallman echoed to look at your operation structure before implementing cryo. It’s a big undertaking and can’t be taken lightly. You need to ensure you have the people and resources in place to keep the offering running long after implementation.
“We watched years ago when personal training started to be in vogue,” said Tallman. “There were a lot of people who took on personal training and destroyed it because they just couldn’t manage it. They thought, ‘We’ll roll this out and it’ll take care of itself.’ That doesn’t happen. I think cryo is the same thing. You really have to evaluate the personality and your operation, and understand this is going to be almost a full arm of operation. If you’re not really committed to doing it well and doing it right — both on the initial onset and in the long term — then I wouldn’t look at it.”