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July 2000

Chill Out

Cold chamber therapy

Germans can go to extremes when it comes to maintaining good health. The latest craze is off the scale — literally. For the past few months, hundreds of otherwise sane and fit Münchener have been filing penguin-style into one of the country’s 35 “cold chambers” at a physiotherapy clinic in Obersendling. There they jig half-naked in sub-Arctic temperatures of –110°C and emerge three minutes later reporting increased vigor and happiness. “I wanted to rip up trees,” said one brave visitor. Cold chamber therapy is used widely in Germany to relieve the pain and inflammation of patients with multiple arthritic joints, sports injuries and skin disorders. A noted side effect is heightened energy levels and mild euphoria, lasting up to four hours. “We decided to offer that side effect to healthy people,” says Franziska Weber, whose practice is the first to open a cold chamber to non-patients. She calls it Cryo Power-Up and charges DM 46 a session (DM 35 for those holding season passes.) The coldest recorded temperature on Earth is – 89°C, in the Antarctic, and with the wind chill factor it can come close to –100°C. The usual effects of exposure to such levels are an increased heart rate, frostbite and hypothermia. That is why visitors to the even-colder cold chamber receive a blood pressure check and are monitored throughout the maximum three-minute stay on closed circuit TV. Even so, they wear only a bathing suit, shoes, earmuffs and a paper mask. Stressed-out managers are among Weber’s regular visitors. “If they have a long journey ahead, or an important meeting, they come here to get an instant energy boost,” she says. “It’s quicker than going to the gym.” On any given day there appear to be all shapes, sizes, ages and occupations chilling out. Physio Zentrum Franziska Weber: Tel: (089) 723 33 38. <<<

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