Amber Dodson needs a break from her rigorous workout regimen,
she steps nearly naked into a high-tech machine that looks
like a giant energy drink can. Only her head is visible as the
temperature in the chamber plummets to minus 292 degrees
Fahrenheit for three minutes, liquid nitrogen vapor billowing
down the sides.
tend to get extremely inflamed and I don’t like taking days
off," said Dodson, 36, who pays $299 a month for up to 30
sessions at Coast Cryo in Marina del Rey, Calif. "It’s
been a lifesaver because I can’t deal with sore muscles and
a freezing treatment used by elite athletes such as LeBron
James and Michael Phelps, is just one of the pricey injury
recovery and prevention strategies that are exploding in
popularity in Los Angeles — despite a lack of scientific
evidence in many cases to support their efficacy. Cryotherapy
alone is expected to grow to a $5.6-billion global industry by
2024, up from $2.5 billion in 2016, according to Grand View
Research, a market research and consulting company.
remedies — which also include IV therapy drips,
vitamin-infused booster shots, hyperbaric oxygen chambers and
compression therapy — cater to workout fanatics who insist
an old-fashioned ice pack and a Gatorade won’t suffice. They’re
now being offered at so-called wellness boutiques dedicated to
administering the treatments; medical offices, weight loss
clinics and traditional spas are also getting in on the craze.
Doctors in downtown Los Angeles, for example, offers more than
two dozen intravenous drips and booster shots to increase
energy, promote faster recovery and aid in weight loss.
an $89 Hydroboost IV vitamin drip "perfect for those who
need instant hydration," a $30 Supercharged booster shot
for customers who are looking for "an intense burst of
oomph" or a wallet-busting $220 Limitless IV vitamin
drip. That one is billed as "an ‘all in one’
concoction" that will "optimize performance,
neurological function, immune support, detox, and keep you
contend that there is little benefit to IV drip therapy for
people who are essentially healthy, saying people are capable
of hydrating sufficiently and getting the nutrients they need
through food. They instead point to a placebo effect.
is Los Angeles after all, where anything that promises to make
you feel better becomes the latest fad," said Dr. Michael
Gottlieb, a specialist in internal medicine who practices in
believers, however, counter with the argument that IV therapy
works and beats dependence on painkillers. The global market
for IV tubing and related equipment is expected to grow at a
steady rate of just under 4 percent to more than $1.2 billion
by 2025, according to a new report from Persistence Market
taking a more natural and preventive approach to health,"
said Dr. Anthony Ho, a co-founder and chief of business
operations at Drip Doctors, which also provides house calls.
"It started out being more at the high end, with
celebrities, corporate types. We wanted to make it available
to the masses."
hyperbaric oxygen chambers have gone beyond the traditional
use of saving the lives of deep-sea divers who surface too
quickly. Sessions claim to boost energy, reduce pain and
inflammation, and speed injury recovery times, and they can
cost $350 to $450 per treatment.
worker Nicholas Howard Hayes, 28, uses the hyperbaric oxygen
chamber at Infusio in Beverly Hills to help alleviate sore
muscles after long days at work.
only am I walking 12 to 15 miles a day on my routes, I’m
also lifting a lot of heavy, awkward packages, like small
refrigerators, microwaves, even small beds," he said.
After his day job is done, Hayes hits the gym, where he works
as a personal trainer.
constantly overexerting myself," Hayes said. But after a
session in the hyperbaric chamber, where the air pressure is
increased to allow the lungs to gather more oxygen, "it’s
amazing how I feel after 20 minutes. I feel so good that I go
the gym to work out" afterward.
describes itself as "a sports optimization medical clinic
specializing in integrative medical and cutting-edge stem cell
can use it for all sorts of problems for patients who have
issues, like with their joints," said Suzanne Kim, one of
the clinic’s doctors.
fitness recovery businesses tout compression therapy. At HM
Sports Performance and Recovery in Santa Monica, customers
slip into pairs of bulky NormaTec boots that extend all the
way to the upper thighs.
for a 30-minute session (or $350 for a package of 10),
customers "recover faster between trainings and after
performance by increasing blood flow and flushing metabolites
from the workout out of the body," according to the
professionals say the fitness recovery fad stems from the rise
in more intense workouts, especially in cities like L.A. The
two are so closely linked that many recovery boutiques have
opened up next door to fitness studios, and some cryotherapy
businesses are now offering appointments on popular workout
is an example. She has memberships at two gyms — Gold’s
and Equinox — because, as she puts it, "one gym just
isn’t enough." At the Marina del Rey home she shares
with her restaurateur husband and her three young children,
there’s also a $1,995 Peloton spin bike, with its
$39-per-month online classes.
shelling out a few hundred dollars a month for whole-body
cryotherapy "sounds expensive, but it absolutely isn’t"
when considering the benefits, she said.
of the unconventional therapies, while no doubt trendy among
the bootcamp-spinning-yoga-kombucha crowd, have been heavily
criticized by those who doubt the purported benefits and say
providers are making misleading and potentially dangerous
consumer update by the Food and Drug Administration in 2016
deemed cryotherapy — now offered at boutiques in Santa
Monica, Beverly Grove and Costa Mesa — "a ‘cool’
trend that lacks evidence, poses risks." It said despite
claims that cryo helps treat conditions like Alzheimer’s,
fibromyalgia, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple
sclerosis, stress, anxiety or chronic pain, "this
so-called ‘treatment’ hasn’t been proven to do any of
studies suggest one can get as much localized benefit from a
simple ice pack. But a study conducted by the France-based
National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance focused
mainly on sports injuries and found that whole body
cryotherapy reduced inflammation and aches, and aided in
faster muscle injury recovery.
Sarbello, 41, owner of Coast Cryo, first tried cryotheraphy in
Texas, when he was working out so intensely to lose weight
that he woke up barely able to move some mornings.
started doing cryo four or five times a week," Sarbello
said. "I moved out here and I was like, ‘How is there
no cryotherapy available on the Westside?’ " He went on
to open Coast Cryo in late 2015.
controversial are stretch labs, where customers pay for
one-on-one stretch sessions. They’re designed to help gain
more mobility and flexibility than one can get on his or her
Mesa-based StretchLab, for example, charges $35 for 25 minutes
with a "flexologist" and $65 for 50 minutes. Monthly
rates range from $119 to $229 depending on the length of the
is booming. "We opened our first location in 2015 and we’re
already about to open our fourth," said Saul Janson, a
co-owner of StretchLab, which operates boutiques in Venice,
Santa Monica and the West Hollywood area.
media and Hollywood have also fueled the boutique fitness
Mandy Moore, "Dancing with the Stars’" Derek Hough
and Mark Ballas, athletes Floyd Mayweather and Shaquille O’Neal
are just some of the celebrities who have touted the benefits
of cryotherapy, posting photos on Instagram of them emerging
from the chambers.
years ago, "Bevely Hills, 90210" actress Shannen
Doherty shared a photo of herself lying in a hyperbaric
chamber as part of what she called an "outside of the
box" treatment for cancer recommended by her surgeon.
Madonna once told a radio station about how she gave Justin
Timberlake a B12 shot in the butt when they were working
together "because we only had a certain amount of days in
the studio" and she wanted his energy levels to be high.
the futuristic treatments are even making their way home.
Inc. is an Irvine company that designs and sells a $199
vibrating thigh roller, as well as heat and compression
devices for legs, shoulders and backs for $249 each. The
products have been used by basketball stars Kobe Bryant and
Blake Griffin, skier Lindsey Vonn and more than 200
professional and collegiate sports teams including the Lakers,
Clippers, UCLA Bruins, and USC Trojans.
users say they’re turning to the tonics and chambers to
supplement more conventional physical therapy.
Syed, 31, suffered broken bones and internal injuries after an
ATV crash a year and a half ago.
was in an intensive care unit at the hospital for 10
days," said Syed, who runs a tent rental business in
Anaheim. "The doctor told me it would take a year for me
to recover, but I wanted to do it faster."
addition to long-term physical therapy, he started making
weekly visits to Drip Doctors for an IV therapy called a Myers
Cocktail at $150 a pop. The cocktail is billed as "a
60-year-old remedy that has been known to alleviate a number
of health conditions like fatigue, migraines, depression,
after just two months I was feeling much better," he
said. "When it comes down to your health and you’re
used to being very active and you find yourself at a point
where you can barely move your arms and your legs, you are
willing to throw down any amount of money to feel better, you