By Joe Southern
Robert Garza and Robert Ezzell have the coolest job in town.
They along with their partner Simon Maldonado own Lonestar Cryo. They quite literally get to spend the day chilling with their clients.
“It’s a modern version of an ice bath,” Garza said.
Cryotherapy is a relatively new therapy with multiple benefits. Nitrogen vapor is used to rapidly cool the body resulting in a rush of re-oxygenated blood as the subject warms up again.
“It feels good – it feels really good,” said Rene Torrez of Fresno, who had just stepped out of he chamber after his first treatment. “It gets the blood flowing.”
Garza said the therapy was developed as a way to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It didn’t take long for other benefits to emerge. Athletes in particular have started using it as a way to allow them to train harder and recover faster. It also boosts metabolism, aiding in weight loss.
Garza said they have several professional athletes who use their service, among them are football, basketball and baseball players, including members of the Sugar Land Skeeters.
“Athletes make it a part of their routine,” Garza said.
Torrez plays flag football and is using cryotherapy to help him get back into shape to play running back.
Ezzell and Garza explained that there are three levels of treatment. The average person is in the cooling chamber for about two to three minutes and there are three levels of cooling to select from, the coldest being minus-270 degrees. The goal is to drop the surface temperature of the skin by 25-30 degrees.
“It only penetrates a millimeter beneath the skin,” Garza said.
As the body cools, it naturally brings blood in from the extremities to help protect the inner core. As it does that, the blood is re-oxygenated, filled with nutrients and thickens. Once the client leaves the chamber and begins to warm up, the blood quickly flows back throughout the body.
“You feel more energized … it amps you up for sure,” Garza said.
The cooling also helps heal inflammation, which helps with sore muscles and joints.
“Older folks are the ones who benefit from it the most,” he said.
Ezzell said it has the same effect as an ice bath but is quicker and less discomforting. In addition to the full-body chamber (the head stays outside), there is a spot-treatment device that blows the super-cooled air onto a focused area such as a shoulder, elbow, leg or back. It takes longer, about 10 minutes, but is just as effective.
Upon arrival, a first-time guest is given an overview of the process, pays their fee ($20 for the first session) and signs a waiver. They then go into a changing room, strip down to their skivvies and put on a robe, socks and slippers. Returning to the main room, their temperature is checked with a laser thermometer just above the knee. The client then enters the chamber, the door is closed and they slip out of the robe. They hand the robe to the operator and put gloves on. The socks and gloves protect the fingers and toes from frostbite.
Once the client is ready, the lid is lowered with an opening that allows the head to stay outside the chamber. The operator activates the switches and the chamber begins to fill with nitrogen vapor. Once the session is over, the lid is lifted and the client exchanges gloves for the robe and exits the chamber. Their temperature is re-checked to see if they dropped to the desired level. From there they get changed and the session is over.
Garza said the treatment could be stopped at any time if the client becomes uncomfortable or claustrophobic. The nitrogen is safe to breathe as it occurs naturally in the air. There is no age limit for the therapy, although minors and children require a parent’s signature on the waiver. There is a height requirement of five feet. Anyone under that is too short for the chamber.
Lonestar Cryo is currently located at 126C Eldridge Road in Sugar Land. As far at Ezzell and Garza know, they are the only ones offering cryotherapy in Fort Bend County. They opened the business in February and have been steadily growing. They anticipate the need to relocate and expand before too long.
“We’ve got a pretty strong membership base,” Garza said.
In the meantime, they can be reached at 713-825-0706, firstname.lastname@example.org or online at lonestarcryotherapy.com.
Feel free to give them a call. They’ll be more than happy to chill with you for a while.