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SHELBYVILLE–Donning a robe, socks and a pair of gloves, visitors to FreezeN2 will be guided into a chamber by employees. At the top, there’s a hole for vistior’s heads to stick out of while the chamber fills with nitrogen gas, dropping the temperature down to negative 240 degrees fahrenheit.
The process lasts about three minutes.
“We will walk you through it,” said Jessie Knearem, the co-owner of FreezeN2, “it gets pretty intense, but we will be there to talk to you and kind of distract you.”
Knearem said cryotherapy has the same benefits as an ice bath, except it lasts three minutes instead of 20.
“A lot of what people come in for is pain relief,” Knearem said. “Anything that you would use ice for, you’re going to use cryotherapy for: strains, sprains, inflammation of any type, whether it’s chronic or acute. Anything muscular related, you know, my younger son, he comes in for growing pains.”
Throughout the three minutes visitors are accompanied by an employee to help them through the process. Every thirty seconds, the employee will ask visitors if they would like to continue the session as a safety precaution.
“We’ve got to have an oxygen sensor on the wall,” Knearem said. “Nitrogen will leach the oxygen out of the room, so back in the corner, you can see the little vents and stuff. The sensor on there actually monitors the amount of oxygen that’s in the room, if it [the oxygen] gets too low, it’ll turn on. You will have to wear some protective clothing while you’re there. We give you slippers, socks and gloves to wear. When you get that cold all the blood rushes to your core to protect your internal organs, so you have to wear them to protect the hands and the feet because that will get too cold. Really, it’s just been about learning to safely handle the nitrogen. It’s non-toxic, it won’t hurt you if you inhale it or anything like that.”
Generally, people who are pregnant, have uncontrolled high blood pressure, uncontrolled seizure disorders, history of heart attacks, open wounds or blood clots are not recommended to try cryotherapy without talking to their primary care doctor first.
The business first began when the owner, Daric Austin, tore his ACL, which is one of the main ligaments in the middle of the knee. While he was undergoing physical therapy, a doctor suggested that he could benefit from cryotherapy to help manage the pain.
“It was nice, I felt a little bit right off the bat, but not, not an extensive amount,” Austin said. “The more I kept going–I went every single day after physical therapy or tried to go before vice versa–I could really tell the difference.”
Originally, FreezeN2 was located in Decatur. While Austin was attending cryotherapy, he learned the owners were selling the business. After some discussion, he and Knearem decided to buy the business and move it to Morgan St. in Shelbyville.
“They said they were gonna sell it, and it helped me a lot, I didn’t want that place to go away because nothing else helped my pain that much,” Austin said. “I wanted to keep it around, not just for myself, but to help other people out with it too.”
Austin added that Knearem, his step-mom, has been a big support in opening the business.
“I really have to give props to my stepmom, Jessie. She’s the one that really puts all the hard work in that place,” Austin said. “She’s really the heart and soul of the company, other than our employees.”
Since the grand opening in January, and re-opening in June at their current location, they’ve had several athletes come in from local schools. In addition to those, football teams from Eastern Illinois University and Millikin have also came to try cryotherapy. Besides pain relief, Knearem said another benefit to cryotherapy is increased performance times.
“Your body actually does go into fight or flight at those temperatures, so you get an adrenaline boost and an endorphin rush, so you get back performance enhancement work,” Knearem said.” We’ve got lifters, football players, wrestlers and cross country kids. We actually had a young lady, who came in regularly through the season, she boosted her PR by 11 seconds.”