A chance glimpse into the world of a revolutionary therapy enjoyed by the rich women of Beverly Hills, California, inspired Ruth Hyde to begin a new business venture in Kent.
She needed a new challenge, after being made redundant from her job in IT in the dizzy corporate world of the City of London. She found it in cryotherapy – the use of below-freezing temperatures to help combat inflammation and certain skin conditions, to support recovery from sports injuries and, in some cases, to speed up weight loss.
Ruth explained: “I had worked in the City for years and I didn’t know what to do when I found myself without a job at the beginning of 2016. Then one day I saw an episode of Real Life Beverly Hills Housewives when they tried cryotherapy. It was my lightbulb moment. I thought ‘I could do this’!”
Then followed several hectic months researching the cryotherapy process, drawing up a business plan, enrolling on a start-up course and visiting suitable locations for the clinic. She found the ideal premises in Sevenoaks High Street and spent a couple of months getting it fitted out with specialist equipment, before opening in March, 2017. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of learning techniques, employing the right people and, just recently, getting out into the community to promote her company, Cryojuvenate UK.
Cryotherapy was developed by a Japanese scientist 30 years ago and originally involved immersion in ice baths. Modern techniques involve either nitrogen gas, or electrically induced below-freezing temperatures, such as Ruth uses.
One of the conditions said to benefit most from cryotherapy is arthritis and Ruth has good reason to want to help sufferers. As a young teenager, she had bouts of painful and debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. “I wish I could have had the chance of treatment like this, it really seems to help reduce the pain,” she says.
In her early 20s, Ruth suffered from psoriasis and she says cryotherapy can also help ease this and other skin conditions.
Ruth is now promoting the value of the therapy for sports injuries and maintaining body fitness and is building links with football, hockey and rugby clubs, to offer regular treatments for players. Many professional athletes and a member of Team GB’s running team are also on the books. Each full-body treatment involves standing in a large walk-in chamber, where the temperature is a minimum of -85 degrees centigrade. Ruth explains what happens next: “When the brain feels this depth of cold, it sends emergency signals to the heart and draws blood away from the limbs to the vital organs. The heart rate speeds up and this can help burn calories, although we never claim it is a slimming process.”
Ruth says the temperature in the cabinet is “a nice cold, very dry” and staff ensure the extremities such as fingers, toes and the head, are covered. Clients also wear a mask, so they do not breathe in the cold air directly to the lungs.
Treatment lasts only three minutes and when clients come out they report feeling energised, says Ruth. Some follow it up with a deep massage, to continue the good work started by the cryotherapy process she claims. Prices vary according to how many treatments are required – there’s a sliding scale for multiple appointments – and reviews by satisfied customers speak of pain relief and reinvigoration.
Next year, Ruth hopes to travel into the community with a mobile cryotherapy machine, to help spread the word. She would love to see the business grow to such an extent that she needs bigger premises, but for now, she’s enjoying the buzz and focusing on how to balance a hectic job with the delights of three young grandchildren.