Randee Harrison, who is a member at iCryo, stands in the cryo chamber, Oct. 3, 2022, at the iCryo facility in Aurora. The chamber is -175 degrees and the session lasts 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Photo by PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

A day at the spa here in Aurora was not what most would expect.

Rather than spending the afternoon cocooned in a soft terry robe, rubbed in oil and soothed to the sounds of wafting song, I was invited to new concept 24 Hour Fitness to stand half-naked and frozen in a sub-zero stall, pressure-pressed from the waist down and pumped full of things through an IV.

It was great.

The national chain of 24 Hour Fitness gyms this month launched a concept store in Aurora, offering much more than treadmills, barbells and ellipticals. Beyond the typical, the facility caters to a generation of fitness gurus ready for cryotherapy, red-light treatments, IV infusion boosters and compression pants.

The difference between the Parker-Arapahoe Super-Sport Gym and most other gyms doesn’t greet you right at the front door.

It looked like a nail salon. There were calming splashes of powder blue on white-trimmed walls. The only clue that I was in earshot of barbells was a powerlifter’s massive forearm he extended to guide me deeper into the facility. That forearm was not trained by polishing and filing nails. There’s plenty of the usual gym scene, all gleaming and teaming with people and their muscles moving. But there’s much more.

Meet Nurse J’nai Zugates, not your usual staffer at the gym.  Still ready for a day at the spa, I was expecting a warmed towel and a glass of cucumber water.

I got no such thing.

Instead, another staffer handed me a beanie, thick socks, gym shorts, and a robe. They said the skimpy attire was all I needed for a freeze session in the cryotherapy chamber.

Nurse Zugates -— yes, she’s a real nurse — was anxious to explain the benefits and side effects of subjecting barely clothed human bodies to temperatures hovering at 150 degrees Fahrenheit — below zero.

She explained that, contrary to most people’s instincts, there are documented benefits to entering a chamber, briefly, and dropping your skin surface temperature by as much as 50 degrees.

“Once you feel the effects of it, you actually crave it,” Nurse Zugates said. “Your body craves it.”

I wasn’t sure how a three-and-a-half-minute session would turn me into a cryo fiend, but I was eager to strip down, put on my little skull cap and get cold. 

I donned the robe, socks and shorts in a dressing room, but the modesty is lost because of the cryo booths’ see-through glass doors. They’re essentially walk-in showers transformed into meat freezers — meat freezers with moody stage lights providing ambience.

Nurse Zugates said the freeze session lasts about three and a half minutes, and no longer, preventing hypothermia, lowering your core temperature.

The typical iCRYO chamber temperature ranges between -145 degrees Fahrenheit and -175 degrees Fahrenheit.

As you’re admiring your socks and beanie, you choose what mood light color-theme you want to mark your journey down the Farenheit scale, and the song you want to take you there.

My favorite moment of the day was sifting through three-minute Marvin Gaye songs and imagining how each shade of the purple light I picked would compliment my goosebumps. I considered “Trouble Man.” I went with “I Got a Story to Tell,” by Notorious B.I.G. 

My cryo overseer, Lev, said the freeze is like an ice bath. It’s actually like eating Dippin’ Dots in a snowstorm. While I had no ability to see inside my body for what seemed to be good effects, I did recognize the sudden spike in adrenaline that came with incessant shivering as I ticked off my first minute. B.I.G. was rapping about his Prada knapsack, when I questioned whether I was going to make it to the end of the song. Lev kept watch on me as I ticked off the minutes.

I made it to the last, cold verse. 

It felt good to get warm. Then, just like staffers said, it just felt good. 

I got this.

Lev, who guided me to my next treatment, explained his own recovery cycle as a five-star rating. As a bodybuilder, he recommended cryotherapy and red light sessions: cryo for cutting fat, and red light for mental health — a “lack of seasonal blues” in his words.

I didn’t have time for a standard 15-minute session in a red-light chamber. The treatments, however, boast FDA approval and a long catalog of noted benefits. Among the perks, “photobiomodulation” can boost stem cell production and aid in treating a variety of mental health and circulatory disorders, Nurse Zugates said. Her claims parallel those touted by a wide range of vetted studies from around the globe.  Like everyone else, there are times when I could use some red-light therapy. Not today.

Next up, compression therapy.

I was led to a comfy, reclining chair. I put on some kind of  astronaut-suit-like bottoms, fastened up to my waist. They plug into a console that starts the 30-minute timer and the compression.

The pants start the squeeze around your ankles and  slowly work up your legs, with a slow, relaxing rhythm. It’s like having the biggest blood pressure cuffs in the world zipped up to your waist. It’s like a slow, rhythmic massage that you could practically do all day.

Next to me, in their own comfy recliners, four people were being hooked up to IV bags for infusion treatments. It could be a scene from any hospital room or clinic. “Patients” are tethered to a hanging IV bag, dripping fluid, tapped into their wrists.

The “flavors’ go far beyond just saline and glucose. People were ordering IVs as if they were favorite cocktails. Each mixture has a desired outcome, mostly based on ingredients: magnesium, calcium, zinc, or any of the B-complex vitamins.

Next to me, a tall, fit woman asked, “I want something that will make me eat less.” The nurse left and returned in five minutes with what could have been an Eat-Less Mai Tai ready to percolate through the woman’s veins.

A couple of hours had passed.

Some people experienced the gambit of what the gym and spa had to offer. Others pick and choose, maybe adding something different each time they come. Staffers can accommodate novices as well as those who know just what they want.

While officials said the offerings and the new store concept seem ripe for the entire chain, 24 Hour Fitness is testing the idea first in Aurora before moving it out to 300 select locations. It’s anchoring what they say is a 360-degree approach to health.

“We think fitness is nutrition, recovery, mindset,” said District Manager Nikki Sumait. “So I think that this partnership allows us to provide something tangible for recovery.” 


• Parker-Arapahoe Super Sport Gym at 15900 E. Briarwood
Circle in Aurora.

• Monthly plans start at $99/month and $116/month. Individual visits to the iCRYO center range in price.

• The new concept at select store offers, in addition to a complete gym and cryotherapy, compression therapy, IV infusions and red light therapy.

• icryo.com/location/aurora-co/


• www.24hourfitness.com/

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