What Is Recovery?

I have no idea. I thought recovery was just rest and sleep. Turns out there are various tools that aid recovery and the one place that's a one-stop shop for all things recovery in Malaysia is Recovery Hub in Hartamas.

In Ep 21 of Barbell Junction, we had Daniel and Edward to talk about the services they offer. Basically, they have 4 types of treatments - cryotherapy, float tank, infrared sauna and Normatec. If you want to know what each is, then please watch the episode (you can also listen on Spotify).

At the end of the podcast, I still couldn't wrap my head around these types of recovery techniques, not because I couldn't understand what each does, but mostly because I couldn't really imagine how it affects the recovery process. So, I decided to try them out myself. 

I was especially drawn to the float tank because I wanted to experience the sensory deprivation and how it helps reduce stress among other things. The idea of just floating on water for 45 minutes - they say it feels like you're floating in space - seems to me the kind of thing I needed desperately. However, I knew if I tried that out, I wouldn't be able to try the others. That's when I had the idea to invite my wife along so she could do the tank while I tried the cryotherapy and infrared sauna.

So, we went to Recovery Hub on Thursday morning after making our bookings the day before. Edward gave us a tour of the facility and explained about each therapy. As he was explaining, I had a mixture of curiosity and excitement with a dash of trepidation. I know what to expect for the sauna, but the cryotherapy is a whole new experience for me.

After I left my wife in the float tank room, I got changed into the robe and a pair of these odd looking brown boots. It is recommended to take off all your clothing except, of course, your underwear. I also had to put on gloves to cover all extremities. The cryo chamber was then cooled down from room temperature all the way to -180deg Celcius. 

As you see the temperature drops, the chamber starts to breath into life. The water vapor climbs to the top of the chamber and lazily eases its way down the sides. I enter the chamber and took off my robe, exposing my thick dense belly and all of it's glory. 

I was surprised that the cold wasn't that bad. I was expecting a much harsher icy pricks on my body even at -120deg Celcius. A minute went by and I was feeling... what? That's it?! At least give me a challenge! The countdown timer was now making it's way through the second minute as the temperature drops further. At this point, I was thinking.. okay. That's cold. It was the type of cold you get when the wind blows in snowy winter. It went from Genting Highlands cold to ice freezer cold. I wasn't yet shivering at this time.

Bear in mind that, although the temperature is negative a hundred degrees, because nothing touches your body, you don't actually feel the brunt of the coldness. It's just the air that surrounds you that's cooled down by the chamber.

As we get closer to the magic -180deg, which has now surpassed the 2 minute mark, that's when I realized... yup... now I understand why you don't go more than 3 minutes in this hellish (or should I say, chillish??) chamber of ice. Right on the dot, my body was just shaking and shivering uncontrollably. Edward checks up on me to see if I'd like to step out from my misery, but I said, rather arrogantly, "I'm... go... ing... all... the... way... bro."

Every single syllable that came out was a struggle, I kid you not. I tried to converse with Edward, but it was too difficult to control myself. In the end, I just kept quiet and counted the seconds, which felt like eternity. Edward did mention in the podcast that the maximum limit for a cyrotherapy is 5 minutes. I kept thinking about that while I was in there and I cannot believe that anyone can go that long! At the end of the 3 minutes, I stepped out of the chamber with the knowledge that not even my 35% ... ok, more like 37% body fat could not help me in the freezing cold.

Next, we hopped on to the next room where the infrared sauna is. My body had barely acclimatized to the room when I got into the sauna. Daniel suggested I try both the cyrotherapy and sauna. So, I did... foolishly. I went from one extreme to the next within the space of 20 minutes.

A sauna is a sauna, there's nothing new about it. The only difference that I could tell with the infrared sauna is that it's easier to breath as opposed to the sauna that uses the hot sauna rocks. It took probably around 20 minutes before I started to feel... oh man, this is hot. If you gave me an option between hot or cold, I'd choose the latter. I don't like to sweat, which explains my current body composition. But I was sweating buckets. 

Oh God... I literally thought of what hell would be like and the sauna put the fear of God in me. It was barely 70deg and I already couldn't take it. Once in awhile, I opened the door just to let the heat out, a cool but temporary redemption. I thought to myself, we can't live in both these extremes. I don't know why, but a sense of gratitude came over me, I thank God for giving me the life that I have. I know it's weird. People come here to recover themselves physically, but I think I got a bit of spiritual recovery as well.

In the middle of my self-reflection, I received a message from my wife. All this while, she was in the float tank. She said she wasn't feeling good. She felt nauseous and wanted to vomit. In the middle of being stewed like a chicken on a kebab, this news was not something I welcomed. I asked her if she was alright. She said she would be fine.

To be honest, I was taken aback. I really thought that she would get her well deserved relaxation, but the opposite happened. I felt guilty. The last time she felt this sick, she was pregnant.   Me being me, I jokingly said to her, "Maybe you're pregnant again." I couldn't help myself.

With few minutes remaining in the sauna, I decided to get out. I think I've sweated enough for an entire year. Considering that going through the cryotherapy may burn up to 800 calories, I thought that's plenty of calories burnt in one day.

All in all, it was an interesting day for me... not so much for the wife. I did feel really bad. She's a working mom and I know how stressed she gets juggling work and family. I googled float tank side affects and true enough, it does mention that some people do get nauseated. It's not something against the therapy, but I do believe that you need to get used to the magnesium salt, which has a certain smell that permeates the room. Just imagine if you're enclosed in a spaceship looking chamber, floating on salty water with nothing but your thoughts and the smell... well you get the picture.

Her experience will not deter me from trying it out one day, Insya Allah, and so shouldn't you. I cannot attest to the recovery efficacy of the cryotherapy and infrared sauna just because it was my first time. I think in order for someone to feel the affects, they have to either go regularly or go after a hard training session. Just so you know, many MMA fighters go there to recover, including Agilan Thani. If it's good enough for them, it's definitely good enough for us regular folks. 

But for me, I just think one is pretty cool and the other is pretty hot and you know which one is which.



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