Freeze, Float, Heat

New feel-good healing therapies are turning up statewide.

Virginia 2 freeze float heat version 2

(Illustration by Andrew Baker)

Entering the mainstream, three new healing therapies offer pain relief, improved sleep, even zen-like brain waves. If you haven’t sampled the latest, look for these trending therapies popping up in boutique spas in your area.


Chill Out 

(by Schuyler Corrigan)

Spending merely 2-3 minutes in freezing nitrogen-induced temperatures ranging from -100 to -140 (that’s negative 140) degrees celsius may be all that lies between you and a pain-free life. “Cryotherapy is like an oil change for your blood,” says Sid Frost, founder and owner of Alpha Cryo in Arlington and Tyson’s Corner.

Within 10-15 seconds after entering a cryochamber, your blood moves to your core to protect vital organs, where it’s cleaned and oxygenated, decreasing inflammation. “The majority of our clients thought you had to be an athlete to do this therapy, and that’s a stigma we are trying to pull away from,” says Frost. Devotees report better sleep, relief from arthritis pain, and better sports performance—and you come out feeling like you’ve just skied an Alp.


Heat Up

(by Kaitlyn Hilliard)

Infrared saunas deliver the spectrum of invisible light detectable by heat. These no-sweat saunas work at the cellular level to raise core body temperatures and stimulate blood circulation, detoxification, and reduce inflammation.

Says Melanie Mueller of Scents of Serenity Organic Spa in Richmond, “just because you’re not sweating doesn’t mean it’s not working.” The three infrared wavelengths (Far, Mid, and Near) are combined in targeted sessions to promote sleep and weight loss, slow aging, and relieve muscle and joint pain.


Drift Away

(by Sienna Sullivan)

Float spas use restricted environmental stimulation tanks (R.E.S.T) designed to eliminate sensory input to the brain. The tank’s eerie quiet stimulates theta brainwave activity to induce deep relaxation.

Agnieszka Drygala, owner of Williamsburg Salt Spa opened two tanks, each filled with water and more than 900 pounds of epsom salt, in 2015. Float tanks are most commonly used to treat muscle pain but can benefit anyone with PTSD, anxiety, or garden-variety stress.


This article originally appeared in the October 2021 issue.

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