The notion of spending two minutes in a box-sized room chilled to an inconceivable -121C, all in the name of a health kick, sounds like something from a sci-fi novel. And when I hear that this so-called 'wonder treatment' - used by athletes to boost performance - is known as 'cryotherapy', my mind fills with wrapped images of dead bodies put in the freezer. Fortunately, cryonics (freezing the dead) is very different to cryotherapy, which I'm about to try at AquaCity, a water park and spa centre at the foot of the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia.
I expect to be kitted out in some astronaut-like attire to protect me from the man-made elements, so I'm shocked when the receptionist hands me a skimpy vest top and a small pair of shorts. I'm also given mittens, thick socks, a mask, a Rocky-style headband to protect my ears, and a pair of on-trend clogs.
What's up, Doc?
A quick health check is carried out under the watchful eye of the onsite doctor; my blood pressure is taken. "You strong, healthy girl, yes?" the cheery doc asks."Good," he grins.
Terrified by the prospect of being frozen like a lump of meat, my nerves are jangling. From the outside, the thick wooden doors look like a sauna, but as soon as the doctor opens the chamber we're engulfed in a polar-esque fog.
The experience begins in the antechamber, chilled to a mere -60C, where we have to stamp our feet to eliminate moisture from the surface of our bodies for 30 seconds. My skin tingles, but the sensation is not an unpleasant one. After about a minute, the doctor instructs us over the PA system to move to the cryochamber.
Ice, ice, baby
Chillier than the Antarctic, where the lowest temperature ever recorded was a paltry -89C, the cryochamber is pretty damn cold. Enveloped in a thick white mist, I can barely see my two shivering comrades. We walk clockwise for one minute, stomping our clog-encased feet, before changing direction for the final minute.
We've been instructed not to breathe in too deeply, but I instinctively don't want to suck the icy air into my lungs. My arms and legs prick with pain as the biting chill penetrates my pores. we have been told we can leave the chamber at any time of the cold becomes unbearable, but we all brave it out for the full two minutes.
Once released, we race up to the gym for a low-impact workout. Within minutes of exercising on the cross-trainer, my numbed arms and legs begin to spring back to life. I feel euphoric and exhilarated, like I've just jumped out of a plane.
The treatment is said to help conditions such as arthritis, lower-back disorders and osteoporosis. The sense of euphoria it induces is also believed to aid people suffering from depression. And this cutting-edge treatment is a steal at just 10 Euros per session.
Bizarre treatments aside, the futuristic-style AquaCity resort has been lauded for its green credentials. It is self-powered by solar and geothermal energy drawn from lakes beneath the plains of northern Slovakia.
The cavernous resort is home to outdoor and indoor thermal baths, an Olympic-sized pool, swim-up bar, snow cave, scented saunas, waterslides and two hotels. So even if you're too chicken to give cryotherapy a shot, AquaCity is the perfect place to head for a stress-free weekend.