Tuesday 19 July 2011

Charlie Brooks's kriotherapy freeze-treatment service at health spa Champneys

Buried in the torrent of revelations about News International is the interesting fact that Rebekah Brooks's husband, Charlie, runs a "kriotherapy" centre at Champneys, the spa that played a part in Sir Paul Stephenson's demise after revelations that he enjoyed a free five-week stay there. Is "kriotherapy" legitimate enough to be allowed out without its "scare quotes" on, or are the Brooks family backing another less-than-reputable product?

"Kriotherapy" is an innovative take on America's "cryotherapy", with a "k" instead of a "c" to make it sound cooler – like Krispy Kreme donuts, but marginally healthier. People take off most of their clothes, sit in front of a fan for a bit to dry their skin, and then lark about for a few minutes in a freezer set to more than a hundred degrees below zero. The treatments are offered by Champneys for fitness, body-sculpting, injury rehabilitation, and general wellbeing, with specific claims that it can help with depression, infertility, psoriasis and insomnia.

The treatment has had a huge amount of publicity in the press, with features in the Independent, Telegraph and FHM. Articles about it tend to follow a particular pattern: 1) reporter seeks treatment on the trail of a celebrity aficionado (Tony Blair, Jason Orange, Frank Bruno, you know the type), 2) reporter puts on silly outfit and feels a bit nervous, 3) reporter goes into the freezer and comes out feeling all tingly and invigorated, much as you would if you'd had a bucket of ice cold water tipped over your head.