- Golfer Padraig Harrington uses cryotherapy as part of his fitness regime
- The deep-freeze treatment is increasingly popular with professional athletes
- Athletes enter a chamber that is chilled to -130 degrees Celsius (-200 ˚F)
- New York salon owner says cryotherapy creates such a high it's like "legal doping"
(CNN)Would you dare to freeze yourself fit by stepping into a chilling chamber colder than Antarctica?
Golfers are used to frosty fairways, stormy tees and soggy greens but Padraig Harrington is taking the plunge with a real deep freeze.
Ireland's three-time major winner is following in the chilling footsteps of actor Daniel Craig and super-fit soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo by exposing himself to cryotherapy in preparation for the 2015 season.
"I've used whole body cryotherapy for several years," Harrington commented to CNN.
"Guided by research from Setanta College, it's played a key part in my recovery, especially between competitive periods."
Cryotherapy translates as cold cure -- but for some the intense chill goes beyond words.
"The cold floods your brain and you can't process much more than putting one foot in front of another," Mike Moynihan, a columnist for the Irish Examiner, recalls of his experience in the chiller.
"Your body is in revolt and won't allow you to relax. It's so different, to be that cold, that I had a real notion of what people mean when they refer to a hostile environment -- but that only came afterwards, when I was outside."
Chill with a thrill
For others, cryotherapy is an ecstatic chill with a thrill.
"I call it 'legal doping,' says Eduardo Bohorquez, who runs New York's only cryotherapy center. "When you come out you feel so euphoric."
Those brave enough to enter the cryotherapy chamber expose themselves to tingling temperatures of -130 degrees Celsius or -200 Fahrenheit.
That makes Antarctica -- where NASA recorded the coldest spot on earth as -92 degrees Celsius at the end of December 2013 -- officially warmer.
There are two types of cryotherapy treatments -- whole body and partial exposure -- but both involve serious sub-zero temperatures.
"It's not like sticking your hand in an ice bucket or taking an ice bath -- this is extreme cold," Liam Hennessy, Harrington's fitness coach and a world leading expert in cryotherapy, tells CNN.
"Whole body exposure is like stepping into a butcher's fridge. Partial exposure is more like entering a suntan cabin where the top of the head stays out of the cold.
"Padraig loves the challenge of taking whole body cryotherapy. He's a heavy worker.
"He has a huge practice and training regime. Part and parcel of the recovery process for him is cryotherapy."
The drafty drill sees Ireland's double British Open champion enter a TARDIS like chamber, which is cooled by liquid nitrogen to temperatures between -120 and -140 degrees Celsius.
He will then experience what's known as a "short exposure" which lasts for two to three minutes.
Cryotherapy was developed in 1978 by Toshima Yamauchi in Japan but is a relatively new treatment in professional sports medicine.
The Olympic Sports Center in the Polish village of Spala helped the treatment spread west.
Hennessy, in his role as director of fitness for the Irish Rugby Football Union, immersed his squad of international players in Spala's cryotherapy chamber in 2001.
The respected Irish coach claims they were the first sports team in the world to