Dawn Woodring, Owner of Rivanna Cryotherapy Recovery Center

Listen to our favorite clips from this interview here!

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A. When you’ve lived for more than 50 years, there is no short answer! I grew up in rural Central PA and graduated from Penns State as an English major in 1990. I worked in the publishing industry before I gave birth to my daughter in 1999. After being home with her for a few years, I knew I didn’t want to go back to a desk job. I had benefited so much from massage during that time that I decided to become a therapist in 2005. In 2015, I heard the call of the plants and completed the Owlcraft Healing Ways nine-month apprenticeship. Opening the Rivanna Cryotherapy Recovery Center is part of the beginning of the next phase of my life. It's exciting to provide affordable pain relief for a large number of people. Being home during this pandemic is giving me time to think about this next phase!

Q. How did you get to Charlottesville?

A. We lived in Asheville, North Carolina where the air quality isn’t great. We researched areas with better air quality and got Bend, Oregon, and here [Charlottesville VA]. We started working at Wintergreen Resort at the spa. Then at Farmington Country Club in their fitness center. Nine years ago, we opened a private practice.

Q. What was your first experience with Alternative Wellness?

A. I was trying to have a baby and every time I got pregnant, I would lose the pregnancy. I was about to do some costly invasive procedures when a friend recommended an acupuncturist. Within six months, I had a pregnancy that carried full term, and that acupuncturist treated me the whole time.

Q. Where did the idea for Rivanna Cryotherapy Recovery Center come from?

A. In private practice, my husband sees a lot of athletes for sports massages. The clients were traveling all over the U.S. and told us about the cryo centers they visited. We did a lot of research and loved that the machines are science-based. We started with the precision wand and expanded from there.

Q. What is the precision wand used for?

A. We use it for sprains, strains, acute injuries, and arthritis. It's great for anyone with a chronic inflammation condition like Lyme disease. It's especially great for concussions and whiplash. We also use it for facials; it calms rosacea, tightens the skin, and inhibits bacterial growth.

When you use nitrogen vapor, the cold is so extreme; it gets your temperature down very quickly. So you get the anti-inflammation and reduction in swelling. Your body warms up after, and there's a burst of increased circulation, bringing well-oxygenated blood and anti-inflammatory cytokines to the area.

Q. I think I have issues with my thyroid. Would that help?

A. No, but the red light therapy can. There's a comprehensive study on red light therapy, where a majority of the participants got off their thyroid medication. It's not a quick fix, but it does address the thyroid. You have to do it regularly for results.

Q. How does the Red Light Therapy work?

A. Red light therapy works by stimulating the mitochondria to produce more ATP by giving the cells more energy. That's why it works so well with the thyroid. The treatment gets the thyroid at optimal levels by stimulating it at the cellular level, with ATP production.

Q. What are the Chairs?

A. That's Our NormaTec Compression; it's like getting a massage. If you have injuries, or tight muscles, soreness, the NormaTec Compression will address that like a massage. It's not as good as a massage, but it's very close.

Q. How does it work?

A. It's a pulsing pattern of compression. So it's compression-release, compression-release, and a pulsing mode. It moves the lymph up the extremities to the core and increases circulation. Lymph is how our body metabolizes waste, so any kind of increase in lymphatic flow helps increase the rate of recovery. If you're an athlete and you've worked out hard, you can use the NormaTec Compression, so you're not sore the next day. If you have poor circulation (blood pools and your legs or your ankles are swelling), that's from lymph not moving. We recommend the chairs for those symptoms as well.

Q. Tell us about the Whole Body Cryo.

A. The whole body cryo is a nitrogen vapor that will cool to - 220 degrees. You step into the machine, with your head above the nitrogen level, and the dry air surrounds your body. Your body doesn’t recognize the extreme cold, so it brings all the blood to the core to protect the organs. This boosts endorphins, anti-inflammatory cytokines, hormone production, melatonin, serotonin. You're in there for less than three minutes. When you step out of the unit, blood-loaded hormones and endorphins immediately go back to the extremities. It's a big circulation boost because of that extreme cold. The whole body cryo burns about 500 calories.

Q. How do you decide which machines to purchase?

A. We do a lot of research. We're science-based, so it's critical the products deliver the results they claim. We had an advisor for purchasing the red light unit. We asked Dr. Robert Abbott to consult with us and he created the protocols for its use as well. Dr. Robert Abbot got his medical degree from UVA and has a degree in functional medicine. He’s also available for clients to consult with for custom protocol for using our equipment.

Q. What’s a typical age for your clients?

A. For the precision cryo, there’s no age limit. For the whole body cryo we recommended 18 or over. When we opened, we thought our customers would be athletes, but we mostly see people in their 40s 50s 60s. We’re one of the few practices offering them options other than pain meds or surgery. Most of our clients are here to avoid surgery. We are seeing more parents bring in their high school students.

Q. What is your favorite treatment here?

A. Right now, I'm madly in love with the red light therapy. I love it because it's a mood booster. It's very soothing and meditative to stand in front of.

Q. What's the next treatment you want?

A. There's something similar to the red light therapy; it's a wand that goes in your nose. They're using it successfully to treat dementia. Dr. Robbert Abbot and I are currently looking into it. The clients from our private practice are entering Alzheimer's and Parkinson's age. The red light wand is a good option for them.

Q. What do you love the most about your practice?

A. I love that we help our clients at an affordable rate. People come limping in and leave without pain. That's very rewarding. I also love that we're becoming a family with our clients and our staff. It's like a community, and everybody's getting to know each other because they come infrequently.


After the interview, Dawn let me try the full-body cryo and the massage chair. I suffer from anxiety and rely on meditation and reiki to calm my mind. After doing the cryo, I realized I also need help calming my body. It was a cool experience (no pun intended), and as soon as they can open, again, I plan on going back.

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