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Ultra-Luxe ‘Recovery Clubs’ Want To Heal Your Body and Mind, but Are They Worth It?

On a recent Thursday in West Hollywood, I joined the six-minute club. That is, I sustained six exhilarating minutes in a near-freezing bath of 43-degree water while my wellness concierge, Flora, cheered me on, and the motivating songs of my choice—“Eye of the Tiger” and “Baby Got Back”—blasted to get me through.

As you may already know, ice baths are a wellness practice that are supposed to ease sore muscles, decrease inflammation, and deliver a rush of energy. I took my cold plunge after I’d already spent an hour in pneumatic compression pants and a second hour in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. I followed it up with an hour in an infrared sauna. The “toxins” inside me didn’t stand a chance.

I got to experience these treatments as part of a visit to Remedy Place, a new “recovery club” that offers vitamin shots and IV infusions (instead of cocktails), as well as sessions in compression suits, ice baths, cryotherapy, and other treatments to help you decompress and reset like a professional athlete or celebrity.

Check out a tour of Remedy Place (and other self-care hotspots) in our West Hollywood Wellness Guide:

“We coined the term ‘social self-care,’ so this is not like a spa where you go and isolate yourself,” says Remedy Place founder Jonathan Leary, DC, a doctor of chiropractic and alternative medicine. Instead, Dr. Leary describes his club as a gathering place where people can come daily to work, do wellness treatments, and even take meetings or dates—in an infrared sauna, say. It also happens to be the latest in a growing number of facilities that are either solely dedicated to—or place a heavy emphasis on—recovery.

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Putting a premium on self care

In a way, facilities like recovery spaces have existed for a long time, points out Erin Nitschke, EdD, CPT, a professor and health coach, who also writes about fitness industry trends. “Think about massage therapy, saunas, spas, and restorative yoga classes,” she says. So why the influx of luxe? Dr. Nitschke says, “These clubs can likely offer a variety of services that existing facilities may not have the space, overhead budget, or available professionals for.” It may seem counter intuitive, but by bringing multiple services under one roof, ultra-luxe recovery clubs may make them more accessible and affordable—even if they’re still expensive.

Early adopters of this model include Rise by We, a gym-meets-spa-meets-café started by WeWork below its lower Manhattan co-working space in 2017 (which shuttered during the pandemic). Then, there’s The Well, a 13,000-square-foot “wellness retreat” in the middle of Manhattan that opened in 2019. Both of which were pioneers into the one-stop wellness space. Today, more and more fitness powerhouses are expanding their options, and newcomers are launching with multifaceted business models already in mind.

Recent examples include RVIVL, opening this summer in LA’s Playa Vista neighborhood. It plans to offer similar treatments including infrared light, cryotherapy, and more. In Malibu, a just-opened fitness, mental health, and recovery facility called 9x will offer workout classes, ketamine treatments, recovery massages, and yoga sessions.

Meanwhile, LA gyms, Peak Performance Recovery and Fairfax Training Club, list recovery sessions with percussive therapy products, plus meditation and breathwork classes, the same way they do spin and HIIT. And on the East Coast, S10, the once no-frills gym in downtown Manhattan has moved locations and rebranded as a multifaceted fitness and recovery destination with a private spa, flotation pods, microcurrent facials, recovery services like cupping, and soft-tissue therapy like fascial release. Even mainstream high-end gyms like Equinox are highlighting recovery in their class offerings and marketing materials.

The cost of luxe recovery

While self care doesn’t have to be expensive—basics like sleep, hydration, and nutrition go a long way—these recovery clubs are geared toward folks with disposable income who want to invest it in themselves. For example, a monthly membership to Remedy Place costs $495, which gets you four treatments and one IV drip session. The all access price for unlimited sessions is $2,500 per month. Individual treatments like the hyperbaric oxygen chamber and ice bath range from $40–$160 each, which can be purchased á la carte. (Visitors to Remedy Place do not need to be members.) Treatments at RVIVL come with similar price tags. Memberships or individual services at the other clubs are comparable.

But is it worth it

Only you can determine what holds value for you. But in terms of a return on your investment when it comes to luxe recovery treatments, exercise physiologist Sharon Gam, PhD, CSCS, says research shows that while many of these treatments may increase subjective feelings of recovery, biomarkers do not indicate that the body is more measurably recovered.

“There’s legitimate research,” she says, “but it’s being kind of exaggerated and taken out of context to just sell something, and I believe that’s what’s happening now with luxury recovery. I think that there’s a danger that people will be convinced that these things will improve their recovery so much that they then don’t have to focus on the simple basics, which is the boring stuff that takes time and effort that nobody wants to do.”

Dr. Leary actually agrees that the most important aspects of recovery aren’t expensive. He even noted some free ways everyone can get some of the perks Remedy Place offers at home, like taking cold showers as opposed to paying $40 for a cold plunge. But he also believes in a sort of trickle-down economics of wellness: That the more recovery becomes a part of people’s routines, the more society will focus on self care as a whole. “Everyone has to have their own light switch, and that light switch can’t be forced,” he says. “You can’t turn on someone’s light switch, but you can inspire. And I think that’s really a big part of Remedy.”

From personal experience, I can attest that an ice bath is anything but boring, and an hour in the infrared sauna will melt away all your troubles. But are either as beneficial as a good night’s sleep, despite the fact that they cost more? Probably not. They sure feel fancier. And maybe that’s what you’re paying for, anyway.