Taking the plunge

Embracing a growing demand for wellness and recovery, Longevity Lounge launches with large ambitions

Photo: Longevity Lounge founder Christian Vemb

FOR EIGHT YEARS, Christian Vemb helped run Pulp & Press Juice Co., a raw, organic, cold-pressed juice ­company he founded in 2013 with John Parlow, as it grew from home-based startup to a national brand.

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Then, following the well-worn path of many serial entrepreneurs, the time to step away arrived. “We devised an exit strategy, and I left in July 2021,” Vemb recalls. “So, then I was like, ‘Okay, now what am I going to do?’”

Dunk himself in a tub of very cold water, is what.

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Vemb had been introduced to sauna and cold plunge therapy — the combination of a hot sauna bath and cold-water immersion — years earlier when he was dealing with a nagging back injury.

“It literally zapped whatever it was that was bothering my back, which I assume was a lot of inflammation, and never came back,” he says.

Taking the plunge Longevity Lounge Health & Wellness

Vemb developed his own cold immersion therapy practices over the years, and along the way realized a passion for sharing and educating people on the benefits of what’s called a “Nordic cycle” — a practice that involves going back and forth from ice cold water to a hot sauna.

He also knew that cold immersion therapy was quickly growing in popularity in wellness and athletic training circles to reduce the severity and duration of muscle soreness (it’s been a mainstay practice for professional athletes for many years).

Enter Vemb’s next mission-driven venture. In April, Longevity Lounge opened its doors in the new Uptown retail plaza at Richmond Street and Sunningdale Road. In addition to its core offering of traditional sauna and cold immersion therapies, the studio offers red light therapy, an emerging treatment used to improve skin appearance, reduce pain and inflammation and aid in wound healing.

“A national brand was the goal right from the start — striking when the iron’s hot” —Christian Vemb

“I needed to get back to my health-and-wellness roots, because this is what I’m passionate about; this is my purpose,” Vemb explains. “I figured if I don’t do this, someone else was going to. That is part of what was lighting a fire under my butt — I wanted to be first to market.”

Many of his growing clientele are new to cold immersion therapy, but Vemb has seen repeatedly how quickly people are sold on the benefits of the contrast therapy routine. “Every single time, regardless of how skeptical they are going in, they come out and they’re literally jumping, with a grin from ear to ear.”

What is it about the wild fluctuation in temperature that produces benefits? Vemb explains that both sides of the pendulum, hot and cold, play their part in the equation. The heat of the sauna activates heat shock proteins that scour the body and repair damaged cells. On the flipside, the cold of the ice bath releases cold shock proteins from the liver that neutralize free radicals in the body.

Taking the plunge Longevity Lounge Health & Wellness

“For any kind of athlete, this is one of the best things you can do,” Vemb says, adding that associated benefits — improved mental clarity and reduced stress and anxiety — appeal to a broader demographic. “Clients could be seeking pain relief, they could be seeking less inflammation, they could be seeking mood elevation.”

Pointing to the rise in holistic ­wellness and natural treatments, ­combined with the increasing popularity of sports and fitness activities and emphasis on recovery methods, Vemb believes the market for sauna and cold plunge therapy is perhaps just a few years out from where something like spin classes or barre workouts are now. Which is why his emphasis on market originator positioning is paramount.

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“A national brand was the goal right from the start — striking when the iron’s hot,” he says. “If things go well here, the plan is to open another location or two in London, then seek funding and expand from there.”

But those are the mid- and longer-term goals. For now, only a few months since opening, Vemb’s focus for Longevity Lounge is building awareness and getting the word out. “The slower days aren’t as slow, the busier days are busier,” he says, looking back on his first couple of months in ­business. “I’m excited that I’m finally where we are and bringing this to the city.” Taking the plunge Longevity Lounge Health & Wellness Kieran Delamont

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