Don’t Get Your *ss Handed to You, Make Recovery a Priority with Aaron Drogoszewski

Aaron Drogoszewski, co-founder of Recover NYC, joins David to talk about how he built and monetized a business featuring NuCalm.

They discuss how recovery plans are built and customized for each individual, why you may not want to lead everyone to relax fully on their first visit, and the kinds of results and professional athlete feedback they were able to get after running the recovery booth at the U.S. Open in 2019 and 2020.

 

“Optimal setting for the way your muscles are operating: your joints feel fine, but if your head isn’t in the right place or if you had poor sleep, you get your *ss handed to you! Most of the tools that an athlete needs really are above the shoulders, not below it.”

— Aaron Drogoszewski

 

Listen in as Aaron Drogoszewski and David Poole discuss how the path to recovery is attainable and yet, different for everyone.

Listen to This Is NuCalm on Apple & Spotify!

Aaron’s martial arts practice and career as a fitness professional began in 1997 and continued to blossom throughout the years as he built his competitive experience in Muay Thai kickboxing, golden gloves amateur boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

As it had been from the onset, Aaron’s focus has always been on performance optimization. This passion attracted him to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, where he educated trainers across the country on certified personal training, corrective exercise, and performance enhancement.



Key Takeaways

 

[1:00] David welcomes Aaron Drogoszewski, co-founder of Recover — a business that features NuCalm — and asks him to share a bit about how he came to launch Recover and why.

 

[9:29] From Recover’s beginnings with “the boots” to a much wider array of tools, Aaron talks about how the clientele and technological advancements drove the business towards what it is today.

 

[15:00] Aaron breaks down how he finds an optimized path to recovery with routine and tool customization for each patient based on their personal needs and objectives. There is a difference between product and commodity; Aaron touches on how science and research build the latter but your customer will dictate the former.

 

[16:30] From the customer who doesn’t want to talk, to the one who is hungry for knowledge, Aaron explains how he maps for each kind of client.

 

[19:55] Building brand loyalty is about consistency and passion, Aaron offers how he believes Recover’s success was driven.

 

[23:20] New York City is noisy, Aaron explains how he intuitively found Recover’s brand voice and made it resonate in the Big Apple.

 

[28:32] Aaron shares his ideas on how to bundle technologies together to get the best entrepreneurial bang for your buck.

 

[33:11] David offers a few use cases for Aaron to build hypothetical recovery plans so we can all learn. UC1 “New — exhausted — mom.”

 

[38:09] UC2 “Preparing for an upcoming fight.”

 

[41:13] Running recovery for the U.S. Open in 2019 and 2020 is a wild experience, Aaron shares the results they were able to get.

 

[46:44] Aaron shares his personal story about using Ignite for the first time.

 

[52:21] Before thanking Aaron and signing off until the next episode, David asks his guest for one word to summarize NuCalm.

 

Continue on your journey and until next time, breathe deep, relax, and keep looking forward.

 

Mentioned in this episode

NuCalm

Normatec

 

This is NuCalm, the show for those looking to improve sleep quality, manage stress, and boost recovery. Brought to you by Solace Lifesciences, the makers of NuCalm, the world’s only patented and proven neuroscience technology that works within minutes, without drugs, every time! In over one million medical sessions, NuCalm has helped men and women around the world.

NuCalm: stress relief for the way we live today, technology to help you disconnect.


Full Transcript

 

David Poole
Tonight we’re featuring Aaron Drogoszewski. He is the co-founder of ReCOVER New York City. I think we first connected, Aaron, beginning discussions about what is NuCalm nearly four years ago. I think our first connection was early 2017, and it’s been fun for us to watch you take the concept, pretty much like you did with NuCalm, and build a very promising business around that. So tonight this is an opportunity to talk about how you can build and monetize a business featuring NuCalm, not around NuCalm. That wasn’t the only technology you made available, but the concept fit in really nicely with what you were trying to accomplish with your co-founder, Rick.

David Poole
I’d like to start if we can, Aaron, with your life journey. I think it’s fascinating for everybody to find out how you got to where you are today, what decisions, what influences, and what inspirations helped guide your path.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Absolutely. Well, first and foremost, thanks for everything, having me here tonight, but for being part of my journey and making it all possible. Starting in high school, I was the kid that was always into the nontraditional sports. So I skateboarded, started doing karate at about 12. I was always active but not so much with team sports. I played football in seventh and eighth grade, but I never really resonated with the group dynamic. Maybe I just don’t get along well with others, I don’t know. But martial arts really paved the way, and I was really into art at the time. I thought I was going to go to school for fine art. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I just knew that the split second I graduated high school, it wouldn’t be in Syracuse, New York.

Aaron Drogoszewski
So I traveled with a band around the country for a little less than a year. And I landed in New York City and became a personal trainer, first and foremost because I couldn’t afford a gym membership and I knew that I needed to work out. I actually started behind the front desk, and that lasted about 10 days before I kept poking and prodding, kind of like what I’ve done to you and Jim, trying to ask for things. I said, “Just let me be a trainer. Let me be a trainer.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
Finally, my manager at the time, Terrell, said, “Okay. Here you go. Here’s your shirt. You have an orientation at 7:00 tonight.” I said, “Well, what’s an orientation?” He said, “You’ll figure it out.” I said, “All right.” I think that that moment speaks volumes on my approach to things in that venturing into the unknown has never been an issue for me. I’d rather give it a shot. We’ve talked about this before. There’s no such thing as failure. You win or you learn. So at 7:00 tonight I’m either going to nail this orientation or I’m going to learn about it.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Fast forward, I never really clung to or gravitated towards the traditional form of personal training, especially in the ’90s. Personal training then meant one of two things, make me less fat or give me more muscles. There was no corrective exercise. That wasn’t really something I resonated with, so I only focused on karate and boxing. That was my thing. Then getting ready for a Golden Gloves fight, I sustained an overuse injury. In hindsight, I knew that’s what it was, but back then I just knew I can’t move my arm. I had to spar, and it was against a professional. And I got my A-S-S handed to me that night, and I realized at 24 years old, something’s got to give. There’s no reason that I can’t extend my arm.

Aaron Drogoszewski
At that time, foam rolling wasn’t a thing. That was when you first saw it and you looked at people like, “What the fuck are you doing wasting your time? You’re at the gym, go work out. Why are you laying on top of foam?” But it was either ask the one person in the gym who knew about that stuff or stop boxing, and that wasn’t an option for me. So I learned about corrective exercise, became fascinated with it because it gave me the gift of what I’m passionate about back. I was at a crossroads at 24 years old thinking, “I’m going to have to stop doing what I love doing, and that sucks.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
That really created the momentum and I really dug deep into the NASM curriculum. I ended up becoming an educator for NASM, so I teach corrective exercise, performance enhancement, the standard CPT. But my mission then became to provide balance to everybody independent of what they do to be able to engage life in whatever it is that makes them… or brings them joy, rather. For a long time that meant the orthopedic side, so the mom who can’t play with her kids, teach her how to foam roll, stretch so her back stops hurting.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Then, that’s actually how I met Rick is he was already an educator for NASM, and we hit it off. Rick’s a very lovely human being and he lives in New York City. And he also liked boxing and kickboxing. So we said, “Hey man, let’s get together.” We wound up forming a pretty close relationship, providing a lot of digital content. Then one day he said, “Hey, do you want to open a recovery studio?” I said, “Yes, I do.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
Consistent with the way I do most things, I think it’s predominantly I’m just too stupid to know what not to get into because I don’t understand the gravity of it. So the next day we just got up and started looking for real estate. I didn’t have a business plan, didn’t have anything. I just knew that’s what I want to do. I’m going to do it, and whatever gets in my way, I’ll find a way around it. I don’t know what the fuck this is going to look like, but I know that this is what I’m attracted to because that’s what I’ve done for years.

Aaron Drogoszewski
There was a moment when I realized that what he was talking about was a recovery studio for athletes. I quickly paused because I thought, “Well, I do jiu jitsu three to five days a week, and that bangs me up pretty badly. But I can grind it through a jiu jitsu session.” I have no problem with tapping out, but I’m also a father, a husband, a budding entrepreneur. I have to run a business. I’m an educator. So there’s all these different hats that I wear, and most of them I can’t grind it through or I don’t want to. I don’t want to settle for good enough.

Aaron Drogoszewski
It was an epiphany that there’s no reason why recovery should be focused on athletes. Anybody who has a performance demand has a performance stressor. And if that stress isn’t balanced, your performance declines, and that holds true for everybody, moms, dads. And even if we are looking at athletes alone, and David, I know that you know this from wrestling, you can have the optimal setting for the way that your muscles are operating, your joints feel fine, but if your head isn’t in the right place or if you had poor sleep, you get your ass handed to you.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Most of the tools that an athlete needs really are above the shoulders, not below it. I’ve met a lot of professional athletes, whether they’re fighters or basketball players, who aren’t really the most gifted physically, but they’ve got it pulled together here. And then the inverse is true as well. I’ve met a lot of people that are beasts, but when it comes time to perform, because they have that lack of balance from wherever it comes from, they always ended up falling short.

Aaron Drogoszewski
So I realized, we need to find a way to address every variable that either makes or breaks performance. Sometimes that is orthopedic. Sometimes it’s your sleep. Sometimes it’s your stress management. Whatever it is, there should be an answer and it shouldn’t be the what’s. We’re a cryo place. We’re an infrared sauna place. We are a place that caters to the who, when and why. So who are you? I’m a mom. Wonderful. What can we help you with today? Is it that your lower back hurts from playing with your kids, or is it that you’re not sleeping well? Whatever that imbalance is, we create the tools and the guidance to help recreate that balance so that you can not only get back to life but get back in the best version of yourself possible.

David Poole
Very good. Thank you. That’s a great story, and it leads to an interesting question. You said you didn’t have a business plan. You had a concept. You had a buddy in Rick. You knew where you wanted to go, and you started by looking at real estate. Can you walk through what modalities or technologies you were looking for? And who was your ideal customer?

Aaron Drogoszewski
We started with the obvious. That’s when the NormaTec, the pneumatic compression, the boots, people call them, that’s a given because they’re popular. They were identifiable. People knew what they were. But going back to what I had said before as far as the diverse range of people that are craving balance but have never been given the option or even the attention that you deserve that balance, I started looking at other tools.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I’ve asked you and Jim this multiple times. I had heard about NuCalm probably 2016-ish, and I don’t remember if it was an interview that Jim did on a podcast or if it was just reference on a podcast. But I’d heard about this tool that gives two to three hours of sleep in 30 minutes, and it helps to re-create balance. And it crushes stress. I said, “I need this fucking thing.” I remember getting on the phone then and I think it was… I forget who it was on the NuCalm team. She’s not there anymore, but regardless-

David Poole
Michelle. Michelle.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Michelle. Michelle Weakland, that’s right. It’s funny, when you have a moment in time where it means so much to you that you’re emotional, your sensory memory comes into play. I remember the smell, the temperature in the air when I found out how much it cost at the time. And I realized my wife will, at the very least, divorce me, if not fucking kill me for spending over $5,000. That just planted a seed in my head. So when Rick brought up recovery, I’m thinking, “Well, that fits the profile for everything that I just talked about. It doesn’t matter if it’s an athlete, a mom or a dad.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
I know a lot more now because of the time I’ve spent with you and the research, so I understand cellular communication. But back then I just knew I feel like shit waking up, and I can’t will myself to do certain things. It’s not a matter of will. It’s my body can’t. As far as the inability to perform, there’s can’t and won’t. As a dad, a lot of times if I slept like shit, it’s a can’t. So if we’re talking about my target audience, it’s anybody who on the bell curve doesn’t want to settle for that median 80%, that upper 10% that want the best out of life. I don’t care…

Aaron Drogoszewski
In ReCOVER, we would have a UFC fighter, a mom, a lawyer, a basketball player all doing NuCalm or NormaTec or both at the same time but for different reasons. But the nucleus was always the same. It’s I can… Let me take a step back. I often say that there’s a difference between walking through the door and showing up. So my target audience, ReCOVER’s target audience, are the people who aren’t willing to just walk through the door. They want to show up to everything they do. The ability to provide the tools to do so, that was huge for me.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I just remembered thinking back to all of the information I had heard on that podcast and thinking, “This is the key.” We also had infrared saunas. I mean, Rick gave me a hard time about NuCalm as well. He’s like, “What the fuck is NuCalm? What is this?” This was before infrared saunas became as mainstream as they are. But I said, “Look, if you don’t trust me, here’s some research.” He looked at it and he said, “Order as many as you want. Let’s do this.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
But it’s funny, prior to opening ReCOVER and hearing how much it cost at the time, I was hoping to find out that it was all bullshit. So I knew that Tony Robbins was part of the NuCalm family. And a friend of mine is very close with Tony’s massage therapist, travels with him, I think it’s like 300 days out of the year. I asked him, I said, “Ki, will you ask your buddy if Tony genuinely likes this or if it’s just something he’s doing for money?” I had my fingers crossed that he would say, “Nah, he doesn’t really like it.” But he said, “No, he fucking loves it. He uses it all the time.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
I was like, “Shit. Now I need to find a way to get my hands on this because this is the key to everything I’m talking about.” Because if we are even looking at just orthopedic stress, somebody strains their hamstring, the road to recovery, we can do localized treatment and I can massage your hamstrings. But if the environment for healing doesn’t exist, it’s going to be a slower process. And if you’re that upper 10% that want to show up, then you don’t want a slower process. You want to get shit done now. So why wait seven to 10 days for that strained hamstring to heal when I can expedite it because the systemic environment for healing was created. I just knew that that was an integral tool and as well as a lot of the other modalities we used, including the CVAC and the infrared saunas. They all fit together.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Because of my NASM pedigree, I’m very systems oriented. So I had indicated I don’t focus on the what but the who, when and why. We created programming, if you will. So based on what you’re going through, if it’s stress management or sleep or performance enhancement, whatever it is, there’s a path with education behind it as far as use this tool at this time followed by this for the best results. Because I think a big barrier from entry is not only accessibility, because NuCalm, to the best of my knowledge, was not available to the public prior to us opening in New York other than dentists, but also the lack of education.

Aaron Drogoszewski
If people are unsure and hesitant, then that’s just an excuse to not give it a shot. But when you focus on not just the science but how it provides the benefit to you, and that’s when I often talk about the product versus the commodity. NuCalm and the infrared saunas and the CVAC all do a lot of amazing things, a lot. So if I just talked about that, that’s the commodity. The product is you as a mom, what’s your vision for feeling better walking out of here? And making sure that the education and the technologies were in place to make sure that you get that product that you have coming into the facility.

David Poole
Excellent. Can we dig a little bit into the business fundamentals? Can you walk us through an intake of a new client? Someone walks in. They were referred by somebody or we can talk about REACH later. But how did you start the relationship and that education?

Aaron Drogoszewski
Yeah. I mean, it’s a nuanced answer. We make ourselves available, consistent with what I do to this day, based on the degree to which you want to engage. It can be simple as, “I don’t give a shit about all the benefits. I just know that I like sitting in the infrared sauna. And you have an iPad in yours, and I can watch Netflix. Just leave me alone.” It could be as simple as people just walking through the door, but on the website we would create the map. We have three sub-brands, Restore, Reboot, Reshape. So restore your body, reboot your mind, reshape your system. Essentially, Restore would be for athletics, Reboot for cognitive function, stress management, sleep quality. And Reshape would be more cellular health, anti-aging, immune function. And just making ourselves available.

Aaron Drogoszewski
It was path of least resistance if that’s what you were looking for, or we would make ourselves available to do more of a, I’d hesitate to say an assessment, but make ourselves available to discuss, what is it that you’re looking for out of your time? Because again, if that is the product, then I need to make sure that you’re taken care of. I don’t want to assume that you know which technology is best because most don’t. So when we opened, we were referred to as, or are referred to, as the world’s first fully comprehensive recovery studio.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I’ve said ad nauseam that fully comprehensive doesn’t mean we have more stuff than everybody. I mean that is also true. We had more stuff than anybody has in one location, but it’s the ability to guide you based on your specific needs. So we just always made ourselves available to let you go do you and just fill out the waiver and go sit in the sauna, or we can do an intake and talk about setting you up. There was a la carte, so you could purchase… Yeah, I think we were charging about $45 on average for a 30 minute session independent if it was NuCalm or NormaTec, up to including memberships.

Aaron Drogoszewski
The thing that I always liked to reinforce to people is, consistent with anything, is that consistency is key. It doesn’t matter if you have one kick-ass workout. You’re not going to get in shape. You’d be better off having a mediocre workout five days a week for a couple of months than just looking at it as a one-off. So if people were really dedicated to evolving and sharpening their tool to the best of their ability, I said, “It doesn’t make sense to do a la carte. I’m just taking your money unnecessarily. There’s a membership here which basically will grant you an hour per day, and you can plug and play different technologies.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
We had different programs, but we just wanted to make sure that there were multiple points of entry based on people’s needs and what they were looking for out of their time with us.

David Poole
How did you cultivate stickiness? How did you build relationships with the people who may have been a la carte or came in there expecting one thing and were surprised and came back? What’d you do? How did that work? Because you guys had a formidable business very quickly. Can you just walk us through that phenomenon?

Aaron Drogoszewski
Yeah. It’s funny that there’s things in life that are palpable, but you can’t really… It’s almost like trying to put your finger on a watermelon seed. As far as explaining what that was, I just think it was no bullshit, just being genuinely concerned with taking care of people and making ourselves available. The same way that you and Jim have done for me from day one when you’re like, “Well, who the fuck is this guy?” But the fact that I took the time to reach out.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I think it really just boils down to really having a focus on what it is you’re trying to do, and I think that there’s a place for we’re just a cryo facility. But for people that want to evolve the game, it’s really about understanding what is the message, what is the type of community, what is the energy you’re trying to put out there, and just being consistent with it and just always being available and understanding that a lot of times people won’t ask for the help because they’re either apprehensive because they’re ashamed. But if you present the information and create a community and give more than you ask…

Aaron Drogoszewski
We intentionally set our price points. I mean we’re in Midtown Manhattan. I could’ve charged an arm and a leg. And we had a conversation, especially considering the CapEx on what it took to start the place. I mean, I think we bought four NuCalms at, I don’t remember if it was $5,500 a pop. But just looking at the business model, I’m like, “We can turn this into an elite level, VIP status business model, but that’s not my goal.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
My goal is, especially coming from a personal training background, I just thought, “How would I receive it if I was on the outside and I was being approached. And somebody said, ‘Hey, send your personal training clients here.'” And the first thing I thought was, “Well, if they go to you, they’re not going to have any money to spend on me, and that’s not going to work. So I’m not going to develop a relationship with you because that’s going to steal from my wellbeing.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
But on top of that, if my ultimate goal is and always will be to provide the most value, I understand that value means consistency. So we established a price point that we knew we could, through volume, because we believed in the product and the product being the full structure and comprehensive nature, not just a technology, we decided to keep it a lower price point and just approach it more like a community where there were less barriers from entry and a lot more opportunities to connect and create relationships without any excuse for any given reason to be apprehensive about it.

David Poole
You have the core technologies you want. You’ve got the space. You’ve got a business model that you’re proud of and confident in. Talk to us about your marketing and your reach. How’d you tell the story? How’d you get people excited about it? There’s a lot of noise in New York City.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Yeah. I’m going to preface all these answers with this and then Jim has laughed at it with you on the phone with me. The end of the day, I have no business being in the position I am because I did not go to school for business. I mean, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, but I knew what I wanted to say. I knew what I wanted to do. I always just followed my gut and followed my heart and surrounded myself with people that I knew would bring the best out of me and would receive what we had to offer and then just have them organically spread the word.

Aaron Drogoszewski
But then the short and sweet answer is I have somebody who does PR for us, and she put the word out. And within three months of opening, I think we were in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, eventually, Good Morning America, The Today Show. I mean every single media source I can think of, and I’m not blowing smoke up anyone’s ass. It was every single time, “What is that thing that you’re saying gives two to three hours of sleep? Let’s start with that and then tell us about everything else.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
Like most things, I ascribe a lot of it to just luck and the right timing. I don’t know if that… I just think that it was the fact that we had something novel at the time and we presented it organically. And we just were able to capture everybody’s attention with a product and an approach that was undeniable. I say that all the time. A guy named Barry Katz, who’s a manager for Tracy Morgan and comedians, and he had a podcast but it was all about the business side of comedy, which is ironic because I’m not funny and I’m certainly not a comedian. But he has a lot of knowledge, and he always says, “If you don’t want to be denied, you need to make yourself undeniable.” That’s always stuck with me.

Aaron Drogoszewski
So as far as the nuance to the vernacular in marketing terms, I can’t tell you that because I’m not a business guy. But I just knew how to present the product to the right people, how to create the messaging around it, and just follow through on the operational side and the experiential side. When you have something like NuCalm combined with other technologies, again, you’re not going to be denied because you’re undeniable. There’s certain things in life that you don’t have to do much for to get a lot of attention, and giving people better quality sleep, less stress, et cetera, et cetera, you don’t have to do much to get a shitload of attention.

Aaron Drogoszewski
That’s my verbose way of saying I don’t really know how the fuck we did it, but we just found the right people and were genuine about our approach and treated every single person as if they were a VIP. That’s always been the way I’ve operated. Because I remember as a personal trainer, I talked about doing orientations. If anybody watching this is or has been a personal trainer, there is a judgment that we project when we first do an orientation, what kind of shoes is the person wearing, how expensive are their clothes? What is the likelihood that they’re going to purchase? And then typically, that will influence how much I put into the orientation.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I remember being a trainer and thinking like, “It’s not even worth my time. This person’s wearing beat-up shoes.” I gave my less than best effort, basically pushed them away. And then another trainer gave them the attention. I found out they were wearing beat-up shoes because they were so wealthy, they just didn’t give a shit. That really stuck with me. It almost sounds underhanded, but the reality is you never know who somebody is. And independent of whether they are a superstar, they deserve to be treated the same way anyone else does because their life experience means the world to them.

Aaron Drogoszewski
So if you can change their experience, you can change their world. And there’s nothing more powerful and more valuable to me than that. That’s really what it boiled down to is just be the best person I can, deliver the best product, deliver the best messaging, and stay consistent with it.

David Poole
Hear, hear. Let’s pick your brain a little bit. For the people who want to start a business and maybe they want to feature NuCalm because they like it and they think they can monetize it, to me, a 5,500 bucks unit is a giveaway. That’s about as low as I ever want to go, personally. What technologies would you bundle, maybe stack with NuCalm? What are the nice to haves and what are the throwaways of the technologies you used for the Recovery Studio?

Aaron Drogoszewski
An easy one, I had mentioned the NormaTec boots. When we opened, I knew the value of NuCalm and infrared saunas, but like I said, they weren’t as popular. It’s hard to market something that there isn’t buzz around, so we needed to supplement with things that people would identify with like, “Oh, I’ve used that before. I’ve heard about that.” Then we quickly found out that doing NuCalm with NormaTec at the same time just sent people off into outer space.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Now, as a footnote, I typically, when I would see people… Because on the back end through Mindbody, the software that we used, I can tell if it was somebody’s first time coming to ReCOVER. If it was their first time and they purchased the NuCalm plus NormaTec bundle, when they came through the doors, I would gently encourage them to let me refund their money and just do NuCalm for the first time. Because for lack of a better term, it’s just there’s just too much good shit happening, and I feel like it steals from the NuCalm experience. So I typically would have people just do NuCalm by itself, understand it, feel it. Then when you add the NormaTec in, it is a complement that it takes you to a whole other world.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Through trial and error, I did realize that if you are doing a bundling like that, you do have to be mindful of the settings of how much pressure the NormaTec has. I like a lot of pressure, so that’s relaxing to me. John Cougar Mellencamp has that song where it’s Hurts So Good. Hurts so good isn’t really good for NuCalm. So if somebody really wants the NormaTec cranked up on its own, fantastic. But if you’re combining the two, the intensity of the NormaTec should be complementary to relaxing.

Aaron Drogoszewski
So I would typically have people use NormaTec two, three minutes, come back before I even set up the NuCalm and ask them, “Do you feel like you could take a nap right now, or is it a hurts so good?” If it was a hurts so good, then we turn it down. If you want after the NuCalm session’s over to turn it up for a couple of minutes and get more of that localized treatment, sure, but just making sure that that balance exists.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Then I always really encouraged people post-NuCalm to jump into the infrared sauna predominantly because, again, functioning in New York City, they’re a lot of type A personalities and go-getters. That’s our audience. I’ve had enough conversations because I always ask people when they were done with NuCalm, “How do you feel?” And 90% of the time it’s, “What, are you kidding me? I feel amazing.” But then there were a couple times where there’d be a hesitation and people say, “I feel good. I feel relaxed, but I feel out of it.” I’d say, “Well, what do you mean out of it?” I said, “Don’t answer me, but just ask this of yourself, are you out of it or just not thinking about the 10,000 things you were thinking about before you walked through the door?”

Aaron Drogoszewski
Then they started nodding their heads more often than not. I’m like, “Well, that’s mindfulness. Savor the flavor because those thoughts will come back.” But I found that the boost to the system that the infrared sauna provides, so there’s some research on saunas and infrared saunas, and a certain amount of time spent is equivalent to, I think it’s 60 minutes in infrared sauna is equivalent to 30 minutes on a treadmill. I could be wrong. But it increases your cardiovascular system, so puts a snap back in your step, but it also complements the relaxation side. It’s a win-win. If you want to boost the mental acuity because your heart starts pumping but take the tension out of muscles, the NuCalm followed by the infrared sauna was a pretty popular combo.

David Poole
Awesome. That’s a good lead-in to what I’d like to do now, Aaron, if you don’t mind, is let’s talk through a couple use cases and tell us how you would stack or what protocols you give. I come in, I’m a new mom, and I’m extremely tired and vulnerable. How would you treat me? What would you do?

Aaron Drogoszewski
Again, that’s a loaded question in that you have to do your best to be mindful in the moment because some people want to be engaged. You learn through experience. Sometimes addressing the issue head on is what’s best, and sometimes it’s just gesturing in one direction. But if I had to sum it all up, it’s really just presenting the information on what’s possible based on what technologies we have, what they do, and then listen to the feedback you’re getting.

David Poole
I’m thinking less about the transaction. I’m thinking more about you know what technologies will help and will let them leave feeling great. How would you prescribe, if you would, then? What’s the prescription for someone with those challenges?

Aaron Drogoszewski
I would typically, I would ask them, “What does the rest of your day look like,” especially for somebody who’s, and I know this because I’m a father of two… I mean, if you’re really, really broken down because you haven’t been sleeping and you’re also trying to work, I often ask people, “Have you ever been working so hard that you can’t wait to go on vacation, and then you have your vacation booked and then the next morning once you’re at your destination, you get sick?” They’re like, “Yeah, it happens all the time.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
It would typically be a recommendation on either starting at a shorter duration of NuCalm if they had a busy day or encouraging them to do the longer NuCalm, which again can really start to jar the system back into to balanced state, but followed up by the infrared sauna so that that person could be productive. Because what I don’t want is… There’s a difference between relaxing and recovering. Sometimes recovering means your system acknowledges, what the fuck have you been doing to me for the past six years? If you’ve got stuff to do right afterwards, it can be a push-pull.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Sometimes you have to do your best to make a plan. Is it going to be a long and slow process to re-create balance, or is it going to be let’s get after it and then follow it up with something that’ll put that snap back in your step? It would always be NuCalm would be top of the priority list every single time because as I identified earlier, it doesn’t matter if she’s broken down because of lack of sleep or if it’s because of stress or if it’s orthopedic. It all comes down to the state of your autonomic nervous system and the environment for healing or the environment for just go, go, go, go, go, go. And the latter wears you down eventually. And especially for moms, I mean sooner than later.

Aaron Drogoszewski
So it would always be NuCalm is the first answer, but through a little bit of assessment and dialog, how long are we doing it for? What’s your day look like? Should we follow it up with the infrared sauna afterwards because you have to go do X, Y, Z and I want to make sure that you’re present and not… It’s hard for people sometimes to adapt to what it feels like to be relaxed. I’ve just learned through trial and error that sometimes it’s best to help people relax just a little bit and then give them that jolt to the system through either the CVAC or the infrared sauna because I think people are sometimes afraid to be just present and not in fifth gear. So if that’s the case, what I don’t want to do is push you away because you’re maladapted to that feeling of just being grounded and present.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I know that that was a verbose diatribe, but again, just through doing this for years and years and years, there’s never a simple answer because everybody has a different narrative. Everybody has a different story. But the common denominator is NuCalm has helped every single time, but it’s best practice to figure out and try to have that dialog, “What’s going on in your life? What type of stress is it? And what is the rest of your day/week look like?” And then try to budget the time and/or the follow-up with other technologies.

David Poole
Thank you, Aaron. What about someone who’s coming to train for you pre-fight? So they’re in a six-week fighting camp and what would be the protocol? They’re coming to train with you, right, doing jiu jitsu or boxing or whatever fighting techniques. When would you have them use NuCalm, before a workout, after a workout?

Aaron Drogoszewski
This is going to be the theme of the night in that I’ve had it go both ways. I typically, I tell people or I ask people to try both and see what you resonate with. And especially with athletes and fight sport athletes, I remember the day of a Golden Gloves fight my Adidas boxing shoes. They’re actually wrestling shoes, the same ones that you probably wore back in the day. There was a hole in the bottom so that my big toe was poking through. I had a fight that night, and somebody said, “Hey man, I bought you new shoes.” I said, “I will try them out tomorrow, but I’m certainly not going to try them out right now. Are you nuts? I know what these shoes feel like. I’ll try those out in practice. I’m not going to try them during a competition.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
With athletes, I would say during a practice phase when there’s nothing on the line, try it before. Because everybody’s wired differently, and if your deficit is that you’re too caught up in your head, NuCalm before is a great way to get your mind out of the way. But if that’s not the case and it’s more about recovering from all the energy spent and the adrenaline so that you get a good night’s sleep, again, there’s just… Sometimes it’s both, but for an athlete it’s good to experiment and see what works best for you.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I know for me personally, I liked doing NuCalm, the 20-minute version, prior to doing jiu jitsu. Again, because jiu jitsu is such a mental sport. I mean it’s physical chess, and the more you overthink things in that context, the worse it gets. But then I would do longer sessions later in the afternoon. We had this conversation the other day with William on a different conversation in that people overlook the fact that exercise is stress. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. It’s a eustress or E-U-stress. So it’s a stress that yields a positive outcome, but it still is a stress on the system.

Aaron Drogoszewski
So doesn’t matter if it’s the stress of your boss screaming at you or the stress of I’ve been running nonstop. That accumulation of all the hormones and neurotransmitters from the stress response are going to steal from your sleep and your performance. If an athlete is really pushing it and training all the time, I would say, “You should definitely do it after every time.” But if it’s the type of athlete that needs to get their mind out of the way, do a shorter version first.

David Poole
Got it. Appreciate that. Hey listen, we’re going to wrap up soon, so I’d like you to share, if you would, your experiences at the US Open or tennis. Two years you guys were featured as the recovery function.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Yeah. It’s a wild ride. We were there 2019 and this past year, 2020. Very different, for obvious reasons. 2019, I’d go for the day, go back home, maybe go back a couple days later because we had a few people on the team. As far as getting to know the athletes, it was much different than living in the bubble with them. It was interesting to see because most of the athletes hadn’t heard of NuCalm. So trying to pitch them in the moment, I just told the story about the hole in my shoe.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I mean if you’re at the US Open, it’s not practice time. I mean you’re there for a purpose, so trying to create the communication and the optimism. The athletes that did NuCalm, and we did have Ignite there as well, whether it’s circumstantial or not, we had a few players, so Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who I think championed in 2019, but every person in 2019 that did NuCalm and Ignite won. That short and sweet. So again, circumstance, I don’t know. I just know that that’s what I saw.

David Poole
We know the women’s champion smoked Serena, and she was an avid NuCalm and Ignite. And Serena was not using Ignite. I know that.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I know she is now at least using NuCalm all the time. So this past year, 2020, like I said, living… We had one set up in 2019, so we just had one station at what they call the stringer or where the athletes prepare right before they go out onto the court. So they’ll do their movement prep. We were very visible, glass wall, so easy access.

Aaron Drogoszewski
This year we tripled our presence, so we had three different stations. We were at the stringer. We were at the hotel, and then we also had a setup for the USTA staff. Now, I worked the hotel, which meant I slept on the third floor, would go downstairs to the recovery room at about 8:00 a.m., work straight through till about 10:00 p.m. Back up to the room, sleep, rewind, repeat for 30 days. I got to know people quite well, including Austin, Austin Krajicek, who talking about quantifying, and I often say, “Feelings aren’t facts.” Independent of the accuracy of Whoop or Oura, they do give you a baseline for your performance. Is it the gold standard? No, but if you’re using it consistently, you do start to see trends.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Austin is very dedicated to his craft, and he’s very purposeful about monitoring, if I have a glass of wine at this time, how did it affect my sleep scores, if I eat this late and sleep scores. He did this for a year leading up to the 2020 US Open. He did NuCalm once or twice in 2019, and I remembered him because he’s just a really nice guy. Then in 2020 he was coming down every single day. Then after about a week into it, he said, “Aaron, I thought my Whoop was broken because I’ve been monitoring and playing with my sleep patterns and my pre-sleep routines, and I’ve got it nailed. I get 90 minutes of REM sleep, X amount of deep sleep.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
He said, “My REM sleep and deep sleep have doubled every single day. The first day I thought, this is bullshit, and then I saw it again and again and again.” He said, “And I haven’t changed anything other than I’m now stuck in this hotel that the only time I leave is to go perform, so it’s not more relaxing. So there’s really no way to justify it as being circumstantial.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
He said, “I’m in a stressed environment. I’m stuck in this place. I’m getting swabs up my nose, tested for COVID every other day, can’t leave. I either am paying $50 for the hotel food or Uber Eats, and I’m still doubling my REM scores. I’ve been playing with this for a year.” That was huge, and we started really geeking out on that because the more excited people get, the more excited I get with them. We developed a really good relationship.

Aaron Drogoszewski
On that same note, Serena’s physical therapist and manager would come to the recovery room often even though she wasn’t staying in the hotel, and I got to set them up a couple of times with NuCalm. Needless to say, their minds were blown. I say, “You walk in but you float out.” Let’s say they floated out. But just through chatting with them after the first couple of times, I had gestured. I said, “If you want, I’ll see if I can pull some strings. I know Serena’s staying at her private residence, but maybe I can get one over there.” He said, “Oh, no-no. She already has one. She’s been using it often.” That was good news. I’m not sure if she’s using Ignite, but I do know that those who did, did pretty well in my experience.

David Poole
Let’s wrap it up there with Ignite. Can you tell us about your experience with Ignite, how you use it and use it at ReCOVER, and what you think about it?

Aaron Drogoszewski
Yeah. I’ll start with this story. I was sent the beta version, and I didn’t know what to expect. I’d spoken to Jim and spoken to you. I understood conceptually it’s going to bring your brain waves up. You’re going to have more energy, more focus, but I didn’t know what that meant. So I understood that as a concept. I was actually sitting in the CVAC after doing NuCalm, and I’m listening to it.

Aaron Drogoszewski
After a couple of minutes, it’s an energy that you can’t describe. It’s not like being caffeinated. I was listening to one of tracks that has Tony on there, and I think it’s the one where he’s giving the pep talk to the Warriors. In a very positive way, I just felt so empowered that my eyes started watering. And I’m thinking, “What the fuck is wrong with me? Do I need to get medicated?” But it was positive and I’m like, “Why am I having this visceral response?” And I kept it to myself.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Fast forward about a week or two later, a very good friend of mine, P.J. McMahon, who’s a UFC coach, a former professional Muay Thai fighter, loves NuCalm. I said, “Hey man, do you want to try this Ignite thing?” I gave him a brief overview. He said, “Yeah, sure.” Gave it to him, stepped away. 13 minutes later came back, I said, “How do you feel?” He’s like, “Aaron,” he’s like, “I felt like I was going to start fucking crying.” I was like, “It’s not just me. It’s you, too.” He’s like, “Yeah, but it was weird. I just felt this sense of empowerment, like I could do anything.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
On an experiential side, that was it. It’s one of those things that until you do it, you can’t really understand it because it’s not energy like a stimulant. It’s just any self-doubt… You think of the saying, whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you’re right. We’re plagued with the notion of we believe we can’t more often than not, and Ignite just strips that shit right out of the way. I think that’s what got me teary eyes is like, there’s nothing going to get in my way now. It’s just been a game changer.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I mean, going back to the US Open, the bar that I hold myself to as far as service, I said that every single day when I’m here, and again, I’m working 13, 14 hour days seven days a week for 30 days in a row knowing that this is the way that I represent myself, I represent my brand. And nobody gives a shit about how you started your performance. They only remember how you finished it. So I remember thinking, “Independent of how tired I think I am, how monotonous things get because it’s the same thing day after day, that I am going to have day 30 be just as, if not more, intense than day one.”

Aaron Drogoszewski
Again, circumstantial or not, I don’t know, but I got feedback from the coaches and USTA staff like, “I can’t believe that you were able to maintain that pace.” Because we were only supposed to have six chairs set up and then two for NuCalm, and then there were four chairs for the waiting room. Most of the time, not only was every single chair filled, but every chair for the waiting room was also being used to service athletes with four or five athletes waiting. It was just nonstop all day long.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I wasn’t eating because I just had to keep moving, but every day I started with I’d wake up early. I’d set my alarm for 45, 50 minutes earlier than I should be, and I was exhausted. The thought of waking up early was everything is telling me no, but I know what will happen when I do that and do NuCalm and the benefit gained, followed by journaling with Ignite on. It was me time because with Ignite, I didn’t have to keep the mask on. I don’t have to lay down. I can do whatever I need to do. I’d hesitate to say it was white noise because it couldn’t be anything further from white noise, but I was still doing things for myself.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I journal to my kids, so that’s very important to me. It’s a form of journaling, but I keep… I have a bunch of them now where every day I write. It’s almost I’m writing a letter to them so that in 20 years down the road from now, they can relive what today looks like for me. I would do that while listening to Ignite, and every single day, I mean, I would finish the day just on this high that just never faded. That’s me on the experiential side. I could go on forever, but I know you want to cut it short.

David Poole
I hope your journaling is in soundbites because in 20 years people are going to be programmed not to read anymore, sadly. It’s a lost art. Then lastly, I think we’ve got a new marketing angle on Ignite for men who need to cry. I never heard that story before.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Oh. Yeah, man. I’m not afraid to cry. I’m not afraid. There’s a reason why-

David Poole
I’m not going to shame you. I’m not going to shame you. I made Jim cry all the time growing up. I’m used to seeing it. Last thing, let’s wrap up with one word to summarize NuCalm or describe NuCalm.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I would say, and I know that you had sent this to me before and there’s so many different ways. Again, not to go on another diatribe, but Carl Jung in Man and His Symbols, the power of a word and what it represents, if I say orange, the image that pops up in anybody’s mind, it’s not the same for every person. Some people think of an actual orange. Some people think of the color orange. So if I said gift, that doesn’t do it justice. I don’t think there’s any one word. If I said powerful, that still fails to truly communicate based off that Carl Jung interpretation of what words, what meaning they have and what function.

Aaron Drogoszewski
It’s a shit answer, but I don’t think that there’s a word that would do it justice. Because it does so much that any word I gave and as much time as I spent trying to find the perfect word, it’s still going to be imperfect at the end of the day. I’m sorry for saying that I can’t, and I’m pretty purposeful.

David Poole
I know, clearly. Clearly. That’s no problem. All right. Describe yourself in one word. I’m just seeing if it’s a one word phenomenon or it’s NuCalm. That’s a trick question.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Adventurer.

David Poole
All right, bingo.

Aaron Drogoszewski
I live a life where I don’t ask permission. I only ask forgiveness. I do what I think is the right thing to do, and I put the best effort I have behind it. I know that the only way to learn is to F up and to learn how to F up a little bit less each day, but I give myself permission to F up as often as I need to and learn in the process.

David Poole
Well, excellent, Aaron. Hey, listen, thank you so much for being a featured guest tonight. We love having you in the family. We’ve developed really a great kinship, both you, me and Jim, Rick and Mark extended to that too, and Brian also. It’s been remarkable, and that’s part of the fun with NuCalm. We’ve got to meet cool people and develop relationships and friendships. And every time we came to New York, where do we go? We went to ReCOVER every single time.

Aaron Drogoszewski
Yep.

David Poole
So I really appreciate your time, your sensibilities. Keep being adventurous, and I’ll be looking for that text from you with one word describing NuCalm. Don’t worry, I’m not counting.