The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #180 - Robbie Bent
Robbie Bent is building Othership, the first ice bath and sauna classes in North America focused on emotional wellness paired with a breathwork mobile app. Robbie’s built Othership to create connection and is his response to struggling with addiction. Robbie is a GP at Vine Ventures, a Psychedelic Medicine venture fund committed to giving 50% of profits to research and charitable causes. Prior to Othership, Robbie was an early employee at the Ethereum Foundation.
LEARN MORE AT:
@robbiebent - @othership.app - @othership.toTwitter:
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Go To melanieavalon.com/othershipapp For A 2 Week Free Trial!
9:15 - new fatherhood
11:45 - othership
12:35 - Ayahuasca journeys
15:45 - finding a reputable ayahuasca ceremony or center
17:50 - turning away from drugs and alcohol
21:40 - working with crypto
23:45 - robbie's wearables
24:45 - cryotherapy and ice baths
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31:00 - creating a meditation practice
34:40 - what is sauna's role? robbie's Sauna Classes
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #17 - David Sinclair
The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #36 - David Sinclair
38:15 - the type of saunas in class
39:45 - alternating sauna and ice baths
41:20 - othership locations
44:45 - the othership app
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51:10 - using music to create moods in the mediation sessions
54:10 - is there a learning curve?
55:50 - robbie's habits with the app
59:00 - altered state breaths
1:00:55 - where can you do these sessions?
1:02:40 - simple breath exercises
1:05:40 - replacing coffee with breathwork
1:06:50 - intermittent fasting
Early Vs Late-Night Eating: Contradictions, Confusions, And Clarity
Go to Melanieavalon.Com/Othershipapp for a 2 Week Free Trial!
1:10:40 - how best to get started with othership
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The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #38 - Connie Zack
The Science Of Sauna: Heat Shock Proteins, Heart Health, Chronic Pain, Detox, Weight Loss, Immunity, Traditional Vs. Infrared, And More!
1:15:55 - raising kids with biohacking habits
Robbie's Recommended Ayahuasca Centers:
Holos: Short Video, Long Video
Melanie Avalon: Hi, friends. Welcome back to the show. I am so incredibly excited about the conversation that I'm about to have. I've been looking forward to it for quite a while, because I feel like we scheduled this forever ago and we had quite a few reschedules. I'm so thrilled that this is finally happening. I am here today with Robbie Bent. He is wealthy founder of a, I don't even know what to call it, a company, a world, an app, universe called Othership, which combines so many things that I am personally obsessed with, I know my audience is obsessed with. So, cold exposure, ice bath, saunas, breathwork, meditation. The backstory is, I don't know if it was Robbie or his team, but in any case they reached out to me. I looked it over and it looked obviously super cool and right up my alley. But then, I did a call with Robbie, and he's just like the coolest person ever and has such an amazing story, and I immediately knew that I just wanted to meet him more and share all of his work with you guys. So, I'm really excited about today's conversation. Robbie, thank you so much for being here. Also, thank you so much for being here. Congratulations, you're a new dad with a little baby. So, I imagine your life is probably crazy right now.
Robbie Bent: That's an amazing intro and super excited. So, thanks for inviting me. And yeah, it's crazy, but it's awesome. Just looking as I was telling you earlier, last night baby was crying all night and this morning, just looking in his eyes and seeing one smile, it's such a fun time to be alive.
Melanie Avalon: What's his name?
Robbie Bent: Onyx.
Melanie Avalon: Onyx. Oh, I love it. Oh, that's great. How was your fathership retreat by the way? That was one of the times we rescheduled.
Robbie Bent: Yeah. So, listeners, they'll probably resonate. My nervous system was just totally shot, complete burnout. I've been working so hard on our business. I'm obsessed, probably like a lot of your listeners, cold, hot, breathwork, like this stuff saved my life. I'm obsessed with building these things, so others can use them in an accessible way. I've just been going so hard. So, I woke up. At first, it was, well, I don't have time to meditate anymore. So, that went. Then it was like, "Well, I'm drinking my coffee and lunch is slowing me down." So, no more lunch, but I'm intermittent fasting. It's like, "Oh, well, I'm now strung out and stressed at 05:00 PM." So, no more workouts. Then it was like, "Okay, well, it's 05:00 PM. I haven't had anything healthy today and I'm just going to eat in Uber Eats like a pizza."
I just got into this habit through COVID of being so focused on work that all the habits fell away. That was the first time for me. So, complete burnout. Checking my phone all the time on Twitter, like really in a state of I'm not good. One of our friends had said, "Hey, the most important thing you can do as a dad is have a good nervous system for the baby. They're so sensitive." My wife looked at me and was just like, "Dude, you need to get it together." I didn't know what to do. I've used plant medicines in the past when I struggled with addiction. The fatherhood retreat was an ayahuasca journey. Three plant medicine ceremonies in Costa Rica at this amazing retreat called HOLOS with an entire intention of resetting the nervous system to be present for when the baby was born. I ended up bringing my sister and my brother-in-law, all my best friends, and it was just a really special experience that actually helped me repattern all those things. I did two whole 30s in a row, meditated every morning, and quit caffeine for a while to get back in balance. That's where I am today. Happy to dive into any of that in more detail.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness. See, listeners can tell why I'm going to love this conversation. So, to clarify, that whole experience that you have with the burnout, that was while you had Othership?
Robbie Bent: Yeah. It was just starting Othership and it just got so exciting. The first thing I wanted to do and I would wake up was like coffee, and then it would be like work, and then I would just keep going. If you really love what you do, even if you love it so much, it can take over your life. I've struggled with drugs and alcohol in the past. We can talk about it too, but I get really into stimulation. So, I felt like, "Oh, I'm doing so much. This is so good." It just consumed everything.
Melanie Avalon: Yesterday, while I was driving, I was just contemplating things. And I was thinking about how I so love literally everything I do. I was thinking about how I feel everything I do I get little dopamine hits from. I was just contemplating like, "Is that healthy, since it's all coming from real life stuff? Is there addiction potential?" It's so fascinating. Question about the ayahuasca, because I've been fascinated by that for a while. When it comes to ayahuasca, I've heard stories all across the board. I've heard it's life changing and amazing and then I've heard horror stories about it. So, you had a good experience if you take it?
Robbie Bent: So, I've had four experiences over the last eight years and four full blown retreats. The first one was, I'm struggling with drugs that was cocaine and an alcohol addict. I would disappear for days. I tried Vipassana meditation and it was helpful. I moved to Israel for a year and lived in a whole new friend group and just trying to get away and then repatterned and then it was ayahuasca was the final one that gave me the willpower to get sober. That first experience was extremely challenging, in the jungle, very dark. I felt extremely ill going into these moments of childhood, of traumas, not feeling loved, and different hard moments, but processing them. After that experience, as hard as it was, I felt I had the willpower to make change in my life. However, the experience was quite intense and it's really different for different people depending on your background, what's happened to you. It can be totally different for two different people, but the impact is often foremost.
This particular experience was a two-week diet in advance, intention around calling in a new life. Fifteen friends, nine who went for the first time and it was just beautifully guided and safe. Everyone met with a therapist for a call beforehand around what you wanted to work on. There was integration with breathwork and sound baths and therapists on site for questions as they came up. And then there were therapy sessions after. So, you really felt like, "Hey, I'm going to work on something. I'm taking seven to ten days out of the city, off my phone in pure nature and I'm going deep." My friends, was their first time and so they were very-- They're not from this space, they're not interested in spirituality, they're not like woo-woo people. They're very grounded professionals. There was a lot of nerves about just sitting in a group and sharing. People are like, "Oh, I'm not going to go do something I have to share from my friends."
This is why I think it's so powerful. It's because that experience is very accessible and safe. And so, for my friends who a lot of times weren't comfortable talking about their emotions. They were crying and hugging and releasing. It really had a lot of impact. I think for people that are scared, it's totally okay. However, in setting up a proper and safe container, you can take away a lot of the fears. Of these 15 people who went, everyone had a 20 out of 10 incredible experience.
Melanie Avalon: Is it pretty easy to vet the different places that offer that in a safe experience? How do you know that you're going to a good place?
Robbie Bent: I happen to know the owners of this place. And so, I just knew through the psychedelic field, like their reputation. In meeting them, it was just very clear how passionate they were about creating a very high end, safe and secure experience. You can tell by what people are asking and what's in the protocol, but I think we could put some centers in the show notes that I know to be reputable and solid and that can be a great way.
Melanie Avalon: That's awesome. Yeah, perfect. Thank you. So, in the US, I don't know if this is an authentic source of knowledge, but I watched a documentary on Netflix, and they were saying that it's legal in the US if it's done in a religious-- It has to be some religious-type thing and that's how some of the centers in the US do it in a legal way.
Robbie Bent: It happens. There's a lot of underground spaces for this type of work, but pretty much every city in North America will have people offering these things. The one thing I would say is it's a very potentially powerful experience. And so, it can open a lot of emotions, traumas, things that you may go into therapy for years are just coming out. It's important to work with therapists and also to give yourself time to go super deep. There's a big difference between, "Hey, I went and did one ayahuasca ceremony on a weekend," which can be also powerful and beautiful. I did a two-week diet, I spoke with the therapist, I set my intention, I went into nature, I turned off my phone, I did three, four ceremonies, I came back, I integrated with a number of habits that I implemented. And so, the results you get are one different per body and mind of yourself, and then two like how much effort you put into it. For people that are really interested, I think we can probably think about some links to share to go deeper. But I would really highly recommend if it's affordable, go to one of these centers and spend the entire week and really work on something specific.
Melanie Avalon: Okay. Well, we will put that in show notes. So, you said that initial ayahuasca is where you had your turn away from your addiction's history?
Robbie Bent: Yes. I've come back from that and just thought in my head like I never want to drink alcohol or use cocaine again. For me, if I was drinking then it would be really slippery slope to the damage I could do. I'd go out for a glass of wine, that would turn into a bottle, and that would turn into a nighttime party. Maybe 48 hours later, I would be gone and really started to impact my relationships with women, my working environment. I'd had this business and my business failed. I was fully broke and almost super depressed, we'll say, I had to move back in with my parents. And so, I was like, "Hey, I will try anything. I really want to break this habit. It's causing a lot of harm." I was around 30 at the time. And so, they had experimented with a bunch of stuff, found the ayahuasca retreat, came back and luckily had met my wife. She picked me up from the airport. It was our first date. We ended up going to an ice bath and sauna. She'd been listening to Ben Greenfield and Dave Asprey and love these biohacking podcasts six, seven years ago and picked me up and she's like, "Hey, there's this really cool ice bath I heard about. Do you want to go?" "Yeah, okay, that sounds cool and weird and different. I'm down for it."
It was such an amazing first date. It was in this crazy Russian style bathhouse on the outskirts of town, pretty fringe spot. We do the ice bath together, we're not on our phone and instantly any of that social anxiety around the first date, what's this person going to think, what are my stories? I'm nervous, gone. Just completely comfortable. That feeling of being alive and alert and happy. And so, we shared and just had such a connection across that experience and then that became what we did every week. For me, the power of the psychedelics to, "Okay, I have initial willpower to make a change." And then the weekly sessions in the bath houses instead of going to bars just totally shifted everything.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, that's incredible. Wait, so you said she picked you up from the airport. Were you flying to meet her?
Robbie Bent: I lived in Toronto and I had gone on this ayahuasca journey and I was traveling around a bit trying to just figure out how to break this addiction. And so, I was gone for a couple of months. We had been talking. When I come back, yeah, she picked me up. I lived in Toronto. I actually had nowhere to stay. And so, I moved into her house after two weeks. I just brought my bags and I was like, "Oh, this is my stuff, I'm just going to stay here." And she's like, "Yeah, okay." So, that was pretty funny relationship and then I ended up joining Ethereum Foundation, which is a cryptocurrency, and moved to San Francisco and was just like, "Hey, I think were a couple of months into a relationship" and was like, "I think this is really serious for me. Would you want to come?" She just quit her job at a hospital and came with me for years. We lived out of one suitcase each for about four years between Germany, and San Francisco, and all these different crypto hubs. And then I ended up getting married. And so, it was just amazing. She really saved my life. She introduced me to all these practices and I think without her and the practices, I wouldn't have been able to keep this sobriety. She's, yeah, my best friend. Now, mother of my son. She's just my co-founder. She's amazing.
Melanie Avalon: This is so amazing. Do you still work with crypto?
Robbie Bent: Not anymore. So, I've been living around and always going to bathhouses. So, in San Francisco, in Berlin, we'd have to be at these crypto conferences and we'd get a WhatsApp group of like 50 people, and we'd go to the bathhouse. Same thing as our first date. Whoa. Everybody's sober. You wake up, you have an amazing sleep score, you feel awesome, and you're like, "Wow, what is happening here?" When we moved back Toronto, still working for Ethereum, we decided like, "Oh, we really want to have a healthy community in Toronto. We don't know too many people interested in this stuff. So, let's start with an ice bath in the backyard." Me and my five best friends, we built an ice bath in the backyard and every night we just opened in the neighborhood. If you knew that the fence was there, you could just open the fence and come in and there was a free ice bath.
We have 30, 40 people dropping in a day, and every night, we would do some type of ice bath-guided session, a meditation, a firepit, and just started to learn how to guide people through that experience and make it meaningful. That ended up turning into a garage space. We had a freestanding garage that we converted into an ice bath, sauna, tea room and same thing. It was wintertime. So, we couldn't do it outside in the backyard anymore. So, we used this garage and that grew to thousands of customers just through word of mouth, all like local neighborhood people. Every night, we would host classes and start to experiment with cool couples classes, and anger releases, and gratitude practices, combining all these modalities. So, that's how the business started. It was just us in Toronto screwing around and then in crypto, I had one day where there was probably 10 people who were struggling with addiction, who wrote me New Year's messages saying like, "Hey, man, this changed my life. This community has been so impactful." Every week was getting like, "Man, I met my girlfriend here" or "I got invited to a ski trip with someone. I was in the sauna." I was just like, "What is happening? This is crazy." When we saw that happening, we just decided that we wanted to do it full time. And so, then I quit Ethereum and yeah, that's how the Othership was born.
Melanie Avalon: You've mentioned sleep score. Do you wear an Oura Ring or what wearable?
Robbie Bent: I had an Oura Ring for the longest time, and now, yeah, maybe it's sacrilege to some people, but I've converted to the WHOOP.
Melanie Avalon: [laughs] How dare you?
Robbie Bent: Yeah, I joined this group, really cool group of biohackers, and they basically run these challenges with WHOOP and Levels. Everyone in the group will do like a diet challenge, and then you can ask them questions about supplements or sleep. Every week there's a team. What was really cool about the WHOOP was there's the team scores and you can compete. There're 30 people in the group and you can see how your sleep, your strain, your recovery stacks up against everybody. So, I just thought the interface was so unique versus the Oura and gamifying and community. And so, I've been on the WHOOP now for about a month and a half and I really like it. It's a killer product.
Melanie Avalon: I only have experience with Oura. I haven't tried any of the other wearables. So, I'm always really interested to hear people's experiences. I love Levels as well, that's amazing. Okay, going back to the ice bath experience, so I do cryotherapy every single day with the exception of today's, the day before Thanksgiving. So, they're closed and they're closed tomorrow. So, I'm just going to have to do some cold showering. But I've actually never done an ice bath, which I am embarrassed to admit. I've had Wim Hof on the show and everything and I still haven't done an ice bath. That experience, because you talked about how you were doing the ice baths, and then you had this communal thing, and really made it more meditative. Do you find intense cold exposure, ice baths that that automatically creates these certain mental states or do you have to go that extra step to make it more meditative and reflective in that aspect?
Robbie Bent: Yes. The ice bath, specifically the medium like the water is pulling the heat faster than from cryo. And so, it creates an increase in norepinephrine in the brain, which is the neurotransmitter for mood, attention, vigilance. Imagine your body, you're put into what is perceived as danger immediately. You have a fight or flight response. You start breathing. And that those neurotransmitters, dopamine, norepinephrine like boom, flood your entire brain. So, all of a sudden, you feel like, "Whoa, I'm alive. I need to be aware because this could be dangerous." So, you are in a state of pure presence. Yeah, there's all these a million benefits that you probably talk about on your show. Inflammation, immune system boosting, all that stuff. That's why you see professional athletes using it. I think, for me, the most powerful thing is this state of pure presence. So, you're thinking about work that's gone. You're thinking about like, "What do these people think about me?" All that inner critic that's always going on, if you've struggled to meditate, getting into an ice bath instantly changes your state. So, you're now in this state of like, "Wow, I'm present for maybe the first time ever."
In that state, you can start to prime with meditation. So, you're now primed. What it helps you do is as soon as you get in that fight or flight state peaks, it's the same state, it's that same physiology as when you're getting angry, when you're feeling embarrassed, when you're stressed and you react. What you're doing in the ice bath day in and day out, you're training your nervous system response. And so, you're creating a stressful environment. And then through your breath, it happens about 30 seconds to a minute in the ice when you move through breathing into that relaxed nervous system, that rest and digest state. You're training your mind, your ability to not react in the moment. The next time you're outside and you're about to get angry, there might be a pause before you react because you know, "Hey, I'm in this nervous system state. I can actually breathe through it." So, it's naturally putting you into a focused state. In that state of focus, you can start to work to better control your nervous system.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I love that especially since-- We talked about this on the call forever ago when we connected. Meditation, I'm all about it. [giggles] I love the science of it. I love the idea of it. I have done a course where I was doing it daily. For some reason, it seems some people, they really gravitate towards it and they make it a practice and it becomes part of their life. Whereas for me, I just haven't, as an actual practice and I don't know why that is. We were talking on the phone about, I think a lot of people who, I don't know, like me, I think there are a lot of people like me who not everybody's busy, but for some reason, meditation does not grab them as a practice that they feel integrating. How do you approach that? Do you find that's common with people? Do you find the solution is pairing it with things like ice baths and your app? How do you feel about busy people in meditation where it doesn't resonate?
Robbie Bent: Yes, I've seen majority of my friends like 98% are not meditating. The average experience is, "Oh, I heard from a doctor I should use Calm or Headspace. I download it, I try it five times and it's like, "Is anything happening? Am I doing this right?" This is just my thoughts. "Okay, I'm busy and am I getting any benefit?" The feedback cycle for meditation is quite long and the retention is notoriously poor. I think it's about 14% of people that meditate regularly. So, it's not a large number. The question is, is there an easier way to show you value faster? Meditation is very much about awareness of thoughts, emotions that are passing whereas breathwork, ice bath, sauna, these things are about physiological state shift. And so, majority of our customers will say the exact same thing. "I've never been able to meditate. I can't quiet my mind. It's always going." And so, we're targeting athletes, founders, type A people, people who feel overwhelmed.
I think the goal is saying like, "Look, your nervous system is most likely dysregulated or it's just fucked," for lack of a better term. The result is like you get up, check your phone, dopamine hit, putting your task list, working, drinking your coffee. It's like doing, doing, doing, doing, doing all day thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking like going. Even if you're healthy, it's very hard to not be switched on in our society, especially if you have a phone and use social media. And so, for that person sitting down to focus on their thoughts is almost impossible. They need the big guns, which is shifting your state out of that fight or flight overstimulated state of being. You can do that through breathing physiologically, through slowing down the breath through breath holds, you can do it through more intense styles of Wim Hof like breathing, you can do it through ice baths, through sauna.
So, all of those practices shift your nervous system state and then we teach you to do that. When you're getting burnt out, you actually have something you can go to that you'll feel in a single session. So, that's a big difference. I would say, if you've tried meditation, it hasn't worked, there are a number of other options you can use to focus specifically on shifting your nervous system state.
Melanie Avalon: What's really interesting for me is, so, like I said, I did do a concentrated meditation practice. I did Emily Fletcher's Stress Less, Accomplish More program. Some of the mental paradigms that I achieved from that with being able to recognize my thoughts. I feel they really stuck with me, they really did. I'm like, "Wow, if I was doing this daily, I'm sure it would have a profound effect." But I just can-- I guess I can, but I just really am finding it hard to do that as a daily practice. So, I love, love, love this concept that you just talked about of having these other avenues in that it just feels more practical or visceral because you actually can do something physical to create that state, which I think is a nice gateway to engaging in it more. So, the sauna side, like the heat side of things, the sauna, does that also create the brain state or what is its role in all of it?
Robbie Bent: Sauna is just like the cold. The first layer of effects is just incredibly beneficial, effects on health and longevity. In David Sinclair's book, Lifespan, he's just mentioning outside of intermittent fasting, this type of stress on the body is one of the best things you can do for living a long and healthy life. There was a study in Finland over 20 years, insane results like men who saunaed three times a week had a 50% reduction in cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer in North America. There is a study that says like just using the sauna three to four times a week will increase your lifespan. That is nuts. It will reduce all-cause mortality. So, top of the line, sauna and cold are both fantastic for reducing inflammation, for recovery, for improving sleep, for boosting the immune system, for boosting growth hormone. There're podcasts from Andrew Huberman, Rhonda Patrick, and all these health and wellness leaders where they go deep into the science.
I think what's really unique, again, like the ice and the sauna is creating the space where you're captive. What I mean by that is there're not many places where you're spending 15 to 30 minutes without your phone. What we've seen is actually an incredible space to guide meditation, and breathwork, and other type of activities because we have this group of 30 people who are in it together. In our sauna, we're playing loud music, we have these amazing ice balls filled with incredible essential oils and there's different smells tied to emotions we try to elicit, and we'll walk people through an emotional visualization. If you struggle to meditate now, all of a sudden, you're in this-- The smells are incredible, the space is great, the music is excellent, the lighting is perfect, and it's getting hotter and hotter and hotter. And so, you're trying to focus and we'll guide people through.
For example, we have a class called the Rose, Thorn, Bud. The rose is like the best moment of your year. And on the stove, it'll be geranium. Then the thorn is something you're struggling with. And during that portion, we will turn out the light, so the sauna is dark. And you'll think about this moment you're struggling with and you'll let it go with a screen. And then in the bud, it's an intention that you want to set now in that new space. So, that's a standard meditation/therapy exercise to focus on gratitude, acknowledgment, letting go, and then calling in something new. However, we're making it super fun and class based. So, that's why I think the real power of the saunas is, it's a time where you can bring in some other elements. Because it's so hot, it's weakening that ego that's normally like, "Oh, this is stupid, this is silly, I'm busy. You're not thinking about that stuff." So, we've seen it be a fantastic environment to combine these two for classes.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. So, a few comments there. One for listeners, I'll put links in the show notes. I've had David Sinclair on twice. He's one of my favorite people in the whole world, so if listeners would like to check that out. And then two, what I love about the Finnish studies on sauna use, because there're so many studies on it. The nice thing about Finland is pretty much everybody has a sauna there, because normally, if you were to study sauna use in the US, for example, it presumes a more privileged or at least like a health-conscious type of person. A, they have to have access to the sauna and they have to be able to afford it and then they're most likely health minded. So, it's hard to distinguish if the benefits are actually from the sauna and not just the person's lifestyle. But in Finland, sauna is the thing. So, it weeds out that issue. I've always loved that aspect about the research on sauna use. The type of sauna that you're using, is it a traditional heat sauna or is it infrared or what is it?
Robbie Bent: Yes, we have a traditional heat dry stove, dry sauna, where you're pouring water over the rocks and it's using electricity to heat the air. What we found is the infrareds are fantastic, but they don't get as hot and a lot of the benefits are coming from overheating the core. So, 180, 188 degrees, sort of the range where you're going to maximize the benefits. Infrared, you'll still get them, but you do have to spend significantly longer. so, a standard infrared session and a clear light sauna might be 45, 50, 60 minutes, whereas a session in a dry sauna is generally 15 minutes. For us, the recommended class that somebody will come in for-- So, you'll have 30 people, 40 people meeting around a fire with a guide introducing them to the experience. All 40 people go into the sauna together for one really long kind of almost uncomfortable, where you're pushing yourself about 20 minutes. Those last three minutes, you're pushing yourself past your comfort zone working on your resilience.
Each session will have some type of guidance, as we mentioned. Then everyone will go on the plunge together. There're four plunges, eight people at a time and then come back into the sauna for an integration sauna, which is less time. So, for me personally, if I'm doing a round, I love 15-minute sauna, two-minute ice bath, 15-minute sauna. And then doing that a couple of times a week is perfect for me.
Melanie Avalon: So, I have an infrared sunlight and sauna at my apartment and I use it every single night in my life. But it is true that it is a longer session. So, I stay in there for a long time, usually like an hour, over an hour. The order, is that typically the order like heat to cold to heat to cold?
Robbie Bent: You can start with cold, you can end with cold. It just depends. Generally, depending on time of day, I'll choose what I start and end with. The cold itself leaves you feeling alert. And so, if it's late at night, I'd like to end with sauna generally. And sauna won't make you feel a bit lethargic when you get out. Usually happy, but tired. So, there is a lot of evidence that saunas also boost endorphins, which is pretty powerful. There was a study where they tested a light box versus like an infrared style sauna, and they found that the sauna was boosting improving depression at rates like this similar to antidepressant drugs, which is pretty epic. So, it's not just a physical thing. Basically, every time you leave a class or a hot cold exposure, you're just feeling amazing like distressed. And so, I think what I've heard as a rule of thumb is 8 to 11 minutes of cold a week and then 60 to 80 minutes of sauna. However, you want to do it, if you want to do two sessions with 15-minute saunas multiple times or if you do four sessions with less time that's the range where the optimal benefits kick in.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, awesome. And so, this physical experience that you've created where people can come, so where do you have locations?
Robbie Bent: We have one in Toronto, we're in construction on our second, and we're building out two in New York as well.
Melanie Avalon: Do you want to have locations everywhere or how big do you want this to become?
Robbie Bent: Yeah, I think there could be one in every neighborhood, whether it's us who build them or other people who build them. The reality is, I think, this is a new way to socialize and be in community, especially be in community of people that are healthy. If you think of, what do you do socially now? Why do people go to bars and nightclubs? It's a change of state, which is alcohol and loud music, communities to be around other people, and then possibly romantic relationships. All of that you can get in a bathhouse environment, but without alcohol in a way that's healthy and it doesn't affect your sleep scores. I'm like, "Wow, it's been in all cultures since the beginning of time." It's really North America and the UK that doesn't have strong bathhouse culture. I could see these being in every city. What we want to build is, okay, this place where you can go and be around other people that are healthy, exploring your emotions in a way that's not therapy, in a way that's fun. And then an app that you download to go deeper day-to-day.
We're hoping next year to start building out groups. The group is like, you've come 25 times, you come 50 times, you want to be amongst likeminded people, here's a group where you meet at the space once a week and then do a retreat together. It's combining everything, so that you're interested in psychedelic medicine as you go on this amazing retreat when you come back, how do you maintain the practices? It's awesome if you have a community for accountability and just for fun. So, I really hope we can build out hundreds of these across North America, whether it's us or other people, these practices are just widely available and accessible.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. This is so amazing. Remind me, there's somebody I want you to meet who's perfect for you to meet. Yeah, I was just thinking how it's so true that when it comes to social events, it really is just like bars that you go to where you can mingle with people, because everything else, it's usually like an activity-based thing where you already come with people. So, going to a show, you would go with people. Going even bowling, you would go with people. There's not really something where you go and you just be. There's museums, but people aren't just hanging out at museums.
Robbie Bent: Yeah, the thing is, what alcohol does is it removes the social anxiety of talking to a stranger and judgment. So, it's very hard at a museum. A stranger comes and says like, "Hey, what's up?" You're like, "Fuck off." [laughs] It's weird. So, the bathhouse puts everyone on the same level. Nobody's wearing makeup and nobody has fancy clothes or a bag. There're no phones. Even now, if you're in a restaurant, you're likely like if you're by yourself, you're just checking your phone. You're creating this container where everybody's been equalized somewhat, and then the cold makes you feel super alive and outgoing, so you're ready to chat. It's such a good environment because it's very difficult. People use alcohol for a reason. It's to escape, it's because of social anxiety. You need something that's going to also give a feeling. I think a hot/cold is like a healthy version of them.
Melanie Avalon: Going into the app aspect, which is something that everybody can have access to right now, which is amazing. First of all, just as an entrepreneur, I would love to hear a little bit because I've created an app, super simplistic like nothing what you've done. But I'm always really fascinated by people's entrepreneur history and how they have an idea, because there are so many people in this health and wellness world who are into all these things, but so few people that actually do something like you're doing, where they take it to the next level and create something that everybody can have access to. So, what was your journey like creating the app? How long did it take from the moment that you decided to create it to actually creating it and how hard was that?
Robbie Bent: It was really hard. There's just so much saturation for this type of digital products, because they're not super expensive to create. I really think the ones that work best is because it's fun for the owners to do it. And for us, how it started, we had this garage space and COVID hit. And so, there's a thousand-ish customers and everybody's freaking out. They're all at home, it's a lockdown, pretty intense in Toronto. So, we just started doing Zoom breathworks. We're doing breathwork in our space, around the colds, we've done Wim Hof training, super into it. I use breathwork every morning as a boost instead of-- to compliment my coffee. I did a Wim Hof experience. He had been on a podcast and I did it every day for an entire year. Just a YouTube video with no music in the background of him guiding. This is awesome.
We started doing that in the space and then we started hosting Zooms once a week. The goal was more like, let's make it a breathwork concert. It's Friday night, everyone's at home, everyone's meeting on Zoom, let's put wicked electronic music kind of Friday night out dance sets and breathe to them. The first 140, then 80, then 200, then 500. I'm like, "Well, this is crazy. People really like this." They started being like, "Hey, I missed it. Can you put a recording?" Put some recordings on YouTube. My wife was like, "Hey, we have 10 recordings. Maybe we can make this into a course." So, we use this course platform called Kajabi, where you upload content. They give you a paywall and stuff. It's pretty awesome. Every week, we would just make a new breathwork. It's not like, "Oh, we have this idea to do breathwork. Let's go hire facilitators." We were just like, we made everything internally from scratch between me and my five co-founders. Every week, we would just pick an emotion and be like, "Oh, okay, anger people are struggling with, let's do anger-focused breathwork." We had 20, 30 and we just kept putting them on this course platform and that did about 100,000 in sales.
My wife came to me and said, "Hey, I think I can build this into an app. We have a bunch of content, we've already got a wicked brand. I'm pretty sure I can do this." It's like, "Okay, yeah, let's go for it." She almost single-handedly did all the design, worked with an agency, all the language and then my two other co-founding partners, Harry and Amanda, who are the lead facilitators, they've created about 40% of the sessions on the app. Harry bought a whole bunch of equipment, made a studio, learned how to do audio engineering, it's because he cares. Every session is like a little work of art. So, a standard session would be, okay, a lot of customers are asking for forgiveness. We would have these Zoom meet ups and would be like, "Hey, what are you struggling with?" Everyone would write on a list like what they're struggling with, "Oh, okay, 10 people are asking forgiveness." Then we would go and interview a bunch of therapists that were coming into the space and say like, "Look, we want to do a forgiveness practice. What works?"
We would use the leading psychological therapy styles for forgiveness. It might be like, "Okay, bring up the moment and visualize it. See the person who you want to forgive. Look into their eyes, see them as a baby. Remember when they were innocent and they're not trying to hurt you, specifically." And then, oh, okay, that's wicked. That script is like A plus. We would take that and Harry would convert it with music and breath and production into the breathwork. We've done that for imposter syndrome, and anger management, and feelings of guilt, and preparing for a presentation. So, it was really super organic and just talking to customers, seeing what they like, what they were struggling with, and then making breathworks around it. Yeah, over the way, it just has grown through word of mouth. I think the things that were important were creating the content and really caring about it, so like being masters of the content creation and then listening to customers and building stuff that they want. We didn't spend a ton of money. So, it was not spending this huge budget, but just growing slowly and building something people want. So, that's the story of how the app came to be.
Melanie Avalon: One of the distinguishing factors that you touched on and mentioned and when people try Othership, they'll pick up on really quickly is the role of the music in the different tracks. Because I think when a lot of people think of meditation apps, they think like calm and they think all very zen, but a lot of the options or things that wake you up and they have like you said, there's really awesome music in the background. So, the actual music itself is any of specific music intended to create a certain state? How did you choose the music and what is the purpose and how does it affect the actual breathwork aspect in meditation?
Robbie Bent: We'll spend hours and it's very much-- We're trying to create a state change. We're trying to help you breathe in specific patterns that are either going to do three things. So, one is like bring you up. Think about that like gas pedal, so like morning coffee. I want energy, I want confidence, I want creativity, I want to be alert and alive. That's turning on the fight or flight nervous system generally through rapid styles of breathing. The other is down, like breaking on the nervous system, rest and digest. Slowing the heart rate down through long exhales, gentle breath retention, really moving into that parasympathetic. So, I've been working all day and I want to get present. I can't fall asleep, I'm having too many thoughts, bringing your body and mind down. And then all around, we call it or explore. And it's really pushing the envelope to shut down the inner critic. What happens is when that thinking mind for people who struggle to meditate, they're just listening to this awesome music and breathing along at a certain pattern that after 15, 20 minutes will physiologically shut down the inner critic.
The part of your brain with the like to do list and all these thoughts. The part that when you're meditating actually it amplifies. And so, it'll shut that part down. What happens is you start to process emotions stored in the body. You're struggling with a breakup, you're having self-confidence issues, you've had a recent move, someone in your family died, any strong or scratchy emotion, these 20, 30 minutes sessions, as long as you're breathing along to the music in that pattern, pace, those are the physiological aspects to expect. So, the music itself is in those categories. If we want you to go up, we're thinking about what emotion does this music cultivate? We'll comb dozens of thousands of hours of royalty free libraries and different music trying to find music that matches those emotions and cadences. Even within that music, we'll go in and edit and augment and change and add in background effects and stuff to make it trying to feel like instead of, "Hey, I'm meditating, I don't know what I'm doing. I'm listening to my favorite song and I'm breathing along at the pattern that matches."
Melanie Avalon: When people are using the app, and I guess, this might depend in part on their specific goals and which track they're wanting to do for the intention in mind. But if you do one of the ones that you've done before and you do it over and over again, do they become more effective the more you do it because you can more quickly get into that state? Is there a learning curve for doing the tracks?
Robbie Bent: No, not really. Honestly, it's very similar to an ice bath where you're going to have the same response every time. And you acclimate a little bit. Sometimes, the first time is the most powerful depending on the technique. But the idea is that you know in seven minutes-- The way we've labelled the app is every day there's an up breath. It's usually between 3 to 10 minutes, average 7. I know that in 7 minutes if I do this, I'm going to feel like I've had a coffee and be ready to go. It's just super simple because people talk about breathwork, there're so many terms, there are hundreds of types. We're just like, "Look, you want to go up and start the engine, here you go. Different one every day, slightly different patterns, slightly different music." Every day, there's a down. So, you finished work, you work 12 hours, you're super tired, you want to just relax for a minute. Every day under 7 minutes, there's a down.
Once a week, there's a new explore session and the explore sessions are usually around emotions where you know if you go into this, there will be an emotional release. If you're carrying around grief or somebody made fun of you at the office or somebody said something you're really angry about it, a customer yelled at you, or your girlfriend or wife said something, or there's some kind of emotion you're sitting with, you know that in 30 minutes. It's a bit of more of a commitment. It's maybe like a weekend style thing. I know I can process those emotions and let them go.
Melanie Avalon: That's incredible. So, going back to what you were talking about in the very very beginning with your journey with both the stress of burnout and then also having a baby, I love how transparent and open you are about-- You're creating this app with this purpose of helping people deal with their emotions and reach a more peaceful state. You're super transparent about everything you're going through and how you still need these tools and everything. So, in your daily life, are you using the app? Has your experience with fatherhood inspired any of the tracks?
Robbie Bent: Yeah. So, I use these products every day. If I stop like I had before, I just can spin out into like, "Oh, I have to work." It's so strong in me from childhood that I need to be successful. It's so important to just be like a producing member of society. That's from being a kid that will bring you happiness being successful. And so, it's so strong. If I'm not doing these practices, I can go so far down that path. For me, replacing all my social time with these healthy things has been my game changer. So, three nights a week minimum I'm in the space, I was there. Last night, we did this incredible energized class. I'm going tomorrow for a self-care sweat, which is using lymphatic drainage, and stretching, and movement to mimic a spa treatment in the sauna.
This is just all kinds of classes. Anytime someone's like, "Hey, let's go for drinks," I'm like, "Oh, let's go Othership." I definitely use the hot and cold in Othership at least three times a week. I have a personal sauna and cold plunge as well, which I'm in probably five times a week. And then the breathwork, my favorite way to use it is with friends. Actually, there're all these sessions that are 60 minutes long on the app and they create an altered state, a change in state. This like shutting down, as I mentioned, of the thoughts and experimenting and releasing emotion. You just feel so good and light after. It's just like you took imagine like a shower but for your mind. You just go in and it just feels you're cleaning out all these old feelings that just are rough and you just feel so fresh.
We'll have five people over. We'll put one of those hour sessions on the speakers and everyone will do it. It will be a new way to hang out. Then we'll share after what was the experience like. It's so much fun versus using alcohol. So, my favorite ways to do this stuff is instead of making it like, "Oh, I've got to have my 10 minutes in the morning routine, when I'm already busy is putting them into social situations that are fun and then it's not a chore." So, five people come over and we do the breathwork. It's like I'm excited. It feels like I'm going to a concert. So, those are the ways that I really feel anyone can implement these habits.
Melanie Avalon: I really love that. It's interesting. I don't think I had thought about it until this conversation. Well, I guess, I knew about it, but I'm really thinking about it right now. I am the same as you with this insane, intense need to be productive and successful. That's literally what drives me. It's so interesting that yeah, we both have that and I'm just thinking now if it does go back to my childhood, I think I really looked up to my-- My dad is very successful and I think I really looked up to that and wanted to be like that. Okay, so, going back to the altered state breaths, are any of them dangerous? How altered of a state are we talking?
Robbie Bent: Yes. There's a number of different styles of breathwork and holotropic breathwork, specifically, which is exhaling as fast as possible for up to 3 hours. It can really amplify this effect I had mentioned. What's happening from a science perspective, your blood vessels are constricting the amount of oxygen your brain is absorbing is decreased pretty significantly and your brain starts sending all these messages to your emotional, the limbic system, which stores memories and emotions. And so, your whole sense of self, your sense of time, all of that shifts and that's where a lot of the power is. As you start breathing normally from a physiological standpoint, it's not dangerous. However, if you've never done any of this type of work, a lot of times it's recommended to go that deep with a therapist, because it can bring up pretty powerful emotions.
What you'll find sometimes is as that part of the brain that's so tight, that's holding everything together, your whole worldview shuts down, like powerful-- Maybe something happened when you were a child and you were rejected, or angered, or frustrated, or assaulted. Some of these emotions can come up. It's recommended to that level of depth of breathwork with a practitioner or with an integration expert. If something like that comes up, you have somebody to talk to and you're not just dealing with these old traumas that you've been holding on to. On our app, we're very careful to not use that style of breathing. We limit rapid breathing to two to three minutes at a time with gentle holds throughout. You can still have a powerful experience, but the chances of having a traumatic break are very rare. If that does happen, we work with amazing therapists and have resources all over the site for people to talk to.
Melanie Avalon: I love that idea of doing it with friends. That's super cool. If people are doing it, well, I guess, with friends or on their own, where can they do it? Could you do it in your infrared sauna at night, or could you do it in an ice bath, or do you need to be on the couch? Where can you do it?
Robbie Bent: Yes. For listeners, it's actually just going to be free. We're launching a free month in January and it's going to be 31 days of different ice baths, cold shower, meditations, and breathworks. And so, each day will be a two-to-five-minute breathwork session that can be done in the ice bath or shower. So, that'll be really unique because I'm pretty sure there's not that type of content out there. And then we've had a lot of people in a hot sauna. In a dry sauna, it's difficult because the air is humid. And so, down sessions are great in hot sauna. But we've had a lot of customers use the app and disclaimer in the sauna. You are pushing your state. So, this isn't a recommendation, but we've had-- It's more statement of fact. We've had a lot of users including Ben Greenfield, who uses some of these deep dive sessions in the infrared sauna as a way to pass time.
If you're thinking about testing, a really nice one is the guilt release or shame release. They're about 30 minutes. For an infrared sauna session, I would lay down, if you can and just so you're not sitting up in case you pass out and give that a spin and see what you think. It's great because then you can use these practices in the sauna and kill two birds with one stone. But the majority are meant to just be lying down.
Melanie Avalon: I'm very excited that you mentioned that. I was doing it in my sauna and I was like, "I don't know if I'm supposed to be doing this in here or not." Okay, that's great. I'm going to do the guilt release one. That's amazing. I'm super curious. In your daily life, do you have any-- because there are a lot of just simple breath exercises that people do. Do you have any go to one's for you that you use just without an app, without anything, just in your daily life that you like?
Robbie Bent: Yeah. There's an amazing book by James Nestor called Breath and another one called-- [crosstalk]
Melanie Avalon: I've had him on this show. I love him.
Robbie Bent: Yeah. His book is incredible for-- What we talked about was up, down, all around, like very specific reasons. But at the same time, there's your natural breathing rhythms that determine how much oxygen your body absorbs, so every tissue muscle runs on oxygen. Your natural breathing patterns through your nose, super slow, throughout the day actually determine health. It's very interesting. There's this study called the Framingham study that over the biggest predictor of longevity is actually size of lungs. And so, it's pneumatics. It's not the-- [crosstalk]
Melanie Avalon: Sorry to interrupt. That's literally one of my favorite fun facts in health of all time. Nobody talks about that. Nobody. It's mind blowing.
Robbie Bent: So, that's pretty crazy. If you're breathing two things happen. If you're at your computer all day or you're looking at your phone a lot, there's this thing called email apnea, and so it's this idea that when your fight or flight response is triggered, we hold our breath. It's from millions of years of like hunter-gatherer style stuff. You look at your phone, you see on Instagram like, "Oh, this person's doing this thing and I'm jealous" or you see a negative piece of news and dopamine hit, hold your breath. The same as you're writing emails. You're all focused, you're in the zone, you hold your breath. If you're at a computer for 10, 12 hours a day, you're most likely breathing through your mouth, over breathing, holding your breath. Every time you're looking at your phone and being stimulated, same thing. Our natural breathing habits, it's more than likely your breathing is off. There's a CO2 tolerance test you can google and try to get a sense if that's the case.
Every time you think about breathing throughout the day, it's just nice, slow in for three through the nose, out for eight through the nose. Just every time you notice you're breathing, slow as possible through the nose and that's the best tip. Now that's super hard to actually do, because you might listen to this podcast, be interested, and then not think about breathing again for six months. It is reality. On the app, we're starting to create background breathing tracks. And so, one is breathing and walking. There're four sessions now where you can just put it on, walk and breathe at a certain pace through your nose. And so, as you're listening to music, you're breathing at the right pace. The other we're looking at is breath and work tracks. When you're on your computer, you're doing emails, you put this on, and you just follow the breathing cues subconsciously as you are working. So, we're going to see if those make it more easy to implement this stuff in your life.
Melanie Avalon: That is awesome because that is something super-duper practical that nobody's really doing. That is amazing. I'm curious because you talked about loving coffee and all of that. Do you still drink coffee or have you replaced it completely with breathwork?
Robbie Bent: I went two and a half months with no coffee and then we moved two weeks ago. I really love the Everyday Dose product. So, it's like a mushroom coffee with less caffeine. I started with that and then I ran out. As we moved, it was quite a stressful time with the baby and the move and work. And so, I started Half Caff Americano's about a week ago and now I'm feeling it again, like fuck. It's very hard for me to not have caffeine. And so, now I'm trying to like, "Okay, as long as I have that Half Caff for some days, just no second one and have to be eating healthy, going to the gym, all these other habits." Last time they just fell off one by one. And so, this time, okay, well, if I'm going to have the caffeine, then you have to have these other things. So, it's not like-- A big one is eating breakfast. I would just, coffee and I feel like I'm on fire, literally feel I could do anything. It's so exciting. I have a feeling. And then I'm working, so excited. It's 10:00 AM, I'm like, "I don't want to eat. I don't want to go." Now I'm like, "No, I just have to eat a big breakfast at 10:00 AM." As long as I do that, it's okay, it seems.
Melanie Avalon: Do you do fasting, intermittent fasting?
Robbie Bent: I did intermittent fasting. I've done five-day fast, three-day fast, whole thing. I did intermittent fasting, but what I'd been told, I don't know how true this is, but in this group that I'm in, I had mentioned earlier where they do the Levels and the WHOOP and everything was that, actually, intermittent fasting can really increase stress hormones, especially if you're not eating till later in the day. What they recommended was definitely have a breakfast, like big breakfast. If you want to do intermittent fasting, make sure it's eating in the morning and not eating at night. So, I'm trying to move more to that because I was like, "Oh, I'm just drinking coffee. I'm intermittent fasting. I'm so healthy. I'm not eating until 04:00 PM." And then in reality, I was actually burning out. I was just stressed all the time because I wasn't eating. I don't know the science behind that. I'm not as familiar, but that was my personal experience was that having an early meal and then fasting in the night seems to work a lot better for me than waiting all day and being like in that fight or flight state.
Melanie Avalon: I have a lot of thoughts about it, but long story short, I'll put a link in the show notes. I did a blog post. The title is something about like early versus late night eating, fasting, I'm not sure something like that, time-restricted eating. Because there're so many debates about it. I am not a morning person and I don't like eating early. It's often posited that eating earlier is better. I did sit down and I was like, "I'm just going to look at all the literature I can find." I'm going to try to be as completely objective even knowing that I love eating late at night and not eating during the day. Looking at all of it and stepping back, it seems to me that an ideal window is later afternoon to early evening, but while it's still light outside, just from a hormonal profile perspective, but everything that you mentioned I think is super important.
I think for a lot of people it can become too much of a stressor, especially depending on your sleep, your life, your caffeine, your body, and when your body wants to eat. So, I think that's super amazing that for you, you know that you do better eating earlier. So, I think it's really individual. For me, I eat late at night and then I don't eat all day and I do really well with that. Yeah, sorry there. [laughs] It's individual is my point. So, it's interesting about the caffeine thing. I like you, like If I fall into it, I'll be in it. It's the one thing I found where-- Because I tried this with both caffeine and alcohol, where I drink glass of wine every night. I tried going like a year with no alcohol and I also tried that with coffee and caffeine. I found that caffeine actually didn't really miss. Once it was gone, I was okay. If I have it now, it feels really great. I was smiling when you were talking about how you felt like you could take over the world, because I remember I had a cup of coffee for some reason, I don't know, last year, and I literally was like, "I could climb Mount Everest right now." I was like, "What is this feeling?" But I found that I don't actually need to-- I'm okay without it.
Wine, I took out, I was fine without it, but I realized I was happier with it in my life than not. So, again, I think it's your personality and what resonates with you and your addiction potential. I'm all about what works for the individual. So, for people who want to jump onboard and get really involved with this app and integrating this into their life, for listeners, well, first of all, thank you so much, Robbie. You're actually offering our listeners a free two-week trial of Othership, which is amazing and I don't have the exact link right now. So, I will put it in the show notes and I will also put it in the intro to the show, so listeners will be able to grab that. For listeners, who are wanting to jump onboard, how do you suggest-- I know you mentioned earlier the idea of doing the morning one, and the evening one, and then once a week doing the longer session. How do you suggest listeners, because listeners, when you get Othership, it's super awesome, but there're a lot of options. So, how do you suggest people start off with the app?
Robbie Bent: Yeah. So, I think it's really what problem am I trying to solve and not, "Oh, I should meditate," well like "Why?" Are you looking for energy? Is that a struggle? In the morning I want to power up or am I looking for confidence, inspiration, creativity? I want to feel that coffee feeling. If so, the daily up sessions are available at any time. If you're like, "Hey, I'm struggling to sleep, I'm overstimulated, I really want to connect, and ground, and just feel a bit more common focused than the down sessions. It might be like there's a sleep challenge. It might be like, "I'm going to do this 10 minutes a night before sleep." For either of those up or down, what I like to do is say, I'm going to do this for one month Monday to Friday and take the weekends off. For building a habit, try for three, four weeks Monday to Friday, a daily up each morning or a daily down each night and just notice. Did this improve my sleep on my Oura Ring? Am I feeling more energy in my morning meetings?
The other categories, the longer ones are very specific. If you're struggling with anger, or shame, or potentially you've lost a job, or grief, a friend has recently passed, or you've been through a breakup, those sessions are very specific. Those are those longer once a week, Saturday/Sunday morning carve out an hour of time. You can do it in two ways. One can be have friends over and do a longer sessions for fun, having the group and replacing alcohol in that way in your house and the second would be just say, "Look, I'm going to do four weekends in a row around one of these longer topics." So, those are the three ways to really use the app that I would suggest.
We do have some niche content coming out. So, in February, we're doing an intimacy challenge and we're working with five of the leading sexual education therapists, tantric teachers. And so, we're creating 15 to 20 pieces of content that can be used for self-intimacy and partner intimacy, even going as far as guided foreplay and sex. The idea is using breathwork, eye gazing, touching to connect with each other. That's like a date. Instead of a date, you can actually do this together. So, there's a lot of niche content like that. We mentioned walking, running, studying, and then there's the daily habits. I would say think about do I want to go up, down, or explore emotions and then choose accordingly.
Melanie Avalon: That is very exciting. Especially, I've had a lot of shows on sexual health and wellness and I think the importance of-- [giggles] I had one show, Stephanie Estima, and she has a seven-day orgasm challenge for health. It has a lot of science behind it as well. I did that I just turned it into an everyday orgasm challenge. It sounds like for people who want to jump on that board, this app could be really great for that. That's awesome.
Robbie Bent: Yeah. January, so when that comes out for the 30 days of cold plunge, we're going to give that away for free for the month for everybody, and then for the intimacy likely as well. So, if people are listening like stoked about it, then there's three months of the app to try both of those specific. It's not about breathwork or hot/cold, it's about how do you create more connection in people's lives in a way that's fun. So, instead of doing this stuff in therapy, it's like, "Oh, I might as well listen to in my home with cool music and follow along. So, it just feels more fun." So, that's the whole vibe of everything in the app.
Melanie Avalon: I love it. I just thought about it. I'll make a redirect link. So, listeners can go to melanieavalon.com/othershipapp and that will take you to that offer. One last topic I just would love to hear your thoughts on. Since you did just have a baby, I'm always so interested in people who are into all of this stuff that I'm into. How are you integrating that into raising a child today as far as teaching him or encouraging him to go this route?
Robbie Bent: He's so little. [chuckles] I don't know, I talked with Ben Greenfield and it's amazing. He's taking his kids. I think they're 14 and they'll do a sauna and ice bath together. They'll listen to the app and do the breathwork on it and then take time to integrate. Go and be alone for 30 minutes and then share what they did at the dinner table. It's like, "Whoa."
Melanie Avalon: That's insane. [laughs]
Robbie Bent: He's just like, "Oh, it's connected me so much more with my teenage kids, because we do this together and share." I was like, "Fuck, that's incredible."
Melanie Avalon: Goals. [giggles]
Robbie Bent: Yeah, exactly. But for us, he's so little. We do have some parent-specific breathworks for eye gazing into your son or daughter's eyes. One thing he can do and he's awake 15 minutes a day, a couple of times a day is like, "Look at you." He's the best eye gazer in the world. There's no like, if I look in your eyes and like, "Oh, what's she thinking, is this weird?" It's uncomfortable. With a baby, it's just you're looking into a soul that has no judgment. And so, that's been really beautiful. Probably, my favorite part is just watching him during the times and then maybe he smiles or laughs. It's like people talk about, "Oh, I can't meditate," but I can definitely-- Even now, I'll put my meditation timer on and just look at him. I find that I can spend 20 minutes just sitting with him and watching him and it's super beautiful.
I would say I'm not even a mediocre dad at this point. It's been really hard. I'm tired and frustrated, and there's definitely unpleasant emotions involved, but then there's these moments of just like, "Whoa, it's so rewarding to see him laugh and smile." I've heard from a lot of dads that 12 months, 18 months is when you start really building the connection. People don't talk about this publicly, but it wasn't immediate connection for me. I was like, "Well, okay, this is my son I'll protect, but I need to build a relationship." And so, I'm very excited. Every day, he's more and more interactive. So, I'm just really excited to see what it's like in a year when we can hopefully set a good example. He likes these habits, but I don't have any-- Yeah, he's still too little for [chuckles] any breathworks so far.
Melanie Avalon: Actually, that is one last question. How old do you need to be to use the app?
Robbie Bent: So, we have tons of kids using it. There're some blog posts on our blog about parenting resources for doing sessions with your kids. And so, there's one on the app called the Rose, Thorn, Bud and it's that same exercise I had mentioned we do in the space. It's the rose of your day, the best moment. The thorn of your day, something that hurt. The bud, which is like your intention for tomorrow. Just teaching kids to have a moment of gratitude while breathing like, "Hey, if I have a tough emotion--" We call it emotional regulation. It's just the ability to understand your emotions and feel them.
That technique isn't taught in school. It's not taught anywhere, especially for kids to understand like, "Oh, I'm feeling jealous, or anxious, or greedy, or compassionate, or forgiveful, or whatever." Whatever it might be, I think it's really nice to have these basic breathworks that can follow along with the music and then have of emotional inquiry. What we've heard is sometimes the kids are, "Oh, this is amazing." Sometimes they're like, "Ah, I don't want to do this, dad, it's annoying." I think you can start these practices when they're quite little and get them engaged. We have tons of videos from our designer and other people doing the breathworks with their kids at night.
Melanie Avalon: That's incredible. It just makes me think, can you imagine how different our world would be if in our education system we had something like this, like a class that was about emotional health and wellness and gratitude practices and breathing? It could change so many things. It's perfect that you were talking about that because the last question that I ask every single guest on the show is because I realize more and more each day how important mindset is. So, what is something that you're grateful for?
Robbie Bent: I'm most grateful for my wife. She's just, honestly, the baby last night was awake the entire night crying. We've been letting him sleep in the bed like the king bed and he just seems-- When he's breastfeeding and stuff, he just loves it. When you put him in the bassinet, he just goes nuts. My wife, she just never complains, she's up all night, she takes care of him, she lets me sleep in the other room, so I can be well rested to work and doesn't ask me for anything. It's just like watching her how much love she gives to the baby, one, it's like, "Wow, women are fucking so strong." I'm thinking about the hardest I've ever worked or the toughest thing I've ever done and it's 5% of being a mom. So, yeah, just thinking about her and how lucky it is that this baby is going to have her as a mom, it's fucking amazing. That's what I'm grateful for. Sure.
Melanie Avalon: I love that so much. That is amazing. Well, thank you so much, Robbie. I'm so, so grateful for what you're doing. It is changing so many people's lives. I'm super grateful. I shuddered when you said that you just moved because on my stress list that's [giggles] the worst thing ever. So, thank you so much for being here with everything that you have going on. I'm super excited for listeners to get your app and hopefully, get some in person experiences with some of the Othership locations. So, again, the link for the show notes will be at melanieavalon.com/othership. To get the free two-week trial, you can go to melanieavalon.com/othershipapp. Are there any other links you would like to put out there, Robbie, for people to best follow your work?
Robbie Bent: Yeah, I think I wanted to throw one for HOLOS, the space I did the ayahuasca retreat in a little video about what it looked like for people interested, because I just think it's from a safety standpoint. In accessibility standpoint, it is just the number one of the four I've been to and the many I have seen. If people want to follow the Othership Instagram, it's just @othership. I think, yeah, @othership. They can follow along with our openings and all that kind of stuff.
Melanie Avalon: Awesome. Okay, I said last question, but this is the last question. Why did you decide to call it Othership?
Robbie Bent: Oh, man. Are you ready? It's a long one.
Melanie Avalon: No, go for it. No, because the naming is like everything.
Robbie Bent: It's a full story. Yeah, it's important to people know it, because it's crazy and it's such a cool story. So, it was actually called Inward. We had just asked 40 customers. We had to make a website for the garage. We're like, "What should we call it on the website?" We asked everyone. Someone was like, "Inward." We're like, "Oh, Inward. That's pretty cool." We kept hearing on podcasts like, "Oh, I just had to buckle down and go inward" and were like, "Oh, shit."
Melanie Avalon: Marketing. [giggles]
Robbie Bent: Yeah, we had that for like a year and we're really bought into it. We loved it. The space was so beautiful. It felt like a space. You go inward and then-- One of my friends is, I think, the best brand person in the world. She's incredible. She's like, "Yeah, it just doesn't mean anything. Going inward for what? It's just one thing." It's also like she does this thing called the hat test, where they mock it up on a hat and they're like, "Would you wear this hat?" I was like, "Ah, probably not." And so, we were all bummed down. We're like, "Well, what are we going to call it? We're doing breathwork, we're doing hot and cold, there's all these things. How can you even name this?" She put together a package for us like 50 names. We look through them all and we see this one. We're like. "Whoa. Othership. There's something about it. It's powerful. It's weird."
The next day we're thinking about it and we send it out to 10 people. Each of us sends it out to 10 friends just in a text like, "What do you think Othership?" Legit, 10 no's. Every single person, "Terrible. I will not come if you use that name. Horrible." And so, we're like, "Okay." [chuckles] We're like, "Yeah, I guess--" Because it's weird. You see and you're like, "Whoa, what is that?" It's not related to what it is at all and on the surface. We're like, "Okay, maybe we're already doing this weird thing like bathhouse classes that doesn't exist. Does the name need to be weird too?" We thought about it and we're like, "Hey, well, what is this what we're doing?" It's a journey. At the end of the day, it's experiences that take you on a journey. It could be like a health journey, community journey, psychedelics journey, your breathwork journey, your longevity journey, all those things. And it's you growing, basically and changing.
When we open the space, it felt like a ship. It had wood and brick and water. We're okay. We're in this thing we're journeying in, which is the ship, but it's also where you're going. If you think about it partnership, relationship, companionship, apprenticeship, mentorship, ally ship, there's all these different ships that you're working on. The Othership is really this vessel that you're journeying on to improve your life. We thought of it that way. We were like, "Whoa, this is fucking so cool." It's just a container for where you want to go in your life. It's so inspirational and cool. And then, she came up with the logo and the logo is both it looks like a ship, but it's also a top, which was the first toy in any culture in King Tut's tomb. It's in every culture, the spinning top. This idea that our core values are building, belonging, inspiring awe, which is the feeling of being a child and cellular commitment, which is like, "Yeah, it's fun, but you're inspiring awe, but it's also work."
The idea of the top was to show that wellness isn't always spirituality and woo-woo. It's fun, it's playful. Othership is hard, but playful as well. We put all that together in the package, we're like-- The guy personally, obviously, biased, but I have the tattoo on my arm, I think it's the best brand in the world. So, I love it so much the name. I just can't believe it. Yeah, I love telling that story because it's really organic and cool how it came to be, especially because everyone was like, "Don't do it. and then we just were like, "You know what? Let's just fucking do it."
Melanie Avalon: I love the name. I think it's perfect. It immediately evokes. To me, what it evokes is, well, A, this idea of otherworldly. With the N word, that ties into something spiritual and something beyond the physical body. At least, that's what it says to me. And so, I get that with Othership. It feels otherworldly, but then it also feels like an actual vessel to get there like the spaceship idea. I think it perfectly encapsulates everything that you're doing. I think I would have been the one person that said, "Yes, do that name."
Robbie Bent: Yes. Then everyone now it's like, "Oh." Everyone's called, we call people ship heads and then in the staff, they're stewards, and crewmates, and deck hands. Yeah, we're all on this ship together and it's this big ship that just accepts everybody. And so, yeah, it just blows my mind. I love it.
Melanie Avalon: I also love that fun fact about the first toy, the top. That's so cool.
Robbie Bent: Yes. When you put effort into branding like language, all, everything combines to make a feeling. What we're selling is a community and feeling and something you want to be a part of. So, that stuff was so important. We spent so much time on it.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. No, I love it. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Robbie. This has been so, so amazing. I can't wait for listeners to listen, and also get the app, and report back on their experiences. Thank you. We'll have to have you on, again, in the future. If I'm still living in Atlanta, if you are ever in Atlanta, you have to let me know. If we're ever both in LA, I have to meet you sometime. This is just amazing.
Robbie Bent: The invite is open for the spaces. So, I think a good time will be when we open in New York, next year, you should come up for the opening.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, my gosh, that would be amazing. Yes, please let me know. That'd be awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you, Robbie. Have a fabulous rest of your day and I will talk to you later.
Robbie Bent: Thank you so much.
Melanie Avalon: Bye.
[Transcript provided by SpeechDocs Podcast Transcription]