By Sam Elliott
Area residents and friends Daryl Randall, Rick Goren and Ron Albright wanted to be the first to get the United States in on a longtime health and wellness craze across the rest of the world, so they did some studying abroad.
That led to the trio from Fishers, Geist and Indianapolis opening Emerge Body Transformations, a spa dedicated to using Cocoon Wellness Pro “pods,” at 435 Virginia Ave., Suite 1600, in downtown Indianapolis.
“We saw this example in Europe where this lady had bought 2,200 pods in 15 years, she opened up 180 weight loss centers strictly with the pods,” Albright said. “She has a concept where she guarantees your weight loss or your money back. In 15 years, she’s given people money back twice. Sweat is good for you. The people who live the longest in the world are Norwegians and Asians where from birth they get in saunas and it’s just part of their daily life. They’re constantly detoxing their body.”
The pods come in two styles and can reach as high as 190 degrees inside. Keeping the user’s head outside of the pod tricks the brain into not overheating and wanting out.
“Most people, when they workout they’ll go do a half-hour workout. Well, the first 15 minutes is just getting tired and getting your body up to the point where a sauna will do you good,” Albright said. “Most people in America, when they sauna, it gets too hot, they get out and never go back in. In Europe, they get in for 10 minutes, they jump out for a minute and repeat that. They keep their core temperature up. Everybody else in the world knows how to use a sauna and knows the benefits of a sauna and sweating.”
The pods can be dry heated or heated by wet steam and combine a collection of therapeutic practices.
“It’s an infrared sauna, it’s got a vibrating massage table, it’s got aromatherapy, jade therapy, oxygen therapy and Himalayan salt therapy,” Albright said. “It’s really a model for people who really want to get jumpstarted on a wellness program. It’s first about weight loss. If you got in that thing three times a week and we wrapped you in a sauna suit and cranked the heat up to 190 degrees, all you’ve got to do is lay there. … It’s just super intense heat and all you do is sweat like a pig and it’s just meant to drive the toxins out of your body, raise your metabolism and get your core temperature up.”
While the pods have been a success in other parts of the world, their popularity in America hasn’t yet experienced similar growth.
“There have been about 30,000 of these pods sold worldwide, but only maybe 2,000 or 3,000 in the United States,” Albright said. “In Russia it’s a medical device where you can’t have a detox center, a weight loss center or a hospital in the country of Russia without a pod, otherwise you can’t get licensed. In Japan and Taiwan and places like that, there are pod centers everywhere. Wellness has always been more popular overseas.”
The Emerge Body Transformations team has benefited from the pods personally and was hooked from their first sessions and has seen the effects of the therapy in action.
“My wife recommends it for professional dancers,” Randall — whose wife, Alyona Yakovleva-Randall, founded the Indiana Ballet Conservatory in 2010 — said. “They can lay in it for 10 minutes and loosen up. My wife loves it. She was in here yesterday, and she wanted to come back today. She loves the feeling when she gets out. She gets out and feels brand new.”
Future of Fitness
“This will be the next big thing in fitness,” Emerge Body Transformations co-founder Rob Albright said. “Tanning centers are kind of keeping an eye on it … and eventually they’ll get caught up. Eventually I think these will be everywhere. We just want to be first and build a brand around Indianapolis with maybe one here, one in Zionsville, one in Fishers, one in Carmel, maybe one on the west side, so there might be five Emerge Body Transformations salons in Indy. If the concept works, we want to take it to downtown Manhattan, downtown Chicago and Miami Beach — we could see this building.”
The Emerge Body Transformations founders estimated maybe 500 such pod-centered spas exist in the world, but theirs is the first in the United States.
“Twenty-five years ago they were ahead of their time,” Albright said. “They’re just now getting to the point where the timing is right and we think America will buy into this concept. Everywhere you go they’re the most popular machine.”