A cryotherapy spa and lounge, based on the healing concept of limited exposure to subzero temperatures, signed a lease at Brooklyn Station on Riverside Avenue, its initial location in Jacksonville.
Called Recovery Zone Cryogenic Therapy, the Jacksonville-based company will open in a 1,200-square-foot space at 108 Riverside Ave., next to BurgerFi.
Joseph Newkirk, a Navy veteran and years-long aspiring entrepreneur, said he hopes to open by early May, pending build-out.
“Experiencing the benefits has led me to go deeper into research of the therapy,” Newkirk said of the body-cooling service that is becoming popular nationwide. “I thought about bringing something new to Jacksonville.”
Newkirk’s website, recoveryz.com, says he hopes eventually to open in Southside, Orange Park and Orlando. He also is talking about expansion in North Carolina, where he grew up.
Recoveryz.com touts the process for pain relief, weight loss, cell renewal and improved physical and mental health, stimulating the release of endorphins to elevate the customer’s mood.
It uses liquid nitrogen to expose the body, for a limited time, to subzero temperatures, up to minus 256 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cold therapy is a concept used for centuries and liquid nitrogen has long been used in small amounts to “freeze” and destroy abnormal tissue, such as warts.
However, whole-body immersion has been used more extensively in the past several decades for pain relief and other purposes by athletes, entertainers and others. In recent years, it spread throughout the U.S.
Recovery Zone describes the process like this: A client steps into an octagonal-shaped unit, with his or her head above the unit, for two or three minutes, during which the body is enveloped with extremely cold air. Once out of the unit, the body immediately reheats.
The client wears protection for his or her sensitive extremities, such as Recovery Zone’s signature gloves and shoes. Men wear underwear and women can choose to do so or not.
“An important point to remember is there is no perception of how cold the temperature is,” the website says, explaining the air no longer contains moisture and air currents don’t exist.
The cryosaunas are equipped with an oxygen monitor and an expert monitors the temperature and client’s comfort.
Recovery Zone says its service provides health benefits that include increased blood circulation, cell regeneration, toxin removal and organ improvement.
Newkirk is working on building plans for approval by Brooklyn Station landlord Regency Centers Corp. and the city.
Jacksonville-based Regency Centers welcomes Recovery Zone.
“We’re always looking to find interesting tenants that will appeal to the individual aspects of our communities,” said Regency Communications Manager Eric Davidson. “Recovery Zone is just that.”
Newkirk wants to provide two cryosaunas for whole-body treatment along with zero-gravity lounge chairs and NormaTec Recovery boots for leg treatments.
Prices online show the first whole-body treatment is $50, with pricing schedules for subsequent and multiple visits. Newkirk also is working on a monthly membership price.
He said there will be pricing packages and special discounts, such as for veterans.
Newkirk said Recovery Zone will feature an “industrial” theme and be “very Brooklyn Station-like.”
“I am putting a lot of effort into the building, and a lot of time and thought,” he said.
He declined to provide the investment estimate because he is completing the furniture and fixture details.
Newkirk, 29, is a native of Chapel Hill, N.C., and grew up in a family in the fields of health care and technology. His father is a former computer test equipment specialist for IBM in Research Triangle Park in Durham, N.C. His mother is a doctor of pharmacy and former owner and CEO of Medicap Pharmacy.
“I always had a dream of being an entrepreneur,” he said.
His LinkedIn account shows Newkirk served with the U.S. Navy from 2004-11, followed by two years with an international global logistics and operations company.
He formed Recovery Zone in July, while working in real estate from August-December.
He said he “fell in love with Jacksonville” while stationed on the USS John F. Kennedy, which was homeported in Mayport. He then was stationed in Virginia and served in Afghanistan. Newkirk said he completed his Navy career in logistics at Naval Hospital Jacksonville.
Newkirk said he pitched the Recovery Zone to other area shopping centers, but said his project wasn’t understood. Regency Centers did and Brooklyn Station “is the perfect place to start,” he said.
The location is between Downtown and Riverside/Avondale. Brooklyn Station also is near the foot of the Acosta Bridge, which crosses the St. Johns River from the Southbank communities and San Marco — and The District, a proposed healthy-lifestyle community.
Jacksonville is evolving in a health-conscious way, Newkirk said, with health-oriented events around the area. “We want to be part of that.”
The Recovery Zone website says the hours will be 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
Cryotherapy has been attracting more attention in recent years as centers expanded nationwide.
Not all of the attention has been promotional.
Last October, a Nevada center gained attention when an employee died after entering a tank alone after work. Police concluded there was no criminal act, but it focused attention to safety practices and the Nevada Health Department developed guidelines for the centers.
The industry is largely unregulated, but Newkirk said many cryo locations remain in contact with the Food and Drug Administration regarding future potential regulation.
Before using services at the Recovery Zone, customers must sign waivers and their blood pressure will be checked before treatment, Newkirk said.
The website includes the waiver form, which lists conditions that should alert customers to avoid the service.
“A lot of other cryo places don’t educate you,” Newkirk said. “We are focused on the customer experience, as well as informing them about the services we provide.”
He said that in general, the minimum age for customers is 15.
Friend and military veteran Wali Murphy is handling marketing for Recovery Zone and developing brochures and spreading the word about the business in the area.
“The market is there,” Newkirk said. “It is up to us to educate and inform.”