Cold Love

cold love showing Michael Garrett, co-founder of Plunge
Michael Garrett. Photo by Benjamin Fargen.

To Michael Garrett’s thinking, there’s more to a good long life than just living a good long time.

“It’s about feeling young longer,” says Garrett, co-founder of PLUNGE, a Sacramento-based company that offers clean, reliably cold and relatively portable cold-plunge technology for about $5,000 a tank.

Dipping oneself into ice-cold water might sound more like torture than therapy. Garrett came to understand it quite another way on a van trip from Utah to Banff National Park in Canada, when jumping into Rocky Mountain lakes and rivers daily made him feel “invincible.”

Cold therapy’s No. 1 benefit is its proven effectiveness against inflammation, which is thought to be aging’s primary engine. Other benefits include improved immune function—great for those with autoimmune disorders such as lupus and Crohn’s disease—and increased metabolism.

It also triggers the release of norepinephrine, also known as noradrenaline. “That’s the most powerful chemical process that’s happening” during a plunge, says Garrett, who also owns Reboot Float and Cryo Spa, which has three Bay Area locations, two of which feature cold tubs. Asha Urban Baths in midtown Sacramento offers cold plunges locally.

Garrett began building tub prototypes in June 2020 and sold his first two tubs two months later. He convinced cofounder Ryan Duey to do a limited run of 20 tubs; they sold out in a month.

Theirs remains the only product of its technology available for its price. “That’s why we’ve grown so much,” says Garrett, whose operation began in the back of a bike shop and this past May moved to a 40,000-square-foot space in Lincoln, quadrupling its previous space.

If an icy dip sounds like simply too much, Garrett says any water below 60 degrees provides benefits. Just 90 seconds will create the cold-shock response necessary to produce norepinephrine.

But, he says, “Obviously, the colder it is, the shorter time you have to do it.”