Unplug and drip

Sweating it out at the driphouse



Michael Hanlon

Rochester is home to a lot of wonderful places to go and relax. In Pittsford alone there are the Spa at Del Monte, Massage Envy, and Journey Massage, to name a few. What’s been missing until now, however, is the experience offered by the Driphouse.

When you step into Driphouse at 15 State Street, Pittsford, you’ll first notice the puffball chairs in the foyer. The staff and owners, Tami Wilmot, Malisa Lougher, and Katie Newberg, are cordial and fully aware you might be a bit skeptical. When you’re ready for your drip session they’ll take you behind a glass door where you’ll see a long line of rooms along a hallway. To your immediate right is another small waiting room, a place to compose yourself as you sift through the bag of goodies you’ve just been handed. You open the bag and pull out a pair of sweatpants, a shirt to match, and a pair of socks, then change, place your own outfit into the bag, and enter one of the rooms.

Inside the room it’s dark and on your bed is a large blanket. One of the staff members will open the blanket, allow you to get inside, and then close it back over you, “locking” you in place. Now you have an hour to do nothing but lie there, no phone in your hand—your hands not even visible—and sweat. You can bring your own music, choose to lie in silence, even watch Netflix or cable on the TV positioned in front of you. Thirty minutes into the treatment someone will come check in (usually to find people asleep) and at the forty-five-minute mark there will be a cold towel placed on your head (waking you up but also a welcome alleviation to the heat). When the hour is up and you’re released,  your sweat suit will most undoubtedly be soaked, but when you take it off to change back into your own clothes you find your body is not covered in sweat at all. You soon revert back to how you looked when you first entered, though you most certainly don’t feel the same. And a smile that wasn’t there before may cross your lips.

Lougher wanted to create a place people could go to unwind. “I think one thing we can offer people is to just slow down, stop, and do something for yourself. Get off your phone. Sprinkle in a little bit of time where you can reflect, rejuvenate, and where you can just feel good. It’s a nice thing, just as important as eating healthy and having a good sleep and having your fitness—yes, I think it should be sprinkled amongst all those. Gyms are selling meditation these days, which sounds crazy, but people need that. They need this guidance to slow down because we’re programmed to just do everything so hard. We work hard, we train hard, and we love hard,” she says.

Under the warm blanket your body is totally relaxed, your mind as well. You have an hour, one hour to be completely separate from the outside world, no wires to connect you. The inside of the bed is warm, not so much hot, so there’s no sense of it being uncomfortable. It’s like you’re bundled into a sleeping bag, the room is like a tent, and the world outside the tent no longer exists. You’re zoned into your show of choice, or playlist, or nothing, and what’s on the screen doesn’t even matter, because you’re in your own little world. When’s the last time you felt like that? 

Although Driphouse is fairly new to the area, it’s already seen some success. “We first opened mid-August. We did a very soft opening and we opened to the public September 12. We did really great and have had return consumers. We’ve had over three hundred clients in the first month,” says Lougher. She got the idea from frequent visits to the West Coast, where sweat lodges are popular. “I was like, ‘Why do I have to go all the way to California to feel good? Why can’t people in Rochester feel good?’ So we said, ‘Let’s bring it here.’ It took a good year of a lot of research and development at finding healthy, safe blankets.”

Being able to watch Netflix as you drip offers something familiar. “It’s a guilty pleasure for a lot of people,” says Lougher. “Those who don’t have the time, or feel guilty, or, let’s say, mothers with their kids. I like Orange is the New Black, and I can’t watch that with my kids. We also have regular cable TVs so a lot of guys come in and watch the pregame stuff while they’re sweating. We have some people that just want to drip and not watch TV; they just want some meditation time, so people can bring earphones and listen to their own playlists. We also have earplugs, we have people that just want to get into their body and hear themselves breathing, which I think is very hard. Probably half the people fall asleep in the first half hour.”

The clients that visit Driphouse aren’t restricted to one demographic: this is something anyone can get into and enjoy for different reasons and benefits. “We’re still trying to flow what our hours are, because we have a big demographic. We have a big group of soccer players that comes in, the kids after their long double sessions and games and their muscles are just dog tired, so athletes are coming in, the high schoolers, some college kids. We have people in their mid-sixties—they come in for arthritis, and they just are looking for something that is going to make them feel relaxed. Some people are just stressed,” says Lougher.

“We’re having a lot of groups coming in, too, which is nice. A lot of couples…friends. We can open up all those curtains, and we can have three people in one space or four on the other side,” says Wilmot.

Expanding their business is something the owners agree on, hoping to grow to a couple locations within the next three years and eventually franchise. Other locations they’re considering are Webster and Victor.

Right now the business is open seven days a week as they continue to gauge when their clients find it most convenient to come in. If you go, be sure to schedule your session in advance—you will find the staff to be very accommodating. “Every day, always available, everyone should be able to drip,” says Lougher.

You’ll face the day with a fresh attitude and be shown to the door with “Drink lots of water!”  

 

Dan Leicht is a freelance and fiction writer from Rochester. Find new work on his website, danleicht.com, or connect with him on Twitter at @Deeliopunk.

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