In the summer of 2017, Rick Richey approached his friend and business partner Aaron Drogoszewski with the idea of creating a facility that focused on recovery, providing everyday people with the opportunity to benefit from the same high-level recovery tools and technologies used by many of the world’s elite athletes. Aaron immediately agreed, and within 48 hours he and Rick were working with real estate agents to scout spaces in Manhattan in which to locate the state-of-the-art studio they envisioned. In March 2018, their vision manifested as RēCOVER, the world’s first full-purpose boutique recovery studio.
Located on Seventh Avenue in lower midtown Manhattan, RēCOVER offers many of the same services and technologies used by professional athletes such as the New York Knicks, who, fittingly, play their home games in nearby Madison Square Garden.
Described in a New York Times profile of RēCOVER as “some of the most skilled and personable personal trainers” in New York City, Rick and Aaron are both certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and have years of experience educating other trainers. They are also both highly skilled massage therapists, and accomplished practitioners of various martial arts. They have both also worked with numerous high-profile athletes and other celebrities, and have been business partners for nearly a decade. In addition, Rick recently obtained his doctorate in the Health Science and Exercise Leadership program at California University of Pennsylvania.
“I saw what they have access to,” Rick says, “and I asked myself why everybody else doesn’t have access to it. Why do you have to play for the Knicks to have access to some of the cool things that they have access to?”
The Today Show Relaxes at RECOVER NYC:
The idea for RēCOVER originally occurred to Rick from his work with several professional athletes. “I saw what they have access to,” Rick says, “and I asked myself why everybody else doesn’t have access to it. Why do you have to play for the Knicks to have access to some of the cool things that they have access to? I started playing with the idea of having something for the public that was a mix between an athletic training space and a spa, with the athletic training space having the same kind of technologies that are available to elite professional athletes, housed within a clean and sharp environment.”
Once Rick shared his vision with Aaron, they sprang into action. “We built RēCOVER as quickly as possible,” Aaron says. “We started doing our research and figured out how we wanted to make it happen, we got some people excited, and here we are today.”
Meeting the Challenges of Being First to Market
The entrepreneurial landscape is littered with first-to-market ventures that failed to succeed, even when the concepts behind them were good ones, only to have other companies enter into the same space later and find success. Aaron and Rick were determined not to fall into that category of first-to-market failure, even though, as Aaron admits, “we kind of put the cart ahead of the horse,” by working with real estate agents to locate a space before other key elements fell into place.
“Our biggest obstacle in the beginning was the fact that we were launching the world’s first fully comprehensive recovery studio,” Aaron says. “There are other businesses that offer maybe one or two of the modalities or technologies that RēCOVER offers, such as places to go for a sauna treatment or cryotherapy. That’s how those places are branded. But our model didn’t exist before us.”
Confident in themselves and their vision, the partners put together their business plan. “The numbers looked good,” Aaron continues, “so we started going to investors. Nineteen out of the 20 investors we approached said, ‘This looks amazing, but where’s your proof of concept?’ We explained that there wasn’t one because nothing like RēCOVER had ever been done before. So, we were told, even though they thought we had an amazing idea, they weren’t willing to put money into something that didn’t have a proof of concept. They weren’t willing to gamble on it.”
As it turned out, not everyone was a naysayer. “The 20th investor we approached told us that as an investor he believed in us so much that he was willing to invest in us. He told us he still didn’t understand our business model, but said, ‘I’ve seen you operate in the past and I know if you say you can make it work, you will. I trust you.’ And that gave us the capital to get the doors open.”
The next step lay in deciding what technologies and services RēCOVER should offer. “The first thing was easy,” Rick says. “It was compression sleeves because it’s something that people are already familiar with. We knew we wanted to have them available because they definitely provide benefit and aren’t too expensive.” He and Aaron tried a number of compression sleeve products and chose the NormaTec line for RēCOVER. NormaTec compression sleeves and overall compression system uses a patented, pulsed technology of compressed air to massage limbs, mobilize lymph fluid, reduce muscle soreness, and improve circulation, resulting in faster recovery.
Once Rick and Aaron decided on including NormaTec as part of the RēCOVER experience, they turned their attention to researching other product offerings. “Aaron did a deep dive researching what’s out there, what works, and what we would most want to include,” Rick says,
One of the points Rick likes to make clear about RēCOVER and the services and technologies it provides is that he and Aaron focus on “the who, when, and why, over the what.” He explains, “I make sure to point out to new clients that, when we say RēCOVER is the world’s first fully comprehensive studio, the fact that we have more technologies and services to offer under one roof than anyone else has ever had before–which we do–isn’t as important as our primary focus. Businesses that are focused on one thing, such as sauna therapy, are exclusively focused on the what. Focusing on the who, when, and why first means determining who needs to RēCOVER, and then when and why they should do so. It’s pretty self-evident that athletes need to RēCOVER so we knew we needed tools and services for them.”
RēCOVER’s target demographic is much larger than athletes alone, though. “When we were making plans for RēCOVER I was a fairly new dad,” Aaron says, “and I recognized that there are times when I couldn’t care less about my athletic recovery. When I go home I want to be the best dad possible. And when I’m tired or stressed, it takes away from that. So, I started thinking about who else fits that profile. Business professionals, for one.
“Rick and I realized there is a market of people that had never been given acknowledgment for their performance demands and stresses. We knew we needed to find tools that reduce stress beyond just athletic stress. We want to give people the option and the map and the service that enables them to build the best lives for themselves by mitigating their performance stressors. So, we started digging even deeper to find the best tools to do that.
“RēCOVER is the only place in New York City where the public can access those tools, which speaks for itself. How many people get to say that they’re the first to do anything in New York, or that they’re the first to bring something new here? That’s how our vision came to fruition, by first deciding who we are servicing, and then choosing what tools we were going to use to provide that service.”
The faith Rick and Aaron had in their vision for RēCOVER quickly proved to be justified. Not only has the studio been operationally profitable from the very first month that it opened, its revenue has grown nearly every single month since then. “We had one month where we didn’t grow, but we’ve never taken a loss,” Aaron reports. “We’re constantly growing.”
In addition, since opening its doors in March 2018, RēCOVER has already garnered favorable coverage in major media, both national and within New York City. In addition to the New York Times, RēCOVER and the many benefits it offers its clients has been touted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Runners World, Fast Company, and Shape magazine, among other print media, and been featured on ABC7, the New York City affiliate station of the ABC News network.
Still, neither partner currently receives income from RēCOVER, with all monies coming in being used to further maintain, grow, and market the business. Beyond the initial investment they received, “Rick and I are bootstrapping this entire thing 100 percent,” Aaron says.
They are also both putting in long hours, getting to RēCOVER before it opens to the public each day and often staying long after the last client of the day goes home. On top of which they still find time to manage their other business interests and work as professional trainers, as well as hosting their free weekly podcast OMNIA Fitness With Rick and Drogo (Aaron’s nickname), in which they share their expertise, open up about their personal challenges and experiences, and interview other leading fitness and wellness experts.
The RēCOVER Experience
RēCOVER’s uniqueness in the marketplace is obvious from the moment you first visit. Everything about its layout and design accentuates the threefold goals Rick and Aaron have for their clients: RēStore (addressing athletic and fitness demands), RēBoot (addressing stress management needs), and RēShape (addressing weight loss). Rick and Aaron are both available to greet first-time visitors to answer their questions, explain the purpose and benefits of the services and technologies RēCOVER offers, and to get to know each person’s specific goals and needs from a recovery standpoint.
New clients can choose to sign up for memberships or opt for an a la carte experience. Most clients are currently opting for an a la carte approach, choosing one or more services and technologies to work with, each of which is reasonably priced. For added convenience, appointments can quickly and easily be made online through the RēCOVER website.
Package combination treatments are also available, based on client need. Targeted client concerns such as stress, sleep, weight loss, muscle soreness, cognition, performance enhancement, joint/tissue tweaks, and cellular cleansing are all available as package treatments, which range from an hour to approximately 90 minutes, depending on the package combination selected.
The range of services and technologies available at RēCOVER are also cutting edge. In addition to NormaTec compression treatments, they include ice compression with Game Ready, electrical muscle stimulation, hydromassage, infrared sauna therapy, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF), CVAC, and NuCalm.
Since many people are not familiar with some or all of the cutting-edge tools and technologies RēCOVER offers their clients, a closer look at each of them is warranted.
In addition to the above mentioned tools and services, RēCOVER was one of the first businesses in the public health space to offer NuCalm sessions. This decision has been beneficial to not only RēCOVER’s bottom line, but also to Aaron and Rick on a personal level.
On a professional level, NuCalm has proven to be RēCOVER’s most popular treatment offering, and has been a primary focal point in much of the media coverage the studio has received. For example, the subtitle of the New York Times profile on RēCOVER (How to Recover Like an Elite Athlete, NY Times, July 9, 2018) was entitled “What if your training session began with a nap?” The writer of the article described her NuCalm session as “heaven”, and wrote of her overall experience at RēCOVER, “I felt lively and energetic, clean from the inside out, as if I had eaten steamed vegetables for a few days, and I never once felt sore the next day.”
NuCalm has also proven to be a selling point for first time visitors considering whether or not to explore its services.
“One question that people ask when we tell them about NuCalm is why would they want to pay for a nap,” Rick says. “I tell them that to pay for a nap when they can take one at home for free is asinine. That’s when we talk with them about stress and restorative sleep versus taking a nap. The way that NuCalm and our other services are provided allows us to sell them. We offer a 30-minute NuCalm session for $45. A lot of times people come in because they want to experience something. RēCOVER is not like a gym. You don’t go to a gym to experience something, you go there because you have a goal you’re trying to get to and you have to sign up for a membership. RēCOVER is different, which is why we offer ala carte pricing.”
Returning to the question he and Rick receive about paying for a nap, Aaron adds that he follows that up with a question of his own. “I ask if they’ve ever taken a nap and then found the rest of the day is ruined because they feel groggy all day. I explain that’s because they weren’t able to complete their sleep cycle. If you dip into the delta brain wave state and that’s interrupted your day is shot. I felt like that every time I took a nap, so before NuCalm I chose not to nap because I was afraid of how much worse I was going to feel afterward.
“With NuCalm, people have a better option, because NuCalm prevents you from having that interrupted delta experience. It keeps you in that sweet spot between alpha and theta to provide a deep level of restoration. That’s a selling point for people that come in here.”
Aaron learned about NuCalm more than a year before Rick came to him with the idea to start RēCOVER. He first heard about it on one of the podcasts he listens to that talked about its benefits, then learned that it was something that Tony Robbins uses and endorses. One of Aaron’s clients and close friends is also a close friend with someone who travels with Robbins much of the time. Aaron asked his friend to contact this man. “I asked him to reach out to find out if this was just BS or if NuCalm did what they claimed,” Aaron recounts. “He was told that it did and that both Robbins and the other man loved NuCalm and used it all the time. This was when there was no financing available, but after being told that I just knew I wanted NuCalm for myself. But I also had home repairs my wife wanted to get done, so I had to put getting NuCalm on the shelf.”
Instead of first purchasing his own NuCalm system, Aaron mentioned it to another friend and client of independent means, who acquired it for himself based on Aaron’s recommendation. “Once he got it, I asked him how he liked it and he told me it was incredible, so I asked if I could borrow it. Once I experienced it for myself, that sealed the deal. I knew I needed to find a way to pull the trigger on it.” The opportunity to do so came when Aaron and Rick received their initial investment funding to launch RēCOVER, at which time they purchased three units for use at the studio. Since then, they have added additional units.
Today, both Rick and Aaron use NuCalm on a regular basis. “I NuCalm at least once a day,” Aaron says. “And now that we have the 20-minute Power Nap track, that has been a godsend because I can get the benefits of restoration and then also have time to still get done what I need to get done. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel for me, in that I know I’m going to feel better when I’m done. It gives me the motivation to do what I need to do, not only because I feel better, but because it reinforces for me the value of what we are offering here at RēCOVER that can really help change people’s lives. I am the walking embodiment of our target audience, and I know that now I’ve got a life raft in front of me. If I don’t have the energy or motivation I need, I’ve got something to look forward to. I’m going to sit down and do NuCalm. That makes my day a lot more approachable, and puts the snap back in my step, which is priceless.”
Rick echoes Aaron’s sentiments about NuCalm, and also relates how much it helped him deal with jet lag. “I remember going to Indonesia before RēCOVER opened, and when I came back from the long flight home I felt like I was in a fog for 11 days. I knew I was going to get over it, but while I was dealing with it my inner monologue was saying, am I going to feel like this forever? I felt terrible and couldn’t stand it.
“This past summer, I again flew to Asia, this time to Thailand. Not only that, but when I returned I had to leave again within 24 hours to speak at a conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. And I just did a 20-minute session with NuCalm when I landed back from Thailand. That was it. Then I flew to Arizona and despite all that travel I felt groggy for just a day. Having NuCalm as an intervention after that last long trip made a spectacular difference for me. I think that’s a significant experience, given the way my body used to react to those long trips.”