Live Long and Master Aging podcast

Episode

254

What it means to be hyper well

Steve Welch | Co-Founder, Restore Hyper Wellness

BY PETER BOWES | MONDAY JUNE 24, 2024

Retail wellness companies are becoming a more familiar sight on the high street, whether it’s for an infrared sauna, red light therapy, hyperbaric oxygen, cryotherapy or intravenous drip, there’s a lot of choice. It feels good at the time. You might leave with a healthy glow, but how many of these practices actually change our health outcomes? Indeed, are they designed to do that? Are they really good for us?

“We want people to do more of what they love because I assure you, the more you do the things you love when you’re younger and later in life, the better your health span is going to be,” says Steve Welch, co-founder of Restore Hyper Wellness. Steve’s new book, written with coauthor Jim Donnelly, is Restore: The Life Changing Power of Right Away Wellness.

In this interview we ask what it means to be hyper well?

CHAPTERS (time stamps go to YouTube)

  • 00:00 Introduction 
  • 01:35 Defining Hyper Wellness – Steve Welch’s vision of living your best life
  • 3:29 Steve’s Health Evolution Journey — Steve recounts his transformation from an unhealthy lifestyle in his 20s to a health-focused one in his 30s.
  • 4:20 Father’s Health Wake-up — Welch describes how his father’s heart surgery made him prioritize his own health.
  • 06:33 Aging Aches and Pains — midlife mid-life health woes prompting people to consider their long-term health.
  • 07:37 From Awareness to Business — going from realizing the value of health to creating a wellness business.
  • 09:52 Scientific Validation in Wellness — ensuring wellness services are backed by scientific research.
  • 12:22 Data-Driven Health Insights — using data to empower consumers to make informed health choices.
  • 18:05 Cryotherapy Frequency — personal insights on how frequently cryotherapy should be undertaken for lasting benefits.
  • 20:10 IV Drips vs. Diet — discussion on whether intravenous drips provide more significant benefits compared to a balanced diet.
  • 24:57 Customized Wellness Counseling — personalized health plans and consultations with professionals at Restore.
  • 30:23 Proactive Health Investment — what it means to invest in health, now.

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Read: Restore: The Life Changing Power of Right Away Wellness

Connect with Steve Welch: Bio | LinkedIn Restore: Website | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube


DISCOUNTS & AFFILIATION DISCLOSURES: This podcast is supported by sponsorship and affiliate arrangements with a select number of companies. The income helps to cover production costs and ensures that our interviews, sharing information about human longevity, remain free for all to listen.


TRANSCRIPT – This interview with Steve Welch was recorded on April 25, 2024 and transcribed using Sonix AI. Please check against audio recording for absolute accuracy. (Time stamps below)

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[00:01:23] Steve Welch: Peter, thanks so much for having me.

[00:01:25] Peter Bowes: Really good to talk to you. I think before we dive into some of those topics, can you give me your definition of what wellness is, in the way that the word is used these days?

[00:01:35] Steve Welch: Yeah. And I’ll even we call it restore hyper wellness. And hyper wellness is the consistent and passionate pursuit of one’s own health and energy levels. The reality is the services and therapies that we talk about doing them once every now and then, that’s that’s great. There’s nothing wrong with that. But really to change outcomes to your point, it needs to be consistent. And the way to get consistency is for people to be passionate about their health, to continue to invest, not go once or twice, not run once a year, but make it part of a routine. And that routine is ultimately what you know is how you get different outcomes.

[00:02:08] Peter Bowes: I notice an interesting line in the book pretty much to that point, you say, and I’ll just quote it. You say picture yourself in the greatest possible state of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness. Whatever that looks like is what you’re working towards. That’s your horizon.

[00:02:25] Steve Welch: Exactly. And I think in that statement, you see, it’s different for everybody. The goals and aspirations you have are when you’re 22 are often very different than when you’re 72. And to expect your body’s going to perform the same at 22 as it does at 72 is also a misnomer. So I think what we have done an amazing job of, and the reason that there are so many restore locations out there, is that we are getting people on their health journey. We’re trying to understand what they’re trying to accomplish. Everybody’s different. Some people, you know, you have 20 year olds that are trying to set a personal record in 100 meter dash. Some of my favorite stories are people that are 60 that just want to be able to continue to walk every day and live the life they want to live. Nothing crazy, but something certainly that changes their life. And what Restore has done a great job is understanding that about our clients and then building a plan for them to to achieve that.

[00:03:12] Peter Bowes: Well, let’s jump into that in a second. Before we do that. Have you always been this super healthy, health focused kind of guy? Just give me an idea of what your life has been to this point, and maybe what led to setting up this company and your specific interest in this area. 

[00:03:29] Steve Welch: Yeah. So so, Peter, I’ve had a mixed life when it comes to health. I started my first company when I was 23 called Mitos. We made the back end systems that you’re used to manufacture vaccines. I was 23. Didn’t know any better. I bootstrapped that. I worked 70 to 80 hours a week. I had McDonald’s for breakfast most mornings. I had McDonald’s. I had, I should say, I had Dunkin Donuts for breakfast, McDonald’s for lunch and dinner. Absolutely terrible health style for my 20s. I sold that company, then started a company called Dreamit Health. Or Dreamit. It it’s a venture capital firm. We really focused on the health side of things. And during my 30s, started the transition. Things change. You have more time. You have kids? I had a wife that was very health conscious. And one of the things you realize as you, as you kind of go through life is the people you surround yourself with that have a pretty big impact on you. So if you’re if you’re surrounded by smokers, there’s a, you know, increased chance you’re going to smoke. And if you’re surrounded by people who eat healthy, you’re going to eat more healthy.

[00:04:26] Steve Welch: But the really the passion and where I actually live a very healthy lifestyle now was came from my father. My father was in his late 60s. You’d have looked at my father and you just said, this person looks like he’s an amazing shape. In fact, I think he was number seven in seniors tennis just a couple years earlier. But he had emergency quintuple bypass surgery that, you know, you looked at him, you just said there’s nothing wrong. He’s looking in great shape. The reality is, while he exercised his whole life very effectively, he ate like, total shit his whole life. He would, you know, Diet Doctor Peppers. He ate McDonald’s a lot. And it was that wake up call watching him go through that process that it really inspired me to make a lot of changes about a decade ago. So today I’m a pescatarian. I’ve always exercised, but I exercise much more routinely. And I’ve done a number of other things that we’ll talk about as we go through here. But I think seeing that and I think this is so true of many people, it is seeing people you love go through, you know, seeing the decisions they made early in life and seeing how they affect them later in life. That’s the impetus for change in our own lives. You know, it is amazing how many of our clients come in and say, you know, you start out, why are you there? And it is a spouse or a brother or a parent that has had a health issue. It’s not even them that’s had the health issue, and that’s forcing them to kind of look at at their health and right or wrong in this country, we just haven’t trained people to invest in their health. We’ve trained people. We’re excellent at training people to invest in their retirement and their education, their homes. I mean, these are investments every American is trained to make. However, up until very recently, there was not kind of a focus on investing in your health. And I’d argue, you know, investing much like retirement, deciding at 65, I’m going to start saving my retirement probably doesn’t work out really well. Same thing is true on your health. If you wait until you’re 65, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your health, but it’s the investments you make early in life that are going to have a long term impact over over a long haul.

[00:06:14] Peter Bowes: So it’s fair to say that there wasn’t a specific sort of light bulb moment for you. This was a gradual change in terms of seeing the light and realizing that that fast food diet that you were eating as a younger man wasn’t good for you. And making those, as you’ve said, those observations about the people close to you. 

[00:06:33] Steve Welch: Yeah and I’ll tell you, I think, like almost, almost every person over 40 can remember a time when they would wake up and they would just say, man, I just didn’t use to have these aches and pains, or I used to have more energy. And I think that’s that’s why, you know, our clients tend to be in that age group. And I think it’s because at that point, you know, God bless them. When you’re in 20, you can abuse the body and you can go hard, you can exercise hard, you can drink a lot, and you can still manage through that. As you get older, that gets harder. And that’s why people start to think about it as they as they age. You know, when you don’t feel the pain, sometimes you don’t realize the damage you’re doing to your body. 

[00:07:07] Peter Bowes: And I think a lot of people listening to this will feel exactly the same way that they’ve gone through that same journey. And yes, it does tend to hit you, doesn’t it, when you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s some people a little later in life, maybe 60s or even 70s, realizing that the way that they used to live isn’t the way that they want to live now. So what I’m curious about with you is how did you make that transition from obviously being very becoming more self aware about your own health to actually creating a business? Because that was quite a big leap, wasn’t it?

[00:07:37] Steve Welch: Yeah, it really is. And my background, I’ve been very entrepreneurial. You know, like I said, I started a company, I was young, that was very successful, and I started Dreamit Ventures at Dreamit. We became the second most active health care investor in the country. So, you know, we did over 400 deals over, over about 15 years and a lot of very successful health companies. So health is an area I’ve always been involved in. You know, I fundamentally believe as an entrepreneur there’s a lot of ways to make money. There’s a lot of businesses you can start. But I’ve always been passionate about is making sure that I invest my time and energy in something that is good for society. And, you know, I have, you know, there are a lot of people out there that make money in different ways. But, you know, I wouldn’t be able to wake up. I wouldn’t be motivated if I didn’t wake up thinking that my efforts, my energies, my talents every day were used on they need to be used on something that I think is really going to move society forward, and the kind of impetus for Restore is my partner, Jim, was became an avid doing cryotherapy. A funny story here is, I was running Dreamit at the time, he started doing cryotherapy. We were training for a triathlon together. He, he started to get me to try to get me to do it. And at the time, I was seeing 10,000 ideas a year. And I will tell you, one of the downsides of being an early stage investor is you kind of get jaded. You you trust me. Any idea you’ve had, somebody else has had. I mean, every idea is out there and you get a little skeptical because there’s a lot of ideas out there. Very few of them actually break through. So to me it sounded like total BS. You know, I was like, cryotherapy, you know, just go get an ice bath. So one day we went and we did a 35 mile bike ride in the hill country. He finally broke me down and said, I’m going to pay for you to go do cryotherapy. I didit, and the next day I woke up and I felt great. And you can’t see this on this podcast, but I have these little chicken legs, 35 miles in the hill country here of Austin. Normally the next day my legs are total jello. And that’s that’s really what got my attention was like, hey, there was there was something there. And then over the next couple of years, Jim and I really focused on testing different products and services, you know, for both efficacy and making sure the science was there. But also, more importantly, could we make an experience for the consumer and a membership for the consumer that would add value to their life, that would help them get on a journey that would change their outcomes? So that’s that’s really how we got started and Jim was the absolute heart and soul of the business early on, getting up, getting it going, getting the franchise system going. And it did an absolutely marvelous job.

[00:09:52] Peter Bowes: And I think one of the key phrases you’ve just used is making sure the science was there. And obviously, we should say and you’ve explained your background. You’re not a scientist. You’re not a doctor. So I guess one of the key challenges in the early days was, as you just described, to surround yourself with the best people who could understand the scientists, the science, who could read a scientific paper. And that isn’t something that that is easy for most of us to do with that extreme detail. I’m talking about peer reviewed papers. How did you go about finding the right people?

[00:10:23] Steve Welch: Yeah, it’s a great question. My background is actually I’m an engineer by training. Again, this is where I’ve been fortunate that it’s been a, you know, over a decade in the health care industry and early stage where you have kind of the new ideas that are up and coming and you’re surrounded with people that are thought leaders. So we instantly put together a medical advisory board found doctors that were passionate about this space and from that really tried to understand what’s real and what’s not. And I’ll tell you, there is a there’s a challenge in this space, you know, right or wrong, the pharmaceutical industry is basically convinced everybody, unless there’s a double blind study. It’s not, you know, it doesn’t work or there’s no proof. And the reality is that’s there’s many things that are hard to do as a double blind study. What I think we tried to do is look at, you know, number one, making sure that we’re introducing things, that there was evidence that they did work. And they were safe to do so. Those were kind of the two criteria that we looked at. And the evidence is different, you know, and there’s there is, you know, one of our scientists, science officers says, you know, absence of evidence doesn’t mean something doesn’t work. It just means you need to go out and develop the knowledge. One of the things we made a goal very early on was being very data focused for our clients and trying to bring that data for products and services that that maybe the market didn’t have that information. So, for example, we now have studies out there that are peer review published that shows the effects not just of one of our therapies, but how what happens when you combine them together. Because I think the reality is, you know, even looking at, you know saunas. There’s a tremendous amount of good information out there that shows sauna provides value. Here’s a real question. What happens when you put saunas with IV therapy? Or you put saunas with photobiomodulation or cryotherapy? And it was really trying to look at, you know, putting people on a path, on a holistic way when they’re doing multiple therapies, how that would impact them. And what you see in our studies are there are peer reviewed as we’ve had a huge impact on our clients lives, and we focus every day. We have a partnership with Oura Ring. I don’t know if you’re familiar with our. It’s a little ring here I wear. All right. You got one.

[00:12:22] Peter Bowes: Yeah. I’m a little addicted to it. Like, I know a lot of people are.

[00:12:26] Steve Welch: Well, you know, so. So we love work for research. So when we do clinical studies, we we we we have everybody has an Oura ring on but is a is a consumer of Oura. What’s amazing is people that are focused on their health tend to be type A. They tend to be very data driven, very goal oriented, and it highlights what’s working and what’s not. And what we found is when we put an Oura ring on somebody and then coach them with what that information means is they see the decisions they make, how they impact them. And once they see that, it’s easier to make change because, you know, Americans, people across the globe, we’re pretty terrible human beings, are pretty terrible at making decisions today that are going to affect them 20 years from now. I mean, it’s just the return doesn’t seem like it’s there. We’re actually remarkably good at making decisions today that affect affect us today. So, you know, the what we’re trying to do is highlight and show, like, hey, maybe drinking that, that soda right before going to bed. Look what that did to your sleep. And you can tell you don’t feel as well the next day or, or alcohol. The first thing that almost every ring, person realizes is when they drink alcohol affects their sleep. So it’s not just even the alcohol affects your sleep. It’s it’s literally how close to bedtime it happens. So that that data. Yeah, that bringing that to life, really is empowering the consumer in a market where the consumer hasn’t been empowered. I mean, our system. And I will tell you, I think our health care system is absolutely amazing. If I had cancer, there is nowhere in this world I would ever want to be other than the United States. But it’s set up to address people once they have problems. It is not set up to help people when they’re trying to decide and understand what they need to do to not have problems in the future. I think that’s where companies like Restore and there’s there’s a number of others in the system or in the country that are out there really helping clients get on that journey and understand their decisions today, what they’re going to mean for them tomorrow.

[00:14:12] Peter Bowes: So I posed the question when we started in terms of health outcomes. And what I mean is longer term health outcomes, as opposed to that feel good feeling that you might get, as you’ve recently emerged from cryotherapy, or you’ve had a red light sauna, something that gives you that glow. Or as you described, you wake up the next morning and you feel good. I think one of the questions remains around the longer term implications for the human body of something like, let’s take cryotherapy, and whether the science backs up a claim, if indeed there is a claim that it will help you with your longevity, that it would potentially help you live longer and better. Where are we in terms of the science, in terms of the claims that can be categorically made?

[00:14:59] Steve Welch: Yeah. So I think what I’ll talk to is what we have research on our side, which clearly shows that cryotherapy reduces inflammation. And the data we have coming out of, you know, we use a cryo machine that we manufacture ourselves that is unique. It is designed so that we have control of certain parameters at certain temperatures. And what we have proven with that machine is not only does it reduce inflammation biomarkers in the short term, and that it obviously does, but even once you stop doing it for the next six months, you see a reduction in inflammation. So, you know, I think it is impossible for us to tell at this point what that means. 30 years later, I’m the first to acknowledge that. But I think what’s more important is, you know, the reason it’s so important to feel good today is that keeps you moving, I think. Let’s start with this basic premise. The more somebody moves, they get their body, their walking, their running, whatever it may be, the the better life, their better their health span is going to be. I think that is almost undeniable. Can we agree on that one?

[00:15:52] Peter Bowes: We can totally agree. And in fact, I’m often asked, you know, what are the top three things that you would recommend with all of these amazing interventions that we can involve with ourselves these days? I always say movement/exercise and sleep and and a good diet. But but movement is I can wake up with a sore back and go for an hour long hike and then feel 100% better.

[00:16:13] Steve Welch: Yeah, no, I agree number one on my chart, when people ask me the question is that same thing movement in fact that, you know, it is it is substantially above anything else. What I can tell you is and is from my own personal experience. What we see this in the data as well is cryotherapy gets rid of those aches and pains. It is those aches and pains that keep people from moving. If you look at why people begin a negative feedback loop, you know, often around 40 is those aches and pains start being enough that it keeps you from doing the things you love doing. So we have our tagline restore is restore do more. We want people to do more of what they love because I. I assure you, the more you do the things you love when you’re younger and later in life, the better your healthspan is going to be. So what we’re enabling people to do is really give them the tools to continue to do those things they love doing. So, for example, I’m fairly sore today. I played pickup basketball last night. I got up first thing in the morning. I did compression therapy and then I did cryotherapy. And I will tell you, I feel way better now than I did earlier this morning. Now when I was 22, the thought of actually even being concerned of what I felt like the next day after basketball wasn’t even a concern. You played basketball for three hours and the next day I woke up, I felt nothing. I played basketball last night for 30 minutes and I felt it the next day. So, you know, really what we’re trying to do is, is give people those, those tailwinds to make their lives better today, knowing that if you keep moving, if you keep doing the things you love, that you’re going to be in a better place in the future. And again, I think the data will prove that out over time. We are collecting that data. But I also would be it’d be arrogant of me to say, we have that at this point. Or, you know.

[00:17:45] Peter Bowes: What does the data tell you about the frequency with which you need to do something like cryotherapy? And just to explain, for anyone who’s never experienced cryotherapy, this is usually a 2 to 3 minute process. You jump in the chamber, you get very cold and you jump out. But how often do you need to do that to see reasonable results?

[00:18:05] Steve Welch: So let me let me start with just a little more specifics on that. We take you down to -160°F. So it is very cold. So it is not for the faint hearted. With that said, once you do it, the reason our business works is from a business standpoint, people feel the results instantly. You have aches and pains. You feel that impact, by the way. You know, cold therapy is not something new. The oldest known text, to man, talked about cold therapy, the Hippocratic school of medicine, you know, 1000 BC, talked about, you know, cold therapy. So these are not new concepts. Every doctor recommends ice and things like that. So certainly not new concepts. They’re out there. Frequency is something we’re looking at. We’re actually pulling into our data and understanding trying to understand that. What is the frequency? I’ll give you my own personal experience, which is I try to go, you know, I try to go once a week at a minimum, and then I go absolutely every time I feel aches and pains. And that has kept me, you know, I’m 47 years old now. I kiteboard frequently. I would like I wish it was every day. It’s certainly not every day. I go surfing a lot. I play basketball with the kids, I play soccer, I run three days a week pretty aggressively and without cryotherapy. That list I just went through, could I have done could I do those things? I could, I would be doing them way less. There’s absolutely no question about it. So I think the data is going to come with time. We are very focused on that. We again, we are doing both blood testing and testing with wearables, to prove that out over time.

[00:19:29] Peter Bowes: Let’s talk about IV drips, which I know have also become hugely popular with many people. But for some it is quite a significant leap from something like a sauna or cryotherapy. This is something that involves an intravenous injection of a fluid, whether it’s vitamins or whatever it is. But I’m curious in terms of the data there, comparing an IV drip with, let’s just say, a very balanced diet. Let’s say your pescatarian diet, a diet that’s full of greens and strong nutritional values. Are you getting significant more through an IV drip than you would through your diet?

[00:20:10] Steve Welch: Well, let me let me start with I completely agree with the most important thing is diet. Let’s, let’s let’s start with that. That is the North Star. That is harder to do in today’s society. I mean, I have a very healthy diet, but I will tell you, I travel a lot. And when you travel in this country, it is hard to go to a restaurant. They’re out there, so I don’t want to totally judge, but it’s hard to find restaurants that have healthy food.  It is hard to go to the grocery store and see healthy food these days. So I think start with this basic premise that in America, over the last 60 years, the quality of the food system has diminished pretty drastically, which makes the nutrients very hard to come by. it’s also true, I think.

[00:20:46] Peter Bowes: Sorry to interrupt but but I think you’re probably being quite kind as well to the restaurants in the United States. I mean, we could be quite negative and look around us and say, it’s actually quite a shocking state of affairs sometimes the availability of food in this country.

[00:21:00] Steve Welch: Yeah. And it’s not just I mean, I actually think it’s the larger supply chain to the restaurants defense. You know, they have to be able to buy high quality foods. And that’s getting getting harder and harder. But yeah. So, you know, a couple of things, I am not a doctor. I’ll start with that. And I would love to have one of our chief medical officer or medical director on board that would talk about this in more depth. But what I, what we know is absorption rates are different for everybody. So even when I eat certain things, there are certain people that could eat, you know, blueberries every day. And certain parts of those blueberries are not going to absorb into their system. And the absorption rate tends to change over time. When you’re eight years old, you get everything goes. It is pretty darn amazing when you’re 60. That absorption rate probably is lower. Okay, again, everybody is unique. Everybody is different. And that’s why we do micronutrient testing at the studios. So I would recommend people often ask me what do you what is the first thing I should do at restore? And I say, if you’re just focused on general longevity health, go do a micronutrient test. Go do a blood panel in general, you know, understand your cholesterol, understand your HBA one, c, understand your micronutrient levels. And what you’ll find is as you get older, you’re going to be deficient in some of those things, even with a healthy diet. Almost everybody. so for example, I eat very healthy. However, I still end up deficient in four things. So I take two of those as actual supplements, and I take two of them through an oral form, and I take two of them through IV form. And I am not. As long as I’m doing that, I’m actually not deficient in those things. And I think the reason those deficiencies are so important is what that ultimately gives your cells. I mean, we are you and I are both made up of roughly 37 trillion cells. Those cells have chemistry going on. They need each component of that chemistry to function properly. So being deficient in something, even one thing, can really throw the body, out of whack. And what we’re trying to do is help people understand what they are deficient in and then make sure they get it back in the most effective way. And there’s there’s certainly different ways to get that. for us, you know, there’s a pretty strong evidence that IV is the most efficient way, meaning it’s going to get to the source. It needs to very effectively. And we have, you know, IVs in general. Again, nothing new. You know, there I believe that I could be off on this. There’s 200 million IVs done in this country in the emergency rooms every day. And if you talk to any doctor or even people in the military, you know, when you’re not feeling well. Giving yourself an IV has been kind of the best kept secret. They they all did and didn’t tell anybody about for a very long period of time. So, and it’s because, you know, you’re getting those nutrients directly to the bloodstream, and you feel it right away. Again, I travel a lot. I’m susceptible to getting sick. I have four little kids. kids are Petri dishes. If you want a surefire way to make sure you get sick in this life, be around a lot of little kids that are at daycare. but, you know, I get the get the micronutrients back. I make sure when I’m not feeling well, I go get high dose vitamin C and things like that. And it keeps me from from getting sick. So, again, nothing new out there. Myers cocktail is probably the most well known. You know, the Myers cocktail was developed several decades ago, really, to help people that were struggling through chemotherapy and to make sure they had chemotherapy in itself. You know, you obviously depletes the body’s, energy levels, the micronutrient levels, and it was ability to add those back. And in that sense, there’s actually a pretty enormous amount of data that shows that in those kind of when you’re when you’re putting your body through those kinds of stresses, that having that additional micronutrient add really benefits your ability to recover. And I think, you know, it is not a huge leap of faith to believe that’s true, not just for people that are going through chemotherapy, but anybody that’s got challenges in their life that whether it’s stress from travel, or excess weight or anything out there, that that really drags on us.

[00:24:30] Peter Bowes: So the dilemma for a lot of people is what is best for me, what am I potentially deficient in, and which,looking at the menu when they get to your studio, which of these should I choose? It’s a little bit like going to a restaurant, isn’t it? Well, that sounds good. That sounds good. But I’ve got limited funds here, so what can you do? What do your people at the studios do to to help people really to decide what is best for them and what is most appropriate?

[00:24:57] Steve Welch: Yeah. Great question. So the first thing that I would highly recommend is actually sitting down with the nurse in the studio, understanding, you know what, you’re there, why you’re there, whether it’s because, hey, I have aches and pains or I’m dehydrated or I’m feeling sick or I have a headache, consistent headaches. And it is that that professional nurse practitioner, and nurse R.N. in the studio, a nurse practitioner that they have access to, that really helps get them on a journey that is custom for them. Because as as you just said, everybody is so different. I think one of the one of the reasons the consumer has gone in a different direction than the health care system, and the fact that the consumer understands better than than the system that everybody’s individual and everybody has unique needs. everybody responds to things in a different way. And what’s different today than it was a decade is the consumer realizes the importance of this and is out there trying to solve these problems. And it’s places like Restore that give them an avenue to connect with professionals in the space, to try to understand what they can do to improve their, their health. so I think the first step, first step is always there’s there’s a professional team at a studio. They are amazing. They are there. They love it. You know, one of the neat things about Restore, it’s quite different than a hospital. Our nurses, a lot of them actually, almost everybody came from a hospital setting. And what they’ll tell you is the reason they love working at Restore is it is very different working with somebody every day that is proactive about their health versus somebody that is now in the hospital. You know, they made some bad decisions often. And but sometimes it’s just the nature of life. They’re there. But often it’s too late to really make changes where they love working at Restore. They get to work with a client. They get to see them a couple times a week often, and, and they get to help build them and get them on that journey.

[00:26:38] Peter Bowes: How affordable is a visit to Restore? Because I suspect for a lot of people, this is just beyond what they are capable of, of spending on themselves. And they might want to, but then they look at the price list and think, well, in this day and age, especially with the, you know, cost of living crisis that many people are dealing with, is this within the range of the healthy wealthy, as we often hear about these days? Or is it something that let’s just to use the phrase, ordinary people can take advantage of, at least to some extent?

[00:27:11] Steve Welch: Yes. Our mission from day one was to make these these products and services more accessible. you know, LeBron James, if you go to Restore, LeBron James has a restore in his house. He has a massage therapist. He has a nurse. So that portion of the population was already already catered to. But what we saw is like it shouldn’t just be for LeBron. It shouldn’t just be for the super, super wealthy just to have access to these things. So each individual therapy we provide, the goal was to make it much more accessible. Today we are a membership based. And I’ll tell you, your membership will be cheaper than if you go to Starbucks every day. it’ll be cheaper to go to get a membership or Restore. And I’d argue for sure, that’s going to improve your health more than, than Starbucks. So, you know, they are you know, they are. It is an investment. There’s no question. It’s an investment both time and money. But if you look at the return on that investment, I don’t think there’s a better place that you’re going to spend your money than at a restore or anywhere else where you’re investing in your health. Today, not 20 years from now. When you’re when it’s too late.

[00:28:07] Peter Bowes: It’s a isn’t it? I’m interested in your thoughts on this, Steve. It is a for some people, a psychological dilemma, isn’t it, that it’s so tempting, whether it’s Starbucks or whatever your coffee shop of choice is that what’s usually about $7 these days for a a grande whatever it is, as opposed to spending that money on something like you’ve been talking about, can you help people with that dilemma? There’s that impulse buy of the coffee, isn’t there, as opposed to the more considered decision to do something that could potentially benefit their health?

[00:28:38] Steve Welch: Yeah. So I mean, the Starbucks coffee, or wherever it may be, is loaded with sugar. It’s loaded with caffeine. There’s a lot of things that literally happen at a chemistry level that tell the brain, I want that, I want that, I want that, again, where I think we’ve really differentiate ourselves versus other, players in the space, is that understanding of starting with why you’re there? It all starts with why. And from that it is helping the client develop a plan for them to address whatever that why is whether again, it’s to get over an injury or whether it’s to improve their energy levels. And the reason the business works is we’re able to change that for them. You know, people leave feeling better. they leave over a long period of time seeing results because that they stick with the programs. But, you know, we come, you know, you will leave if you come to the Restore, literally, they’ll say they’ll spend some time with you and you’ll leave with a wellness plan. This is what we recommend. It may be cryotherapy twice a week, sauna twice a week. It may be, you know, drip with these three things once every other week. No matter what it is, you’ll leave with what that plan looks like. And from that, I think that’s where the investment, you know, we maybe we have to do a better job as a society of saying, yeah, $7 a day in coffee is $210 a month. That’s a big expense, you know. Or I our Restore memberships $180, whatever it may be. There’s different, different tiers, but I think there’s no question, everybody would agree that the spend the investment, if you will, on your health as opposed to thesugar hit over long period of time is going to have a better impact.

[00:30:01] Peter Bowes: And the key here isn’t it is being proactive. It is thinking about your health. And you’ve already referred to your concerns about the, well, the American health system. And we often hear the phrase that this is a system that is just treating sickness, and we hear very little about preventative care. It is ultimately down to the individual, isn’t it?

[00:30:23] Steve Welch: 100%. You know, we have to make choices every day, and those choices are going to have impact on our lives. We have agency over our lives. I think as a society, sometimes we seem right now to be losing that, that idea. But we all have agency over our lives. And, you know, I think what we need to do as a society is empower the consumer to understand again, how their decisions today are likely to affect them in the long term. And I think that is the challenge, which is that’s not always easy to see. And I think that’s why 22 year olds are pretty terrible at making good health decisions because, the body doesn’t give them any kind of signal that, hey, that’s a problem. Whereas you get older, you get that signal. and I think the key is, you know, for us is to once that signal starts to happen, hey, I do have aches and pains. I do have loss of energy. That is where the consumer is going to be willing to make those investments. And that’s that’s really where we focus on that, that age group. It’s again, it’s not that we don’t like 22 year olds. it’s just that 22 year olds, we see the, you know, retention on 22 year olds is actually pretty low compared to somebody that’s 42. And it’s because, again, their bodies are just too good. They’re just if you’re 22 and out there listening, it’s pretty amazing. You don’t appreciate my father when I say that, expressions for my father is, you know, youth is wasted on the young, and there’s there’s a lot of truth to that. and again, as you get older, you start to appreciate that.

[00:31:44] Peter Bowes: Do you see that potentially changing, though, that those attitudes of younger people, I often say, if only I knew when I was in my 20s and my 30s, what I know now about health and and fitness, my life would have been probably quite dramatically different. And my health status throughout my life.

[00:32:00] Steve Welch: Yeah, I think there’s some indication it is changing. If you look at alcohol consumption, it’s going down for young people. you know, if we this is a much deeper dive. But if you get into there’s, there’s, there’s, uh, conflicting headwinds for, for the youth, number one, I think they do understand risks better. So if you look at, things like, you know, unwanted pregnancies are down, if you look at, you know, sexual activity at a young age is down. You look at alcohol consumption is down. However, it’s also being replaced with a lot of things that are pretty negative. so more screen time, less movement, less exercise, more isolation. so I think we’re helping them by helping them see, you know, the risks that are out there with some bad decisions. But I also think there might be that we’re we’re scaring the crap out of them so they don’t leave their bedrooms. And I think there is this balance. I’m full disclosure, my wife and I are a free range. We have free range children. I wait every day for the police to show up at our door. because we just let the kids run around. That is, that is not become common. And even and I suspect in my own neighborhood, we’re kind of the weirdos. but I do think that we got to find a way to get kids back out. Moving, socializing. that’s that’s the part that that’s there’s so much good progress that’s been made, but it’s been made at the expense of some, some pretty serious negatives that we got to figure out how to fix.

[00:33:17] Peter Bowes: Just to drill briefly into that. You say free range children. What exactly do you mean?

[00:33:23] Steve Welch: Yeah, it means,Our kids, we kick them out of the house in the morning, and they, we live on Lake Austin, and they can go be on Lake Austin and I, you know, nobody’s going to drown. And we’re hiking trails. They can go play in the woods and they can, be at friends houses. they do have to tell us when they’re going to be home. They got to give us an indication of where they are. But truthfully, in the middle of the day, on a weekend, I often don’t know where the kids are, and I’m totally fine with that. I think that’s a healthy thing. but that is that is definitely not the norm.

[00:33:49] Peter Bowes: It sounds like a blissful childhood to me. Steve, you you mentioned alcohol just a moment ago. It was interesting. I was at a health focused conference recently and doing a little round table with people, and it was the it was the younger was the younger people in this discussion who were more determined that they didn’t want to drink. And the crucial point was that they felt respected by their peers for not drinking, which I think is quite a seismic shift from that peer pressure that I think maybe a lot of us felt when we were younger to start drinking. That does seem to be changing in quite a significant way.

[00:34:25] Steve Welch: That’s that’s great to hear. That’s I think that is that’s probably that’s true. and I think that’s pretty amazing.

[00:34:32] Peter Bowes: What is your view on alcohol? I’m quite interested in alcohol because about five months ago I didn’t have one of those days where. Right, I’m going to stop drinking alcohol. It just kind of phased out of my life and it’s no longer of interest to me. I still like the taste of it, but I don’t drink it because I don’t see it doing me any good and don’t particularly enjoy it in the in the medium to long term. And we’re talking relatively small amounts of alcohol, a glass of wine, one bottle of beer. Is no interest to me anymore, and I feel overall much better for not doing it.

[00:35:02] Steve Welch:  yeah, I’m probably not the right person to ask. Well, I’ll give you my my story with alcohol, which is, you know, I almost never drink alcohol. I don’t do it for a couple reasons. Number one, I don’t, I choose not to do it because I think kids model behavior they see. and by me not drinking, I think it reduces the chances of them drinking. So that’s the primary reason today. But when I was about 27 years old. So I, you know, I went to college, I drank a lot in college. I drank a lot post college when I was building my first company. anybody any client that wanted to go out and drink at night, I would go out with them. I mean, without fail, seven days a week. You know, I was I was hungry, trying to survive as a as a company. but about 27, I’d been out until, like, 4:00 in the morning. I don’t even know why, but. And I was hung over. I woke up at, like, 2:00 in the afternoon. I had missed my nephew’s, football game, which I loved watching. And I wrote a letter myself that day. I said, you just you’re you’re pissing your life away. this you’re missing the important parts of life. Don’t do this. And from that point on, I very, very rarely drank. you know, again, I sometimes will have a sip of beer if it’s around and there’s no other option, but, but that’s a choice I made.  and that was an easy choice for me. I don’t think that’s easy for a lot of people. I think, you know, alcohol is addictive. like sugar. you know, I the challenge I have for a lot of people, and this is controversial, which is, which has done more damage to society, sugar or alcohol at this point. And I, you know, there’s a pretty good debate on both sides. but I, you know, I think the people are realizing the damages. And I think, again, Offering’s a great example, just even, you know, the amount of friends I have that would have 1 or 2 glasses of wine a night and to be able to see what that did to them, that really is what enabled them to say, hey, this just isn’t worth it. It’s not worth not feeling perfect. And as you just mentioned, once you stop drinking, the idea of drinking is terrible. Like if I drank a beer at this point, I think I’d wake up, hung up. One beer, I suspect I’d be hung over. so it’s a great. The good news is, once you do stop drinking, it’s kind of reinforces, hey, it’s just not worth it. Because when you do it, you feel like such crap.

[00:37:01] Peter Bowes: Yeah, I totally agree. I think there’s actually a feel good feeling from not drinking. And it’s not just that. Oh, aren’t I clever? I’m not drinking is actually a physical sort of sense of well-being that you get from not thinking about it, knowing you’re going to be clear headed. I think perhaps this is the biggest for me, knowing that you’re going to be clear headed the next morning.

[00:37:19] Steve Welch: So, Peter, how do you manage sugar?

[00:37:21] Peter Bowes: How do I manage sugar? I try not to eat foods that have added sugar, but clearly I eat a lot of fruit. But that is the kind of sugar that I think is acceptable. I don’t eat processed food most of the time I don’t eat food out of packets. I’m probably quite similar to you in many respects that I’m a pescatarian as well. So I try to eat lots of vegetables and get my protein from legumes and from nuts and from beans and from peas. And I love Indian food. A lot of really good vegan/vegetarian food in that sphere. And I might have salmon a couple of times a week. So I keep my I don’t eat breakfast cereals with added sugar. I eat oatmeal, which some people don’t think is a particularly good idea, but I quite like my overnight oats and I love my berries and bananas. Give me a nice energy boost. That’s that’s my kind of. 

[00:38:16] Steve Welch: So which was harder for you? Kicking alcohol or kicking sugar?

[00:38:20] Peter Bowes: I would say probably sugar. Alcohol kind of phased itself out of my life, but I still consume some sugar and could probably, if I really deeply thought about it, eat less sugar. And so yes, I think not from a mindset perspective, but I think more from a practical perspective. It’s hard to get sugar out of your life.

[00:38:41] Steve Welch: Yeah, it’s everywhere. I think I actually think it’s more addictive to, you know, so cutting out red meat, you know, cutting out it was easy. my wife cooks bacon for the kids in the morning. And I will tell you, the hardest thing if you’re a pescatarian is if you smell bacon. It’s just heaven. It’s like torture. but getting rid of meat was was easy. It is the for me, the challenge of sugar. Like I have a sweet tooth. it calls my name. If it’s in the house, I’ll eat it. And this is why, you know, one of the life hacks I think is really important for people is, you know, surround yourself with good people, number one, you know, but that have healthy habits, but also surround yourself with good foods. And if it’s if the good foods are there, you’re going to eat those. If the crap is there, you’re going to eat the crap. So it’s for me. I beg my wife when she goes to the grocery store or and when I go to the grocery store, please just don’t buy. Don’t buy the snacks because if they’re there, I’ll eat them.

[00:39:25] Peter Bowes: I agree with you. I’m. You know, I’m no angel when it comes to this sort of thing. And if there’s a birthday cake in the fridge with beautiful sweet cream on the top and a chocolate around the side, I will dive into it because I think it tastes great. And you know, honestly, once in a blue moon, I think that is probably fine.

[00:39:44] Steve Welch: Yeah of course.

[00:39:44] Peter Bowes: You know, if you’re celebrating one of your children’s birthdays or whomever it is, I think that’s okay. It’s just what you do every day, isn’t it?

[00:39:50] Steve Welch: Yeah. I think some of the life hacks that we’re seeing work are find a substitution. So for example, I have I think it’s 87% cocoa. Dark chocolate, which, by the way, doesn’t taste that great. But when I have an urge for sugar, I eat that which is pretty healthy. it kind of satisfies it a little bit. But also, if I didn’t have that, I would pull something else out. I think that’s the key for me is to try to find if I see a problem. I’m an engineer. You’ll see. This is, you know, you know, define the problem and then find a solution to that problem that works for you. And I think that’s what’s I think Americans need to be figured out. Those tools and that are different for everybody.

[00:40:25] Peter Bowes: And one thing that’s really helpful for me is to have a mindset of, of habits and routines. And I know I think habits are sometimes described as routines with soul that, you know, go to the heart of the fabric of your being and that if you can develop those positive habits with these issues in mind, alcohol, sugar, way of life, what you eat, that you are potentially on the right road. And once you, I mean the best habit that I’ve adopted in the last few years is my one hour hike first thing in the morning before I do anything. Before I eat anything, I get out with the two dogs, and the two dogs are a really big part of that because if they don’t go, I know about it. They want to go. But it’s the best habit that I indulge in every day. It’s the best hour of the day.

[00:41:11] Steve Welch: Yeah. Now I’m going to steal that line from you for sure.

[00:41:14] Peter Bowes: So let me, let me steal one of your lines. Then, just as we finish, this is a line from the conclusion part of your book. You’re talking about the next step in your journey. And you kind of posed a question to to readers of your book about the next step. So what is your next step?

[00:41:31] Steve Welch: Well, from a business standpoint, we are really focused on, you know, so people often ask me, you know, what does success look like for you? And for us? It is every community that we are in being able to show that community was affected for the positive, like so that, you know, 30 years ago, 40 years ago, every community wanted a YMCA. It was kind of a thing that if you were in a community, if you could get a YMCA to move to your area, they were they were great for the community, brought everybody together. They gave everybody a lot of health options as well. From just an exercise standpoint, it is to any community that wants to restore any community that’s focused on health, saying, I want to put a Restore here. And the reason I want to put a Restore here is I know it’s going to have a positive health outcome on the on the community I’m in. And we’ll be able to show that with data over time. That’s that’s what gets, you know, I’m in a building right now. It’s got over 100 people. What gets us so excited is we see that we are helping these communities we’re in. And and it’s just a matter of how do we get to more communities? Because they’re they’re, you know, while we have tens of thousands of members, that means we have millions of people that actually don’t know what we offer and making sure more people understand what we have to offer, I think will, really have a positive impact on society. So that’s that’s what’s next for us is really making sure we continue to add products and services and therapies that help clients, to pull that data together, to be able to show those change of outcomes over a short period and long periods of time, and then to get to as many people as we can to really change their outcomes.

[00:42:53] Peter Bowes: And just a final question. This is something I often ask people in terms of your own personal longevity aspirations, do you have goals and what are the reasons why you do this? If you really have to search into your heart and soul and explain why you do all of this as it relates to your your own longevity.

[00:43:14] Steve Welch: So my own longevity. So I tend to I tend to think a little bit different. I tend to think of healthspan. and what I mean by that is I focus on the time in life when I can live relatively disease free. I can I can do the things I could love to do. I can, I can kiteboard, I can surf, I can sail. for me, you know, I am focused on making sure I can do those as late in life as possible for me, that that will be the success. I do think that we’ve we conflate lifespan and healthspan. I think most consumers I don’t think I’m unique in this is actually really worried about that. Healthspan the idea of, you know, um, later years. I living to be 120, but 30 of those years being terrible where I don’t know who I am or where I am, that to me has no interest. I have zero interest in that. So I think we’re a little too focused on like making people live longer. And what we are focused on here is making helping people live better for longer. I think that’s a pretty unique distinction and an important distinction that, you know, my own personal drive. And I think that as a company, what we’re focused on.

[00:44:15] Peter Bowes: Well, Steve, this has been a fascinating conversation. I am going to follow your work with interest. I think you’re doing a great job. Thank you so much. 

[00:44:22] Steve Welch: Peter. Thanks for having me.

The Live Long and Master Aging (LLAMA) podcast, a HealthSpan Media LLC production, shares ideas but does not offer medical advice. If you have health concerns of any kind, or you are considering adopting a new diet or exercise regime, you should consult your doctor.

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