Article by Drew Kramer for Scarsdale Moms
“We will all get older, but we do not have to age.” So says one of Westchester’s most influential wellness experts, Dr. Poonam Desai. Here in Scarsdale, many residents already heed this battle cry, filling Barry’s Bootcamp’s class roster from sunrise to sunset before grabbing a salad at Green Life and retiring to bed before 10pm. Among the town’s population of sophisticated and successful overachievers, there are always outliers. My own perspective on wellness often runs contrary to the mantra of workout, eat well, sleep and repeat. Rather than chase the latest wellness craze, I mostly live the life of a sedentary night owl, depending on decent genetics and prayer to slow my inevitable decay. However, upon invitation to try Dr. Desai’s new local wellness center, Longevity Place, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and learn a little about the science of aging.
Dr. Desai is a perfect sherpa for the uninitiated. With competence and ageless skin, she makes a compelling case that the aches and pains, memory loss, and chronic disease of growing older are avoidable. Unlike the competitor wellness spaces in the area, Desai’s offering comes with the benefit of decades treating patients as a physician. Beginning her career in the emergency room, her experience treating patients in the throes of emergent injury and illness led her to begin a precision and lifestyle medical practice to help patients make better, more informed choices about their health. With a personalized, data-driven approach, she helps her clients build strength and immunities that avoid the pitfalls of aging and genetic proclivities.
Balancing her commitment to the ER with an active, star-studded concierge medical practice, Desai is on a mission to spread her brand of healthy living as far as she can reach. Using her Instagram handle @doctoranddancer as a pulpit, she regularly shares tips to live well to her audience of almost 200,000 followers. Does grilling increase your risk of cancer? What supplements are supported by science? How often should we wash our sheets? Every day, she provides answers to the big and small choices that can impact quality of life.
This week, Desai takes her offering to the next level. Opening Longevity Place fulfills her dream to bring the most cutting edge technological solutions to our Westchester community. Whether you are a patient in her concierge practice or a patron of this members-only wellness space, Desai brings a personalized approach to care, meeting you wherever you are in your wellness journey.
As I entered her zen space, Dr. Desai put me at ease with a mug of organic green tea. Sinking into a heated massage chair, I relax as she gets to know my medical history and makes recommendations for my treatment plan for the day. Soon joined by two other friends trialing the space, we comment on the tranquil vibe of the space, predicting it could become a destination for ladies’ nights, substituting cocktails for IVs.
Pausing our gossip, Dr. Desai walks us through Longevity Place’s threefold approach to wellness: red light therapy, infrared sauna and cold plunge services, and supplements through IV or injection. She gives each of us a personalized wellness plan and sends us into our first treatment.
My journey begins with 20 minutes in one of the hottest saunas on the market. I am told that exposure to high heat will help me to relax, improve circulation, detox and reduce pain. There’s also a potential for weight loss. Since I’ve arrived anxious and bloated, I dive right into the cedar sweat box. While my tolerance for bikram yoga is low, I do feel my body ease in the comforts of 150 degrees fahrenheit.
When my sweat time is up, I announce that I feel loose as a goose–until I am ushered over to the cold plunge. As a child, I could languish in water of polar bear club temperatures. At 39, I’ve become an old biddy that needs to spend 20 minutes on each step to enter a pool under 95 degrees. She mentions that our bodies do become more sensitive to temperature as we age. However, as we condition our bodies to become used to cold temperatures, a cold bath can improve circulation, support immunity, decrease inflammation–and hopefully help us live longer. With these benefits in mind, I scream YOLO and hop into the tub. For a few seconds, I submerge. Rome was not built in a day. In contrast, my yogi compatriot uses mindfulness and breathing techniques to keep herself submerged for a full 30 seconds. Indeed, there is truth in mind over matter. I resolve to do better next time.
Once returned to room temperature, I am on to my next challenge. Entering the red light therapy room, I observe a light chamber that resembles the tanning bed of my youth. Rather than cause skin cancer and wrinkles, this bed helps improve skin texture and reduce wrinkles by increasing collagen and reducing inflammation. In addition to its cosmetic results, it boosts mood and promotes sleep. As Desai says, “it is the ultimate health optimization tool, all in 10 minutes.” I position myself in the bed, enjoying the musical meditation Desai chose to enhance the mindfulness of the experience. When my time is up, I query about the science of the red light. I learn that exposure to red light increases energy production in our cells, which boosts their ability to heal and grow more efficiently. Unlike laser treatments, red light therapies don’t cause trauma to the skin, meaning positive effects are seen without discomfort and swelling. In other words, it doesn’t have to cause damage in order to boost cell activity. I’ll drink to that.
As we return to the comforts of the massage chairs to recharge our cell phone batteries and our souls with a mindfulness exercise, we are confronted with the final choice in our wellness journey. On the menu is a custom blend of IV therapy or a vitamin shot designed just for you. While I don’t adore needles, I am having a yes day. In the spirit of trying things and opening my mind to science-backed wellness experiences, Dr. Desai and I decide to bust my mom-fatigue with a shot of B12.
With a boost of knowledge and energy, I force myself to leave my heated massage chair, reentering the world with a new call to take better care of myself. As a mom to two active young boys, I often ignore my own health needs to take care of others. At Longevity Place, I found space for myself to learn the simple lifestyle changes and technological advances that can make a difference in my health and productivity for years to come. And I am here for that.