Tucked behind cement high-rises and crowded sidewalks is one of the New York wellness scene’s best kept secrets: The Kollectiv. It’s elusive website promises “an environment for you to create and experiment.” We sat down with Founder, Alain Palinsky, to find out what that really means and learn more about the one-stop-shop for all things wellness.
Where Health Stands in a City Full of Hangovers and Hotdogs
The urban lifestyle certainly has its perks, but it’s inhabitants must be willing to pay a price: getting engulfed in the occasional subway steam, listening to the screeches of competing taxes and clashing metal, and of course, the temptation of a convenient $5 slice of Joe’s pizza.
These everyday characteristics of city life might seem ineffectual, yet they have been proven to have long-standing health effects. Think noise pollution, air quality, processed foods, and not to mention the competitive, fast-paced culture that drives the city-dwellers forward. The Scientific American analyzed studies that reveal urban residents face an increased risk of developing mental and physical issues.
Alain Palisnky recognized that something was amiss in New York, and it wasn’t more Shake Shack’s or Planet Fitnesses: “In urban environments like New York, between grabbing your food, going to the gym, you’re frantic. So if you’re running around the city, even if you are doing all the healthy things in the world, you’re not healthy.”
Palinsky founded the Kollectiv with hopes to create a space that would help people put their health at the center of their lives.
Lifestyle: Kollectiv as a Social Club
“Trying to recreate nature is probably the hardest thing to do in construction,” Palinsky admits.
Yet, his rendition of nature at the Kollectiv is arguably a mirror image. A step through the door and visitors are immersed in a new world. Imagine buddhist temple meets trendy cafe meets soul cycle. The must of the city is replaced with traces of lavender and sage. A natural light relaxes the mind. Plants dangle from the ceiling.
College-aged girls will inevitably snap photos for instagram and splurge $8 on an elixir or matcha infused drink. For hippies and wellness-lovers, this is paradise. When wandering around the herbal dispensary and plant-based caffe, it is almost hard to believe that there is also a lower-level. A staircase leads down to more advanced services, such as infrared saunas, IV therapy, and reiki appointments.
With experiences in both Los Angeles and New York, Palinsky is well-seasoned in the chatter of city lifestyle. His vision for the Kollectiv was to create a place where people could come to sit back and relax, a sort of safe-haven from the ruckus outside. “People don’t relay much because of the internet. Technology can connect us but it also disconnects us from our intuition,” explained Palinsky, who describes the Kollectiv as “a point of contact for people to engage in a topic, feel better, get healthier, and build that community as a place for social gathering.”
Despite still being a work in progress, the Kollectiv has already hosted a variety of private events, from lectures on biodynamic farming practices to baby showers in pre-Covid times. In a sense, it is the New York City version of a Russian bathhouse.
Products: Crystals, CBD, Tarot cards, and more
Palinksy explains that the journey to health and wellness can be for everyone, and at Kollectiv you can export that journey to your home.
Taking a closer look upstairs, visitors are tempted by a range of health products and literature. Palinksy notes items like crystals, CBD oils and tarot cards are some of the herbal pharmacy’s best sellers.
Kollectiv products aren’t just for the body, but also for the mind. For readers looking to digest more across a variety of health topics – from veganism to menstruating – there is something for everyone. Books like the “Essential Guide to Crystals,” “All We can Save: Truth, Courage and Solutions for the Climate Crises,” and “Beyond the Pill” line the walls at the Kollectiv.
“Some people know what they’re looking for, but the idea there is for exploration, it is to immerse yourself and learn how to take care of yourself,” Palinsky explains. “There is no education component at a regular spa.”
The Kitchen: Brain Tonics and Love Potions
Back in 2010, Palinsky co-founded Juice Press, the notorious nutrient dense juicery. It took off. But with the Kollectiv, the food was just one of the working components of the whole space. Palinsky has a European background, and grew up going to bathhouses. He put it simply, “The food wasn’t very good there.” At Kollectiv, his aim was to create a menu that catered to the tastebuds as much as the body and mind.
“Were entirely plant-based,” Palinsky points out. The concept follows the explosion of veganism across the United States, with Forbes reporting that U.S. consumers identifying as vegan grew from 1% to 6% between 2014 and 2017, which is a 600% increase.
Part of the fanaticism might be due to the surge in celebrities coming out as vegan – from politicians like Bill Clinton to actors like Zach Efron. Of course, many vegans opt for their diet for environmental or health reasons.
“Free” might be the most used adjective on the Kollectiv Kitchen menu. Gluten-free, soy-free, refined-sugar free. Of course, nothing is actually free. Customers can pick between shots of Ginger or Turmeric, probiotic coconut yogurt, and a variety of nori rolls. A selection of drinks, like the “brain tonic” or “love potion” are packed with different intentions: aphrodisiacs, muscle relaxants, or mood enhancers.
Services: Infrared Saunas to IV Drips
IV drips caught a bit of a negative rep for being the quick cure for hungover celebrities, but the health benefits are more than substantial. The IV delivers vitamins and minerals that are typically lost in the body’s digestive process. Depending on the size of the bag (and maybe hangover), a person might be hooked up for 15 minutes to 4 hours. Prices from $119 – $599.
What better way to feel healthy and burn upwards of 600 calories than doing nothing at all in a 130 degree room? The infrared saunas can do just that. Plus, they are decked out with rotating lights to engage the chakras and a bluetooth system for some easy listening. The Kollectiv suggests they are the perfect place for a hot date. For an additional $15, bring a friend and sweat together.
For serial blockers that are navigating tough relationships, there might be some literal blockage that the Kollectiv’s trained Reiki therapists can fix. East meets West with this unique service. The Japanese alternative medicine practice is all about treating stress and anxiety by clearing pathways in the system that might be blocked. It is not for everyone, but those who opt in might argue that their emotional state is clearer and energy restored.
Marketing Approach: Not Selling Sex
Palinsky believes that what sets the Kollectiv apart from other spas and health centers is the idea that the people behind the Kollectiv believe in the products and services. “We train our staff,” he explains, “We want them to be part of the community… they got to live or be trying to live the lifestyle.”
Authenticity is what makes the space so appealing on the inside, but the strategy for social media can be more challenging. Palinsky is critical of the way many health and wellness brands have profited off of “selling sex,” specifically promoting unattainable beauty standards to sell their products. Palinsky makes his message clear: “I don’t want to sell sex… I don’t want to keep putting everyone naked…” The word he prefers to use is “sensual.” It is about compassion, and the depth of information. “It takes more time to build that brand but I think it stands the test of time in the long run,” Palinsky explains.
For Palinsky, “It’s more than the campaign of ‘What I’m trying to look like but don’t look like.’ People are into that. But it drives insecurity to try to create that goal which creates anxiety.”
And Kollectiv is the antonym of anxiety. Unless, you’re tight on money. Then it might induce some.