Mind, Body, and Business – InkedMag



By Zack Zeigler


A 2012 head-on motorcycle collision in Thailand hospitalized Ryan Duey for three weeks with severe injuries. Instead of viewing the near-death experience as a setback, Duey embraced it as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. Through healing practices such as float therapy in sensory deprivation tanks, he tapped into profound realms of calm and introspection. Inspired to help others find their own path to health and wellness, Duey launched his own float tank business, Capital Floats, in Northern California in 2016.


Then, in 2020, with COVID-19 ravaging the planet, Duey’s float business collapsed. Rather than recede, he reunited with industry friend Mike Garrett, whose flat tank business was also capsized by the pandemic. Their idea: create a sleek, at-home, no-plumbing-required cold plunge tub. From there, the pair went on to found Plunge. 

After building prototypes, seeking feedback, and refining Plunge’s look and operation, orders began to pour in, with units starting at $4,990. Later, their product was featured on Shark Tank and caught the attention of neuroscientist and popular podcaster Dr. Andrew Huberman.

Cold therapy offers benefits beyond physical recovery, transforming the practice into what Duey calls “a backdoor into meditation.” The initial discomfort transitions into heightened presence and surrender, leading to stress reduction and a natural dopamine hit. 

Plunge’s cold immersion system can chill water to 39 degrees Fahrenheit, although Duey sets his own unit around 47 degrees. Rather than enforcing a strict temperature regimen, he emphasizes gradually building your cold tolerance.

In 2023, the Plunge brand expanded into saunas, with the Plunge Sauna ($10,990 and up). Designed for comfort and movement, these units can be put together in 1-2 hours, and feature ergonomic seating that can flip up to create more space to move around. Mobility expert Kelly Starrett consulted on the design, ensuring it caters to both relaxation and exercise.

Duey was a guest on the M&F Reps podcast last summer, just as the Plunge Suana launched. Below is an edited excerpt from that conversation.


When you crashed in Thailand, did you collide with a car or another bike? How fast were either of you going? What were some of the circumstances surrounding it?

I hit a turn and collided head-on with an oncoming motorbike. I don’t remember the details, but we collided, and my head went into the handlebars. I cracked my jaw and skull in a couple of different places.

 Were you conscious afterward?
There’s a 45-minute window I don’t remember about life. But in the end, I came out intact. I’m truly so grateful for that time.

 You’ve called it your “greatest gift.” Did it take time to think of it that way?

 It was an incredible life experience and life lesson. It brought my family closer together. It wasn’t even a thought of, “Don’t dwell on this.” It was like, “Oh, my God, you’ve been given the ultimate life experience!” Some people don’t make it out of a head-on motorbike accident. And some just never have that happen. I knew it was going to become this pinnacle part of my life. That was the real breakthrough that happened from that experience.

You come off as a spiritual guy with a connection to yourself and those you surround yourself with. Is that why you ended up in the health and wellness industry and finding ways to help people do the same?

It’s fun to run a business and be successful and have the success factors that come from business. But at the end of the day, what are we doing this for? We’re doing this to grow. We’re doing this to get better, to connect with people.

So, Plunge was launched during the COVID lockdowns. How did it come together?

My business [Capital Floats] was shut down; my girlfriend and I were broken up at the time, and income was dried up. I moved into an RV to save money. So, my life was totally up in the air. I had met Mike [Garrett] six years before that; he also owned a float tank business and we reconnected. He’s an engineer at heart and he started designing and prototyping. This is early 2020, and the world of at-home cold plunging didn’t exist yet. It was a horse trough or a meat freezer that you’d fill up with water.


What’s your workflow with Mike?

Mike and I have very different skill sets. We’re able to move quickly and tackle a lot of problems. I don’t think we’d succeed without a cofounder dynamic. So, he started designing and pitching me about creating a company around it. When I saw his development of the product and his improvements within a few weeks, that’s when I felt we had something.


What was next in terms of Plunge’s order of operations?
It was, “Let’s build a website, create an Instagram account, build 20 of these things, and sell 20 of these things.” Then we got it into people’s hands to get them to use it. We emailed everyone saying, “We’ve been working on this during the pandemic. Anyone who’s interested, we want to sell 20; we’ll hand deliver them.” They sold quickly.


Where were the prototypes built?

In Mike’s garage. His wife and neighbors got a little tired of us building out of there.

How did you get hooked up with Dr. Andrew Huberman and the “Huberman Lab Podcast”?

Andrew Huberman has been an incredible, unofficial partner for us since the early days. I connected with him in L.A., got him set up with a Plunge unit, and we immediately hit it off. Though it’s not a formal business relationship, Andrew’s passion for helping people and his ability to blend research with practical wisdom has been hugely beneficial. By lending more scientific credibility to cold plunging and educating people on the real benefits, he’s been a leader in this space alongside pioneers like Wim Hof. I’m grateful that he genuinely wants to move the needle on people’s health and happiness and sees cold plunging as one of the tools to do it.

Some benefits of cold plunging include reduced inflammation, improved mood, and reduced stress. What is the biggest benefit you get personally?

The most exciting parts of cold plunging are the mental health benefits. Every time you plunge, your body releases dopamine, which improves your mood. We’ve seen that while people experience different physical benefits based on their needs, everyone comes out with a heightened mood and a better sense of serenity. The cold exposure increases baseline dopamine levels which drives motivation and focus. Since starting this company, I’ve seen how consistent cold plunging boosts mood and energy in every person. 


How did you expand into saunas?

It was a natural progression from the Plunge, driven by customer demand. As cold therapy took off, we heard from many customers asking if we could also make a sauna. Mike and I realized we had to figure this out based on the feedback. We didn’t just want to make any sauna we aimed to rethink the experience from the ground up.

How long did it take to develop?

It was an 18-month journey creating it from scratch. We incorporated feedback from customers and fitness gurus to make it the most comfortable yet dynamic sauna ever. Subtle design tweaks enhanced relaxation while customization and active-friendly features were added to make it uniquely versatile. It was a highly collaborative process to build our dream sauna and reimagine the experience.

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