Breathe a little easier
[Times photos: Thomas M. Goethe]
Melody Daly and Martin Zinaich try out the oxygen at 02express in Joffreys in Ybor City. The oxygen bar is scheduled to be there through August.
By AMY ABBOTT
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 7, 2001
TAMPA -- Oxygen bars are bubbling up all over town, with promises to make those who partake feel more alert, awake and refreshed.
Belly up to an oxygen bar for a whiff of the good stuff of life.
This trend is now a staple at some nightclubs and even a few spas in the bay area. Joffrey's Coffee Bar in Ybor City recently added a portable one, run by O2express, a St. Petersburg company owned by Jane Bajor and Irene Tsotopoulos. The bar is scheduled to be at Joffrey's through August.
An oxygen bar resembles a colorful chemistry lab. There are four clear cylinders filled with bubbling blue, green, yellow and purple liquid set inside a black frame. The whole set is situated like a kiosk in the mall with bar stools.
Felicia Ward, left, and Denise Mueller sample the oxygen at O2express in Joffreys in Ybor City. The color choices indicate scents, such as Clarity and Tangerine Dreams.
The people partaking in the fragrant stream of oxygen look a bit like they are in a hospital. A cannula, a clear plastic tube, comes from the top of the bubbly tank and divides to wrap behind the ears and then up into the nose.
It's a little weird to see people in their best party clothes with plastic tubes sticking out of their nostrils, but people are flocking to try them.
They pay $2 for a reusable cannula and $5 for a 5-minute hook-up. That's the going rate at local clubs, salons and coffee shops: a dollar a minute.
The colors signify different scents. They come in Clarity, Tangerine Dream, Lemon Grass and several other soothing scents. Unscented oxygen also is available.
Billie Odor recently bought an oxygen bar for her Inner Healings spa in Brandon.
"I read about these things about seven years ago," said Odor. "I was just waiting for the U.S. to catch up."
Odor warns that too much inhalation isn't healthy.
"I usually only let my clients at the spa go for 20 minutes max," said Odor. "I did 30 minutes at Joffrey's, and I got a dry spot in my nose. I sneezed for three days."
The usual length of time to stay connected is about 15 minutes. Anything less than that, and it seems like just playing, Odor said.
So why do it?
O2express owners say that, because of air pollution, people are not absorbing as much oxygen as they should. The owners said fast-food lifestyles and high-stress jobs run people down, so their bodies need to be repaired and detoxified and their immune systems strengthened.
They say oxygen will do this.
"We are exposed all kinds of poisons every day," said Bajor. "Oxygen helps you absorb vitamins, and many things that cause infection die when they touch oxygen, like bacteria and parasites."
The output from the Joffrey's bar is about 94 percent pure oxygen.
People who have heart problems, anxiety and other medical conditions should consult a doctor before trying this out.
The benefits of using the oxygen bar haven't been scientifically proven, but the people who use them swear they can tell the difference.
"You get a natural high from breathing in this oxygen," Bajor said. "It'll give you pep."
A few other places around the bay area to get a nosefull:
2130 W Brandon Blvd.
(813) 657-6198 If you need a little pick-me-up, you can spend 15 minutes breathing in scented air.
1609 E Seventh Ave.
(813) 248-2331 For total sensory satisfaction, your whole body and ear drums will be rumbled by the music, your eyes dazzled by the light show, taste buds tickled by the drinks and nose blown by the oxygen bar.
3120 Bay to Bay Blvd.
(813)839-1882 If you're curious about hyperbaric chamber therapy, this is the place to try it. Standard inhalation is also available.
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