An Underground Oasis: Take the Plunge With Us at Watershed Spa

BY EMMA GEARY – JANUARY 13 2023

A chilly, sunny morning at the historic Soap Factory building.

With record-breaking snowfalls and to-do lists growing just as quickly, the year is already off to a hectic start. Last Friday, I cleared the snow off my windshield and headed toward the bustling Northeast with a bathing suit and notebook in hand. Just down the street from Alma Cafe, sharing a roof with The Foundry Home Goods, the new Watershed Spa is a hidden gem in this growing corner of Minneapolis. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect. While communal bathing is a treasured practice across the world, what could it look like in Minneapolis? As Minnesotans, we often adopt the cocoon mentality in the winter, burrowing further into our own little worlds. In 2023 though, we’re committed to consistently reaching outside your comfort zone

A sampling of the curated wellness brands you can shop at Watershed Spa.

Meet Nell

Nell Rueckl, founder of Spot Spa in Minneapolis, has long appreciated the soaking ritual. For years, she’s thought of how she could bring this experience to the Twin Cities. After opening Spot, a staple for many in the community, Watershed was the natural next step. 

“I knew how valuable the bathing ritual was from my time as a bodyworker. If I can have a client drop into their body and become more present before I work on them, it makes the entire experience more valuable. It is a fantastic recalibration of the nervous system.”

Whether it’s for stress relief, healing trauma stored in the body, or you’re just craving a new experience, Nell shares how, “our bodies are complex, but really, they are simple. To heal, you need to circulate your blood. Your body will take care of itself if you let it.”

Intrigued? Come with us for a bathing session. 

The Space

With cool, calm lighting and natural materials throughout, this space was built with peaceful vibes at the forefront. Among the many unique ceiling installations in the lobby, there are shelves stocked with local brands and employee favorites, including a body butter handcrafted by Nell herself. I was welcomed right away by their friendly staff, grabbed a cup of tea, and settled in.

The Experience

The beauty of the bathing ritual is that each step can be done in any order or combination you’d like. I started in the hot tub, simply allowing myself to quiet my mind and relax my body. Fellow bathers chatted quietly, which gave the space a cozy, community feel. After only ten minutes, I could feel my shoulders relaxing. 

The communal aspect was crucial to Nell in building Watershed. 

“Like the root system of trees,” Nell shares, “our bodies and nervous systems are always talking to each other. By spending time in this space together, we are able to offer ethereal support – it’s amazing what you can learn from others if you’re open to it.”

At first, I thought being in a communal space like this would feel awkward, but I actually found it comforting to be among others who were going through the same ritual. We were independently healing–together. 

I love a steam room, so this was my next stop. With cobalt blue tiles and a window to look out on the rest of the space, it was the perfect perch for me to sweat it out and stretch my body. I also visited the room-temperature meditation space, where I could use a yoga mat and blanket to further stretch and refocus.  

After a long sit in the sauna, I decided it was time to do the thing I was most scared of: the cold plunge.

A peek inside the mirrorless bathroom at Watershed Spa, where you can shower and refresh after a treatment.

The Plunge

With the water kept at around 58 degrees, this cold plunge is not for the faint of heart. While I’ve had an ice bath or two, I’ll admit I was dreading this part of the process. It’s so cozy in the sauna…why leave? 

That’s precisely why it was so important to take the plunge. I submerged my body up to my shoulders, and right away, my body felt similar to how it does when I’ve had panic attacks in the past. I was breathing quickly and my eyes darted for a way out. 

After I focused on my breathing, promising myself I’d at least count to fifteen, the feeling of panic subsided. I stepped out of the cold plunge and immediately wanted to jump in again. In total, I used the cold plunge three times in my visit, and with each, I felt stronger and more at ease.

The Membership

What can be gained from going to Watershed on a regular basis? The benefits are endless. Instead of dropping in for one visit, the wellness experts at Watershed are committed to developing a full wellness program tailored specifically to your needs. The more frequently you can visit, the more assistance they can provide that is tailored to your specific needs. 

One of the most exciting things about this process is the many ways it can heal trauma, alleviate stress, and transform our mental health. With a mix of ritual, exposure to discomfort, and a team of wellness professionals, Watershed is a soft landing place in my frequently chaotic day-to-day routine.

My private changing room.

Oh, and did I mention they have 11 treatment rooms for everything from facials to massages to 1:1 yoga classes? It’s a spa experience unlike anything Minneapolis has ever seen. The bath house is truly a dream, and I am already planning on returning for another Friday afternoon reset. 

Special thanks to Nell Rueckl and the entire Watershed Spa team for welcoming me into their new space. Click here to learn more and schedule your visit today! 


Emma is a writer living in Minneapolis. When she’s not checking out a new brewery with friends or blasting Taylor Swift in her car, you can find her dreaming up ideas as the Brand + Editorial Manager at LAB.