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Notable People: Nick McNaught, Founder of Unbounded Well, Toronto’s New Wellness Playground

Nick McNaught, man sitting in cold lake water

If you’ve followed the wellness boom over the last few years, you have likely come across the numerous benefits of cold exposure therapy. On his website, one of the most well-known cold therapy devotees and teachers, Wim Hof, cites benefits such as speeding up metabolism, reducing swelling and inflammation, easing sore muscles, aiding sleep, and many more.

Not everybody can jump into a frozen lake, so demand for cold plunge pools has heated up. Entrepreneur Nick McNaught, who originally got hooked on the benefits of cold plunge and hot/cold therapy, responded to this demand by building a community around the concept. McNaught created Unbounded Well, Toronto’s first outdoor wellness playground, in the heart of downtown. 

Notable sat down with McNaught to discuss building the Unbounded community, developing the Well for Torontonians, and the many reasons cold plunge and hot/cold therapy should become part of everyone’s wellness routine.

Give us a bit of background on yourself and your previous business endeavours.

I have always been an entrepreneur at heart, starting my own personal training business, a food delivery company, a social events community, and most recently, an experience lifestyle brand: Unbounded. As long as I can remember, creating unique and impactful experiences for people has been what drives me more than anything.

How did Unbounded get started? 

Unbounded started in the fall of 2020 when I was returning to Toronto and seeking to continue my push for connection, health and adventure. I started hosting cold plunges at Cherry Beach for some friends, and the impact was immediate. The number of people attending the sessions grew exponentially, and very soon, there was a community of strangers, all sharing the common goal of embracing discomfort. From there, we began to host official cold classes dubbed ‘Break the Ice’, and not long after, we began hosting long-form retreats at a Kawartha cottage property that we dubbed ‘Cold Camp.’

Where do the cold immersion and hot exposure ideas/models come from? 

Scandinavian countries have practiced this hot/cold therapy for centuries; however, it is much newer in North America. The science is catching up to the general public, and now that these modalities are becoming more mainstream, there is a surge in brands popping up. The model has recently been called an intensive spa for physical locations like the Unbounded Well. To the best of my knowledge, Unbounded is the first company to be licensed and to host cold classes in nature in North America. 

What was the inspiration for Unbounded?

The inspiration for Unbounded came from a desire to feel unchained, alive, capable and experience-driven. Living up north in the woods, using nature as the teacher, cold exposure, and other primal therapies became a lifestyle for the founders. Unbounded was borne through the desire to share the discoveries and benefits that we were experiencing.

Tell us about the concept and launch of Unbounded Well in Toronto.

With Unbounded Well, we’ve created an urban wellness playground that brings nature into the city. Utilizing the methods of cold plunging, wood saunas, and a giant glamping dome, we have an environment that feels like you are outside the city, embracing the elements. The goal is to give guests the nervous system the down-regulation often associated with being in nature within the heart of Toronto. Built around icy water, fires, intense heat, breath, and meditation, the Unbounded Well is designed to create a sense of belonging, confidence, and zen.

Tell us about the journey from concept to reality of the Well.

Initially, Unbounded Well was meant to be a temporary event activation. As the planning came along for creating the experience, the concept took on a life of its own and became an opportunity to create something much more lasting. Chicken scratch on a napkin became finely detailed plans that took long hours of user experience, design, and thought work to make the concept a reality. It took a lot of generous souls and their time to turn around the build and open in such a short time window.

What has surprised you about this entrepreneurial journey?

The most surprising thing about the journey thus far is seeing just how powerful a tool cold water really is, be it functional or experiential. It still blows my mind every day the number of people who share how much this has changed their life. 

What have you learned through this process?

So much! But more than anything, I have learned the power of your breath and the importance of breathing. Everything comes back to your breath.

How have the city and community received the Well?

The reception from the community and the city has been incredible. The Unbounded Well has been featured in the news multiple times, in tons of major publications, and is one of the most talked about installations in Toronto. People are excited, and the consistent message that comes back to us is that this was something that was so needed.

How do you see the Unbounded company growing and expanding?

Unbounded has so many opportunities to grow, and they are all exciting. We will focus on a major, best-in-class Cold Water Certification that will launch later this winter. In conjunction with this, we will be looking to expand the locations of the Unbounded Well to both local and international destinations. 

IG: @stayunbounded @nickmcnaught 

Brittany Johnson

Brittany is a Toronto based freelance writer, avid traveller, sheet mask hoarder and Nora Ephron enthusiast.