Joel Stein stood barefoot on a yoga mat, arched his back into a crescent moon and touched his toes. There were flickering candles, fresh white flowers and the substantial scent of grapefruit. Even the floor felt squishy. "You will never get a straight, male Republican to do this," he said.
Stein, a Time magazine columnist, came to the Huffington Post's Oasis at Aja Channelside with other celebrities, reporters and political types in town for the Republican National Convention. Those with convention credentials were invited to eat, sleep and meditate on their choices, their votes, their lives. The free perks didn't hurt.
The lounge simmered to a start Monday. Evan Handler, Charlotte's bald husband from Sex and the City, sat on a plush white couch and thumbed through his phone. Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, licked a frozen Greek yogurt pop pocked with strawberries.
Huffington explained her concept.
"Four years ago, I fainted from exhaustion, hit my head, broke my cheekbone and got five stitches," she said. "That's what got me looking at my life."
She started studying sleep, increasing her meditation and finding ways to relax every day, not just on vacations. She opened a small Oasis in Denver at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. In 2012, she decided to do it big at both conventions, first Tampa and then Charlotte, N.C. She partnered with Off the Mat and Into the World to bring yoga lessons to the lounges. She enlisted local massage therapists and experts from Harvard to give sleep consultations. She invented an app called "GPS for the Soul," which lets you take your heart rate and look at pictures of your family (if you like your family) to calm down.
Other perks? Turkey meatballs, vegan sweet corn chowder, gluten-free chicken with polenta and lemon-spiced barramundi. Coconut water, smoothies and root iced tea. A futuristic EnergyPod for 20-minute naps with ambient noise. Bottles of "Mint Romney" and " 'O'Bama" orange body lotion, slogan, "May the best scent win!" And, of course, yoga with Huffington's personal instructor, Seane Corn.
Stein finished his session with Corn while someone filmed him for Time.
"How do you feel?" said Corn.
"Ready to go out there and kill," said Stein.
"I feel peace."
Stephanie Hayes can be reached [email protected]ay.com or (727) 893-8857. Follow her on Twitter at @stephhayes.