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The concept of paying for air might seem foreign to most people, but so-called "oxygen bars" are popping up in more and more venues. One such site was the recent CUES Nexus conference here, which prompted The Credit Union Journal to investigate what drives folks to pay someone to stick plastic tubes in their nostrils and blow scented air into their lungs. We asked "Herb" from the Oxygen Party Bar to give us the scoop.

CUJ: What are the benefits of the oxygen treatment?

Herb: The oxygen people get from me is 85%-90% concentrated, while the air we breathe normally is only 20% oxygen. Breathing the concentrated oxygen means it gets into the blood, every joint, every cell. It invigorates people and gives them a natural, euphoric high-similar to a runner's high.

CUJ: So this really works?

Herb: It cures headaches, hangovers and migraines. It relieves stress, fatigue, menstrual cramps and jet lag. Long term, the oxygen flushes free radicals and toxins from the blood, which prevents cancer. Yeast cannot survive in an oxygen environment, so it helps prevent yeast infections. It is an anti-inflammatory, and it improves memory and concentration.

CUJ: What brings you to CUES Nexus?

Herb: CUES hired me. Tomorrow, I'll be at the Poppy Festival in Lancaster [Calif.]. I'm doing it for free here, but tomorrow I'll rent a booth and sell people five-minute treatments for $10.

CUJ: Where else do you do this?

Herb: I'm the West Coast rep for Oasis Oxygen Bar, which is based in Sarasota, Fla. I'm one of the few mobile oxygen bars in California. I live in Los Alamitos, and I do events from San Francisco to San Diego to Las Vegas. Later this month I'll be at the Encinitas Street Festival and then in Redondo Beach for the Lobster Festival.

CUJ: What kind of a demand is there for pay-for-breathe oxygen?

Herb: Most oxygen bars are permanently in health clubs. Most Vegas casinos have oxygen bars now. It's like the beginning of an industry-like where bottled water was 20 years ago.

CUJ: Why the different colors?

Herb: There are 16 different aromas. It's like aromatherapy. We have apple, eucalyptus, pina colada and sex on the beach. We don't give the guys sex on the beach-they can't handle it.

CUJ: What's the strangest question you've ever been asked?

Herb: Will it grow hair?

CUJ: And the answer is?

Herb: No, it doesn't grow hair.

Michael Bartlett

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