First Metro Detroit Mental Health Gym Promotes Healing

Inception uses multiple relaxation techniques to calm the mind and body down.

Photo courtesy of Inception


David McCullar, owner and founder of the first mental health gym in Farmington Hills, Inception, knows about trauma — and what happens when it’s not dealt with.


Even before the pandemic, he’s seen with his own eyes how burdensome it can be for people to carry their unhealed battle scars along with them in life for so long that they are just living in fight or flight response.


So McCullar opened up Inception in December 2016 at 31410 Northwestern Hwy G., which reopened during the pandemic last year. The mental health gym encompasses detoxing, a holistic spa, flotation therapy, neurofeedback training, and whole-body exercise programs.


“We’ve been living in a very stressful, very traumatic society — things we’ve seen before are now elevated because we’ve reached a breaking point of stressors and traumas,” McCullar said. “People are coming in having mental breakdowns — the body can’t cope anymore holding in emotions.”


McCullar said that the gym takes a bidirectional approach to allow the brain and body to move from a state of survival mode. … When you go into fight/flight response that is priming you to fight a threat or remove a threat.”

David McCullar, owner and founder of Inception. Photo by Lemar J  


McCullar said that a third option aside from fighting or fleeing is immobilization or dissociation. He added that a lot of society is “stuck” in one of those modes due to trauma and even if the trauma is from years ago, if it’s not healed, the body and brain still know it.


“When you live in a defensive pattern you lose a majority of your resources,” he said of immune system compromisation, mood issues, and more. “Once you (are) opened up to trauma it opens you up to all the other chronic illnesses including heart attack and strokes.”


In 1975, Dr. Herbert Benson, an American medical doctor, brought the importance of relaxation to the masses as a useful tool to bring the body back to pre-stress levels.

Dr. Benson stated when people relax, the flow of blood increases around their body giving us more energy, according to the gym’s website. Relaxation also helps people to have a calmer and clearer mind that assists in positive thinking, concentration, memory, and decision making.


To address this, the gym has what is called Inception Circuits, which are designed for clients to improve emotional and physical functioning within a 90-minute time frame by experiencing the combined effect of three different modalities.



Inception addresses the stress response by:


      Providing several researched-based modalities that work to bring both brain and body into balance, release tension and provide a relaxing and healing experience.

      Inviting the brain and central nervous system to shift out of fight/flight or freeze.

      Enabling the mind and body to thoroughly rest with the zero-gravity approach.

      Helping the body to reduce inflammation, ease pain, and maintain healthy levels of cortisol.


The price range for the different treatments ranges from around $99.


“I want people to know this is not a cure-all,” McCullar said, adding that the gym helps people break unhealthy patterns with their vetted system.


When asked if the gym incorporates spiritual elements in its healing practices, McCullar said that the spirit is “present always” but the problem is what is disconnecting people from themselves is the trauma.


“When you start removing the trauma blocks and remove yourself from survival mode all of a sudden access to your spirit,” he said.


McCullar added that celebrities including Charlamagne Tha God have used Inception’s services. McCullar also said that he is looking forward to more locations opening up, including one in Dallas, to be operated by entrepreneur Nikki Sheppard, of Texas, who visited the Farmington Hills location previously.


Sheppard, a therapist by trade, said that she was going through a midlife crisis including a divorce and was looking for other therapy options when she was on Instagram and found McCullar’s page.


“I was intrigued — asked a little more about the gym,” she said, adding that coming from the therapy world she knew “something was off” internally with her body and central nervous system.


When Sheppard connected with him, she flew out to receive training and when she stepped foot in the gym she felt peace.


“I did the brain training — I knew something had changed,” she said. “I felt so much better, had more mental clarity, more mental space — a peace about the situation.”


Sheppard added that while she is still on her healing journey, she is looking forward to opening up soon and helping clients trying to seek complete wholeness.


“There is always work to be done,” she said, adding that it is important to be instrumental in that process of healing and “showing up in the world better.”


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