Cover Photo: Om-Ice

Ahead of his three-day luxury self-discovery retreat at W Singapore Sentosa Cove, Tatler spoke to Dr Oberdan Marianetti to find out how he went from wanting to be an architect to helping people reconnect with their selves and find their purpose in life through meditation, yoga, ice baths and journaling

9 to 5 is a weekly series in which Tatler speaks to influential individuals about their unique journeys and what keeps them going.

It has been over two years since the Covid-19 pandemic began and with the ever-changing restrictions, separating work and personal lives has become increasingly tough, thus affecting our physical and mental health. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many of us have felt overwhelmed, disillusioned and simply disconnected from ourselves. 

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This is something Dr Oberdan Marianetti, founder of Om-Ice, aims at eliminating. Through his intense three-day luxury self-discovery retreats which aim to balance psychology, breath-work, movement, and cold exposure, the certified psychologist and clinical sexologist is able to help participants to reconnect with themselves to create presence and purpose in their lives.

Ahead of Om-Ice’s next retreat, which will be coming to W Singapore, Sentosa Cove in March, Tatler spoke to Marianetti to find out how he came into the practice, what he aims to accomplish and how he plans to continue helping individuals cope with modern life.

Considering how passionate Marianetti is about his practice, it will surprise many that Marianetti wanted to be an architect when he was a child. 

“As a young boy, I dreamt of being an architect. Then I discovered the stars and the universe and dreamt of becoming a researcher in astrophysics. But for multiple reasons, neither of those dreams came to life,” Marianetti shared. 

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In fact, it was only in his teens that Marianetti started to get interested in the inner workings of the mind. 

“As a teen, I remember being a keen observer of people. I often wondered why people talked or acted the way they did. I was aware that the brain had something to do with it, and I found it fascinating that a blobby, jelly-like thing in our head could create such marvels. Curiosity has always had a strong presence in my life and psychology has so much to teach, it was a match made in heaven,” he said. 

Keen to learn more, Marianetti decided to pursue psychology in the United Kingdom and graduated with a degree and later, a Master’s in the subject. He also received a doctorate in clinical sexology later on in the United States. 

However, before he had the chance to practise what he went to school for, Marianetti decided to carry out a short stint in the army. 

“My first official job was being an officer in the Paratroopers Regiment of the Italian Army. I was in the Infantry division, as a lieutenant platoon commander, leading a platoon of 30 men. This was one of the most amazing experiences in my life and I learned so much from it. Both about myself as well as about the world,” he shared. 

Little did Marianetti know, his time in the army would later prove incredibly helpful in his work to create discipline and to overcome the mind. 

When he left the army, Marianetti became an in-house psychologist at different companies. 

“My work in corporate ranged broadly from one-to-one work (such as executive coaching), all the way to creating, developing and delivering company-wide culture, behaviour and leadership change programmes. All [these] were underpinned by my expertise as a psychologist,” he explained.

“At the peak of my career, I was the global head of the Learning and Organisational Development team for a company I was working at,” he continued.  

After well over 14 years in the industry though, Marianetti felt he needed something new so that he could make some changes in his life. 

“I left because my need to experiment was deeply curtailed. Corporates are often described as large oil tankers that take forever to course-correct. As someone who loves to create and experiment, the restrictive and bureaucratic aspects of corporate did not allow me to be at my best,” he said. 

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It took a while, but Marianetti finally decided that it was time to transition out of the corporate world and in 2015, he decided to use his psychology training in a different way and opened his first clinic in Singapore. His aim was to serve the local community, especially those who were suffering from relationship and sexuality challenges—something he felt was deeply lacking in the country.

“The dialogue on sexuality, sex and relationships is lacking around the world. The lack of knowledge and the unrealistic expectations many of us operate by in these domains have created massive amounts of unnecessary suffering,” explained Marianetti.

“My aim in starting the clinic was to open up the dialogue in a constructive, educated and comprehensive way, to contribute to society’s healthier experience of those amazing things called love, sex, intimacy, relationships, which are so nurturing towards a fulfilling life,” he continued. 

Of course, the question here is, what does a clinic for relationship and sexuality challenges do and what exactly is a clinical sexologist?

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“A sexologist is a specialist who has studied sex from a multidisciplinary perspective; these may include physiology, anthropology, psychology, medicine, law, art and more. This approach allows for a holistic view of sex, rather than just a functional or pathological one,” said Marianetti. “In clinical settings, a sexologist focuses on people’s sexual desires, fantasies and behaviours, and works to help clients manage them towards a balanced and fulfilling life.”

Over the years, Marianetti’s clinic has evolved to serve clients from over 50 countries, who present life challenges ranging from stress, anxiety and depression as well as specialised sexual and relational issues that often go unnoticed and unaddressed. 

After years of serving clients with a wide range of issues, Marianetti, decided that it was time to expand his scope once again and wanted to find new ways to really help people and that was how Om-Ice, a wellness retreat, came to be in 2018. 

Under Om-Ice, Marianetti conducts exclusive retreats for individuals who are looking to re-connect with themselves to create a joyful life of presence and purpose.

Through the use of psychology, breath-work, movement, and cold exposure as well as healthy meals, journaling and yoga, Marianetti wanted to help people find new meaning in their lives. 

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“Om-Ice emerged from years of practice and from using myself as a guinea-pig on the quest to find healing, acceptance and joy. I created it because its unique combination of psychology, mental, emotional and natural processes makes it an accessible, and yet highly transformative experience, for people from all walks of life,” Marianetti explained.

“Even for people with reservations about mental health services like psychotherapy, or another alternative, more abstract and spiritual approaches,” he continued.

The Om-Ice programme begins even before you step into the retreat. Participants are first provided worksheets and audio files to assist them in the art of self-discovery and to prepare themselves mentally and physically to maximise their time and effectiveness when they do finally join the retreat. 

When the time comes, they will embark on a three-day-long luxury retreat that is supported by individual preparatory, follow-up work and 25 hours of learning with Marianetti who will walk the participants through the entire process. 

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Participants will learn to oxygenate their bodies through yoga movements, breathing techniques and meditation and this will prepare them to participate in ice bath sessions which train individuals to immerse themselves in freezing cold water. 

The practice is one that requires a strong discipline of the mind and has many benefits such as easing sore and aching muscles, boosting metabolism and the immune system and improving one’s sleep.

Marianetti himself does ice baths daily as part of his routine. “I set up an ice bath at home. It helps me immensely with energy management, training focus, attention and discipline,” he shared.

With all the work Marianetti does at his clinic and on his retreats as well as balancing family life and his own mental and physical wellbeing, he does have his hands full.

Find out how he does it all as well as how he manages to live a balanced and healthy life despite being busy.

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What is a typical morning like for you?

Oberdan Marianetti (OM): I have a structured morning routine that I follow five days per week. I wake up, brush my teeth, meditate for 15 minutes (during which I also do breath work), take a three- to five-minute ice bath and then have breakfast. I then take one hour to either read or write and finally I either go to the gym or cycle to the office.

On weekends I allow myself to wake up naturally and rest. I do not follow the formal weekly routine, except for the ice bath.

What do you usually have for breakfast?

OM: During the week I almost always have a black, sugar-free coffee and a pot of natural, fat-free yoghurt, in which I may add some honey, nuts or jam.

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What time do you usually have lunch? What do you usually have for lunch?

OM: I have lunch between 1 pm and 2 pm and I almost always aim to have an abundant, balanced meal, as it is usually my only meal of the day. I always include vegetables in my meal and I often add some protein. I try to minimise pizza, pasta and bread, even though as an Italian in love with Italian food, that is often a test of will.

What does a standard workday look like for you?

OM: My typical working day begins with reading (either journal articles, novels or textbooks. I am currently studying for a diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy, so reading mainly textbooks) or writing (I am writing a book on the value of living a life in alignment with oneself).

Once I get to the clinic my whole day is occupied between client sessions, preparing or updating case notes, making business decisions, and developing projects for the many ideas I frequently bring to life.

How would you describe your working style?

OM: I am a creator and a connector by nature. This manifests both in the clinic as well as the business work I do. I am blessed with boundless amounts of energy and a wide range of experiences I can call upon.

I also enjoy the support of a collaborator with whom I can deliver great value in everything I do. I enjoy experimenting and like to frequently fail, but in a small enough way to derive learning without breaking the system. When an experiment yields hopeful results, I then move to discipline and focus as a way of bringing the idea to fruition.

Free time: overrated or underrated? Why?

OM: Free time is absolutely necessary. Even Olympic-level athletes include rest and recovery time in their training schedule to make sure they are ready at the moment of peak performance. I value free time a lot, it helps me recharge, recentre and recover.

How do you achieve a work-life balance? How do you set boundaries?

OM: Over the last six years I have worked nine months every year and took three months off from clinical practice. During the nine months, my work schedule is full to the brim and I squeeze out of that time the productivity of what I would otherwise do at a slower pace over 12 to 15 months.

During the three months off from clinical practice, I dedicate quality time to my loved ones, as well as making time to absorb new ideas, and spending as much time as possible in nature.

How do you chase your dreams?

OM: One day at the time, while making sure they remain somewhat visible at the horizon to act as beacons of hope and direction.

Risks: should you take them? Why or why not?

OM: You open your mobile phone and order a cab to take you from A to B. The cab arrives and without a second thought you step into the car of a stranger who, unbeknown to you, could be sleep-deprived, depressed, intoxicated or suicidal.

We take risks every day, big and small. They are an inevitable part of life.

How do you deal with your shortcomings?

OM: I am blessed to have received training that not only helps me help others, but also helps me be who I was born to be.

I start by remaining open to the inevitable feedback the world sends my way. When I identify that a piece of feedback is useful to a more joyful, fulfilling and satisfying path ahead, I dive into it and apply the tools I have access to or go searching for new ones, to create a more adaptive response and or change my approach to the situation.

What is the best piece of advice that you have ever gotten?

OM: My late father once said, “Son, there is only one person in the world you always need to be at peace with and that is the man you see in the mirror every morning when you shave”.

He was a traditional man who shaved daily. I am more of a modern man who shaves rarely. I wonder if I have been able to regularly apply his advice. 

What is an idea/thought that you heard recently, that you thought was interesting?

OM: Ideas spark into my head constantly. Recently, during a casual conversation on relationships, I had an idea for an AI-based platform that could revolutionise relationships for the better.

How do you unplug?

OM: I watch movies, share intimate time with my partner and friends, cycle, eat healthily and spend time in nature.

How do you stay motivated?

OM: I do what I love, and what I love doing is closely aligned to who I was born to be. In these conditions, it is almost impossible not to be motivated.

What is one item that has changed your life for the better?

OM: Discovering mindfulness almost 20 years ago.

Do you have moments of doubt and how do you overcome them?

OM: Almost daily. I see two types of doubts, those that emerge from the uncertainties of a situation we are facing in real life, and those that emerge from inner fears and insecurities.

I deal with real-life uncertainties and doubts by peacefully working on reducing the uncertainty up to a point where I have sufficient data to make a decision and proceed.

I deal with the doubts emerging from fears and insecurities by staying mindful, expanding my view to a more objective one, soothing the part of me that currently feels insecure and scared and, when necessary, by seeking counsel from those I trust.

What would you still like to accomplish?

OM: I would love to contribute something to the world of such scale and significance that has the power to alleviate much of the unnecessary suffering within us.

What is the last thing you do before you go to bed?

OM: That’s top secret and if told you, I’d have to revert to my military skills.

The Om-Ice Process will take place from March 18 to March 20 at W Singapore Sentosa Cove. Find out more here.


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