Why Choose A Wellness Center

July 30th, 2011

I can remember getting coupons for trial offers at fitness centers. At one point I saw myself sitting on a stationary bike equipped with internet access while the news blared on a giant screen in front of me. In my mind I am thinking “this is 24-hour speed mania.” I felt as if I had run through a science fiction fitness conveyor belt with bad lighting. “This can’t be the path to well being and good health,” was my thought afterward. So as trials go I tossed that experience and searched for better more holistic options. That is where wellness centers came in.

The first time I submerged in the warm salt water pool of a local wellness center, I knew I found the sublime alternative to “old school” fitness. For a mere $9 I could bring mermaid bliss to my toddler in a chlorine-free heated pool. The health of our bodies, hair and skin is far better for avoiding harsh chemically treated pools. Every visit brings new discoveries of what a wellness center can offer: yoga for kids and parents; chiropractic therapy; Reiki meaning “Higher Power” and “life force energy” (“laying on hands” energy work); watsu classes in the pool; and a wide variety of health-related workshops and classes. There are wellness centers that offer Ayurveda traditional medicine, massage, meditation and tantric yoga. I have seen wellness centers that incorporate chiropractic rehabilitation with hatha yoga to relieve pain. In Anacostia there is a wellness center that is also a cultural center for the DC metropolitan area. In Ashville (endearingly nicknamed “Ashvegas”), North Carolina, the Center for Extraordinary Living wellness center is part of a thriving art district.

From the high end wellness centers of Denver offering “ganja goo balls” (a chocolate haze treat) to a wellness center in New Jersey that was actually a brothel in disguise, there are some interesting takes on what wellness really means and how best to achieve it. Wellness centers often take a holistic approach to healing that sometimes seek alternatives departing completely from western medicine and fitness or sometimes find clever ways to bring eastern philosophy and western medicine together for the sake of healing.

The general idea of wellness centers is to invigorate the entire being: body, mind and spirit. In doing so, we achieve balance for our overall good health and well being. Imagine “warrior” posing your way through a bhikram yoga class where you sweat it out in 110 degree heat (it’s where sauna meets yoga), soak yourself in a hot tub, and then stroll into the most heavenly organic Reiki facial sending you to a state of transcendence. You can dance your way to increased energy and reduced stress in a zumba aqua class or float through the water massage that is watsu for pain relief. Wellness centers also introduce ideas and discussions about the diets we choose to nourish ourselves: from mineral and vitamin supplements, to cure-all tinctures, to where to source the best local organic foods. Whatever you choose as your focus in your journey to better health, wellness centers are thriving community centers that embrace thoughtful paths to better health from your core to the gorgeous shell of you. If you ask me that beats 24-hour fitness and “energy boosting” fizzy drinks any day of the week.

Antropia Luna has a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute and a Masters degree in cultural anthropology from New Mexico State University–now writing health and wellness articles for Joanna Vargas Skincare Sanctuary in NYC and trekking the national museum scene freelance.