What better way to spend a day than in mindful reflection!?
Caring for your body and soul, eating delicious food and drinking blissful adult beverages while discussing thought provoking literature surrounded by fabulous company— AND in a beautiful setting?
That pretty much sums up the experience I had last weekend at Guiding Wellness Institute.
The holistic wellness center is masterful in curating monthly events that incorporate wellness practices into perfect weekend outings appealing to the young and old, single or betrothed, hardcore yogi or novice.
All are welcome!
AND all will enjoy!
I attended the Yoga, Brunch and Bookclub this past Sunday which fell on Valentines weekend and made for a fabulous Galentines outing!
A 60 minute gentle flow vinyasa yoga class was taught by GWI CEO Kelsey Timas. The lantern lit studio paired with beautiful acoustic music playing in the background and Kelsy’s fluid class instruction kept each student engaged and made for a perfect yoga experience.
Following yoga, guests were treated to a gorgeous brunch prepared by Brittany Moore, GWI Holistic Wellness Coach.
During our brunch, attendees engaged in an enlightening conversation regarding the Bookclub pick—Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel Eat, Pray, Love. It was lovely to reflect on a book focusedon self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-growthandself-healing.
Overall the experience was wonderful and although most of those who attended the event met as strangers, I feel confident that we left as friends.
Mark your calendars for the next Yoga, Brunch and Bookclub May 3, 2020 from 11am-2pm.
Kelsy Timas is guiding the military community to wellness— one soldier, one military spouse, one veteran at a time. Civilians are welcome to join the journey as well.
With 20 years experience in the health and wellness field, she has developed an entirely holistic establishment dedicated to healing individuals from the inside out.
I recently received the opportunity to visit Guiding Wellness Institute in Fayetteville, North Carolina to talk with Kelsy about her mission and passion which pours from every inch of her business.
The center offers services ranging from yoga, therapeutic massage, facial treatments, acupuncture, holistic life coaching, wellness and nutrition consultations onto educational courses to include yoga teacher trainings.
In addition, Guiding Wellness Institute provides Warriors At Ease programs which support health and healing of service members, veterans, military spouses and their families through yoga and meditation. The program was first developed in 2006 in partnership with Department of Defense-funded research at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Through the programs success, a teacher training curriculum was developed to meet the growing demand of specially-trained instructors to share the benefits of WAE to the military community. WAE has grown to a network of 750 plus teachers worldwide who serve warriors and their families in the United States and abroad.
One of the most unique features offered at the institute are FREE (yes, you read that right… FREE) yoga classes provided weekly on Wednesday (6:30-7:30pm),Thursday (6:30-7:30pm) and Friday (9:15a-10:30am) for all active & retired military to include military spouses and their family members.
Scroll further to read about my personal experience at Guiding Wellness Institute.
Spa Wellness Experience
During my visit to Guiding Wellness Institute, I had the privilege of trying out some of the wonderful services it offers.
Upon entrance of the building I was instantly put at ease, felt welcome and secure as if somewhat familial. There is a great focus on creating a place where people instantly feel at home which I can wholeheartedly attest to.
I was first given a tour of the facility by Guiding Wellness Center Holistic Health Coach, Brittany Moore whose passion is true wellness starting with what an individual feeds their mind and bodies.
Brittany pointed out that healthy refreshments are offered to guests in the beautiful kitchen and bar space that overlooks the serene outdoor garden. Nutrition classes are offered in this space as well, she said.
Next we toured the vast and tidy fitness area where a myriad of holistic wellness fitness classes are offered Monday through Friday as well as special events held on weekends.
Last we toured the center’s massage and floatation therapy rooms that provide guests a perfect spa atmosphere.
My Personal Spa Experience
My first service was a traditional full-body massage provided by Coral Esparza, Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist. Coral provides great care in her work coupled with clinical knowledge and a solid background in massage therapy.
I suffer from aches and pains associated with sciatica- and most recently tendinitis in my right arm. Coral knew exactly where to focus deep tissue massage to my aching muscles and joints to provide relief. She was professional and kind as well as careful to make my experience holistically balanced, extremely pleasant and relaxing.
I highly recommend her for massage for anyone struggling with chronic pain issues.
Following the massage, it was suggested I try Floatation Therapy which is becoming a popular antidote in holistic wellness. I had not yet experienced floatation therapy and was extremely excited to try out this treatment.
If you are not familiar with floatation therapy, it is a healing treatment using sensory deprivation to heal your physical body, mental and emotional health as well as enhance spiritual growth.
The institute dons a custom-designed float suite which contains a luxury shower, along with a tranquil, large tub much like an oversized bath filled with soothing warm water filled with a thousand pounds of salt. You enter through a beautiful private dressing area that allows for spacious privacy.
Brittany set my mind at ease with the process of my float by explaining in detail the steps I would take to make my experience purposeful and successful. I was a bit nervous in not knowing what exactly to expect so her instruction and care was much appreciated. However, I grew up on the coast so my soul longs for salt water and I embraced the chance to reconnect with my beginnings while allowing my body and mind to succumb to this new experience.
Once Brittany ensured I was ready to begin my float, she left me in the suite where I changed into my bathing suit (which is required by law for the float bath). I rinsed off in the shower beforehand as you would do in any public pool area. I then entered the bath where I stepped into the most luxurious warm water. I allowed myself a moment to become familiar with my surroundings then placed the small floatation pillow provided to me behind my head and allowed my body to submerge in the water.
Effortlessly, my body floated to a natural state atop the water. The weightless feeling was utterly wonderful and I felt instant relief. For people like myself who have a difficult time of letting go of the need to be in control, this experience might be an adjustment. But for me it was a welcomed change of pace.
As I eased into my new state of body and mind, relaxing music played for a few moments. But as Brittany forewarned previously, the music began to fade as did the lighting and the bath became dark as is recommended to receive the full sensory deprivation therapy experience.
There is a button along the wall where guests can lightly touch to turn a dim light on if they need to do so. I will admit I chose at one point to turn the light back on to put myself at bit more at ease with my surroundings, but I then relaxed, closed my eyes and focused on the beauty of the moment.
I will definitely try floatation therapy again as I reaped the benefits and felt utterly relaxed and renewed following my visit.
I hope everyone has the opportunity to try this therapy treatment at some point whether for chronic pain, mental and emotional health or just to have a break from your hectic life schedule and routine.
Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, freelance writer, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.
Renaissance European Day Spa Staff with Owner Natalie Spencer
Fayetteville, North Carolina-
Despite devastation from a fire which caused Renaissance European Day Spa to close its doors for seven long months, Owner Natalie Spencer continues to keep a “bounce” in her step and attitude.
I recently sat down with Natalie to talk about the reopening of her spa after a fire occurred in October 2018 which caused the successful Fayetteville, North Carolina business to close due to necessary restorations.
What struck me most about Natalie was her enthusiasm and optimism, the care and genuine concern of her employees as well as her customers; not to mention, the strong partnerships with area businesses she’s built, and the gratitude in her heart for those who helped lift her up during such a difficult time in life.
Natalie’s genuine appreciation of her community here in Fayetteville is infectious.
Listen to our conversation on Hodge Podge Podcast here:
I was thrilled when Natalie invited me to visit the recently reopened spa to try out some of the new as well as tried and true services the spa offers.
Natalie graciously set me up for a full day of pampering which was just what this lady needed in her life.
Thanks, Natalie. 😊
It’s not everyday I get to submerge myself in total pampering and relaxation.
My personal spa experience was fantastic and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
First, I was given the Mellow Moonchild CBD Body Nourishment (skin polish) part of the spa’s new Total Swellness services followed by a delicious steam bath, shower and massage that left my skin quenched and super soft.
Kim, the fabulous aesthetician who graced me with her healing hands, has been employed with Renaissance European Day Spa for thirteen years. She educated me on Farm Fresh products out of Texas to include the Mellow Moon Dip Body Mousse and Muscadine Moonshine Body Scrub. The smell of these products was heavenly— I was transported back to my childhood plucking grapes off my grandparents’ muscadine grapevines.
Next up was a classic Swedish Massage provided by Melissa, an extremely talented massage therapist who worked out my sore neck and shoulder muscles as well as stubborn hip and sciatic pain. The massage room was so relaxing thanks to a very comfortable massage table, soft linens, dreamy lighting and mesmerizing meditation music. I was able to easily let go of all my cares and concerns.
The hot towels placed on my tired muscles following the massage was transcendent. I will note the upper neck massage at the base of my skull cap was wonderful. I could feel the tension and stress melt away. I would recommend this massage by Melissa for anyone under a great deal of stress or anyone suffering migraine headaches.
One client I met said she’d waited seven months to receive a massage from Melissa since the spa closed last October. It was worth the wait to receive impeccable services. I have to agree with her 💯.
While enjoying the beautiful upstairs lobby area and sipping a delicious smoothie, I talked with a customer who was awaiting services named Valerie Walker. Valerie is a Fitness Instructor and Physical Trainer with Cape Fear Valley Healthplex, Minister at Rivers of Life Church, and primary caregiver for her elderly mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. Valerie treated herself to a birthday Swedish Massage and Facial. She said she wanted to take care of herself on her birthday.
“We put all these expectations on ourselves— our bodies, and we need to treat it (our bodies) from time to time. We need to reward it for all the hard work we put it through,” Valerie expressed to me. I thought this such a poignant message and reminder for us all.
Valerie Walker, REDS Customer awaiting spa services on her birthday
Following the Swedish massage, I was treated to a new facial service offered by REDS: Hyperbaric Oxygen Facial, a noninvasive facial minus burning acids or painful injections. This was quite a unique experience. Intraceuticals developed serums that, when administered in conjunction with oxygen, visibly plump and hydrate skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The facial left me fresh faced which helped to reduce redness and some stubborn acne brought on recently due to travel and stress.
Hope Viega, Fayetteville resident and loyal customer of REDS receiving a spa pedicure
Following my facial, the lovely Jozette, nail guru at REDS, provided me some much needed toe and foot indulgence via the Happy Camper Pedicure. My heels haven’t been that “happy” in a longtime!
The Farm Fresh Peet Moss Masque and Light as Air Body Mouse and Hemp Oil Lotion left my toes twinkling. I chose a super fun blue color from the OPI collection that reminded me of the turquoise shores of The Crystal Coast on North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks.
Last— but definitely not least— was time for some hair love by Haley, REDS Stylist Diva, who saved my dull locks with a fabulous shampoo and scalp massage followed by a trim and texturized cut.
The Brazilian Blowout Smoothing Serum Haley used on my hair is awesome and beats the July North Carolina humidity. This smoothing serum only available during hair service at REDS, left my hair tame and lustrous for days following my appointment.
I encourage everyone to visit Renaissance not only for stellar spa pampering, but also to support a locally owned and operated business that truly cares for the people of its community.
Beginning this August, Renaissance will begin a brand new program called REDS Gives Back. The program will support a different local charity each month by either raising monies to donate to the charity, collecting donated goods and/or through volunteerism. Clients of the spa can help as well.
Natalie expressed it was extremely important more than ever for the spa to support its community following the outpouring of support they received in the past months following the fire.
Also, military members need to take advantage of the 15% off discount on spa services in July before offers end.
The deals and kindness do not stop there… the spa is also offering some major promotions in August for teachers to help them get ready to return to school relaxed and looking fabulous!
Watch here for more information:
For more information on how to contact the spa, look here:
You can check out the list of spa services on the website here:
Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.