ALTON — Be Well Now, “A Healthy Lifestyle Center,” will celebrate its 10th anniversary with an open house from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 25.
When Be Well Now opened its doors, massage therapists were few and far between and there was just one yoga teacher in town. Today, the business is one of the top massage therapy centers in the River Bend and yoga classes are available daily from one of its five teachers.
“There was a woman who gave massages out of her home and a few chiropractors had massage therapists on staff, but mostly massages were of the luxury type,” said Theresa Franklin, who owns the business with Olivia Kelly. The center has four massage therapists.
“Our clients view our treatments as preventive and maintenance, not a luxury,” Kelly said.
Franklin, 59, and Kelly, 34, opened Be Well Now in 2005 with a third partner, Chery Owens, who has since moved to California.
Franklin first became interested in yoga and massage therapy while living in California during the 1980s.
“I had always wanted to help people,” she said. “I got my first massage in California and fell in love with it and yoga.”
Franklin graduated in 2003 from the Body Therapy Center in Swansea. Although trained in a number of modalities, Franklin has a special interest in women’s health issues. She has training in lymph drainage therapy and breast massage and will be certified later this year in lymphedema and bandaging.
“Breast massage may draw a giggle or smirk, but why would you leave out a body part that is prone to cancer?” Franklin said. “Massage is beneficial for getting the blood and lymph flowing and may disturb a cancer cell looking for a place to ‘hide-out’ in the case of a healthy client. For my clients with mastectomies, breast massage can relieve post-operative pain and discomfort and assist in the healing process.”
Kelly knew she wanted to work in alternative medicine but needed a skill that gave her flexibility so she could work around her family’s schedule. She received her massage training at the Healing Arts Center in St. Louis and became licensed in 2004. She specializes in deep tissue massage.
Daniel Sheets and Dani Ray are the other two massage therapists. Sheets’ specialty includes sports massage and Ray’s is Swedish massage. But the owners are quick to point out that all massages can be customized to fit the individual’s needs.
“Our excellent training in massage therapy is what sets us apart,” Franklin said. “Our clients tell us that our massages are above and beyond what they can get somewhere else.”
Franklin said growing the yoga aspect of the business continues to be their biggest challenge. Both she and Kelly are 200-hour registered yoga teachers.
“We introduced the first yoga studio to the community and that’s changed with time,” said Franklin. “But we have what we’ve always had and that’s a quiet space where people can practice yoga without judgment and competition. They don’t need to do advanced poses to get yoga’s full benefits.”
Jerry Whitten teaches tai chi classes — from introductory to advanced — and Matt Hawkins teaches capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music. The studio also is where Jaime Sanchez, a yoga practitioner since 1964, leads a 10-month yoga teacher training program.
In keeping with their healthy lifestyle mission, the owners have partnered with an acupuncturist and Kendelle Pelot, an aesthetician who uses Rx Systems, a line of skin care products developed by a St. Louis dermatologist.
“We have the capability to give up to six treatments and facials, so it would be ideal for a spa day for a bridal party,” Kelly said.
With their 25- by 20-foot studio and extra massage rooms, Franklin and Kelly are searching for other like-minded businesses interested in associating with them.
“We’re open to all possibilities,” Franklin said.
Be Well Now 10th Anniversary Open House
11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 25
Schedule of speakers and classes:
Free yoga class, Judy Ryan: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Tai chi demo, Master Jerry Whitten: Noon to 12:15 p.m.
Caring for your skin type, Kendelle Pelot: 1 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Massage is not a luxury item, Daniel Sheets: 2 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
Free yoga class, Tracey Curtis: 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Discounts on retail items, yoga classes, massages with Dani or Daniel and same-day skin care with Kendelle