By Lindsey Sullivan | [email protected]
In a neighborhood as active as Del Ray, it’s only fitting that a new “Wellness District” has been established.
In late August, several of the health and wellness businesses located on and adjacent to Mount Vernon Avenue banded together to create the Wellness District, a subgroup of the Del Ray Business Association, that is composed of more than 40 wellness-focused organizations.
The Wellness District was established to highlight a network of healthcare and fitness providers that has been growing for more than 20 years, according to a news release. Its goal is to better connect people with resources for physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
To celebrate the new district, DRBA named September a month of wellness. Throughout the month, wellness businesses have been offering special promotions, including free wellness sessions — both in person and online.
Lauren Fisher, owner of Del Ray Psych & Wellness and vice president of DRBA, said the Wellness District is a way for the many businesses in the area to take a collaborative approach to developing a wellness-oriented community.
“It is extremely important right now that we, more than ever, need to be taking care of our health in every way and we want to be able to help connect the community to various providers,” Fisher said
For wellness month, Del Ray Psych and Wellness is offering a free outdoor yoga class every Wednesday evening through Oct. 14. Details can be found on the DRBA’s website or the Wellness District’s Facebook page.
Fisher and other business owners mentioned the importance of supporting one another under changing COVID-19 guidelines and local health mandates. As public health concerns continue to change, business owners are adapting to best meet the community’s needs.
Karen Garcia, owner of Studio Body Logic, founded her studio more than 20 years ago. After closing her studio completely in March for several weeks, Garcia made the transition to teaching classes virtually in April.
“It’s a totally different experience, and we’re so used to being hands-on as instructors,” Garcia said. “Having to sort of part with the students, you know, it’s just a learning curve for everyone.”
Garcia reopened her studio for private lessons in late June and now offers pilates apparatus classes in the studio as well. Studio Body Logic continues to offer online classes for those who are not comfortable returning to in-person class.
“If you could see some of our students, they are incredible,” Garcia said. “We’ve had [students] for 10, 15, 20 years, so they’ve grown with the studio.”
When she decided to reopen, Garcia said it was important that she give her students who wanted to return to in-person the opportunity to do so.
“A lot of people need the pilates apparatus in order to function effectively in life,” Garcia said.
As part of wellness month, Studio Body Logic is hosting a free virtual Pilates class this evening. Registration is available through the DRBA’s website.
Mara Benner, founder of Four Directions Wellness and DRBA board member, said the wellness initiative began years ago with Mind the Mat, a yoga and Pilates studio in Del Ray.
The Wellness District is an expansion of the DRBA’s “Well Ray,” an annual wellness festival hosted in June, Benner said. The DRBA cancelled Well Ray this past June because of COVID-19 precautions.
Fisher said that the various wellness businesses in Del Ray have been committed to the public and community health throughout the pandemic.
“Honestly, it was a tough couple of months,” Fisher said. “I think everyone’s just been trying to survive, and we’ve kind of rerouted everybody for this month, but regardless of where the businesses are with their own struggles, everyone has been like ‘Yes, what can we do?’”
Four Directions Wellness is offering complimentary virtual self-care reiki, a Japanese relaxation technique, through October. Registration is available online through the Four Directions Wellness website.
“We wanted to focus more on self-care techniques that would be beneficial and that people could incorporate on a daily basis,” Benner said. “Something that would be more instrumental for them through the pandemic situation we are all facing at the moment.”
Lourdes Maurice, a self-described “avid user” of Del Ray wellness services, said she began attending yoga at Mind to Mat in 2006 and has been a regular of several other businesses in the area ever since. She began therapy services with Benner at Four Directions Wellness in 2016 and continued to utilize them through the summer as sessions moved online.
Maurice said she is a big believer in wellness and loves the “Del Ray feel” of a close community.
“I have been to over 180 countries and territories, I have lived in four different countries, including a relatively small town in Europe, and you know, nothing is like Del Ray,” Maurice said.
Del Ray Psych & Wellness is also hosting a free outdoor gong meditation class every Tuesday evening through September. PK Move, a parkour fitness gym, is hosting a free art exhibit, “PK Silver: Art of Movement” at the Durant Arts Center. Guests can register or view the exhibit online through the organization’s website.