Art & Soul: The Art of Well Being - A place for unique ways to reduce stress & increase wellness

Oct 21, 2021

Neurofitness Wellness Center collage
Credit Neurofitness Wellness Center / neurofitcenter.com
There is a place in Ann Arbor that offers flotation, cryotherapy and salt rooms as a way to reduce stress and increase a sense of wellness.  WEMU's Lisa Barry talks to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Kelley and his sister Peg Kelley who operate "The NeuroFitness Wellness Center" hoping to optimize the mind-body connection to reduce stress and boost a sense of well being. 

TRANSCRIPTION: 

Lisa Barry: You're listening to 89 one WEMU, and this is Art and Soul. I'm Lisa Barry, and, this week, Art and Soul is about the art of well-being. These are emotionally challenging times for people, and there are many different ways to be OK and at peace, self-aware, and emotionally balanced. In Ann Arbor, there is a doctor, Mark Kelley, who, together with his sister Peg Kelley, have created a place to help reduce stress and increase wellness. And they're joining us now here on 89 one WEMU Thanks for talking to us. Let's start with you, Mark. Tell us about yourself and what you have created. 

Dr. Mark Kelley
Credit NeuroFitness Wellness Center / neurofitcenter.com

Dr. Mark Kelley: We're both Ann Arbor natives, born and raised. That adds a flavor to what we've done. I'm also an orthopedic surgeon, over 14-year member of the recovery community in Ann Arbor, and I was very busy in my life at a period early in the 2010s and found some stress-related issues as far as my medical conditions, and I needed to find a place to relax, and I started to explore, and I wasn't very good at meditation, but I knew that there was something there, so I started to explore neurofeedback and flotation. And both of those really fed into my need, my ability to quiet down and calm down and really de-stress. And as I got more and more attuned to that, I thought, "Boy, this is really an Ann Arbor thing, and there's a lot of seekers in Ann Arbor." And I think between the recovery community and some of the high stress work we all do, finding and playing and making a quiet space for people to go and just relax and mesh their mind and body together would be, you know, an opportunity. And so, I put together Neurofitness Wellness Center, and we're on the west side of Ann Arbor. 

Lisa Barry: And, Peg, you are part of that? 

Peg Kelley
Credit NeuroFitness Wellness Center / neurofitcenter.com

Peg Kelley: I am part of it. So, Mark started the business as I was in my education, getting a master's in counseling. So, I'm a licensed professional counselor. And I was working conveniently next door to where he opened his business. And, eventually, when I got my full licensure, there was a space available for me to open a private practice. I am located inside the center, and I use the therapies that we have available with my clientele and use them myself. And I am also kind of the operations person because Mark's not local. So, I keep an eye on things for him and help him with staffing and facilities. 

Lisa Barry: So, the Neurofitness Wellness Center sounds like a place where you're really focused on the mind-body connection for wellness. 

Dr. Mark Kelley: Exactly. We've tried to create a space where people can come in and literally kind of carry their stress and carry their--if we're talking about brainwave activity, theta and gamma waves where they're kind of on and create a space where they can lower those brainwaves down into alpha and theta state, kind of that creative, quiet resting space when they leave. The floating, the neuro optimal neural feedback. We have a salt cave, which is aerosolized Himalayan salt. And then, we have a whole body cryotherapy machine, which is liquid nitrogen. So, these are kind of mesh the mind and body into trying to become more on the same page, so to speak. 

Lisa Barry: Peg, tell us about the flotation room that you have there. 

Peg Kelley: We have four location spaces, so they're all private suites. So, you go in and there's a shower. You shower before you relax, you put in some earplugs to keep the saltwater out of your ears, and then you step into either a pod, or it's like a big bathtub, if you will. There's kind of like a shower door and you step in. I think there are 10 by 12 spaces, so those are a little more spacious than the pod, which, I think, a lot of people are used to seeing on social media where there's a lid and you closed it over your head. And it's what I think of is more womb-like, and you float for 60 or 90 minutes. You can use music. You can be completely silent, you can have lights, you can turn lights off, so you can go full sensory deprivation, which just allows you just to let everything go and not have your mind active at all. Or you can, you know, ease into it. A lot of people use it a lot of different ways, whatever works for them to just fully relax. And there's a thousand pounds of Epsom salts, Lisa, dissolved in two hundred and fifty gallons of water, so you immediately lay back, and you're floating like a cork in water, which is not something that a lot of people have a lot of experience with. So, it does take some time to get used to. Your muscles begin to just completely let go, and you float into a state of total relaxation. 

Lisa Barry: And, Mark, I know we've heard of cryotherapy, and as an orthopedic surgeon, you probably work with athletes. But is it just for athletes, or is it something we could all benefit from? 

Dr. Mark Kelley: It's a treatment that was originally designed in Japan for rheumatoid arthritics, who have a lot of inflammatory cells in their bodies. And the idea is that it flushes all of the inflammatory cells into our core and allows us to use our natural filtration system to kind of flush that out. It's a three-minute treatment. You can also cut that down to two minutes and varying the degree of time in there, but it has benefits for athletes. It has benefits for people with fibromyalgia and other inflammatory conditions that are looking for a way of adding to their treatment to get rid of some of these inflammatory things that are going on in their body. 

Lisa Barry: But it's cold, right? 

Dr. Mark Kelley: It's very cold. You know, there's always someone in there with you, and the two minutes, three minutes goes by when you're talking with somebody, and you can move around a little bit. And it's pretty remarkable how the last minute gets pretty cold. But, you know, once you get out of there, it's like, "Wow, that was something." 

Lisa Barry: Some people might be listening to this and think neurofeedback and cryotherapy and flotation. Who is this really for? So, here's your chance to address those questions and concerns and convince people that this really works. 

Peg Kelley: Our center is for anyone who is looking for ways to just really relax. The facility itself is beautiful. It's designed for, once you walk in, just to feel relaxed. And then each of the therapies, you can try them all. You can find which one works for you or combine some of them. But really, it's anybody who, as Mark said, has has a high stress job. We really welcome first responders and anyone working in those type of high stress roles. But there are a lot of people who carry their stress all the time. So, anyone who's looking to just let go for an hour and learn how to use these therapies because they are therapies. It's not something you do once, and you're you're all set. It's something you do. You add to any other health and wellness-related things that you do on a normal regular basis. So, we welcome anyone who just wants to relax. 

Lisa Barry: Mark, one where you have referred to it as a mind-body gym. 

Dr. Mark Kelley: That's correct. And there is science behind each of these services. This is not something that's just been created. These things have been around for quite some time, and, actually over in Europe, they're pretty mainstream treatments for a lot of conditions. So, we're catching up. I think we're on to a really wonderful, low-risk, very high-reward way of people just taking some time to treat themselves and be kind to themselves. 

Lisa Barry: Dr. Mark Kelley and his sister Peg Kelley, creators of Neurofitness Wellness Center on the west side of Ann Arbor. Thanks for talking to us here on 89 One WEMU. Art and Soul. The art of well-being. 

Peg Kelley: Thank you, Lisa. 

Dr. Mark Kelley: Thanks a lot, Lisa. 

 

  

**Special thanks to Paul Keller for providing the Art & Soul theme music.**

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU today to keep your community NPR station thriving.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu