Starting at your fingertips, the pressure builds. You’ve just been strapped into a compression therapy set that envelops both your arms and your chest. Bit by bit, the chambers fill with air, squeezing and lengthening your upper body. A strange sensation comes over you — from the tightness comes release. You pay attention to the ways your fingers tingle and your breath grows deeper. The apparatus, which felt clunky and awkward at first don, now feels closer to a deep hug.

Compression therapy is one of the many offerings at Grit City Wellness in Point Ruston that, at first, may seem strange. The new fitness and recovery studio boasts the first in the state Somadome meditation pod and electric cryotherapy chamber, among many other classes and services.

“We’re getting into the territory of what nobody is doing,” said owner Chyna Willman, who acquired the space in January. She used to travel frequently as a sales director in the automotive industry and discovered a myriad of health and wellness methods and technologies along the way. She’s now determined to bring those discoveries home to the South Sound.

Many of the offerings at Grit City Wellness are expected to be found more so in the homes of celebrities, locker rooms of NFL teams, or luxury hotels in far-off places like Dubai than in a shopfront in our gritty city. But Willman is bringing us into the 21st century of health and wellness, if not into the future.

She’s most excited about the cryotherapy chamber, which reduces inflammation and stimulates the body’s natural recovery response when the cabin temperature drops to -170°F. The extreme cold results in increased energy, cell rejuvenation, immune system boost, and overall self-healing. The Somadome meditation pod is an exciting addition as well. Visitors enclose themselves in a chromotherapy dome and delve into a self-guided meditation session with inaudible frequencies and colorful lights intended to move the user into a relaxed brain state. Willman said visitors consistently leave the dome wearing serene expression, and she uses it frequently after a stressful day at work. Other notable services include the NormaTec Recovery compression massage system, an infrared sauna, yoga and fitness classes led by personal trainers, acupuncture sessions, vitamin and homeopathic injections, physical therapy, and a 24/7 fitness center.

In terms of amenities, the wellness center has a wall made of Himalayan salt bricks (picture your salt lamp extended to encompass an entire wall), a dedicated retail section with quality wellness products from local vendors, kombucha on tap (try the CBD + Ginger variety from Rainbow Cloud Kombucha), fresh towels laced with essential oils, more that contributes to the spa-like atmosphere of the space.

Willman has always had a passion for health and wellness, but she said that the move to become a business owner was actually a politically motivated one. She worked in the automotive industry for 15 years and has a background in public relations and marketing. “I left at the peak of my career,” Willman said. When the political climate shifted in 2016, Willman knew felt she needed to make a change. Although she’s been involved in community service and an active Rotarian for many years, she felt an obligation to do more. “I decided that I could be a female leader, a role model, a business owner. I could be the change that I wanted to see,” Willman said. She quit her job and began the journey that culminated in Grit City Wellness. 

Ultimately, the mission of her business venture aligns with her inspiration for starting it. “The basis of this is that if people feel better, they’ll do better,” Willman said. “They’ll be nicer to themselves, the cashier at the grocery story, their spouse, their kids, their neighbors. And we need that.”  We couldn’t agree more. This business has everything one might need — and more — to feel better and, in turn, do better. 

Grit City Wellness is currently open to the public, with the fitness center open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the wellness center open 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Willman employs five consistent workers, as well as contracted positions for specialty services such as acupuncture and physical therapy. She negotiated a contract with Point Ruston that enables her to be the only health and wellness business in the establishment, so she won’t be facing any proximal competition.

Willman will be hosting a grand opening event on Oct. 4 from noon to 4 p.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony, presence from the Chamber of Commerce, and a visit from Mayor Victoria Woodards. The celebration will continue through Oct. 6, and Willman will be offering free or discounted trials of her less familiar services, a practice she intends to continue to familiarize visitors with unusual methods that might work for them. We can’t wait to try them all.

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