OFF TO A HEALTHY START: Ways to find a zen state of mind and body in 2019

Ahhh, January. After almost two months of glutinous holiday celebrations, I inevitably find myself assessing how to get back “in shape.” And I don’t just mean burning off pounds of mashed potatoes or obscene amounts of sugary treats (#noregrets).

A new year often marks new beginnings for folks looking to get healthy, physically and mentally. Establishing an exercise routine for a healthy heart, mind and body often equals less stress and anxiety for some. But committing to becoming a “better you” is defined differently for everyone—whether it’s for exercise and weight loss or increased mindfulness and spirituality.

While self-retrospection should be more than an annual luxury—or obligatory half-promise easily shrugged off—here are some healthy ways to jumpstart 2019 throughout our Port City.

30 for $30 at Yoga Salt
Various days and times
Yoga Salt Studio
1540-220 S. 2nd St.
Vinyasa flow and hot yoga are but two offerings at Yoga Salt, the latest addition to the South Front District that opened on January 4. They’re offering one month of yoga for $30 bucks for first-time students. Most classes are 60 to 75 minutes long in the spacious two-room 2,600-square-foot studio and take place all day. They also have a 30 Day Challenge and will pay out $25 toward another class package after completing the challenge (must attend 20 classes) between January 15 and February 15.

Founder Tamal Dodge had all ages and abilities in mind for Yoga Salt, helping students of all level in varioius practices, like yoga asana, alignment and more. Private yoga sessions as well as studio rentals are available upon request. For more information, visit

Lunch n Learn Series
Wednesday, Jan. 9, 12 p.m.
Thursday, Jan 10, 12 p.m.
Nir Family YMCA
2710 Market St.
The YMCA on Market Street is back and better (and bigger) than ever. Their grand opening was just before the new year, and featured lots of spacious studios for fitness classes (yoga, Zumba, spin).

Nir Family YMCA also is bringing back their free Lunch N Learn Series, open to members and non-members alike. What was a four-part series ends with Wednesday’s “Probiotics, Gut Health, and Fermenting Foods” and Thursday’s “DNA Genetic Cancer Testing.” Both come with free lunch and start at noon in the community room.

Folks can RSVP at the welcome desk or call 910-421-9622.

Qi Gong and Food Healing
Sat., Jan. 12, 11 a.m.
Hannah Block Community Arts Center
120 S. 2nd St.
Not quite ready to hit the gym? Here’s something for the body and mind: Qi gong. Qi gong is a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing and meditation. It’s often used in martial arts training, but work wonders for general health and spirituality.

Beginners can explore qi gong in a 45-minute session at Hannah Block Community Arts Center on January 12, as well as stick around for a delicious discussion about high-photochemical foods, with bites included.

Whole Health Forum
Monday, January 14, 5:45 p.m.
Unity of Wilmington
717 Orchard Ave.
This free monthly forum happens every second Monday of each month, during which three local professionals educate attendees on various health and wellness topics. January features physical therapist Caroline Keeler, who will discuss an area of our bodies most ignored: the pelvic floor. It’s the body’s foundation for core stability and vital to elimination, procreation and respiration.

Kayla Reilly is a licensed therapist and will present on communication in relationships and the “do’s and don’ts of expressing yourself.”

Finally, Elizabeth Ventre will discuss “Myofascial Release” to decrease pain and improve restricted areas of the body. Light food will be served and raffle prizes will be given from presenters and other local wellness businesses.

Breath of the Drum + Yummy Yoga Restorative Mini-Retreat
Sat. Jan. 19, 2 p.m.
Heather Till Yoga
3828 Oleander Dr.
Heather Till Yoga offers myriad yoga workshops throughout the year, from Baby + Me series (drop-ins welcome, just call ahead) to her monthly Yummy Yoga series on January 16 (February 16, March 16 and April 27).

This month folks have the option to combine Yummy Yoga with Breath of the Drum, featuring musician Perry Smith. Breath of the Drum ($10), 2 p.m. – 2:45 p.m., combines mindfulness, breath work and guided hand drumming to focus on meditation and connection through shared rhythms.
Yummy Yoga ($25) starts at 3 p.m. and combines restorative and gentle yoga, with self-massage techniques, conscious breathing and hands-on healing for all experience levels. Sign up for both for $30 at

To help people jumpstart their wellness practice, Till also offers $25 off an Introductory private class package (regular $225) until January 31. The three one-hour sessions are designed for specific needs and abilities.

A month of free access to Heather Till’s online yoga studio is available, too. Online classes have a gentle and restorative focus with chair yoga options as well. Create an account at

Fitness Racine Health
and Wellness Fair
Sat., Jan. 19, 9 a.m.
O2 Fitness at 200 Racine Dr.
O2 Fitness’ Racine Drive business is hosting a number of local vendors in their Health & Wellness Fair. Locals will meet chiropractic professionals, healthcare providers, be introduced to area restaurants providing samples, earn free swag, gear and a chance to win other giveaways. The free and kid-friendly will feature a DJ and bouncy house for a fun-filled and educational event.

Find more at or check out the event’s Facebook page.

Visioning Your Health in 2019: A Mini-Retreat
Sat., Jan. 26, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The New School Kitchen
The New School Kitchen is for anyone looking for a new menu for the new year. New School Kitchen founder Ryanna Battiste, NBC-HWC, is a Duke-certified integrative health coach and offers year-round guidance, recipes and support for members who want to eat and cook clean foods for better health.

This month New School Kitchen is partnering with Julie Smith Taylor of Herbal Health & Healing Arts for a mini-retreat to cultivate a clear vision for individual health plans in 2019. Held at a private residence in Rocky Point, NC, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on January 26, the women’s-only retreat (available with only 10 to 12 spots) includes gentle yoga practice, healing plants workshop, guided meditation, prepared lunch with demonstrations, take-home recipes and more. It’s $239 for the day and includes food and supplies.

Learn more or sign up at

Fit4Mom Fitness Assessment Day
First Sunday of the month, 1 p.m.
Hugh MacRae Park, Shelter 4
Sure, Fit4Mom’s typical offerings are geared toward local mamas trying to lose extra pregnancy pounds or build strength, or simply find camaraderie in a healthy way. Fit4Mom’s monthly assessment day, however, is open to all parents looking for a standardized way to measure fitness progress as part of a supportive community.

Led by Fit4Mom instructor Jody Springer, fitness assessments take place on the first Sunday of each month and include a variety of timed exercises, body measurements, goal setting and devising individual plans for success. It is a free service included in all Fit4Mom monthly memberships, but also free for non-members for the first time. Bring water, a towel or yoga mat to participate.

Membership info, workshops and fitness class series, including Fit4Baby, Stroller Strides, Stroller Barre and more can be found at

Healthy Families EXPO
Sat., February 9, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Coastline Conference Center
501 Nutt St.
Healthy Families Expo on February 9 is free and geared to all ages, abilities and interests! vendors will showcase small steps and simple solutions to eco-friendly, healthy, active living whether participating in sports, martial arts, dancing, at gyms, et al. Also on hand will be health and holistic providers and services for individuals, families and kids. Learning tools, exercise, equipment, safety products, nutrition, beauty, and even clothing will be among products available. Kids activities, demonstrations and presentations will go on throughout the day, as well as live music and healthy grub from food trucks.

Dinner With a Doctor
Mon. Jan. 14, 6 p.m.
Tidal Creek Co-op, 5329 Oleander Dr.
Ste. 100
Tidal Creek Co-op is ILM’s premiere local, organic grocer and has been providing farm-fresh, organic and sustainably grown foods for more than two decades. They’ve expanded their offerings into hosting Saturday farmers’ markets and Q&A series that help toward achieving healthy living.
On Jan. 14 they welcome Dr. Harrison “Gabe” Frank of the Frank Institute for Health and Wellness ( who will talk about specific diets (such as Paleo, vegan, macrobiotic) and trends. The evening’s menu will include a full salad bar and Italian hot bar with meat, vegetarian and vegan options—free!

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