“If you want to be happy, it helps to be healthy,” said Irene Savoyat, co-founder and co-director of the Creative Wellness Center on Abbot Road in East Lansing.Creative Wellness Center and next door neighbor Full Spectrum Family Medicine, a traditional medical practice, have worked hand in hand for more than a decade and a half to help their clients get healthy inside and out. Their relationship, which was created out of a vision of creating a single facility where people in the area can come for traditional medical and complementary health care, started 16 years ago. This year, Creative Wellness celebrates its 20th year. It was founded by six original partners, including Savoyat and Chris Reay, who remain at the center. Creative Wellness offers massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic and classes that range from meditation to movement. One of Savoyat’s specialties is to teach parents how to do baby massage. “I find it inspiring to give the tools to parents to help their children,” she explained. “Touch is vital for emotional and physical well-being.” And she has firsthand experience with the power of touch. Early in her career, having earned a degree in special education from a university in France, her native country, Savoyat worked as a special education teacher. Many of her students were autistic or had physical or mental challenges. She discovered that they while they didn’t respond to her words, they responded to her touch. The simple touch of a hand is reassuring and healing, said Savoyat. “Children know this instinctively,” she said. “When they are hurt, they immediately put their hand on the wound or injury and it makes the wound feel better.” Although she left teaching to pursue other interests, Savoyat carried this lesson with her. One of those interests was going to India to study massage. Some years later, after she’d married and had two children, she found herself living in East Lansing. Eventually, she joined with a few other partners who wanted to make a difference in the community. They brainstormed to find the right name for the center. “We thought about many names. When we heard the words “Creative Wellness”, everyone stopped … that was it!” The name symbolized the vision they all shared — to provide resources and services that would promote holistic health and involve the individual to help them make decisions about their health. Recent studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute found that complementary alternative medicine practices such as massage, acupuncture and movement — including Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates — improved the physical and psychological well-being of individuals of all age levels. Many agencies, including the federally funded U.S. National Institute of Health, agree that these practices are important complements to traditional medical practices. They can even benefit cancer patients suffering from the effects of chemotherapy. There are many more examples. Savoyat recalls seeing a client in so much pain after reconstructive surgery that she walked into Creative Wellness doubled over. After only one treatment of massage therapy, she left standing up. Savoyat describes Creative Wellness as an oasis — a place to go to nourish the spirit to cope with the ups and downs of daily life. “Staying well helps keep you motivated to face whatever challenges you might have,” she said. “When you feel good, you can say, ‘I know I can handle anything.’” “What motivates me is helping people experience peace and happiness.” she said. And after 20 years, her motivation has only grown stronger as she has seen how much Creative Wellness makes a difference in people’s lives. She shares her vision with Co-Director Reay and their 50 staff members — including instructors who lead a robust schedule of classes. The business is thriving, even given the fragile economy. Creative Wellness will soon have a new home because the current one can’t accommodate the nearly 13,000 active clients who come to the center. To better serve their clients, they are moving across the parking lot into a building with double their current space. Regardless of the new location, their commitment remains the same. “We want to help our clients create their own health decisions,” Savoyat said. “And feel happy.” For more information visit www.creativewellness.net.
Ann Cool, MPS, is a freelance writer who lives in Mason with her husband Bob.