By Emily J. Weitz
Kiley DeMarco and Anastasia Gavalas came from totally different perspectives when they met a couple summers back at an event at Wolffer Estate in Sagaponack. Ms. DeMarco was behind the web site onehealthyhamptons.com, where she writes about wellness on the East End. Ms. Gavalas was an author and busy mother of five.
“We just hit it off,” said Ms. DeMarco, “and started brainstorming ideas of working together.”
Ms. Gavalas’s book, “Wing It”, is about staying sane in the madness of parenthood. She also started the Wing It foundation, which helps fund global and local education initiatives. The women were supportive of one another’s work, and wanted to figure out a way that they could bring the backgrounds of wellness and family together to create a healthier community.
“We like different things,” said Ms. Gavalas. “How we relax, fitness, eating. We have different lifestyles but we both want balance.”
They were both tired of spending lots of money trying to find a wellness regime that worked, often without success. They thought about how in the winter, there are so many wellness businesses struggling to stay on people’s radar.
“We wanted to find a way,” said Ms. DeMarco, “to allow locals to try fitness classes for free or for less to empower themselves to be healthier.”
That’s how Hamptons Wellness Week was born. Last year, more than a hundred people and about 18 businesses took part. This year those numbers have already grown exponentially. The event will now span the entire month of January. More than 30 businesses are already on board, and more are joining every day.
“You buy a bracelet for $45,” explained Ms. Gavalas, “and you wear it for the month. You get free fitness classes and 50-percent off wellness treatments, from manicures and pedicures to massages and facials.”
The businesses involved really stretch to the limits of the wellness industry, including dentists and acupuncturists, chiropractors and yoga studios.
“We want people to be able to find what they like,” said Ms. Gavalas. “It can be fitness, wellness, or nutrition. We were able to encompass everything: essential oils, nutritionists, colonists. Anything that will better your life.”
They decided to make it a month long so that people really have time to explore. If they’re away for a week, they can still take advantage. If they’re late to start, they can still buy a bracelet. And, they have time to try and fail and try again.
“It takes 21 days to form a new habit,” said Ms. DeMarco. “It’s not just going to the gym for three days and giving up. This is about forming a new habit that you’ll stick to and love. It’s about doing something you love that improves your life in so many ways.”
Restaurants and hotels have also gotten involved. Some, like c/o at the Maidstone, Forever Bungalows, and the Quogue Club bought packages of bracelets that they’ll be giving out to their guests in the month of January. Some restaurants, like the Old Stove Pub in Sagaponack, will also offer special wellness menus.
“We wanted to involve more businesses and more people in the community,” said Ms. DeMarco.
The timing of Hamptons Wellness Week (or month) is consciously chosen to coincide with people’s New Year’s resolutions.
“It’s kicking off the New Year in a healthy way,” said Ms. Gavalas. “But this is also the most realistic goal you can set. This is four weeks of possibilities for anything you want to try. Air quality assessments in your home, haircuts, you name it. You get to try these things and see if it’s something you can fit into your lifestyle.”
Ms. DeMarco added, “It’s head to toe wellness. You can take this month and take care of every part of your body.”
Check out the full list of participating businesses, which are located from Montauk to Westhampton, at their web site hamptonswellnessweek.com. You can also buy bracelets online, or at Blow Hampton in Bridgehampton.