Servicing Synapses at the Spa

Jane G. Goldberg, Ph.D., is an avid yogini, martial artist and runner, in addition to being a practicing psychoanalyst, published writer and the owner of La Casa Day Spa in New York City. When she hit her late fifties not long ago and experienced age-characteristic memory loss, Goldberg, a cognitive development expert, figured that if she could rely on exercise to keep her body in optimal shape, then there had to be a way she could work out her mind as well.

“As a spa owner and holistic health enthusiast, I appreciate that mind and body health are inextricably linked,” Goldberg says. So, she pursued memory exercises and computer programs in an effort to keep her brain cells in top form. “While these methods were effective, I found it found them isolating, and too easy after a while, so I decided I needed a class to keep me on my toes and lend peer support,” Goldberg says. “I also figured that if I needed this boost, other people did as well."

So Goldberg got busy designing stimulating mental exercises to fine-tune all the various, necessary functions of the human brain. She nicknamed them “Brainercizes” and created a series of games and rituals aimed to hasten the formation of synapses (connecting bridges between brain cells) and quicken the firing of neurons. “Social and intellectual networks are very important to brain development,” Goldberg says, “so I molded these activities to teach to a group, as if designing curriculum for a yoga class.”

After two years of development, the result is a series of courses that service clients of all ages, and address various, specific neurological needs. This month, Brainercize (the name stuck) classes will be unveiled for the first time to spa-goers at La Casa. Goldberg plans to publicize these courses to the public as well, and says she hopes to see some new faces in her day spa as a result.

“We’ve offered treatments to help people look and feel their best for years,” Goldberg says. “And now that Brainercize will keep clients in peak neurological shape, we can better help them function at their maximum capacity throughout their lives.”

Each class is organized around a single major function of the brain and accommodates eight students. “All of them are designed to be a fun group experience,” Goldberg says. “The best learning occurs as a social phenomenon.” One course sharpens students’ memories (Remembercize); another aims to stimulate imagination (Imagercize), and a third enhances the functioning of each of the five senses (Sensercize). In addition, there’s a course to help students tap into their emotions (Limbercize), and another designed to aid brain development through physical movement (Movercize). For young children only, there's a class centered around imitation exercises (Mirrorcize).

“I’ve designed each course to address specific brain templates that create dysfunctions such as fear and anxiety, depression, temper, worry and impulsiveness,” she adds. “In these intensive classes, students will learn which part of the brain is correlated with each of these dysfunctions, and the various ways they can harness neurological control to operate at their peak mental and emotional states.”

For instance, one Remembercize activity calls on students to blindfold each other, feel dominoes with their fingers, and then later, locate that piece’s match from a pile. Without vision to aid them, Goldberg explains, students will have to further develop their capabilities for physical memory.

“So far, the classes for mature adults aged 50 and older seem to carry the most appeal,” says Goldberg, who initially publicized the new offering through La Casa’s 4,000-name-long email list. In addition to serving this group, separate classes will be held for children, adolescents, and younger and middle-aged adults.Goldberg hypothesizes that the courses will carry great appeal for loyal spa patrons, who she says will be advised to tune up their minds after their bodies and skin have been cared for during massages, facials and other treatments. “Those with a holistic mindset understand that improvement in one area complements improvement in another,” she adds.

In addition to a full schedule of classes (lasting an hour for adults and 45 minutes for children and teens), La Casa Day Spa will also offer an extended course called Brainathon once a month. It will last for three hours and sample exercises from each of the classes discussed above.

And not unlike La Casa’s spa treatments, home care will be discussed at the end of each session. “We’ll provide information on how to continue your Brainercize program at home with nutrient supplementation, brain voyaging and brain dreaming,” Goldberg says. Learn more about Brainercize by visiting Goldberg’s blog.

How does your spa bridge mind, body and spiritual wellness? Tell us all about it at koreilly@creativeage.com.


Also, check out Goldberg's most recent published piece on memory development (which includes a shout out to DAYSPA!) at The Huffington Post!—Katie O’Reilly

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