For Green Spa and Wellness Center owners Sheila and Maureen Brody, wellness and complementary medicine hit home, literally, when their father, an urban miner who helped build New York City’s subway and water tunnels, was diagnosed with a progressive and potentially fatal lung condition.
The ailing man was reluctant to try anything that his doctors did not prescribe, and his condition worsened to the point where he was placed on a round-the-clock ventilator. Finally, after much persuading from his daughters, he agreed to give complementary medicine a try. Two or three times a week, he visited the Brodys’ Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, spa for massage, acupuncture and aromatherapy treatments. After just six weeks of healing therapies, his condition markedly improved.
“Even his doctors could not believe the dramatic change,” says Maureen Brody, the spa’s president and marketing director. “If we’d ever before questioned the ability of our spa’s services to enhance the wellness of our guests, we were now certain. These treatments are effective. They have the power to transform people’s lives.”
The Brody sisters, along with business partner Maria Ingardia, have been providing life-transforming treatments since 1998, when they opened Green Spa and Wellness Center to a populace just beginning to embrace the spa lifestyle. Their goal: help clients achieve total well-being through alternative treatments without sacrificing traditional spa services such as facials, body wraps, scrubs, nail care and waxing.
At Green Spa and Wellness Center, a range of massage modalities keep company with a dedicated movement center providing a full schedule of fitness classes including various yoga practices, tai chi and Pilates. There’s also an in-house acupuncturist, who targets persistent maladies, and a life coach who offers programs on mindfulness, weight loss, creativity and other meaty topics.
“Massage is a cornerstone of our business, but we always wanted something more. We believe in honoring the mind-body connection,” says Sheila. “Hiring an acupuncturist was our first step, and we now have numerous partners. We even have a relationship with a plastic surgeon. He’s a unique gentleman whose approach is all about enhancing nature—so the same belief system is in place. We see the healing aspect in everything.”
The sisters’ wellness ethos is also built into the design of the spa. The first floor, called the “Awareness” level, hosts free community-building activities and motivational workshops. When guests enter the building through the Spa Shop area, front desk personnel take the opportunity to explain the menu of services and inform them about the green materials—such as the copper plumbing and eco-friendly insulation—that were used to create this special space.
The second floor, dubbed “Personal Care,” is where guests receive pampering, one-on-one treatments. Pre- or post-treatment, they can relax with a hot neck wrap in the Whisper Lounge and sip the spa’s signature Red Sun tea.
The third floor, or “Spirituality Loft,” houses the movement studio, featuring a floor-to-ceiling glass mosaic of Buddha, and two fireplace suites for side-by-side treatments. In the personal steam room, guests can enjoy eucalyptus steams with natural sea salts and oils, as well as a range of private soaks. A beautiful skylight above captures natural sunlight during the day while offering a glimpse of the stars at night.
Quality of service is key to a wellness business, and Green Spa and Wellness Center’s owners actively seek out therapists with multidimensional expertise. They currently employee approximately 50 employees, many with advanced certifications. Their master massage therapists, for example, include a certified Pilates instructor with extensive body mechanics knowledge, and a qi gong and tai chi instructor with a broad understanding of traditional Asian healing techniques.
“In the interview process we actually receive a treatment from the therapist to determine whether they have something unique to offer, and whether they need additional training,” Maureen says. “If we decide that their qualities meet our and our guests’ needs, we begin the hiring and training process.”
Even the estheticians at Green Spa have dual certification in prenatal care and organic skincare training. “And they’ve learned to work with clients’ individual energy fields to enhance their experiences,” Maureen says.
The spa also takes its role in the community very seriously, offering free Friday night “hypnotic vacations,” in which spa guests are guided via mental imagery to exotic lands. The Live Life Lighter Weight Loss Program is a popular year-round offering that’s overseen by a registered nurse and customized to include blood-work analysis of each client to detect nutritional deficiencies. Group meetings and spa makeovers for the program’s biggest “losers” motivate clients to stay connected and also create a feeling of camaraderie.
Sheila and Maureen report that their father continues to visit the Green Spa multiple times per week, and that he is thriving in spite of his health challenges.
“He’s one of our most loyal customers and that’s really gratifying because he was such a skeptic at first,” Maureen says. “Now he’s absolutely a true believer.“ —Katherine Stewart