Recharging My Battery
Just what the doctor ordered: “me” time
By Heather Morse

I was pretty much dreading the day. I had been invited to Virtua’s newest Health and Wellness Center in Moorestown for an awesome day of fitness and relaxation – total “me” time. Since giving birth to my son nearly a year ago and getting back to work as assistant editor at SJ Magazine, you would think I would welcome “me” time, and I did. But I knew the day started with a fitness evaluation, and I had a baby a year ago. That explains the dread.

The knot in my stomach loosens when I stepped into the upscale locker room. It’s a gorgeous area with a sauna and steam room, and loads of high-end toiletries.

I head to the second-floor gym, where I take in floor-to-ceiling windows and rows of exercise machines encircled by a jogging track. I sneak a peek through the windows and see three heated pools and whirlpool on the first floor below.

Fitness specialist Nicole Briggs begins my fitness evaluation. I explain my uneasiness, and she tells me not to worry. “This allows us to measure your cardio function, muscular endurance, body fat and flexibility. We can then design an effective workout for you based on your fitness level,” she says.

She asks about my fitness goals (getting back into my pre-baby jeans is at the top of that list), my current exercise routine (chasing around an increasingly mobile baby), my exercise preferences (I get bored easily, so I need a program that mixes things up) and my health history (thankfully, I don’t have any concerns).

A few more tests, and she’s ready to lead me to my workout. I’m ready, I think. Still a little nervous, but Nicole has made me feel comfortable, so I think I’ll be ok.


Moving on

Nicole has me doing interval training. “It’s a combination of total body toning and bursts of cardio, which is a very effective way to get the results you’re looking for,” she says.

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Fitness specialist Nicole Briggs training Morse

As I sweat through two sets of 10 push-ups, I feel my arms burning and already know I’m going to be sore tomorrow. As soon as I finish the set, she instructs me to do two sets of six pull-ups. Whew!

Without a pause, she directs me over to a high-tech elliptical machine with a built-in TV. I don’t have a chance to enjoy the TV because Nicole pushes buttons to increase the resistance and tells me to “maintain a running pace for three minutes. By going straight from the push-ups and pull-ups to the cardio, you’re challenging your body.” I can feel exactly what she’s talking about.

She instructs me through six more intervals for 30 minutes total, explaining the moves and their benefits as we go.

When I tell Nicole how I’ve struggled to fit exercise back into my life since becoming a mom, she helps me come up with a game plan to get more active. “If you can find just 20 or 30 minutes, you can make it count, especially with the interval training. Your health is such a valuable asset, especially now that you’re a mom,” she says.

Her words hit home, and I make a promise to myself to get moving again.


Slowing down

Now that I’ve made a commitment to revive my body, it’s time to get my mind on the same page. I meet with instructor Megan Achey for a one-on-one yoga session inside one of the exercise studios.

As I set up my mat and get my yoga blocks situated in front of me, Megan puts on some soft music and adjusts the shades on the huge windows so sunlight fills the room. I’m already feeling relaxed.

“Yoga can give you much-needed time to give your mind and body a break,” Megan says. “Plus, it improves strength, flexibility and balance.”

Over the next 30 minutes, she guides me through poses that deeply stretch my muscles as I fill my lungs with deep breaths. Both my body and mind appreciate the slow, deliberate motions, and I’m disappointed when the session is over.


The spa, vir tú, helped Morse unwind and refresh

The spa, vir tú, helped Morse unwind and refresh

Time to refuel and relax

Before my spa visit, I head downstairs to the Wegmans Grab-N-Go Café for lunch – sushi and a salad. Then I head to the peaceful and luxurious spa, called vir tú.

Massage therapist Cristina Bolanos gives me a balancing massage, which she says uses “stress-reducing techniques that alleviate tension and enhance your sense of well-being.”

The balancing massage does precisely what Cristina says it will and after placing hot, damp towels on my back, she steps over to the whirlpool and prepares a nectar milk soak treatment for me.


Finishing touches

My last indulgence of the day is a manicure with nail specialist Janeen Mona. It’s been more than a year since I’ve been able to find time for a manicure, so I’m excited to have what the spa calls the “happy hour” manicure because it includes a milk soak, a heated honey wrap, a bourbon scrub and a velvety Whoopie! Cream.

“We want women – and men – to come here and feel special,” says Mona. “No matter what, our goal is to help you feel relaxed.”

May 2013
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