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In the Heart of Salisbury, Wivianny DeHaas creates ‘wellness oasis’

SALISBURY — Global pandemics don’t tend to adhere to a schedule, but COVID-19 couldn’t have come to Rowan County at a worse time for Heart of Salisbury Yoga and Wivianny DeHaas.

On March 13, DeHaas closed up a space she rent for the yoga studio in a building at the corner of South Lee and East Innes streets. She finished packing up items in her car and drove less than half a block to 120 East Innes St., for which she had received a certificate of occupancy after completing an extensive renovation and the site of what will become Heart of Salisbury Yoga, Wellness and Arts.

The renovated space is almost 5,000 square feet and “was basically an empty box.” Contractors installed a new HVAC system, upgraded electrical wiring, subdivided the space and built the bones for DeHaas’ vision of a “wellness oasis.” There’s a retail store selling ethically made products that aim to support healthy lifestyle, offices for a number of health and wellness professionals, a large demonstration kitchen with space for classes and, as its name suggests, two yoga studios that DeHaas plans to use for art exhibits and other events. She’s kept around some fixtures from the bakery that used the space before her, including a set of lockers with wear from years gone by.

The Salisbury City Council, she said, made the renovation possible through a grant that “helped mitigate the gap between our budget and the historic building issues we found along the way.” Today, the renovation and fixtures are just as fresh as the day they were completed.

But on March 14, Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order that closed schools. On March 19, health officials announced the first local case of COVID-19. The first local COVID-19 death was announced March 27 — the same day Cooper announced a statewide stay-at-home order. And while there’s no longer a statewide stay-at-home order, DeHaas is still dealing with COVID-19 restrictions.

She had planned a ribbon-cutting event for May 1 and a grand opening on May 2. She’s now hoping that things will clear up enough to open on Sept. 19.

“This strange quarantine time has given me a chance to regroup after a major historic rehab in the building and focus on our vision,” DeHaas said. “Our mission is to increase quality of life in Salisbury and Rowan Co. by creating a wellness and arts community.”

That community more than a yoga studio. It includes people such as Dr. Vince Pastore, who offers clinical psychological services for youth and adults; Nicole Ferrell, a nurse practitioner who offers functional medicine consultations and visits through collaboration with primary care physicians; Stacey Carter, who offers equine therapy and works in collaboration with mental health professionals and teaches horseback riding lessons; and Erin Davis, a licensed massage therapist.

Heart of Salisbury is also home to India little, a license message therapist; Nye Hartwick, a licensed massage therapist; and Melissa Eller, who offers healing touch therapy and and a type of therapy called Raindrop Technique.

The first cooking class in Heart of Salisbury’s demonstration kitchen is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 12, and DeHaas is planning an art show Sept. 19 with artists that include Cara Reische, Camille Palmer, Walter Russell, Pat Legg, Whitney Peckman and Syed Ahmad.

DeHaas takes pride in the synergy created by the various types of services offered — from health and wellness professionals to cooking and yoga classes.

“I wanted us to be a little bit of a wellness oasis, a space where all of these folks can come together,” she said. “The way we did things is very synergetic.”

She’s committed to fulfilling her vision for Heart of Salisbury, even if it’s delayed slightly be COVID-19.

“Our business model can sustain this for a little while, and we have been creative enough to put things online to adapt to the times,” DeHaas said. “My vision is still very much alive. We need this in Salisbury. We need something focused on positivity and just good health.”

For more information about Heart of Salisbury, email heartofsalisbury@gmail.com, call 704-425-8487, visit heartofyogasalisbury.com or Facebook.com/heartofsalisbury.

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