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Columbia wellness center takes visitors on 'nourishing journey'

Nourishing Journey wellness, detox and spiritual center began its latest endeavor Wednesday morning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony when owner Jennifer Palmer officially opened for business at an expanded location on Guilford Road in Columbia.

The wellness center, previously located on Shaker Drive in Columbia, offers services, programs and spirit and wellness treatment modalities, including yoga classes, massage and acupuncture as well as a hyperbaric chamber and sauna.

The expanded location also features an all-organic cafe with an assortment of coffees and teas, fruits and vegetables. A soft opening was held last month, and the cafe opened with limited hours on Thursday .

Palmer said while there are some healthy food stores — like David’s Natural Market, Whole Foods Market or MOM’s Organic Market — in Howard County, all-organic and natural food options are hard to find. In addition to all-organic smoothies, Nourishing Journey customers can also buy Bulletproof Coffee, which she said is a passive organic coffee with little to no mold.

“A lot of coffees out there have higher mold counts, so that’s why a lot of people can’t drink coffee because they can’t handle the mold,” said Palmer, who opened the business’ first location around 2010. “Our viewpoint is that when you’re trying to heal, it needs to be from all levels and aspects of who you are – the mind, body and spirit.”

A former information technology professional, Palmer said she used to suffer from chronic health issues, such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, and was “chemically sensitive” to many foods. Palmer found solace in wellness and spiritual treatments and watched her health improve.

“There are a lot of people [in Columbia] who enjoy the alternative or holistic way of living,” she said. “We have a lot of people who are into the different things that we do with the mind, body and spirit because we’re a whole health center.”

Gina Keskula, the cafe general manager, said the wellness center was not only designed as a place to receive treatment, but also a community center where customers can come together and feel comfortable. The cafe strives to eliminate the misconception that all-organic foods are expensive, she said.

“Having wholesome and organic food without all the chemicals is a huge part of the message we’re trying to share,” Keskula said. “[Shopping organic] can be expensive, but it’s becoming more and more available and affordable. My goals are hiring a staff where we might not know [customers’] names every time they come in, but we’ll try to remember what they drink.”

Keskula also worked as the project manager for the new location, which was originally part of Residential One apartment rental agency. About $12,000 was raised through crowd funding, Keskula said, but she would not comment on overall costs for the expansion.

“A lot of people say, ‘Oh, they’re a bunch of hippies,’” Keskula said. “We’re making it where people from the community want to come here, get coffee and learn more about the services.”

Diana Blake, a partnering practitioner and licensed life coach, said the expanded location is “a beautiful and convenient place,” where customers can meet like-minded people.

“It’s nice to have another place and there’s not one on this side of Columbia,” Blake said. “I’m really excited about it. It has a lot to offer.”

The cafe’s is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, but will expand hours to 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., weekdays, beginning in mid-September.

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