HURRICANE — Matt and KerryAnn Humphrey have created a healing oasis in Hurricane, taking a multifaceted approach toward physical and mental fitness. Their new business, Unity Health and Wellness, officially launches with a grand opening Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Visitors to Saturday’s event will meet the various teachers and practitioners who bring their expertise to the studio, which the Humphreys envision as a hub for holistic healing.
Guests can also try an activity at the core of the Humphreys’ State Street studio: aerial yoga. A free beginning aerial yoga class will be held at 10:30 a.m., followed by trapeze yoga classes at the top of each hour from 1-3 p.m.
Because the studio is newly-built, KerryAnn Humphrey was able to design her aerial yoga room with the help of a local engineer. It features an array of blue and green yoga trapezes hung from steel beams made to support 1,500 pounds apiece.
“When the trapezes are all down, it feels like a forest,” she said, adding that the benefits of yoga go beyond aesthetic.
Newbies might be afraid they’ll be asked to undertake Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics, but in reality, aerial yoga trapezes – particularly when used by beginners or students looking for body restoration – are often hung quite low to the ground. The fabric sling, which includes handles, provides support for students as they try various yoga poses and inversions.
Same field, different paths
The Humphreys met while going to school for occupational therapy. KerryAnn was a year behind Matt in her schooling, and after she graduated, the couple married and moved to St. George, where they embarked on careers in their chosen field.
She worked as an occupational therapist for 27 years at what is now St. George Regional Hospital, finishing out her career in the NICU. She resigned her post mid-pandemic when it became apparent she was taking home the stress of people suffering from COVID-19, as well as that of their family members frustrated at being unable to visit loved ones.
Concerned she was developing unhealthy coping patterns, she decided to take a step back and to heal and embark on a longtime dream of owning her own wellness center.
Matt Humphrey has also spent his entire career as an occupational therapist, bringing the couple’s combined experience in the field to 55 years. His passion is working with the geriatric population. Along with helping clients cultivate greater strength, flexibility and balance, he teaches seniors to adapt their homes and lifestyles to achieve maximum mobility while minimizing the risk of falls or other injury.
He works with people in their homes or at the studio, which is equipped with a kitchen and showers where people can practice daily activities like bathing and cooking. He has a phrase he uses to describe what an occupational therapist does: “We work on helping people with anything they’re having difficulties with that ends in ‘ing’ – walking, dressing, golfing.”
He also specializes in managing lymphedema, a condition where a part of the body, usually an arm or a leg, swells because of an accumulation of lymph. Lymph, a clear liquid containing white blood cells, is supposed to permeate the body’s tissues and then drain into the bloodstream via the lymphatic system. If there’s a blockage, lymph can pool rather than drain, causing issues like arthritis, joint and muscle stiffness, digestive problems and autoimmune disorders.
KerryAnn Humphrey still practices occupational therapy but is increasingly pursuing other areas of interest. Working in the NICU and being a mother of three children of her own – now 25, 22, and 20 – inspired her to become a certified lactation consultant, helping new moms and babies learn to breastfeed.
She’s also certified in pelvic floor therapy, which aims to help people strengthen pelvic floor muscles that have become weak or damaged by factors like childbirth, advancing age, weight gain or injury.
Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction can include pain during sex or urination, diminished sexual pleasure among women and erectile dysfunction among men, bowel or bladder leakage and prolapse, which causes pelvic organs like the uterus or bladder to protrude outside the body.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is a common issue, but Humphrey says it’s discussed far less in the United States than in many other countries.
“In France, for instance, they refer all women that are postpartum, after they deliver children, to a pelvic floor therapist to learn more about what is going on in their bodies,” she said.
When clients come to her with pelvic floor dysfunction, she can use biofeedback equipment to see what’s going on. Treatment generally includes exercises to strengthen an area fitness experts often call “the core.”
A holistic approach
Aerial yoga can be quite effective in helping strengthen the pelvic floor and for aiding in lymph drainage. This confluence of disciplines – the way a complementary health practice relates to both of the Humphreys’ areas of expertise – is characteristic of a holistic approach to health.
The Humphreys believe they can affect change in patients experiencing “dis-ease” through a multipronged approach.
KerryAnn Humphrey feels she’s most effective when looking at the big picture. People can make an appointment for an assessment, sharing any difficulties they are experiencing, physically and mentally. Unity Health and Wellness can then create an individualized plan using any number of modalities that will speed clients toward better health.
The Humphreys work with two aerial yoga instructors. They also refer clients to local wellness professionals they trust, from chiropractors to mental health experts to practitioners of sacral cranial therapy.
Aerial yoga is a great start for anyone, KerryAnn Humphrey said, because it works on so many levels, from muscle release to stress release. It’s fitting that a yoga studio is the centerpiece of Unity Health and Wellness, considering it’s a discipline that led her to a more open-minded outlook. She began practicing yoga about 15 years ago and was struck by the improvement in her mental health, sleep cycle and lifestyle.
“It was my journey into yoga that made me crave something different from the traditional wellness formula,” she said.
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