Classes in Session

In the heart of regional communities, specialized offerings are cropping up to build mind, body and spirit.
Downtown Market, Inc.
At the Downtown Market, Inc. in Grand Rapids, Greenhouse Coordinator Josh Usadel (center) provides hands-on learning opportunities for all ages in the innovative rooftop space, which grows herbs and produce year-round and is irrigated by rainwater.

On the west and east sides of the state, two organizations are strengthening Michiganders’ personal health and renewal through educational offerings focusing on food awareness, natural healing and exercise: The Downtown Market, Inc. of Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor Holistic Health.

Located on Ionia Ave. in downtown GR, “The Downtown Market provides a variety of educational opportunities to help people learn how to live an overall healthy lifestyle,” overviews President and CEO Mimi Fritz. With classes taught by local professionals centered on healthy living, the Market combines its unique vendor space of food purveyors with accessibility to unique educational resources.

In order to provide a framework of the importance of nutrition and holistic eating, the Market began its four-month “Foodie Film Series” in January. Every month through April, the Market screens one food-focused documentary and follows each with a panel discussion and tasting. The Market has simultaneously been offering classes on nutrition, cooking with local produce and gardening, taught by local experts in order to compliment food awareness with the ability to improve one’s own menu at home.

“If you don’t eat right, you’re already at a substantial disadvantage,” he notes. “Our bodies don’t live in a vacuum.”
— Gary Merel

As a part of physical wellness, the Market also hosts community yoga classes several times per week in both the morning and evening. These — in addition to the other educational opportunities for body and mind — can be accessed via scholarship.

“It’s important to us that everyone can participate, so we also offer an income-based scholarship program through a partnership with Spectrum Health, which covers tuition for classes as well as transportation costs,” Fritz says.

On the east side of the state, Ann Arbor Holistic Health extends comprehensive offerings to increase the knowledge and better the health of its clients. Located just west of Ann Arbor, Holistic Health provides a variety of services designed to “help the body do what it can do naturally,” says Gary Merel, Holistic Health’s practitioner. With a menu of items including acupuncture, enzyme nutrition plans and hormonal fertility treatment, Merel and fellow practitioners provide an approach to wellness that combines lifestyle and healthy eating.

A seasoned holistic care professional, Merel holds an Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine and currently serves as a guest lecturer at the University of Michigan Medical School. Through specialties such as acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and enzyme nutrition, Merel’s principle goal is to “improve my patients’ health IQ,” he shares. Nutrition is a primary tenant.

“If you don’t eat right, you’re already at a substantial disadvantage,” he notes. “Our bodies don’t live in a vacuum.”

Above all, Merel stresses, “Health is a choice.”

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