A walk into Isthmus Wellness’ facility within an office complex on Madison’s west side quickly sets a zen tone. Gentle music, soft aesthetics, dim lighting, and fragrant aroma provide the backdrop for a center designed to be a welcome, safe, and soothing space of sanctuary.
With a licensed staff of six massage therapists and five acupuncturists—in addition to a customer-focused front office staff—Isthmus Wellness has been helping people from Madison and beyond with a range of treatment options.
The center’s goal, as outlined in their mission statement, is to bring ancient Eastern therapies into Western culture in an effort to strengthen and bring into true harmony a body-mind-spirit connection.
Licensed acupuncturist Chandon Williams owns the center, which features such amenities as seven treatment rooms, an infrared sauna, massage chair, and an ionic footbath. Chandon, who has 15 years experience in natural healing, says the center operates with an individual-focused approach, meaning there is no one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter formula.
“At Isthmus Wellness, we want to challenge the status quo of what complete healing and healthcare looks like,” Chandon says in a nearly four-minute video message posted on the center’s website.
Acupuncture and therapeutic massage are two of the most well-known therapies in Eastern medicine. However, Tracy Hammerstrom, who works as a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist at Isthmus Wellness, says the techniques can extend to even greater lengths.
“Acupuncture is just one tool that acupuncturists use,” says Tracy, who received four years of schooling before joining Isthmus Wellness two years ago. The list of remedies offered within the center also includes cupping therapy, Chinese herbal medicine, essential oils, and nutritional supplements.
The treatments can be realized through a range of specific services, including Maya abdominal therapy and energy work services in addition to acupuncture and massage. Some of the offerings, such as energy work, are lesser known but have proven beneficial to some clients.
Energy work, in particular, promotes relaxation and, according to experts, has been linked to helping bring new insights and solutions to particular situations a person might be grappling with on a daily basis. The healing techniques within energy work are designed to balance a person’s emotions by helping them feel more grounded and less impacted from stressful life events.
In a nod to Eastern medicine’s all-encompassing impact, the techniques within Maya abdominal therapy show how treatments might bring relief to people suffering with internal ailments. The practice, known more precisely as the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy®, is designed to help improve a person’s blood and lymph flow based on the positioning of specific internal organs.
Tracy says people come to Isthmus Wellness for a full gamut of reasons, including allergies, autoimmune symptoms, digestive symptoms, food intolerance, headaches, hormonal imbalances, infertility, menopause, mental health, neurological disorders, pregnancy care, sports medicine, stress management, and traumatic head injury.
No two people and no two conditions are alike, and for this reason, Tracy says Isthmus Wellness emphasizes a custom, collaborative approach as different treatment options are discussed and explored. “It really depends what people are looking for,” she says. “We can do it all.”
The center’s values statement, prominently displayed in the main lobby area, vividly displays a set of guiding principles. “We actively LISTEN to our clients’ concerns and needs, and work with as much FLEXIBILIY to serve their care. We are HONEST about how we can help and make referrals, whenever possible, to support their healing journey. All of our providers take every opportunity as a team to share HELPFUL information and support each other to make sure each of our clients receive the most appropriate and effective recommendations possible from the deepest level of INTEGRITY. As individuals, we do everything in our power to ensure we are at our HIGHEST POTENTIAL through self-care and personal development, so that we can effectively, and compassionately, care for our clients and our community.”
Tracy says the vision statement was assembled with thought and care before the collection of words and concepts were displayed in the lobby. “We all came up with that as a team.”
Clients visiting Isthmus Wellness typically book 60-minute sessions, though first-time consultations require a greater 90-minute time commitment since the groundwork is being laid and treatment options are explored. Regardless of the specific treatment sought, Tracy says one uniform goal is shared throughout. “We want this to be a place where you can set your worries aside for 60 minutes.”
While the benefits and overarching concepts of Eastern medicine have been growing in popularity on this side of the globe, Tracy says many of the principles embedded within the ancient techniques still remain mired in confusion and misinformation. Speaking to acupuncture in general, Tracy says, “It’s natural. It stimulates your body and helps it to regulate and heal. It gets it back on track. I personally think everybody can benefit from it because it’s so powerful and effective.”
Eastern medicine might be her specialty, but Tracy says there are benefits to Western medicine as well, particularly in terms of treating acute conditions. She says the two forms can work hand in hand with one another. “It doesn’t have to be one or the other. They can be integrated. I wish more people knew that.”
With its big-picture approach, the applications of Eastern medicine might require time to achieve positive, meaningful outcomes, which can be a challenging concept in a Western society marked by instant fixes. “Sometimes it takes time, sometimes it doesn’t,” Tracy says.
In her video message, Chandon further expands on this concept and emphasizes that clients who are in it for the long haul will reap the benefits Eastern medicine affords. “If you’re willing, we will create a new picture of health together and work tirelessly until that’s a reality…We know your body is not just a list of symptoms. We see you as a unique individual.”
Dave Fidlin is a freelance writer who has a special affinity for Madison. Dave’s career spans nearly 20 years, and he’s grateful for the opportunity to learn something new each day through his professional pursuits.
515 Junction Road #2300
Madison, WI 53717