These Capital Region cures will get you out of your COVID-19 funk
and living your best life.
By Natalie Moore
“Biology gives you a brain. Life turns it into a mind.” –Jeffrey Eugenides, Pulitzer Prize–winning author
Stress Fracture is a Smash Hit
Is stress weighing you down? Do you ever just want to let it all out? Thanks to Stress Fracture, a Capital Region–based mobile stress relief room, now you can.
It all started when Jacky Vimislik, now a Rensselaer resident, was living in Binghamton and working in a lab. She and her coworkers were doing a laboratory cleanout day, getting rid of old glassware and anything that was lying around unused, and Vimislik had her eye on a huge, round-bottomed glass flask that had been sitting in a corner for years. “I was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome…we’re just throwing it out in the dumpster…I really just kinda wanna break it,” Vimislik says. To her surprise, her boss gave her the greenlight to do so, as long as she wore safety gear. “As that glass was dropping, and it hit the ground, the noise of the glass breaking had this profound effect on me,” she says. “I had this sense of excitement and exhilaration and this holy-cow-I-just-did-something-I-wasn’t-supposed-to-do feeling, and it felt awesome.” Vimislik’s coworkers joined in on the fun, and after their smashing session, not only was there a renewed camaraderie among people who didn’t normally interact, but the entire lab was also as productive as it had been that entire week.
Years later, when Vimislik found herself annoyed with a coworker, she remembered the feeling of that flask hitting the ground. “As terrible as this is to say, I visualized this person and threw some glass in my basement, and really that’s the day Stress Fracture was born,” she says. Vimislik created an LLC; designed a logo (it’s a cartoon version of her dressed in a lab coat, pulling out her hair with one hand and dropping that glass flask in another); and had the back of a box truck tricked out with electricity, speakers, a specially made wall for throwing stuff at and a raised roof that allows even tall people to properly swing a bat.
But a mobile stress relief experience isn’t a one-size-fits-all operation. Vimislik offers a variety of options for letting out your frustration, from “Take the Edge Off” (a short session when you just need to let off a little steam) to “It’s Personal” (one in which a specific person, such as an ex, is the focus of your smashing energy). “People that are either just going through a divorce or a breakup like to bring pictures of exes or the china they got when they were married,” Vimislik says. “I want to help people break through issues. I often have people write a word on a piece of glass and then visualize it and break it with intention. So when they bring their old china, they’re actually ridding themselves of the emotion of the hurt from the divorce or the death.”
Vimislik also offers custom rooms and scenarios, where customers’ imaginations can run wild. To book a smash session, visit stressfractureny.com.
New Yorkers Get Mindful With Headspace
While mindfulness and meditation have certainly gained popularity in western culture in recent years, the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought these practices even more into the mainstream. No one is more aware of this than the founders of Headspace, an online resource and app that seeks to improve both health and happiness around the globe by way of guided mindfulness and meditation exercises.
The company is now offering a free year of Headspace Plus to people who are unemployed, in addition to health care providers who work in public health. This past April, Headspace even partnered with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on “New York State of Mind,” a free collection of meditation, sleep and movement exercises designed for New Yorkers, who were hit hardest by the pandemic in its earliest days. Visit headspace.com/ny to get your “om” on.
Journaling Is a Girl’s (and Boy’s) Best Friend
When Janine De Tillio Cammarata was in seventh grade, she started keeping a journal about simple, day-to-day things, like the boys she she had crushes on and the dramas of middle school. Since then, the Clifton Park-based author has used journaling to help with creativity, accountability and prioritizing her time, as well as to process the grief of watching her son fight and ultimately lose his battle with cancer.
“No matter what you’ve gone through, journaling can be a first, second, third step—part of a whole therapeutic way for you to help along that journey of grief or illness, whatever it is,” says De Tillio Cammarata. In 2009, she co-founded Nick’s Fight to be Healed, a local nonprofit that supports pediatric cancer patients, after her 13-year-old son, Nick, lost his fight with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. In addition to writing books and running her nonprofit, De Tillio Cammarata now teaches journaling classes in the Capital Region.
“People get very intimidated as to how to even journal,” she says. “There’s this concept that ‘I’m not a writer—I won’t be able to do it good enough.’ I tell people that your journal is your own space. You don’t need to edit it, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. The way a journal works is by
being honest with it and not showing it to anyone so that you really don’t have to worry about judgement.”
De Tillio Cammarata teaches a monthly journaling class at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library (she’s been holding virtual classes since the beginning of COVID), as well as courses for students through BOCES and multi-day workshops on journaling for healing, wellness and stress reduction on her own. “Basically, I give everyone tips on how to get started and sometimes that’s all that’s needed,” she says. To start journaling your way to a better you, visit janinedetilliocammarata.com.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” –Jim Rohn, entrepreneur and motivational speaker
When Saratoga Farmers’ Market customers started asking Smoothie Shoppe owners Laura and Rich Holoday how they could get their superfood-packed smoothies during the week, the couple knew they had found an untouched market. “Everybody’s so busy, and they want something quick and easy,” says Laura, who lives in Amsterdam with Rich and their three kids. “But a lot of the time, the quick and easy foods are heavily processed and filled with garbage that can make you feel bogged down.” The Holodays considered opening up a storefront—in the past, they only served smoothies at weekend farmers’ markets and special events—but thought even that wasn’t convenient enough for their customers. Then they landed on the perfect idea: a smoothie delivery service.
In November 2019, the pair launched Detox Box Delivered. As the name implies, their endeavor delivers organic, ready-to-blend smoothies, packed with dry ice, directly to people’s doorsteps, from Delaware to the Capital Region and as far north as Maine. Customers can subscribe to a customizable 12- or 24-smoothie-per-month plan; or purchase a one-time, 12-smoothie box with the flavors of their choosing (think: Protein PB & J, Acai & Elderberry and Matcha & Coconut). There are even professionally designed detox boxes, which come with smoothies specifically made to boost energy and metabolism, help with muscle recovery or keep your gut healthy.
The Detox Box delivery process begins Sunday nights at midnight, when all orders for the week are due. Laura and Rich wake up Monday to the orders, and do some last-minute shopping before Tuesday rolls around, and smoothie production begins. “We make a lot of smoothies on Tuesday,” Laura says. “We’re there the entire day—sometimes through the night.” The boxes are then packed and shipped out on Wednesday and arrive to customers on Thursday.
While smoothie deliveries have obviously been a boon for people who haven’t wanted to leave their home during the COVID-19 crisis, Laura sees a market for her products even after the worst of the virus is over. “In the winter, people don’t really want to go out of their house and wait in line for a smoothie,” she says. “They want to make it in their house and drink it in their house and not have to carry a cold smoothie around in the winter.” Visit detoxboxdelivered.com to design your very own smoothie box.
Beekman 1802 Gets ‘Ulta’-Famous
Since moving from New York City to a farm in small-town Sharon Springs in 2009, Dr. Brent Ridge and husband Josh Kilmer-Purcell have made quite a splash. The couple were the stars of reality cable series The Fabulous Beekman Boys, which followed their transition to farm life; the early days of their skincare brand, Beekman 1802; and the opening of a brick-and-mortar mercantile right in Downtown Sharon Springs. Earlier this year, they made headlines for launching a Schitt’s Creek–inspired pop-up shop at the mercantile and this summer, for turning their 60-acre farm into the world’s largest “restaurant,” giving local eateries the opportunity to take over the space for a week at a time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July, Beekman 1802’s small-batch, artisanal products, such as Pure Goat Milk Soap and Milk Bar Probiotic Facial Cleansing bar, were the star of the show, as the business announced it would partner with Ulta Beauty to sell 17 products online and in 400 stores as of August 9. Beekman’s products are branded with Ulta’s “Conscious Beauty” label, meaning they are made with clean ingredients and without animal cruelty. “We already have a slate of new products planned for next year with Ulta that expands on the science of feeding the microbiome of the skin using goat milk as the key source of nutrition,” Dr. Ridge told Capital Region Living’s, partner magazine, saratoga living, in July. “Ulta will play a key role in helping grow and develop the next generation of Beekman [customers].” To learn more about Beekman 1802’s products, visit beekman1802.com.
Train Like a Titans with Atlas Cards
Thought playing cards were just good for game night? Think again. This past July, Orangetheory Fitness trainers Mike Altieri and Chris Gross launched Atlas Training Cards, customized decks of cards that give their owners an easy-to-follow workout plan that requires next to no equipment. Here’s how it works: Each deck contains a key card, with four exercise options for each suit. The user assigns each suit a workout, so, for example, spades is overhead press, clubs is a kettlebell swing, hearts is a goblet squat and diamonds is a see-saw row. The user then makes his or her way through the deck, doing four goblet squats when the four of hearts is pulled, 11 kettlebell swings when the jack of clubs is pulled and 13 overhead presses when the king of spades is pulled. Each deck allows for more than 500 different potential workouts, and comes with a link to an online database of exercise demonstrations.
“Atlas is the Greek Titan god who was condemned to carry the heavens upon his shoulders after defeat at the hands of Zeus and the Olympians,” says Altieri, the director of operations for Orangetheory’s Albany, Rochester and Buffalo studios, about the name of his new venture. “He possessed greater strength, stamina, endurance and resistance to injury than any other Titan. These qualities are what the Atlas Training Cards are designed to build.” The fitness community has bought into the Atlas Card mission, literally, purchasing more decks during preorder registration than Altieri and Gross had even planned to print. At press time, they had sold more than 300 decks.
Though New York State allowed gyms to start reopening at 33 percent capacity, with a number of restrictions in place, between August 24 and September 2, at-home workouts still remain popular: According to NPD Group, March sales of exercise bikes, free weights and benches were up 170 percent, 181 percent and 259 percent, respectively, versus last year. While Atlas Cards definitely fall under the category of at-home fitness equipment, they’ll be useful as people start returning to gyms as well. And return they will, Altieri says. “When the dust settles, and it’s safe to return not just to the gym but to our normal lives, gyms will be busier than ever,” he says. “We all need that coach or workout partner to motivate and encourage us to push harder.” Until then, Atlas will certainly do. To get your own deck, visit atlastrainingcards.com today.
“Inside us there is something that has no name; that something is what we are.” José Saramago, Nobel Prize–winning author
Turn a New Leaf Massage Is a Hidden Gem
If you’ve paid any attention to alternative medicine in the past decade or so, you’ve probably heard of crystal healing. Gemstones have been used in healing rituals by civilizations dating back to the ancient Sumerians, but have only recently become a booming business in the US and Europe. But while crystal healing practitioners come a dime a dozen, Erin Sikopoulos of Turn a New Leaf Massage and Energy Work in Saratoga Springs has remained truly one of a kind.
“I got certified in Gemstone Energy Medicine [GEM] from an organization called Gemisphere,” says Sikopoulos. “There aren’t that many certified practitioners in the country, so I’m one of the few, and I’m the only one in Upstate New York, for sure.” What sets a GEM-certified practitioner apart from one who does normal crystal healing is the type and quality of gems being used in the healing process. “A challenge with crystal healing and the overall market when it comes to healing gemstones is the quality,” Sikopoulos says. “Everybody in the market is trying to make their material look better than it really is with heat treatments or dyes or lead or radiation. For us in GEM, we feel that those kinds of treatments essentially render a gemstone untherapeutic, energetically or vibrationally.” For that reason, GEM practitioners use only the highest quality gems.
Sikopoulos’ practice, as its name implies, combines traditional massage with GEM. After leaving a job in television in New York City, Sikopoulos first launched her Saratoga practice as a massage studio, incorporating gemstone energy work into sessions for clients who were open to it. Over time, the GEM treatments proved so effective for clients, that now, eight years later, it has taken more of a centerstage, with massage therapy work as a complement to it.
At press time, Sikopoulos was working toward getting back to in-person sessions following the COVID-19 lockdown and her maternity leave. While she isn’t taking new clients for in-person sessions, she is welcoming those interested in GEM to sign up for a virtual GEM Intuitive Session or her online GEM Meditations and Gemstone Energy classes. To learn more, visit turnanewleafmassage.com.
Sounds for the Soul
Good Karma Studio prides itself on being Albany’s only certified aerial yoga and bungee fitness studio. But if even regular mat-on-the-floor yoga (nevermind aerial yoga) is too strenuous for you, the studio has a more relaxing option: Crystal Bowls Sound Healing Meditations.
For six years, Good Karma has been offering Crystal Bowls Sound Healing Meditations on a monthly basis. It’s pretty simple, really: Students don’t have to do anything other than lie on their mat (or rest in the cocoon of a hanging yoga hammock for an extra $5) and listen to the soothing sounds the instructor plays on a variety of crystal bowls.
The key to the healing aspect of the class is the vibrations of the bowls. Everything in the universe has a vibrational frequency—including humans. In a 2019 interview with Shape, integrative psychiatrist and psychotherapist David Martinez-Perez, MD explained it this way: “When you have two vibrating entities next to each other [i.e. the bowls and the humans], the stronger vibration will affect the weaker one; eventually, they’ll synchronize. That’s basic physics.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Good Karma took its Crystal Bowls Sound Healing Meditations outside, offering the classes in Colonie’s Cook Park. One such class, held on June 19, or Juneteenth, raised money for Root3d Healing, a black-owned yoga studio in Albany. And on September 21, Good Karma will close out its outdoor class season with a special Crystal Bowls Sound Healing Meditation class at Saratoga’s Kayak Shak. To sign up, or learn more about Good Karma Studio’s class offerings, visit thegoodkarmastudio.com.
Holistic Healing, Cowork Style
Most people find their way to holistic healing in an effort to better their own life. A portion of those people end up becoming practitioners in an effort to better the lives of others. And then there’s Josetta “Josy” Jenkins-Smith, who went in search of spiritual guidance for herself, became a practitioner and then took it one step further: She opened a cowork space specifically for other holistic practitioners who don’t have a brick-and-mortar space of their own.
A few years ago, Jenkins-Smith, a Colonie-based software developer, went in search of spiritual guidance, finding herself at a shop in Rhode Island. “As I was meeting with mentors out there, every mentor I had told me that I was meant for spiritual leadership,” she says. “It took me a while to actually swallow that pill, because I was just there for myself, but as I kept going along that path, a year and a half later I realized and I accepted that this was the road for me to go on.”
Now, Jenkins-Smith is the owner of Healing Whispers, a coworking space on New Karner Road in Albany, as well as her own practice of the same name. She specializes in the areas of astrology, chakras, crystals, reiki and spiritual coaching, which she calls her “real passion” and interprets as “meeting people where they are in their journey of mindfulness, their journey of spirituality—whatever that means to them.”
Jenkins-Smith currently rents out space at Healing Whispers to two other practitioners, but had a rotating list of close to a dozen pre-COVID. “The mission,” she says, “is to give practitioners the opportunity to bring their mission to fruition in a way that’s feasible and affordable.” Visit healingwhispers.net to start your path to spiritual healing.