Address: 2728 Asbury Road, suite 777
On the web: www.relaxlivewell.com
Opened: June 12, 2004
Just after Julia and Scott Theisen first met and were getting to know one another on two continents (England and the U.S.), they were already sharing their intentions for a life together. One of the intentions became, essentially, Body & Soul Wellness Center, Spa and Salon, which really started as “a dream, an idea,” Julia said.
So when Scott felt drawn to the Fountain Park property, even in the rough shape it was once in, the dream started taking on physical shape.
“He would visualize the space and place 2x4s where doors and corridors would be,” Julia said. “He set up the basic main layout we still have. And our intention became reality. Love really is the best fertilizer.”
Body & Soul — which includes a yoga studio, counseling center and salon — will be celebrating its 20th year in Dubuque in June. Scott and Julia have been at the helm of the business, and it’s difficult to imagine it not being a strong, local presence in the wellness world. Despite changes and challenges, Body & Soul has proven that it not only has staying power but also that it has found an effective formula for offering services that many need for wellness and self-care.
“There have been many fluctuations, ebbs and flows,” Scott said. “We have asked ourselves, ‘Are we going to make it?’”
For a while, the business expanded to include services in the Roshek building and a café, Inspire, in the Millwork district. These expansions stretched them a little thin and they felt they were losing sight of doing what they loved, so they scaled back to focus on offerings at Fountain Park.
But not many businesses are around for 20 years without its share of struggles and growing pains.
In part, struggles have come about relatively recently from Julia’s health fight with breast cancer and from the global pandemic, and even a number of years ago with abrupt changes in personnel, as happened in 2010.
“When five team members left to open their own businesses in 2010, it was a big change,” Julia said. “But we had to get creative and trust the process. When that happened, I spent a lot of time focusing on it and I took my eye off the ball (of the business).”
Julia’s way to counter the challenge was to create a TEDx Dubuque Talk called “Being in Your Own Lane.” This helped bring back her focus, and the company soon rebounded with Scott working as a counselor (he has a license in mental health) and with hiring two new counselors.
In addition to counseling, Body & Soul offers yoga and yoga teacher training (now in its 13th year), spa and massage and salon services (in a space that was once their Pilates studio). They had also have run the Yoga and Oneness Festival for five years before COVID, which is also around the time Julia learned of her breast cancer diagnosis.
“Treatment was my main focus after I found out,” Julia said. “And I learned how expensive it is to have to treat cancer. The out-of-pocket cost is incredibly expensive. I made a plea to the holy spirit that if I got past this, I’d help others in the same boat, I’d shift the dial.”
She started an online program called Resilience Over Cancer that strives to help cancer patients see their way through the ordeal. It has become her “passion project” that she plans to continue into the foreseeable future. For her, this seems like a natural evolution from her days as a nurse in England and working with kids who had cancer.
“In the modern world, our bodies have a higher toxic load,” Scott said. “And we need to face the effects in one way or another.”
Because of this, it’s more difficult to remain healthy on any level. It makes sense, then, that Body & Soul is intentional with what is offered to help alleviate some of the toxicity.
“When we started 20 years ago, the mind-body connection was not so well understood,” Julia said. “We have to work not just with our bodies but with our overthinking minds, too.”
What the Theisens have become deeply aware of at is how counseling services have become normalized. Where it used to be something hidden, it’s now accepted. The spa, too, supports brain health because the two — body and mind — are not disconnected.
“When you start (counseling), something shifts,” Scott said. “You begin to feel more worthy. People begin to feel that they deserve this part of wellness.”
While Julia and Scott lead their business, they are grateful not to have to do it on their own, and they have a reliable and energetic staff to thank for that. To start, when Julia had to pull back to focus on healing during cancer treatments and Scott was supporting her, they found that Julie Drake was a natural fit for the leadership team, and she became the manager to run the day-to-day business operations.
But the entire staff supports the business by supporting one another, whether as needed emotionally or by tending to the small tasks that make everyday things easier. Body & Soul has a system for acknowledging these efforts, too.
“In the back office, we keep a little box for people to add slips of paper to, with written comments of things they’re grateful of what someone did or said,” Scott said.” We’ll share these and pick someone to receive a free service.”
It’s an action that goes a little further to support their business.
“People step up more,” Julia said. “It’s the little things; they connect the team.”
In the wellness business, it helps to ensure that the work space is charged and humming with positive and clear energy. It’s likely that people pick up on these things even if they don’t know they are doing that, so the staff makes sure to extend the positivity to vendors and mail carriers, too.
The services connected to Body and Soul are now well established, and Julia and Scott intend to deepen those offerings. Their near future plans are to remodel their final space and to continue providing the most effective services in wellness–in body, soul, and peace of mind.