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A New Way to Wellness

WellWay at Norterrre in Liberty takes a holistic approach to wellness

Chris Schultheis didn’t come up with the concept of WellWay overnight. There was no movie-like realization, no “ah-ha” moment. The concept of WellWay at Norterre took Chris decades to curate and fine-tune. 

“It was a slow realization because I’ve always been an exercise nut,” says Chris, the president and co-CEO of WellWay at Norterre. “I grew up in sports. Exercise was part of my being. When I went into [the world of fitness gyms], it was out of the passion for what it does for other people. It took me a long time to start to realize that that element alone is just simply not enough.”

In Chris’s 24 years in the health and fitness industry, he was exposed to more beyond the gym, such as functional medicine and lifestyle management. When he started WellWay five years ago, he wanted to do more than just create another fitness gym.

“We’ve got a health crisis in America, period,” says Chris. “It’s undeniable. The statistics are actually super, super scary. It’s a part of why we suffered so much from the pandemic as well, because of our health crisis as a nation. We’ve got to think of a solve for that. Access to healthcare is important. But it’s not the only solve..”

America has more gyms than any other nation in the world. Chris argues that despite that, our nation is not healthier. The United States doesn’t even rank in the top 30 of the healthiest countries on our planet. This drives home Chris’s point that most of the people who go to gyms are already, for the most part, healthy. His goal with WellWay is to expand access to wellness — beyond the gym. 

“Statistically, fitness centers do not improve the health of the communities they serve,” says Chris. “They tend to serve people who are already healthy.”

Chris’s philosophy on health care breaks up the population into three groups of people. He says that 20% of Americans are “proactives” — or people who spend out-of-pocket dollars on wellness. These are people who you see regularly in the gym. The remainder of folks he divides into “reactives,” or people who seek help for a short period of time in reaction to an injury or an illness, and “reluctants,” people who haven’t found the value in out-of-pocket health and wellness. He believes that the majority of the health and fitness world caters to the “proactives,” and his goal with WellWay is to bridge the gap between proactive people and reactive and reluctant people — providing outreach and education to make health care more proactive for more people. 

“Traditional care is reactive in nature,” says Chris. “We need to educate people on how to help take care of themselves better. We need to get out and influence people’s thinking relative to nutrition, stress management, and lifestyle so they don’t get to that reactive state. And that’s a lot of where WellWay was born out of.”

You’ll hear Chris say often that WellWay is “where health care and health club collide.” WellWay at Norterre does have a gym and group fitness classes, but they offer much more than a beautiful space to work out. 

WellWay’s goal is to holistically address an individual’s needs, and each customer meets with a wellness advisor — what Chris compares to a financial advisor but for your health — to provide support. The wellness advisors, who are registered dieticians by trade and health coaches by training, assess individuals to provide the right level of care and guidance. With the average American only receiving 10 minutes of time with their primary care physician during their annual physical (the most proactive health care visit our current medical system provides), Chris’s hope is that WellWay can act as a supplement to traditional American health care. 

“We don’t believe in a fitness or nutrition program because programs have a beginning and an end,” says Chris. Chris doesn’t want people to think they have to follow a plan or else they’re failing. He wants people to understand that missteps are a part of life and a part of a person’s healthcare journey. “We believe in sustainable, habitual, behavior-based change.”

On top of custom health plans, WellWay also offers lab testing that is overseen by an integrative physician, chiropractic care, health and nutrition coaching, health assessments, and personal training. If you’ve never walked into WellWay, you’d be welcomed by one of the most beautiful health clubs in the Northland, featuring an indoor track, aquatic therapy and indoor lap pool, strength, circuit and cardio gym equipment, on-site childcare, and a bistro. 

WellWay’s approach is to think about health and wellness by looking at one’s body like a cup, which is influenced by the philosophy of allostatic load, or measuring the wear and tear on the body. In the cup analogy, the body takes on inputs, which can be in the form of stressors — things like diet and pain. The goal is to have a balanced cup. 

“Your health and wellness are more than your exercise,” says Chris. “It incorporates your nutrition, your lifestyle, your stress management, but it’s influenced by your environment and the experiences of that environment around you.”

Overall, Chris’s goal with WellWay at Norterre is to have a whole-health approach to wellness. He knows that it’s not as simple as having access to a gym. WellWay truly has a team of people who are invested in every individual’s overall health. 

“We’re not trying to sell a strip mall of activities,” says Chris. “We’re trying to understand you and apply what’s right for you.” 

And Chris knows that doesn’t come without showing up and doing the work on WellWay’s end. He knows it takes time and commitment from him and his team. 

“Our hope is that they have a community [that customers] love to keep coming back to,” says Chris. “The experience that we deliver there has to be best in class. We want it to be a place that they love going to every day. But more meaningful than that is a place where they truly feel that their health and wellness care is supported. Our vision statement at WellWay is to be the most trusted name in health.”

WellWay's 65,000 square-foot Wellness Center is located on the Norterre campus in Liberty, located off I-35, adjacent to Liberty Hospital. Find out how WellWay can support your health goals. Stop in throughout the month of January for a tour of the facility, or get started with a complimentary custom plan at Membership is not required to utilize health services.

“Traditional care is reactive in nature,” says Chris. “We need to educate people on how to help take care of themselves better."

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