Whole U GR Expo comes to St. Cecilia’s
Event integrates body, mind, spirit and community to encourage healthy living.
A holistic health event focusing on promoting healthy lifestyle habits is coming to Grand Rapids while New Year’s resolutions are still top of mind.
The second annual Whole U GR Expo, a health event integrating body, mind, spirit and community, will take place 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Jan. 24, to celebrate and encourage holistic and healthy living.
Set in the intimate St. Cecilia’s Music Center, 24 Ransom Ave.NE, the health expo will showcase a number of vendors, speakers and demonstrations, plus a prize drawing.
Businesses and organizations participating as exhibitors include: Health Motion Physical Therapy, Acupuncture of West Michigan, Joyous Photography, Moondrop Herbals, Renew Yoga Mamas, Natural Awakenings West Michigan, Keeki Pure and Simple, Gordon Water Systems, Essence Physical Therapy and Grand Rapids Chiropractic and Acupuncture.
Martha Cudlipp, the education director at St. Cecilia Music Center who is also a clinical massage therapist and co-founder of Whole U GR, said the event caters to a broad audience of individuals who are interested in taking responsibility for their health choices and learning how to take small, positive steps.
“Being healthy can be very inexpensive, and taking small steps toward your health is not hard,” said Cudlipp. “I know a lot of our vendors are committed to helping people make changes in their habits, but in a doable way. We are thinking of holistic ways of supporting your health.”
With her passion for holistic health care and her close affiliation with St. Cecilia’s, Cudlipp came up with the idea for the event a couple of years ago and founded the event with Christine Sharp. Sharp is a practicing medical massage/manual therapist and owner of IE3 Body Wellness and Medical Massage Studio.
Although there are a number of other health-related events that take place in Grand Rapids, Cudlipp said the key to Whole U GR is the intimate setting within St. Cecilia’s Music Center.
“One of the key things that we really want to emphasize with Whole U GR is a sense of community, a sense of networking, a sense of being able, because it is a small expo, not to feel intimidated,” said Cudlipp.
“(Attendees) have the time to really talk to exhibitors and find out what they do, and they are able to really have in-depth conversations rather than being at this huge 600-booth expo where you are just running around from one thing to the next picking up samples.”
Scheduled speakers during the expo include representatives from Health Motion Physical Therapy who will discuss musculoskeletal system functions, and representatives from GR Chiropractic and Acupuncture who will speak about inflammatory processes in the body.
The expo also will feature Zonya Foco, author and PBS host of “Zonya’s Health Bites,” who will speak at 1 p.m. in the Royce Auditorium. Foco’s short seminar will focus on solutions that address the stresses and imbalances in life using the STREZZ acronym: Supermarket Smarts, Time for Dinner, Restaurant Survival, Exercise Stability, Zest for Life and “getting the ZZZ’s you need.”
“A lot of exhibitors want to speak or do demonstrations,” said Cudlipp. “We will have this one big speaker who will be doing a 60-minute presentation, and that is really new and exciting.”
The inaugural event, which took place Jan. 25, 2014, was full to capacity with 33 vendors and 18 demonstrations and classes. Although the Whole U GR Expo debuted during a blustery Michigan snowstorm, Cudlipp said there were more attendees than anticipated considering the weather.
“They told me I needed to do something about the weather. That was the only complaint,” said Cudlipp. “I think the exhibitors just really enjoyed it. It was all positive feedback — great venue, intimate setting — and they also ended up networking with each other. We were thrilled to see the collaborations that came out of the event afterward.”
Based on the positive feedback from businesses that participated last year, there were very few changes made for this year’s event. One change was reducing the number of speakers in different rooms, according to Cudlipp.
“One of the things we offered last year was we had speakers in almost every room. We had a speaker in the auditorium, we had demonstrations in the library, and we had speakers in the ballroom,” said Cudlipp. “We are not doing that this year because it was distracting.”
With a number of repeat exhibitors, as well as new additions, Cudlipp anticipates vendor participation in the 2015 Whole U GR Expo to reach capacity at around 32 or 33 organizations. The Expo provides two exhibitor levels for vendors. Costs for vendors include program advertising for $100 or basic exhibitor for $250, which includes a booth and advertising online and in the program. Proceeds from booth sales go directly to the vendor, according to the Expo’s website.
Sponsorship opportunities range from $100 to $5,000, and based on the sponsorship level, businesses receive a number of marketing and advertising opportunities, such as logo treatment at the event, space at the expo, being included in social media networking and listed in the program.
Sponsors for this year’s Whole U GR Expo include Natural Awakenings West Michigan, Xoil Design Creative Branding and IE3 Body Wellness & Medical Massage Studio.