At 5:15 a.m., Dr. Kristin Oja teaches a stability class for long, lean muscles and a powerful core. She then slips on a blazer rather than a white coat and begins office hours for personalized medical visits. Hosting both only makes sense as movement and medicine go hand in hand.
STAT Wellness (Strength to Achieve Total Wellness), which combines medical expertise and group fitness classes, opened at its first physical location on Howell Mill Road last month.
Large glass walls bring sunshine into the full gym stocked with self-powered equipment, mats, and stability balls. In the same space, a lounge for those awaiting appointments offers coffee or kombucha on tap, echoing Oja’s emphasis on gut health.
“I want people to see the gym when they are coming for a medical visit and realize movement is just as important,” Oja said. “Medicine and movement are one, so it needs to be open and connected. Under one roof, I can offer medicine to give them the knowledge and movement to show them how to not only look their best, but to feel their best.”
Opening her first brick and mortar was longtime coming for Oja, who started planning to open her studio when she was just 10 years old. The entrepreneur organized dance and gymnastics camps for her neighborhood kids, investing in tumbling mats and folding chairs. By the end of the summer, she sold recital tickets, earned hundreds of dollars and planned to build her clientele the next summer.
“I came out of the womb an entrepreneur,” Oja said. “Risk wasn’t an issue. I was born to be an entrepreneur, think outside the box and be innovative.”
Oja continued teaching as a group fitness instructor and attended nursing school at Georgia College and State University. After graduation, she traded exercise-class endorphins for the energy of the emergency room, got a Master of Science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner focus and worked for three years in integrative medicine. She loved emphasizing health, but longed for an environment in which to pair her two passions: medicine and movement. So, she created it.
With a focus on education, Oja hosts hour long consultations with first time clients to STAT Wellness with a functional medicine approach. Clipboard in hand, trying to avoid a laptop, she helps clients walk through their entire medical history, including genes, environment, and lifestyle, starting at the very beginning. In root cause medicine, even the birth process can dictate healthy gut microbiome, allergies and overall health down the road.
“Connecting all the pieces along your health journey to get you truly optimal and healthy can take time, even two or three years,” Oja said. “I always remind people that wellness is a marathon, not a sprint. I believe that little by little, a little becomes a lot.”
Part of STAT’s appeal is the look of the medical rooms nestled inside the building. The IV therapy room has sleek recliners that give off more of a movie night feel than medicine, while a consultation room has beautiful, circular marble table.
“[The medical rooms] are more like your living room. You aren’t going to see metal poles or big blood pressure cuffs: everything is hidden and discrete, more decorative, and we want it to be a comfortable environment,” Oja said.
A physical therapy room is currently hosting Athlete’s Potential, a tenant who provides dry needling (similar to acupuncture) and physical therapy.
In an age when boutique gyms offer memberships for your favorite exercise method, and only that type of exercise, STAT Wellness strives to be a one-stop wellness home offering a diverse serving of movements so members can achieve total wellness.
Movement at STAT Wellness comes in three class varieties: stability, stamina and strength. Strength classes are 55 minutes of controlled and rep based weight lifting for improving bone density, increasing lean muscle mass, changing body composition and boosting metabolism. Stability classes teach low impact, unilateral body weight exercises using TRX, bands, bender balls and mat work to create long and lean muscles and build core strength. The stamina class is a classic HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class with cardio, strength and an abundance of calorie burning movements. Once a week, the studio offers REB3L, a stress-free dance class for loosening up.
Medicine and Movement are the pillars of STAT Wellness, but mindfulness comes in a close third. The team has meditation workshops and yoga pop ups planned for this spring.
“If you have an approach where you practice gratitude, choose happiness and your mind is in a healthy state, you can overcome a lot more physically,” Oja said. “I want people to leave here feeling better than when they came in. We aren’t going to be perfect, but I hope that at the end of the day I can show my display of greatness by serving them.”
STAT Wellness is located at1465 Howell Mill Road NW, Suite #300. For more information, visit stat-wellness.com.