The Salt of The Earth

Published by Pulse. Summer 2013 edition

It’s a given. The mother protects the child. That’s all there is to it. When the chips are down, bet on the mother to do the right thing.

Rebecca James, the mother, did the right thing for Reilly, the son, and it led to a lot more than she had expected.Here’s the story.

When Reilly was about two and a half years old, doctors told Rebecca that his allergies were so severe that he was pre-asthmatic and was prescribed an albuterol inhaler,
used to clear breathing passages.

There was no guarantee. His condition could worsen and Reilly would face a long-term dependency on the inhaler.

Too young to understand, but struggling to breathe, Reilly started full-blown kicking, screaming fights every time he needed to use a nebulizer, which must have seemed like a torture device. Rebecca did understand and was very worried about the long-term drug side effects.

She remembers being in Walgreens picking up another prescription, tears in her eyes, wondering what she was doing to her child. How could she truly help him? She did not have that answer, but she knew that medication was not it. Something had to change.

The change occurred when she discovered that a childhood friend of hers was owner of The Salt Room in
Winter Park. After a little research into the benefits of salt therapy, and without other options, Rebecca decided to try it out. Reilly had nothing to lose.

Reilly took to the play-therapy approach right away. Digging in the salt and playing with his toys for 45 minutes three times a week, wasn’t therapy to him. Three sessions soon became two. His congestion turned to a thin loose fluid. Gone was the dreaded nebulizer. Colds did not debilitate him. Rebecca saw that he was progressing toward a boy’s life without respiratory medication.

The mother had protected her child.

The work with Reilly gave Rebecca another idea. She was in the midst of family changes and a move to Mount Dora with Reilly, and she was looking for a new direction professionally. Her experience with The Salt Room certainly was a success story. She thought – Why not open a Salt Room of my own? Why not use Reilly’s improvement as a model for others and do something good – that works?

Initial reactions to her idea by friends and family were less than enthusiastic. It seemed that salt therapy was not something people in Central Florida were familiar with. Then there were the issues of funding, time, physical location, how to market a new idea – hurdle after hurdle after hurdle.
“Everyone I talked with thought I was crazy,” said Rebecca. “And there were times when I thought I was crazy.”

Because of population density, the Orlando area was Rebecca’s initial focus for a location. Some things, however, just don’t work the way you think they will and “forces” lead you in a different direction. That different direction was toward The Villages where Rebecca found lease space in Lady Lake, and on May 15, 2012, she opened The Salt Room @ The Villages.

The design and décor of The Salt Room is a result of the team effort of Rebecca and her key staffers – Karen Wagner and Stephanie Omura. You enter into a light, soft environment that immediately relaxes your mood, a key ingredient for a successful “salt session.”The Salt of The Earth-article image

No cell phones or electronic devices are permitted – readers excepted. You leave the pace of your hectic life behind and spend a solid 45 minutes in a zero gravity reclining chair, soft music, softer lights, deep breathing and salt vapors permeating your being.

Rebecca also knew she needed more than just a place to come and breathe salt. Her plans called for a spa center – a spot where people could also enjoy a massage, Reiki, acupuncture or a facial. She wanted an environment where friends could gather for a spa party, complete with wine and hors d’oeuvres.

Rebecca’s success in her first venture is due to hard work and long hours, to be sure. But it’s also a case of success breeding success, and nothing travels faster than word-of-mouth success stories, like:
• COPD sufferers who can leave their oxygen at home while they enjoy a round of golf, will tell
everyone. And they have been doing that.
• The woman who lost all sense of taste because of her allergies, who hasn’t tasted food for five years, told everyone how good her last Christmas dinner was – because she could taste it.
• A sax player with diminished lung capacity had lost a part of his life – his love – because he could no longer play his sax. That’s no longer the case. And he tells everyone he knows.

The mother who found an answer for her son also found answers for others. Now she is looking for other Lake County locations. For Rebecca James – and Reilly – The Salt Room is a place where you can leave the world behind, relax, and breathe your way to better respiratory health.

The Salt Room @ The Villages is located at 480 North Highway 27/441 in Lady Lake. For more information, call 352.750.9909 or visit saltroomvillages.com.