When first meeting Liz Lew, one immediately notices her sense of vibrancy. Without knowing her background, it would be easy to assume that she has always been the epitome of energy and effervescence. Upon learning her backstory, however, it is hard to believe that she was once in a very different state of health.
“I was at a point when I was in bed 22 hours a day,” she said. “My adrenal glands were shot. I had been going through a lot of health issues and I was on four medications. When you are in a position when you’ve been to every specialist and no one can tell you what’s wrong, but everyone says ‘Here’s a prescription to alleviate your symptoms,’ it gets frustrating.”
Lew’s mother also had severe health issues when she developed colon cancer during the 1980s that spread to her lymph system. Rather than undergo radiation treatment and chemotherapy, she chose to focus on lifestyle and diet changes as the core of her wellness regimen. “She was cancer-free in five years,” Lew said.
Unhappy with her medical care, Lew took matters into her own hands. She switched to a raw vegan diet supplemented with organic juicing. She also learned about an Australian sauna massage machine called the Vibrosaun that uses vibrating heat therapy. While no machine was commercially available in this country, Lew learned of a privately owned model in Brewster, New York.
“When I read about the machine, I said, ‘I have to try this. I’ll try anything at this point.’”
Lew credited the Vibrosaun in helping her regain her health and she was inspired to share her experiences with others. Formerly a fundraiser for universities, she opened Kure Spa & Wellness Center in Norwalk in 2014 as a venue for a variety of therapeutic services — including the first commercially available Vibrosaun machines in the U.S. for heated vibration massage treatments. Among the offerings at Lew’s center are pulsed electro-magnetic field therapy, reiki, reflexology, digital infrared thermal imaging and nutritional consulting. She also has an in-house organic juice bar.
“Everything we have here definitely helps people,” Lew said. “For people in serious pain, we are able to combine treatments so they are even more effective afterwards.”
Lew promotes Kure Spa & Wellness Center in a two-pronged approach. “This is for somebody who simply wants to relax and enjoy the space,” she said. “It is a very peaceful space and people who come here feel like it’s a mini-vacation. Or, for someone like me, it allows you to find another way for your body to empower its own healing ability.”
Lew said her client base was mostly females between the ages of 45 and 55, with men accounting for 25 to 30 percent of clients. She said that some physicians regularly come in, but she also acknowledged that the medical establishment is still skeptical of such treatments.
“I’ve noticed that sometimes the U.S. is behind on some things that are very popular in other parts of the world,” she said. “For instance, in Australia the Vibrosaun is in pain management clinics, it’s in spas, it’s in physical therapy offices and chiropractors’ offices because they know it can help the body to relax and allow the therapist afterwards to work on the body better. Unless you can get the insurance companies to pay for things like this, it is outside of the realm of what Western medicine is doing.”
One challenge that Lew has faced over the years has been the lack of street-level visibility. Kure Spa & Wellness Center is on the second level of a retail center at 430 Main Ave. in Norwalk and only a small sign within the center’s directory of businesses gives a hint to its presence. However, word-of-mouth marketing has helped drive people to her location.
“Luckily for us, right from the get-go, people were leaving reviews on Yelp and Google and we would float up to the top on those sites,” she said. “I would say 95 percent of the people who find us are online and we get about 70 new clients a month thanks to Yelp and Google. Also, I try to get out and talk to groups as much as I can. Usually, somebody knows somebody who might benefit from this.”
Business has picked up to the point that Lew is leasing the vacant space next to her and will be adding two new massage rooms plus an office for a naturopathic doctor who will be on duty twice a week. She has also fielded customer requests to expand with franchises into Westport and Greenwich, but at the moment she is content with where she is based.
“Many times, people come in saying, ‘This is what I would expect in California,’” she said. “But we just happen to live in Norwalk.”