‘Wellness Bar’ Offers Latest in Alternative Therapy, Inside Tuckerton Gym

Vitamin Shots for Energy, Immune Support, Beauty, Focus
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Tuckerton — Those looking for a boost might order a shot at the Wellness Bar, located inside Retro Fitness in Tuckerton. There is no alcohol served at this bar, but rather vitamins – and not like a fancy wheatgrass shot in a smoothie. Instead, these shots are injections that mainline vitamins directly into the bloodstream. The latest wave in holistic wellness is sweeping into Southern Ocean County, and it’s called “infusion therapy.”

Retro General Manager Jake Stuerze approached Terry Bindshedler, the practice administrator at the Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, about potentially offering infusion therapy to the public for preventive care and optimal performance. Stuerze deemed the fitness center to be an appropriate host location for the Wellness Bar, considering that the general clientele are there to improve their overall health and wellness. Seeing how infusion therapy has benefited athletes in major cities such as New York City and Los Angeles, Stuerze said he felt it would be a good complement to his clients’ routines.

Mark Bartiss, M.D., founder of ICAM, has offered cutting-edge alternative therapies since 2005, when he became frustrated with the conventional healthcare system and decided to transition into a more holistic practice. Bindshedler shared enthusiastically about her experience with the institute. For the last 14 years, ICAM has treated patients suffering from various cancers, autoimmune diseases, and hormone disorders using alternative therapies, such as bio-identical hormone replacement and infusion therapy.

In other words, infusion therapy is nothing new for the healthcare professionals at ICAM. However, until the Wellness Bar, infusion therapy has been practiced only as a treatment option for patients with an illness or deficiency. Today, the Wellness Bar offers this therapy to non-patients as preventive maintenance to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Bindshedler emphasized the importance of drawing the distinction between businesses. Apart from ICAM holding office hours within the fitness center, the two are not affiliated, and the injections are administered by certified healthcare staff.

On the Wellness Bar menu, available at Retro’s front desk, is an array of intravenous “cocktails” and booster shots consisting of various combinations of essential vitamins. Each menu item is designed to aid in a specific purpose, such as to bolster immunity, reduce stress or promote healthy skin, hair and nails. Many of these cocktails are tailored to the desires of the training athlete, such as rehydration, promoting energy and efficiency, metabolism support, aiding tissue building and repair, and even reducing pain and inflammation.

According to Bindshedler, the infusion therapy is beneficial because the recipient absorbs 100 percent of the essential vitamins, whereas only 20 to 30 percent of oral vitamins is absorbed into the body. She believes infusion therapy can potentially replace the conventional regimen of oral vitamins.

Bindshedler said she receives the intravenous “immune booster” once a month, which helps her manage symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder that causes chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland. Once a week she also receives the “beauty boost,” which she claims has replenished her hair considerably.

Stuerze, who regularly receives wellness injections, has since become a patient of Bartiss, and touts the benefits of the Wellness Bar’s alternative therapy. Stuerze is a competitive Spartan runner (12- to 14-mile obstacle races) and receives regular injections to assist with energy and to expedite recovery.

Bartiss’ daughter, Kristen Bartiss, is an elite Spartan racer. Consequently, Bartiss is working with the athletic committee to provide mobile IV units for Spartan races. “The dosage is regulated so as not to qualify as ‘performance enhancing,’ but to prevent athletes from becoming too depleted and dehydrated,” Stuerze said.

Infusion therapy is not all that’s being offered at the Wellness Bar. Also listed on the menu are Cryoskin 2.0 (cryogenic slimming) and infrared sauna sessions. Bindshedler explained cryogenic slimming as a process that freezes fat in stubborn areas of the body. The fat then needs time to pass through the lymphatic system and exit the body. The infrared sauna is offered as a complementary therapy to help detox the body, but may also be used as independent treatment. During an infrared sauna session, the body releases “heat-shock proteins,” which, according to Stuerze, help with inflammation. Stuerze said he offered himself up as the “guinea pig” for the cryo-slimming and can vouch for the results. He also advises regular exercise and a healthy diet are paramount to any weight-loss program. Without maintaining a healthful lifestyle, Cryoskin 2.0 would be a waste of time.

The Wellness Bar is open to the public, not only gym members. Every client who enters the Wellness Bar must fill out a medical history form and sign a liability waiver prior to receiving treatment. ICAM keeps a thorough record of each visit.

“It is important that people know we are a legitimate, professional practice. Shots are administered by a certified medical assistant, and I.V. therapy is administered by a registered nurse,” said Bindshedler, who is a registered and certified medical assistant. “A lot of people are hesitant because they don’t know what it is we are offering yet. We just have to educate and get it out there.”

Both Stuerze and Bindshedler praise the benefits of infusion therapy not only for optimal athletic strength and performance, but also for immune support, disease prevention and mental clarity.

Of course, it is always advised to see a primary care physician and use discretion before experimenting with new treatment of any kind. Appointments are suggested but not needed. Wellness Bar hours, as well as the full menu of offerings, can be found at icamnj.com.

— Monique M. Demopoulos

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