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Chester County Press

A sisterhood of wellness

09/09/2019 10:45AM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

The life of Sarah Nurry of Avondale is an almost perfect mirrored reflection of the lives being lived by millions of women.

She is the married mother of four school-age children. She is the co-founder of the successful Mushroom Cap 13.1 Half Marathon in Kennett Square, which will celebrate its fourth year this November. She and her business partner Karen DiMascola are the founders of Run2Shine, the fundraising wing of the Mushroom Cap run. A gloss overview of her calendar reveals a dizzying array of obligations and places to be, and her commitments are often in the service of her family and her friends, the schools that her children attend and the community she lives in.

Somewhere in between, Nurry meticulously carves out small pockets of time for herself –usually early in the morning or late at night -- and it is in those precious hours that she dons her running shoes and crushes the quiet streets and neighborhoods near her home.

In the summer of 2017, Nurry attended an event sponsored by City Fit Girls in Philadelphia, an inclusive fitness community for women that began in 2013, whose goal is to make physical activity more accessible for all women. She was floored by the group’s camaraderie and inclusiveness, and thought that the same idea of shared fitness and wellness could work well in the southern Chester County community.

Earlier this year, Nurry met Michelle Vahey of VIDA Performance TRX and Lexa Chernin and Elizabeth Gehrt, the co-owners of Yoga Secrets in Kennett Square, about an idea to create a one-day retreat for women that would combine fitness, wellness, soul searching and empowerment, all in one.

For those women whose lives closely resemble Nurry’s, that retreat is about to happen – an entire day whose only mission is to listen, embrace and empower.

On Oct. 20, several of the region’s most respected fitness instructors, yoga and wellness practitioners will join representatives from women-owned businesses at the EmpowHER Fitness Retreat in Kennett Square, a full-day series of lectures, sessions and workshops that will allow attendees to share personal issues with caring experts; detoxify emotionally, physically and spiritually; and experience compassion, forgiveness and peace in an intimate setting.

“It was beautiful how everyone just came together and aligned and embraced,” Nurry said. “We want a sisterhood in this community. We want women to have access to all of these wonderful studios and individuals. There are so many uniquely talented women in Kennett Square, and to have them all come together will be a celebration.”

“I’ve been to similar women’s gatherings, and I’ve been blown away by the healing that can take place when women can come together,” said Chernin, whose studio on South Mill Road will host the event. “Elizabeth and I had a plan to do a smaller retreat, but Sarah’s idea was way bigger than what we had planned, so we knew that it was right for us to be a part of this.”

“I love the idea of bringing women together who will uplift and share and build stronger ties,” Gehrt said. “So many times, women put their own health on the back burner, because we have kids, husbands and other family that need us. We take on the role of caretaker so often, that it’s important for women to put the focus back on themselves, so that it will fill their cup.”

After a morning coffee and a healthy breakfast, EmpowHER will offer a choice of two 50-minute morning sessions that will give attendees the option of choosing a yoga or TRX class, or workshops in pure barre, runner self-defense and prehab running. Following a lunch hour that will feature organic food options from Box Lunch of Delaware, the retreat will offer two 50-minute afternoon sessions that will include a wide choice of topics on wellness, fashion, creating one’s own brand, and the need for self-care.

Sue Weldon, a breast cancer survivor, will then deliver a 30-minute message about the importance of maintaining proper breast health. Weldon is the founder of Unite for HER, a local, non-profit organization committed to helping local women diagnosed with breast cancer or ovarian cancer navigate their way through treatment by providing complementary therapies designed to promote physical and emotional wellness.

EmpowHer will donate 100 percent of the event’s net proceeds to the organization.

Following a closing meditation by Marcy Mackey of The Bungalow in Kennett Square, Victory Brewing Company will be sponsoring a happy hour at Yoga Secrets.

Vahey said the retreat is made even more special given that every one of the participating individuals and agencies is in close proximity to each other. The retreat is an opportunity for women to use all of these resources.

“A lot of women are afraid to ask for help if they’re struggling, and instead, they just keep saying ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes,’” Vahey said. “Sooner later, many of them end up breaking down, but the more they open up, the more they realize that they’re not alone.

The truth is that we’re all here to help, and in Kennett, a woman doesn’t have to reach out too far to find support.”

“We are experiencing a huge cultural shift,” Gehrt said. “Women used to have their focus at home and now we’re having all of these wonderful doors that have opened to us. Now, we need to learn to create balance with all of these opportunities and avenues of expression and creativity.”

The EmpowHER Fitness Retreat will take place on Oct. 20 at Yoga Secrets, 201 S. Mill Road, in Kennett Square. The retreat is open to 200 attendees. To learn more about the retreat and to register, visit

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email






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