Although Middle Georgia certainly has no shortage of spas, pilates studios, and physical therapy centers, perhaps none are quite like that of Linda Kerce. After 15 years of overseeing her business, Serenity Physical Therapy and Wellness, Kerce has made her spa/studio a resource for a plethora of different services from massages to infrared saunas, but the sheer variety offered by the wellness center is not even the only thing that makes it unique.
“This building used to house one of our truss companies- my father and I started our own truss business building roof and floor trusses in 1971,” said Kerce from what is now the Serenity tea room. “This had sat idle for a little bit when I decided to do something fun with the building. I began to discover the spas around us, and I had been to spas all my life, and even though I engineered trusses and was not in the spa business, I just had a passion for spas.”
Although the spa occupies a building that was once a facility that was once used for making building trusses, today the spa and wellness center bears little resemblance to the building’s industrial roots. Seemingly every inch of Serenity is lavishly decorated according to Kerce’s own design- upon first walking in the door, the business bears more resemblance to a fine restaurant than it does to a spa. Although the décor gives Serenity the feel of being a guest in someone’s home customers can rest assured that there is much work to be done. Beginning in 2002 as a combination massage/pilates studio, over the years Serenity has grown to include a laundry list of health and wellness services. Today the spa offers massage therapy, pilates and physical training, a selection of different body wraps and sauna treatments, and even a full service hair/nail salon. In offering such an extensive list of services to her customers, Kerce and her two co-owners, Maria Johnston (Kerce’s daughter and a physical therapist of 19 years) and David Babb (a physical therapy assistant), seek to set Serenity apart from other wellness centers of its kind.
“We’re not the normal hospital white-wall atmosphere,” said Kerce. “It’s one-on-one; we’re a small organization and we don’t want to be large. We want to be hands on, and we want every person that comes through to be healed if there’s any way we can do it, so it’s really a good atmosphere as well as good healing techniques.”
Although Serenity stakes much of its image on manicures, pedicures, and spa treatments, the wellness center is far from females-only. The center’s physical trainers are accomplished in treating injuries to both men and women, while their pilates instructors’ rigorous training has been known to bring a few confident athletes down to size.
“We’ll sometimes have athletes that will come in and say ‘Oh, that stuff looks easy’ until they actually they try it,” said Kerce of Serenity’s pilates classes. “We’ve had [people] that were trying to be really good in track or golf, and you would be amazed at how the pilates give you better coordination, better balance, and better control. We can design a program strictly for someone in golf, track, baseball, or whatever, so we have a lot of people come to do athletic training here.”
In order to truly gauge the ability of Serenity’s physical trainers, one needs to look no further than Johnston’s two sons, Dusty and Jamie, two veterans of the PT program who are now state track and field champions. In running Serenity along with her two co-owners, Kerce has sought to provide the best possible service to her customers with an emphasis on quality over quantity.
“Somebody said to me that we needed more massage therapists, because we’re always booked, especially on Fridays and Saturdays,” said Kerce. “We have four massage therapists that have a waiting list when they get booked, and I said ‘When I find one as good as these four’. I would rather tell you that we’re booked than to put you with a therapist that doesn’t have a passion for what they do. It makes a difference in the way your body feels, and that’s the way I feel about everybody here.”
Serenity Physical Therapy and Wellness is located at 107 Sportsman Club Road in Milledgeville. They are open Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. They can be reached at 478-453-8158.