What is The Well? County's multipurpose center to open Friday

Nov. 10—The Well, a brand new 14,000-square-foot health facility intended to be an all-in-one destination for wellness, will commence its first day of programming, with fitness, personal finance and cooking classes, following a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday morning.

A two-story, two building facility at 210 S. James Garner Ave., The Well will offer programming developed to improve the health and wellness of Cleveland County residents. It's designed to be an online and in-person destination for education and fitness classes, cooking demonstrations, activities for children and continuing education opportunities, said county communication manager Joy Hampton.

Hampton said Well Director Melody Bays, Cleveland County Commissioner Darry Stacy and Tara Douglas, director of community engagement traveled to multiple cities looking at their approach to wellness facilities.

"They want to help people in Cleveland County to be the healthiest they can be," Hampton said.

The facility is part of Cleveland County's Master Plan signed by county commissioners in September 2017. It cost around $7 million, with at least 40 partners.

Jackie Kanak, regional director of the Oklahoma State Department of Health said The Well is a unique wellness space which reflects the one-of-a-kind partnership between health departments and the county.

"We've come together to provide an all-encompassing center for health and wellness," Kanak said.

Stacy said they haven't found another city replicating what The Well will provide anywhere else in the country.

"It's truly an all-in-one place to shop, learn and live, with a focus on improving health," Stacy said.

With financial education, cooking and group fitness classes in one facility, Kanak said there is something for everyone, no matter the age.

The Well will also include programming from Pioneer Library System, Norman Regional Health System and Moore Norman Technology Center.

Cooking and yoga instruction by Moore Norman Technology Center

The Technology Center already has classes scheduled for the new facility through the end of the year, including charcuterie board making, yoga classes, nutrition basics and knife skills courses, according to their website.

"We help working adults adapt to healthier habits by offering classes during convenient times, as well as virtually, and we'll have them in small blocks of time to maximize impact," said Brian Ruttman, Technology Center superintendent and CEO, in a statement.

Functional wellness in Norman's core

Located on the first floor of the facility with an entrance off James Garner Avenue, the Health at The Well Clinic offers medical resources and consulting to patrons.

Nicole Garber, Norman Regional family medicine specialist will bring her functional medicine approach to primary care to their new space inside the facility, the Health at The Well Clinic. Garber's services include auto-immune panels, thyroid panels, hormone tests and consulting on gut health, she said.

The clinic will offer gut microbiome tests, environmental toxin testing as part of a functional approach.

"We try to ask, 'why,' and get to the root cause instead of just prescribing medications to treat symptoms," Garber said.

Garber looks forward to working in the Norman community, where she received her nursing degree at the University of Oklahoma. She said it's exciting to work a stone's throw away from where she used to live.

"We hope to bring in a lot of patients from the community, but then also have a focus on the college students," Garber said. "There's a lot of teaching that can go into educating college aged kids about how to maintain health."

Norman Farm Market's big move

The Well will be the home of the Norman Farm Market next season. The market's director, Kate Cooper, said excitement is high for the opening of the facility, which brings operational flexibility.

"This new venue will provide greater opportunities nad services for our farms and small businesses and the indoor facilities will allow us to expand our market season year-round," Cooper said. "Customers can look forward to educational events and activities throughout the season and vendors can expect enhanced amenities and business support."

Hampton said county, health department and facility directors worked to ensure the building is versatile.

Bays said a demo kitchen inside the facility will synergize with the Norman Farm Market. A fully equipped chef's kitchen is located on the second floor of the facility.

When the Norman Farm Market isn't running, the designated space can be used for group fitness classes.

"The market space has giant garage doors that come up, and we're going to have yoga classes in that area," Hampton said.

Jeff Elkins covers business, living and community stories for The Transcript. Reach him at jelkins@normantranscript.com or at @JeffElkins12 on Twitter.