For the past 17 years, Sara Gallitto’s life has been defined by constant movement. Between raising five children and running to teach kickboxing classes and offering treatments as a licensed esthetician, it was always go, go, go.
Last March, as the world receded into quarantine, that all changed.
“The pandemic forced me to slow down and put the brakes on,” Ms. Gallitto recalled Tuesday.
A dream of hers had always been to become a certified health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a New York City based nutrition school that focuses on holistic nutrition and education.
“I just never had the guts to sign up for it because I didn’t have time,” Ms. Gallitto explained.
She decided to take the leap last year and complete an accelerated online program. And this month, Ms. Gallitto, a Shirley resident, is preparing to open her own business: the Wild Roots Wellness center in downtown Riverhead.
With some help from family and friends, Ms. Gallitto has been renovating the unit at 45 Main St., which had been vacant office space for years, into a space that will offer facials, massage, acupuncture, yoga, reiki, meditation and art workshops as well as waxing, organic spray tanning and henna eyebrow services.
Prior to signing the lease in Riverhead, Ms. Gallitto had been offering similar services out of a treatment room in a Holbrook chiropractor’s office.
But it didn’t feel like her own.
“I still felt secluded and didn’t have the foot traffic. And it was very medical looking,” she said.
In a matter of months, she transformed the Main Street unit from ’70s-era wood paneled walls and old carpeting to a cheery, modern space that features two private treatment rooms.
Ms. Gallitto instantly fell in love with the space once she saw an expansive skylight in a room toward the rear of the building, which will ultimately become a bright and airy new yoga studio with lots of natural light.
“We have seven instructors offering yoga for beginners to a power flow for someone who wants more of a cardio workout and everything in between,” she said, including Hatha, Vinyasa and Buti yoga classes as well as classes for children.
She stressed that all ages and body types are welcome.
“Some people associate yoga only with deep poses and may be intimidated by that thought, however yoga is much more than that,” Ms. Gallitto said.
“We’re living on the hamster wheel — so it’s nice to take that time, slow down and take a step back,” she added.
As she puts the finishing touches on the new space and awaits permits from the town, Ms. Gallitto said she’s looking forward to joining the downtown community. “I’ve always had an affinity for Riverhead,” she said, adding that she’s hoping to be fully operational this month.
She’s also looking forward to sharing her passion for wellness with others.
“If we need anything right now, it is health and healing,” she said. “They go hand in hand.”
For more information on class schedules or to book appointments, visit wildroots-wellness.com.