With long hours and potent job stresses, entrepreneurs often are more mindful of their business’s health than their own, said Joe Mays.
The former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker teamed with his wife, Toyia, to open a coworking spa space within their holistic wellness venture, The Laya Center. Targeting individual and small-team innovators, the duo hopes to offer a uniquely invigorating workplace, they said.
“We’re trying to get entrepreneurs into the idea of self-care and being in an environment that promotes their creativity and the free flow of ideas,” Toyia Mays said. “They can get a little bit of fitness in, and just be free while they’re working.”
Boasting rich hardwood flooring, views of River Market and downtown, and a versatile space for coworking, the second-floor business at Sixth and Walnut streets provides an inviting backdrop for those seeking to improve themselves and their health, Joe said.
“Being in a space like this, you get a chance to see people around here with great energy,” he said. “It’s not like we’re just sitting at a desk. We’re moving and being active.”
Coworking membership features access to daily yoga practice, as well as two spa services a month, Toyia said. A hot desk and use of studio space and a kitchenette also are included.
“We figured we should bring something new to Kansas City,” Joe said. “Everywhere we went, we couldn’t find anything based around getting back to the basics, being healthy and holistic to learn more about natural medicine.”
Feed the body right
Joe knows pain.
“I played in the NFL for eight years, so when it comes to beating the body up and trying to recover, that was where I had to focus on a daily basis,” he said. “Outside football, me and my family wanted to change up or lifestyle, and start living a more healthy, holistic lifestyle.”
The Mays began growing their own food at their Lee’s Summit home. They got chickens to produce eggs. Toyia became an herbalist.
“She started studying how natural medicine could help me. Because I would get beat up, and the first thing they would give me was pain pills. And those pain pills were only masking certain problems that I had, as well as creating new problems,” Joe said.
He wanted the same outcome as the medicine, but without the side effects, he said.
“The body is strong enough to deal with anything and everything possible if you’re putting the right stuff in it,” Joe said. “You’re much better off feeding your body something that can help it to repair and heal itself, rather than feeding it something it doesn’t recognize — and then becoming dependent on that.”
The duo opened The Laya Center in 2017, hoping to share what they’d learned with others seeking solutions for chronic illness, injury recovery and pain management, Toyia said. A holistic approach also can reap benefits through prevention, she added.
“We’re trying to help people understand it should be more ‘health care’ than just ‘sick care,’” Toyia said.
Designed to change lives
From the exposed brick walls to acid-washed metal ceiling panels in the 112-year-old building, The Laya Center features Toyia’s design touch.
“She’s responsible for everything in here,” Joe said, noting his wife’s interior design background. (In addition to the wellness center, her work can be seen in the new Ruby Jean’s Kitchen and Juicery on Troost Avenue, as well as the Pretty Bar Makeup Lounge at Ninth and McGee streets.)
Toyia’s expertise as a crystal therapy specialist is translated into the look and feel of The Laya Center’s serene meditation room. The aesthetic takes a turn for the pink in a neighboring salt room.
But Joe’s presence also is expressed in the space. A cryotherapy room features a no-chemical, nitrogen-free cryo unit that the NFL veteran uses before and after each day’s workouts.
“Not only are you treating the areas that are bothering you, you’re treating the central nervous system. So that promotes full-body recovery,” he said.
Set to minus-147 degrees, the unit provides a jolt to the system, Joe said.
“You’re resetting the blood flow throughout the entire body by removing toxins, inflammation and swelling,” he said.
The technology and design of the space didn’t come cheap, Joe said, but the couple considers it a wise investment.
“It’s huge, but we feel like with everything that we put into it, there are so many people whose mindsets we can change,” he said.