– Words by Chloe Sjuberg Photography by Darren Hull
Kelly Gillies’ passion for holistic health and wellbeing led her to open Sona Wellness, a clinic in downtown Kelowna offering a variety of treatments with healing benefits that she’s excited to share with the community.
Kelly grew up in Edmonton and moved to Kelowna eight years ago, falling in love with the Okanagan lifestyle. She has been a registered psychiatric nurse for 10 years, and in 2015 she received her diploma in holistic nutrition, which sparked an interest in how food can affect both mental and physical health.
“After working as a nutritionist and specializing in gut health, I was introduced to colonics, which changed my life,” says Kelly.
So, in 2019, she trained to become a colon hydrotherapist, practising for a few years before opening Sona Wellness in November 2022. In addition to colon hydrotherapy, Sona offers infrared sauna and cold plunge sessions, as well as nutrition programs.
“Whether you are suffering from an acute issue, or are wanting to take action now to prevent chronic illness and live your best life, these treatments can completely optimize your health,” she says.
With a background in nursing, Kelly had to learn the ins and outs of starting and running a business from scratch, but all that effort has paid off, she says.
“From construction of the space to marketing the business, it has been a constant challenge. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into opening Sona Wellness, but it has been 100 per cent worth it all.”
One of the things Kelly loves most about Sona is the atmosphere of working in a wellness space.
“Everyone that walks in is making a choice to better their health. People leave feeling cleansed, relaxed, and motivated to lead a healthier lifestyle. I love being a part of their journey.”
Outside of running Sona, Kelly loves hiking with her pup, Lola, wine-tasting with her friends, and checking out local restaurants with her boyfriend. And there’s one thing that’s a fixture in her life both inside and outside the clinic: cold plunges.
“Lately, I have loved cold plunging in the lake. Yes, I have the cold plunge tank at Sona, but nothing beats the nature aspect of a lake dip.”
The 7 Sins
Whose shoes would you like to walk in?
Wim Hof, “The Iceman,” specifically in his 28-hour quest to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, using his mind control and breathing techniques to combat the oxygen levels and cold temperatures.
What is the food you could eat over and over again?
I eat foods based on how I want to feel. Sure, nachos are good, and I love a good burger, but I don’t always feel the greatest after eating them. But a perfectly cooked and seasoned steak paired with a rainbow of roasted veggies and a beet and goat cheese salad? Yep, I could eat that every day.
You’re given $1 million that you have to spend
selfishly. What would you spend it on?
I would put it into my business. Sona Wellness doesn’t feel like “work” to me. Every day I have ideas on how I want to improve the business, and I think everyone with a start-up can agree that a million bucks would be nice! There are so many things I want to be able to do with Sona Wellness: marketing, new products I want to carry, therapies and treatments I want to bring into the space, and programs I want to create. And then, yes, maybe a quick trip to Greece if there’s money to spare.
Victim mindset. I think we can all easily blame anything and anyone for our problems, but that won’t actually solve our problems. When you begin to take responsibility for the habits you create—including the food you eat, the thoughts you think, the people you surround yourself with, how you respond to stress—you can substantially improve your health.
Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?
Mornings on my couch. I get up extra-early to literally do that. I make my French press, light a candle, and can just spend hours putzing and organizing my day, journalling, reading, scrolling social media (I’m only human). I guess that’s not really “doing nothing”… but I have never been good at doing nothing.
What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of?
I have always loved how my “gut feeling” has been the most accurate compass in my life. I have been guided by this intuitive feeling, and it led me to creating and opening Sona Wellness. If I never listened to my gut, and instead followed the same path I was expected to follow, I wouldn’t have opened my business. And every single morning when I walk into Sona and see what I created, I am extremely proud of what I accomplished, because it definitely wasn’t an easy feat.
What makes your heart beat faster?
When one of my clients has a breakthrough in their healing journey. Like when they start cold plunging regularly and notice their anxiety decrease, or after a colon hydrotherapy session and they notice their skin clears up, or they start going to the bathroom regularly again (yes, that gets me excited!). When people try one of these alternative therapies and actually start healing, it can motivate them to change other habits in their life—diet, hydration, meditation, exercise, therapy—and only continue to improve their health, physically and mentally.
You can check out Sona Wellness here.