A wellness sisterhood: Cascade, Iowa, native aims to create a community through spa


Jennifer Breitbach stands at Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


Products are displayed at Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


Products are displayed at Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


Products are displayed at Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


Products are displayed at Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


The Salt Vault at Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


Jennifer Breitbach stands at Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


Products are displayed at Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


Products are displayed at Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


Products are displayed at Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


Products are displayed at Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


The Salt Vault at Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


Luna Rae Spa & Wellness in Cascade, Iowa. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly

CASCADE, Iowa — Jennifer Breitbach has an innate sense of the energy surrounding her.

So, when a dilapidated building on Cascade’s humble First Avenue W. continued to remain vacant in 2015, something about the location called out to her.

“You could just tell that this was a building that had experienced a lot of hardship, and it might have been demolished to make way for a parking lot,” said Breitbach, 47, and a native of Cascade. “But there was just something about it.”

After years of soul searching and extensive remodeling, Breitbach recently opened Luna Rae Spa & Wellness.

Included among the offerings at the multifaceted facility are yoga room, equipped with tall tin ceilings for the possibility of aerial yoga in the future, as well as guided meditation; two treatment rooms for therapeutic massage therapy and other organic skin care; Reiki; and a retail space with soaps, essential oils and a variety of other products.

Previously a floral shop and a bank, Breitbach has transformed the 1921 building’s former vault into a halotherapy room, dubbed the Salt Vault.

Halotherapy, or salt therapy, involves breathing in air containing small salt particles. Meditative in nature, the practice claims to boost immunity and improve lung conditions, including asthma, bronchitis and coughs, as well as allergies and skin conditions.

The Salt Vault features 1,000 pounds of dry, loose Himalayan salt, with a controlled temperature and humidity level. Equipped for two, those booking the vault for 45-minute sessions can sit and relax, or they can be treated to a sound immersion experience through the use of singing bowls, played by Breitbach.

“It’s not something readily available in our area,” she said. “I traveled to Cedar Rapids for several years to use a halotherapy room.”

To come is a three-person infrared sauna, as well as workshops geared toward women, such as breastfeeding classes. Also available is space dedicated to spa parties and other private gatherings. It’s with that intention that Breitbach opened the location.

“We welcome men, too, but what I really wanted to do was create a space for women,” she said. “That idea of building a community of women felt so important to me for this space.”

It also is in line with Cascade Heart & Soul, a 2018 initiative that aims to identify common values and goals of residents, and to make a difference for positive change throughout the community.

“I think people are becoming more in tune to their inner being, intuition and the importance of self-care,” Breitbach said. “Our values toward health are shifting, and the old ways no longer fit who we are becoming. I think this (business) fills a need and a desire for what people what to see offered close to home and within a smaller community.”

First exposed in 2008 at Dubuque’s Body & Soul Wellness Center and Spa to the energy work of Reiki — a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation through gentle touch — Breitbach comes from a wealth of experience in the health and wellness industry, providing massage therapy, skin care and energy work services at various spas, including one close to home in Monticello. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, she felt an inner “push” to create and open a space.

“I had worked a more traditional job prior to entering the wellness industry, and I suffered from such high anxiety from it,” Breitbach said. “As fate would have it, my husband was chatting with a co-worker one day, and his wife was a massage therapist. That helped me make the transition to doing this kind of work full-time. It became obvious that I was meant to be my own boss. I had a longing to connect in the community, with other women in the community and to create a space for them.”

She also wanted to create a point of pride in the community, fostering an atmosphere of collaboration with other local businesses and establishing a hub for gathering.

“I’d love to see this help Cascade to be a destination for people in town and out of town,” Breitbach said. “I think people are proud to see some of the new businesses, growth and changes taking place, and it’s exciting to be a part of that.”

Megan Gloss writes for the Telegraph Herald.

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