Trainer Carlos Salas helps Cara Rodriguez through a stretching exercise. —photo by Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

It has been 13 years since Jaimi Jansen opened the first location of Santa Cruz Core, an integrated wellness center in downtown Santa Cruz. 

At that time, Jansen was just 26 years old and planning to eventually go to medical school. But as the business succeeded, she decided to keep it growing.

Santa Cruz Core (SCC) now has two locations, in Santa Cruz and Watsonville, and has helped thousands of people over the years with their rehabilitation, fitness and health goals. 

“We provide a holistic, integrated approach to wellness,” Jansen said. “We look at the body as a whole. People ask us for advice. They might say they’ve seen a chiropractor recently, so we’ll start them with that, then see what else they can benefit from. Usually, it turns out to be a combination of services.”

Jansen, who grew up in the San Lorenzo Valley, has had her own rehabilitation journey that shaped her life. At age 18, within her first two weeks as a student at UC Santa Cruz, Jansen was struck by a car while riding her bike. 

“I suffered a brain injury—it was a pretty bad accident,” she said. “I went to so many doctors about my chronic pain. No one could really tell me how to fix myself—they just gave me a pill and said, ‘take this.’”

Jansen instead carved her own path, finding a personal trainer, physical therapist, massage therapist and chiropractor. She often had to drive all over Santa Cruz County and even to the Bay Area to find help.

“It was a lot of effort,” she said. “But that team of people really made a difference. Personal training was such a game changer. I realized, if my body was strong enough, I wouldn’t be in pain.”

SCC offers a number of services in one place. This includes everything from personal training and massage therapy to sports chiropractic and acupuncture. They also offer nutrition counseling, therapeutic exercise, workplace wellness solutions, osteopathic therapy and more. 

Everyone from experienced athletes to people who have never worked out in their lives have come to SCC, Jansen said.

“One of our clients … he has only one lung after having a tumor at age 23, and has never been athletic,” she said. “He’s now approaching 40 and said to us, ‘I want to do an Iron Man!’ So we trained him. We’ve had people in their 60s and 70s who say they want to be able to pick up their grandchildren … and others who are in chronic pain from their jobs.”

SCC is a licensed medical facility, and as such has remained open during the pandemic. They also offer online services, allowing for remote clients as well. They first opened in Watsonville in 2017 after South County clients began asking for a closer location.

“Also, we take the insurance for the [Pajaro Valley Unified School District], so we’re able to provide services to a much larger demographic by being down here,” Jansen said. 

As the new year begins, many are looking to make a fresh start by getting in shape and changing their health habits. But Jansen urges people to not be too hard on themselves if they don’t immediately stick with their resolutions. 

“A lot of people are like, ‘I have to be perfect for the whole month of January, and beyond,’” she said. “But it’s not a race for who gets in the best shape the fastest. Be gentle with yourself. Everyone has an off day. The trick is to find out how you can pick yourself up.”

This is why finding the right kind of help is so important, she said. 

“When someone is successful, more often than not, someone is helping them,” she said. “Having that accountability and partnership is what creates success.”

Santa Cruz Core’s services are currently by appointment only. Trainers are required to wear face masks when working with patients.

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Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.


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