Pillars of Wellness


Pillars of Wellness
Words By Carlee Sizemore Photos By Graham Yelton

In the heart of Alys Beach sits ZUMA Wellness Center, a state-of-the-art amenity that aims to make the mind-body connection feel effortless. Comprised of sui generis spaces, including core components for movement and meditation, nutrition, and socialization, the ZUMA campus is an amenity offered only to Alys Beach homeowners and rental guests. Much consideration and care is given to the programming and offerings, the surroundings, and experiences for the guests of ZUMA. With thoughtfully curated class schedules that range from restorative to high intensity, the serene atmosphere creates an ambient backdrop for mind, body, and soul to align. 

A breeze blows softly, ruffling the fronds of the palmetto bushes that line the tennis facility at ZUMA Wellness Center. Shadows lengthen across the court as bodies stretch—up to the cerulean sky as they toss a ball of neon yellow toward the sun—as they reach and sweep for a volley. There’s the pop and zing of a spirited back and forth as rackets connect with their targets and punctuate the otherwise serene surroundings with a rush of activity. Bo Petro, director of programming and tennis at ZUMA, oversees every serve and shot, providing guidance and instruction as players move through each stroke and drill.

Originally from Madison, Mississippi, Bo was a scholarship tennis player at the University of Mississippi where he helped the Ole Miss Rebels achieve a number three national ranking during his time in Oxford. “My parents still live in Oxford and I try to get back there when I can,” he explains. “I love being able to get to live sporting events, especially Ole Miss games.” 

Over the past 20 years, Bo has been involved in coaching and teaching at private clubs and at the collegiate level. In 2021, he led the Delta State University men’s tennis team to a top nine national ranking as their head coach and then joined the staff at ZUMA in autumn of that year. “I have some good friends who are homeowners at Alys Beach and they reached out to me about the opportunity at ZUMA. I’ve been here at Alys Beach since September and am looking forward to what’s to come. The weather is warming up, people are getting outside. We’re going to have some dynamic programming this season.” 

Working closely with Elese Woollen and Patrick Hoffner, head fitness professional, Bo is looking ahead to offer a focused schedule with emphasis on whole-body wellness. “We want to look at all aspects of programming: class offerings, timing, participation, nutrition. Our treatment rooms stay booked. Our TRX and yoga classes are extremely popular,” he explains. “With the warmer weather, we are planning to host some of our group fitness classes outdoors and look forward to offering that experience to our guests.” 

Along with programming, Bo is leading the tennis initiative at ZUMA. Private lessons along with small group clinics are available to schedule, and he looks forward to introducing children’s tennis clinics for ages 7 and above. Bo says his most popular group fitness class is cardio tennis, which utilizes a combination of tennis drills and cardiovascular conditioning to provide the ultimate full body workout, “Everyone loves cardio tennis,” Bo explains, “It’s a great way to get your heart pumping and a good sweat going first thing in the morning and then go about your day at Alys Beach.” 

From the moment you step into the entry garden, cross over the reflection pool, and walk through the front door, the functional spaces at ZUMA Wellness Center are designed to create a relaxing and rejuvenating environment. Assistant manager Elese Woollen provides a warm and inviting welcome to all who enter. “We want to make it clear how much we care for our guests from the moment they arrive,” she explains. “We want to set the tone for a pleasant experience, to provide a comfortable atmosphere whether our guests are utilizing one of our fitness spaces or just enjoying a coffee from the café in the courtyard.” 

At ZUMA since its inception, Elese is proud of the attention to detail that goes into the programming and supportive nutrition offered to guests. “We really give it our all in the café,” she comments. With fresh juices, smoothies, snacks, and a full coffee bar, the café is designed to provide thoughtful sustenance in a convenient location within the wellness facility. Elese explains, “Our guests can grab something to go, or stay and enjoy our space. I love that we can provide them that option.” 

When asked for insight into the unique spaces of ZUMA, Elese had this to share, “One of my favorite things to do is to visit the cardio room at either sunrise or sunset—both are very quiet times of the day at ZUMA. It’s incredibly peaceful and the view is just breathtaking.” A true alignment of mind, body, and soul.