It had been several years since I “treated” myself to an hour of massage therapy, and I hurried up Spring Street to #11, a lovely old Saratoga building and home to Bodywork Professionals’ Saratoga Springs location.
The beautiful brick façade and large oak-framed double doors led me into a broad Victorian staircase up to a landing, reminiscent of a Victorian entry foyer. The warm wood tones and period furnishings lent a sense of comfort and relaxation. Unlike many spas I’ve visited, Bodyworks felt more like I was entering someone’s parlor or living room. There was none of the “fru” accessories so commonly seen in a spa or massage environment, indicating to me that this was a place where everyone would feel comfortable coming to for treatment.
In fact, Nick Pavoldi, owner, nationally certified NYS licensed massage therapist, has told me that males age 55+ are the fastest growing clientele for massage therapy, and it’s important to create an environment where they can feel comfortable and relaxed, instead of feeling out of place and like they’re in their wives’ hair salon.
Pavoldi also believes in the benefits, both physical and emotional, of inhabiting an organic environment, and his choice of solid wood furniture and original décor and accessories stay true to the era in which the building was erected.
But, enough about the décor! I was here to soothe my aching back, neck, and shoulders. The young woman who greeted me from behind the front desk was cheerful and outgoing. Introducing herself to me as Emily DeSalvatore, it turned out that she would be my massage therapist for the next hour. She handed me a clipboard and invited me to take a seat while I filled out new client paperwork. It contained the usual contact information, medical history, and permission forms, which I promptly completed and returned.
Emily escorted me to a spare, but charming treatment room, where she instructed me to undress to my “comfort level,” and climb under the covers of the heated massage table. The music in the room was as warm and comforting as the cozy little bed, and I settled face down to await my treatment.
After a short interval, Emily knocked and entered the room. I immediately sensed a warmth and empathy coming from her, and whatever trepidation I had felt about treatment seemed to melt away. She asked a few questions about the information I’d entered on the forms. I am always somewhat skeptical about filling out those forms and wonder if anyone really reads them – well, turns out they do, and Emily asked me questions about an auto accident I’d been involved in nearly thirty years ago and the residual effects I was still experiencing from that event.
At my request, Emily filled me in on her background and the reasons why she had chosen massage therapy as a career. Normally, massage occurs in relative silence, the therapist moving along the client’s body and responding to the nuanced signals that an experienced therapist can pick up on from the muscles and tissues being worked on.
But this was different. I was there to do an interview so I could write a profile about Emily and her treatment methods. Tough assignment, huh?
Emily told me about a car accident that had left her in pain and incapacitated for months. A vibrant young woman who enjoyed being active, she was desperate to find a treatment that would relieve her pain and get her back to feeling like her old self, prior to the accident.
On the advice of her physician, she sought out a massage therapist and, after a few sessions, her pain and discomfort began to dissipate and she was able to return to her normal activities. During these sessions, she also became very interested in how the body responds to touch and manipulation on both a physical and emotional level.
Emily decided to investigate schools for massage therapy and enrolled at the Center for Natural Wellness School of Massage Therapy in Albany, where she completed an intensive training curriculum and received her NY State license as a nationally certified massage therapist.
I knew from my conversations with Nick Pavoldi that Bodyworks Professionals offers a range of massage therapies, including, Swedish, deep tissue, Thai yoga, and hot stone massage treatments, in addition to structural integration, prenatal, and mother/infant massage therapies.
Emily’s focus is primarily on Swedish massage, which seemed to be working very well for me. As her expert hands quickly discovered and began working on the kinks in my neck and knots in my back, I became less interested in interviewing and more interested in benefiting from the calm soothing treatment in a warm, safe environment where I felt completely at home.
Emily explained to me that there are only about seven different touches in Swedish massage; however, each massage is completely different for her because she responds to what the client’s body is telling her it needs. So, the order and intensity of the touches will vary from client to client.
At my request, we focused almost entirely on my back, neck, and shoulders – the area where I carry most of my stress and tension – and, by the end of the hour, I felt like I had been transported from a place of tension to a realm of calm, focus, and serenity that I don’t usually feel even when resting in my own bed! Why had I neglected myself for this long? And, why did I – and many others – think of this treatment as a “luxury” and not as something necessary to our ongoing physical and emotional well-being?
Emily told me that most of her clients react the same way that I was feeling. They come in for one massage, feeling like it is a guilty pleasure and leave realizing that they need to find a way to incorporate it into their routines as a regular necessity.
Luckily for me, my assignment requires that I experience a number of different types of massages so I can write about them. Next month, it will either be deep tissue or structural integration. But we want to hear from our readers – which massage therapy are you most interested in learning about? Let us know and I’ll gladly fulfil my next assignment!!