We are thankful

The first time I got a massage, I was 24 and had just gotten injured at work. I booked a 30 minute massage on a whim to try to help. I literally had no clue what to expect, I even kept my tank top on under the sheets. That massage was so incredible that when I was done, I knew that I needed to help people feel that way too. Within a year, I enrolled in massage therapy school.

Our team is so fortunate to do what we do, and Thanksgiving is always a time to take a step back and really reflect on how grateful we are to be in the spa profession. I asked the crew at East Village Spa to share their favorite part of their career and why they are thankful to be in this line of work.

Brandi: My favorite part of being a licensed massage therapist is making space for others in a compassionate way. And, I am thankful for my co-workers!

Jamee: I am thankful for being able to help people move past challenges that are holding them back from leading their best lives. I would normally be begging people to let me treat them, but now I get to make a living doing this!

Kanika: Being a cosmetologist, esthetician, and massage therapist, I am thankful for the gift of human touch. My career cannot be completely taken over by a robot, computer or technology.

Becky: I like that I never stop learning! I love helping educate my clients and myself. I’m thankful that I get paid to hang out with friends at work!

Jennifer: I love building trusting relationships with clients. My favorite part is getting to see them again and again. I am grateful for the community that therapists bring, they share knowledge and information.

Hannah: I really enjoy the process of talking to my client and listening to what is going on, then helping to put all the clues together. It is like doing a puzzle, but you are still “working.”

Molly: I’m thankful for being able to build relationships with co-workers and regular clients. I love getting the chance to educate and help clients with skincare needs. Oh, and I LOVE doing extractions!

Cassandra: I enjoy getting to know my clients. I learn where I need to travel, eat, and other fun stuff! Also, I get to play and have fun. I say play, because I get to use all the nail polish colors at the spa, not just the few I have at home. Plus, we get to mix things like masks in the facial room and get to test out and play with all the new products.

Camdine: I love getting someone back to what they love doing (running, biking swimming, chasing grand kids) following an injury or surgery. I’m thankful for a job where I can help people get back to “normal” life when dealing with an injury like frozen shoulder. One of the best compliments I can get is someone telling me they can do something without pain anymore or they don’t have to take pain meds or muscle relaxers to get through the day.

Lindsay: I love customizing things to meet someone’s needs so I get to do something different almost every treatment or service.

Conny: I get paid to be relaxed!

Kelly: I am thankful to work with like-minded people who happen to all be amazing. I love my team.

Cassie: I’m so thankful I found a career where I can be my true self and I get to see other people reveal their genuine personality too. Every day I work with caring people and witness incredible acts of kindness and compassion. In our stressed-out world, we get to see people at their most relaxed. It is truly a gift.

Visit a wellness provider who lives his or her career, I promise you’ll notice the difference! Click here to book your appointment with any of our incredible licensed massage therapists, estheticians, and nail technicians.

How do massage therapists manage their own pain?

One of the most frequently asked questions I heard when I was practicing massage was “how often do YOU get a massage?” As massage therapists, we learn to get a good read on our bodies and learn what works well to prevent or manage our own pain.  Some of the LMTs on our team shared what works best for them, and their favorite referrals.

Camdine: I use a Lacrosse ball on my hips, back, and neck to massage painful spots. Camdine also uses locally produced Rapid Fire to reduce pain.

Julie: Daily stretches, epsom salt and Kneipp arnica bath soaks 3x week, a glass of warm Pure Inventions Tranquility tea (with magnesium) before bed, Rapid Fire to control small areas of pain, regular massages and chiropractic care as needed.

Julie’s favorite nighttime  drink is the Pure Inventions Tranquility which contains chamomile, passion flower, and magnesium.

Jamee: I use acupressure as a cure for everything but death, and I haven’t died yet. I see my personal massage therapist (co-worker Tiffany) regularly. I also purchased a Yoga trapeze that is a miracle for low back pain.

Heather: Massage 2-3x a month, regular visits with chiropractor Dr. Pulley (East Village Chiropractic)

Our employees massage each other and also see therapists outside the spa when their co-workers are booked. We all know the importance of “practicing what we preach!”

Hannah M: Staying active after a hard day reduces tension for me.

Jamee (cont’d): …On second thought, I should get a med alert bracelet made up that says in an emergency, call my massage therapist (Tiffany.)

Brandi: Yoga and using a foam roller, a 30 minute daily walk, get adjusted at Shine Chiropractic weekly, Fadeaway Flotation monthly.

Tisha: Rapid fire for aches, pains, and headaches, cupping therapy, foam roller, yoga, and a monthly massage (more often when needed!)

Most of our employees swear by Rapid Fire for muscle aches and tension headaches.

Conny: I’m not in pain often, but if it happens, I either overworked something or an emotional issue came up. For physical pain, I use rapid fire and a soak in a hot bath with epsom salts, receive massage twice a month. A good book, a glass of wine, and a friend for heartache.

 

Conny is especially partial to Kneipp bath salts because like her, they are from Germany.

Cassie: The older I get the more my joints act up, especially after running, biking, and swimming. In addition to regular massage, I see Dr. Pulley for chiropractic care when I overdo it or something feels “off.” I have done regular pilates at Gigi’s Pilates for about 6 years. Sometimes stretching isn’t the answer (or isn’t the only answer). The strengthening techniques in Pilates really help my low back and knees from screaming after longer runs.

If I miss to many pilates sessions, my body rebels and I get low back spasms that make it hard to run. I have learned the importance of strength training to keep everything working like it should!

Want to try massage therapy or one of our favorite pain relieving products for your own aches and pains? Stop into East Village Spa at 601 East Locust or book online!

You’re not cheating!

Imagine this:  You are about to leave for a weekend road trip with your friends and wake up with a crick in your neck.  You call the spa hoping to squeeze in a bit of pain relief with your therapist but he or she has the day off.  The receptionist suggests another great therapist, but you decline because you think you’ll hurt your therapist’s feelings.

When you return, you book with your regular massage therapist, tell them you were miserable on your trip, and they are shocked at how tense your neck and shoulders are from that painful road trip.  You need to book 3 weeks in a row just to feel normal again before you can get back on your monthly schedule.  Your therapist tells you they wish you’d have seen one of their colleagues for some relief before you left. After all, they trust them with their own massage therapy sessions and think they are great!

painWith summer so near, it is a good time to remind clients that our employees encourage you to see their colleagues for services to keep up with your progress.  We know your schedule gets crazier in the summer and our employees are also planning upcoming travel, races, and family events.  If they aren’t available when you need in, they want you to see one of their co-workers that they trust immensely with your care (and their own!)  Here’s why:

  • Our spa is a “team treatment” spa and the majority of our clients see multiple providers for more booking options and treatment styles to choose from.
  • We have been open almost 8 years and our experienced employees are fortunate that they don’t have to compete for bookings, they are always comfortably busy!
  • Our employees can rest easier when they plan a vacation or have an unexpected illness knowing that their regulars can keep on their treatment schedule with one of their co-workers.  Believe me, it stresses them out when planning a trip knowing someone they’ve been treating will skip a session (or complain that their therapist is leaving) rather than see a trusted colleague.
  • Our employees know that because they are all so busy, it is hard for clients to get in to see them as often as they need to.  We’d all rather have you see 2-3 people and get in on the schedule that is recommended than wait too long between services and not get the results you could.
  • You might find it beneficial to experience different styles of work or different opinions from other providers!  I personally have two therapists I book with at the spa when I need relaxation or want a hot stone massage, one therapist I book with for shoulder pain, and another I book with for general deep tissue.
  • Last but not least, our services providers care about you and hate to think you are in pain when they know someone who can help you!
No need for disguises! Most of our clients see multiple providers, we won't be upset!

No need for disguises! Most of our clients see multiple providers, we won’t be upset!

Next time you can’t get in with your regular provider, let the front desk know specifically what you like about that person and we can pair you up with someone who has a similar approach instead of waiting longer than you or your body wants to between services. You might also ask your regular provider who he or she would recommend if you ever need to get in when they aren’t available. Click here to learn about our skilled treatment team and click here to book your next appointment!

P.S. Our team had a good laugh at this picture, because it sometimes feels pretty accurate!

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Caring for the Caregiver: Teresa’s Story

A question we’re frequently asked is “How often do you get a massage?” or “Who does your massages?”  I decided to ask our team to share stories of how massage and complementary medicine have impacted them personally.  Our massage therapist, Teresa, was the first to share her story.  Stay tuned for more stories in the series!

From Teresa:

Teresa, a massage therapist at East Village Spa, provides a craniosacral massage to Kelly.

Teresa, a massage therapist at East Village Spa, provides a craniosacral massage to Kelly.

For the past 5 + years, I have been a dedicated client/recipient of myofascial/deep tissue massage and chiropractic adjustments.  I believe I would not be able to sustain a career in massage therapy without receiving this therapy myself.

For years before moving back to Iowa, I sought help through massage and chiropractors, with some success, but I would describe it more as hit-and-miss. When I moved back to Iowa, I learned about myofascial massage methods used with deep tissue with the help of a knowledgeable, skilled and gifted therapist, James Kozuki. I began regular sessions, and we have been able to peel back the layers of restrictions and “stuck” tissue that had resulted from soft tissue trauma I sustained many, many years ago, not to mention any other sprains, strains and “normal” tension (like pregnancy) that were layered on top!
In those early-in-life accidents, I had been jarred, whip-lashed, bruised and twisted up (no broken bones) and as the years went by, stiffness and soreness in my neck and low back became more pronounced.  Now, with the help of massage therapy and chiropractic care, I can turn my head in all directions without pain or stiffness, and my low back is better than ever.  I am forever grateful for the gifts of massage therapists (and gifted chiropractors, too), especially when you find one that fits exactly what you need!
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Thank you to Teresa for sharing her story! To learn about our massage therapists, our services, or to schedule an appointment online, click here!

2015 Highlights

The 2015 spa year wraps up in 3 hours and like always, I’m a sap for reminiscing.  The year has seen more growth, which means more people in Central Iowa are experiencing some much-needed stress relief!  It is always good to have a year with far more ups than downs (I’m sparing you photos of the ceiling collapse and floor drain explosions of 2015). I thought I’d share 10 memories from the year that make me smile.

  1. Early in 2015, I had the honor of presenting my friend (and super cool human) Dr. Chris Lorang with the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award from the East and South Des Moines Chamber.

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I also got to enjoy a fun evening with some of our team at the chamber’s annual dinner.

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2. I love teaching and I had the privilege  of teaching TWO amazing classes of students at Body Wisdom School this year.  So many great massage therapists entered the profession in 2015.image16

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3. Our team celebrated many “Best of Des Moines” wins again in 2015.  We truly appreciate your vote and we aim to live up to our “Best Spa” designation every day.

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4. Maybe the coolest thing we did in 2015 was provide free facials and skin care products to 12 women from the Beacon of Life Shelter during the spring and summer.  One of these awesome women chose to share her story with Channel 13 news.  I’m forever moved by the power of human touch and the confidence boost of proper skincare.image10

5. We got to enjoy Allison dancing with EVERY SINGLE MASCOT at the SW 9th Open Street Event that the spa volunteered for.

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6. Kelly and I had a great educational experience at ISPA conference and returned invigorated and full of ideas.

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7. Adding Rhonda Allison Skincare to our spa services and retail was the best decision we made in 2015.  Our skin looks and feels amazing and our clients are thrilled.  rhonda-allison-2

The Rhonda Allison line also allowed us to incorporate more corrective peels to our menu and I personally loved the results from mine!  Check out my blog post on it here.

Rhonda Allison Vitamin A Peel Before and After

8. We raised almost $2500 for Fluffy Butts Animal Rescue at our annual Spalloween fundraiser and had a record turnout!  The funds helped to cover several surgeries for the dogs in the rescue, like my new buddy Linus (pictured) who found a brand new “fur”ever home shortly after the event.

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9. We celebrated our 7th birthday!  I spent the day choking up because I get emotional at the spa’s birthday.  I just lost it when my dear friends at Ephemera posted this sign in their window.  It reminded me of over 7 years ago when we just had 2 itty bitty baby businesses across the street from each other.  We used to post cheery signs in the windows to say hello.  My how we’ve grown!

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10. We closed out the busiest year yet with this delightful little view of the capitol from our nail care suite last week.

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Thanks for everything, 2015.

7 years, 7 fun facts (and some throwback photos)

I always get a bit sappy on the spa’s birthday.  I’m not a parent of human children, but I consider the spa to be my baby.  Today the spa is 7 years old and I’ve spent my morning going through old photos and smiling about all the people I’ve gotten to work with over the years.  I don’t have any photos of the spa in progress when we were building out the old location, which is a shame because the transformation was incredible.

That being said, some of the things we found when remodeling the first location were so horrifying I think it is best that I don’t have lasting images.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

I wanted to share 7 fun things about the spa for 7 years to mark the milestone.

  1. We signed our lease in September 2008, the day before the market tanked! We laugh that when you start at the bottom, there really is only one way you can go!
  2. Our team grew from 4 of us in 2008 to 18 of us in 2015spagrowth
  3. In 2009, our first full year, we did 2649 services.  In 2014, our most recent full year, we did 10,234 services (we’ve already topped that number by a lot this year!) in 7 years, we have performed 51, 617 massages, facials, manicures, pedicures, and waxes
  4. We have been voted Des Moines’ Best Spa every year since 2010!  This is a photo of our group in 2011.cityviewbestof2012
  5. Our employees stay with us a LONG time, but sometimes switch roles.  Our front desk manager Kelly used to be one of our amazing massage therapists.  Our amazing massage therapist Tiffany, was our first front desk manager!kellytiffany
  6. The old spa’s location was too small, had weird restrooms, and no parking, but it did have the prettiest storefront, especially at the holidays.EVSpa-59
  7. I hit my 10 year anniversary as a licensed massage therapist this year.  While I’m mostly handing out chocolate at the front desk (trying to dodge my REAL projects) these days, you’ll still find me filling in for a shift here or there!
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    Me (age 27, seems forever ago!) in my private practice prior to opening the spa.

    Thank you to all of our clients and employees throughout the years who have made this a fun journey full of such wonderful memories.  Here’s to many more years!

10 reasons pets are good for your health (our excuse to post cute pet pics)

The team at East Village Spa knows that pets are vital for our mental and physical well-being and many of us have at least one rescued pet!

1: A  2012 study from Hiroshima University in Japan showed that when employees watch pictures of cute animals at work, they narrow their focus and pay more attention to detail. (All the more reason to read on!)

Our esthetician and nail tech Cassandra's dog

Cassandra’s dog

2. Nurses at Cedars-Sinai hospital share anecdotal evidence that after a pet therapy visit, some patients sometimes have lower heart rate and require less pain medication.

Camille's dogs

Camille’s dogs

3. Many studies have shown that dogs help with weight loss, including encouraging more physical activity, especially walking.

Cassie and her dog Ernie

Cassie and her dog Ernie

4. When humans pet a dog, they experience a release of several “feel good” hormones. (Study by: Rebecca Johnson, Ph.D., RN, of the University of Missouri-Columbia Center for the Study of Animal Wellness)

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Celeste’s dog, Hannah’s dog, Jamee’s dog

5. James E. Gern, MD, a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, states in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology states that children who grow up in a home with “furred pets” like cats or dogs have reduced risk of allergies and asthma.

Cassandra's cats and Jackie's cat and dog

Cassandra’s cats and Jackie’s cat and dog

7. Dogs have been shown to improve reading scores.  Many schools and libraries are even incorporating time for kids to practice reading to dogs, who are great and non-judgmental listeners!

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Hannah’s dog

8. Pets can relieve pain by initiating the relaxation response and taking a person’s focus off their pain. (Dr. Jeff Burgess, University of Washington Pain Center).

Our Esthetician/Cosmetologist Cammie's pet rabbit.

Our Esthetician/Cosmetologist Cammie’s pet rabbit

9. Pets can encourage people to make social connections

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Katie’s dog at the East Village Spooky Paws Pet Parade. Cassie’s dog at a doggy birthday bash.

10. Senior citizens who own a dog or cat performed better on Activities of Daily Living. Researchers speculate the sense of responsibility to a pet also contributes to their the overall well-being of seniors. (Raina P, Waltner-Toews D, Bonnett B, Woodward C, Abernathy T (1999). Influence of companion animals on the physical and psychological health of older people: an analysis of a one-year longitudinal study. J Am Geriatr Soc. Mar;47(3):323-9)

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Kelly’s cats, Teresa’s cat, Hannah’s cat

East Village Spa Partners with the Beacon of Life Shelter

East Village Spa has partnered with the Beacon of Life Women’s Shelter to provide free facials and skin care products to help the shelter’s residents learn what it feels like to relax and be cared for, in addition to developing a skin health routine that is attainable and manageable.

The Beacon of Life serves women who do not have a safe place to reside or who need support in their housing.  Many of their clients come directly from incarceration and The Beacon programming focuses on helping them with employment, financial stability, mind/body wellness, and recovery.  When the licensed estheticians at East Village Spa decided to partner with an organization to help educate and nurture women, the Beacon was a natural choice.

Julie Hewitt, Case Manager at the Beacon of Life said that in addition to not feeling worthy of self-care, the women at the shelter have skin care concerns unique to their situation.  Hewitt describes advanced signs of aging due to drug use and stress.  She adds, “I see a lot of acne, wrinkles, dry skin, and pock marks from scabbing.”

Cassie Sampson, owner of East Village Spa, says “I believe working in a spa environment, we take skin care for granted, but we know that when our skin looks healthy and we feel worthy of being cared for by others, we gain confidence. We hope a boost in confidence helps the residents who are making positive life changes like starting a new career or reconnecting with family.”

Both East Village Spa’s employees and the team at The Beacon of Life shelter hope that the women come away from their spa experience with a sense of relaxation and feel that they are valued and important. 

What is your favorite muscle to massage and why?

I took a little survey of our massage therapists to find out what muscle or muscle group they love working on and why.  The answers may surprise you!

Teresa Sage: Neck/cranial base release because it is such a nurturing area and because the tension ebbs and flows from the neck to the upper shoulders, almost always laden and heavy with tension on most people, especially females in my experience.

Teresa Sage demonstrates Craniosacral Massage techniques

Teresa Sage demonstrates Craniosacral Massage techniques

Allison Peterson: Erectors because of how they run the entire length of the spine and when they relax, we notice that surrounding larger muscle groups will open up with more ease.

Tiffany Jackson: The neck muscles because I think that is when people relax the most.

Jamee Koopman: The Psoas!  For more information about psoas massage, click here.

Many muscles in the abdominal area contribute to pain and tension, including the psoas and diaphragm.

Many muscles in the abdominal area contribute to pain and tension, including the psoas and diaphragm.

Clair McClintock: The Diaphragm!  It is often a place that gets left out of treatment for many different ailments.  For example: radiating pain across the ribs, breathing issues, trauma from an accident, and more.  It is not the most relaxing massage but I’ve had so much instant improvement in people’s back pain or some people that have come in with pain they’ve been dealing with for years.  It can be a huge emotional release spot for people.

Cassie Sampson: The Piriformis.  People who have severe pain from sciatic nerve issues can often find relief with massage to the piriformis and surrounding glut and hip muscles.  It wasn’t until I had injured myself and experienced the horrible pain caused by a sciatic nerve issues that I knew just how limiting and painful sciatic nerve issues could be and I liked knowing ways to help.

The piriformis and gluteal muscles can be accessed directly on the skin with proper draping, through sheets or clothing. Gluteal and piriformis massage is extremely beneficial.

The piriformis and gluteal muscles can be treated directly on the skin with proper draping, through sheets or clothing or via stretching. Gluteal and piriformis massage is extremely beneficial.

Justin Behanish: The quadratus lumborum (QL) muscle because it it is the cause (or partial cause) of pain in at least 1/4 of the people who have back-pain.  I think it is too often neglected by massage therapists.

The QL is a small muscle in the lower back that is the root of many peoples' back pain.

The QL is a small muscle in the lower back that is the root of many peoples’ back pain.

Kristiana Moore: The muscles in the feet because many of us stand all day and people find it the most relaxing.  When I get to the foot massage at the end of the session, so many people tend to fall asleep!

If any of our therapist’s responses are tempting you to book a massage to relax your sorest muscles, click here to schedule online!

The Spa Newbie Gets a Facial!

We put our intern, Alyssa’s next spa service to test out to a vote and by a close margin, our Facebook fans (and ALL of our estheticians!) suggested she try our EV Signature Facial.  Here’s what Alyssa had to say!

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Spa Intern Alyssa relaxes during her first ever Facial at East Village Spa

Spa Intern Alyssa relaxes during her first ever Facial at East Village Spa

The votes came in and I was chosen to try the EV Signature Facial Experience.  The past few years I started to struggle with dry skin and am constantly having to apply moisturizer.  I’m secretly happy (I guess not so secret now) that this is what was selected by all of you!  I have always wanted to get a facial, but never knew where to go.

Never having a facial before, I was not sure what to expect.  Camille used a light on my face to see what problems were going on that can’t be seen by the naked eye.  She was able to adjust the treatment specifically towards my skin care needs.  She used a Clarisonic for a deeper clean and to make the skin more receptive to the products.  I also had steam, which helped to detoxify the skin and soften pores for easier extractions.

Not only did this facial include attention to my face, but I also received treatment to my arms, hands, face, neck, and feet.  Camille explained each process with me and it was nice to understand why.  With this, I was able to understand what type of home care I needed to use.

Camille explained whether you have sensitive or problematic skin, facials are great for deep cleansing and exfoliation.  They stimulate new cell growth for a fresher, younger look.  She recommends to come in every 3-4 weeks so your estheticians can monitor your skin changes and adjust at home care accordingly.

The arsenal of products that Camille, Alyssa's Esthetician, chose to use on her skin.

The arsenal of products that Camille, Alyssa’s Esthetician, chose to use on her skin.

After receiving the facial, I noticed that my skin appears much healthier looking, more moisturized, which made the expression lines on my forehead less defined.  The treatment left my skin feeling very smooth and silky.  I highly recommend the EV Signature Facial Experience.  I’m a believer.  It was truly what my skin was looking for.

Be sure to check out my next blog when I will be spending the day as a Massage Therapy Student at the school where Cassie teaches!

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Are you inspired to try a facial?  Click here to book your own EV Signature Facial Experience and meet with one of our skilled and relaxing estheticians.