Get to know Tisha!

Tisha2EastVillageSpaWe are pleased to introduce you to the newest member of our team, Tisha (pronounced “Tee-sha”) Knight, a licensed massage therapist and esthetician who will joins us as a full time massage therapist in March.  She has a great style to help calm and relax guests and we know that our clients will love working with her!

How long have you been in the industry?

I have been a licensed massage therapist since 2014 and just got my esthetics license in 2016.

Why did you go into massage therapy?

I have had a passion for helping others from a young age. I started my schooling in the beauty industry with the intent of doing esthetics.  They provided a dual program opportunity with massage and esthetics, so I thought Why  not?!  I decided to start first with massage and I was in love with every aspect.  It was definitely a match.

Just last year, I actually came across a letter to myself from 1st grade consisting of “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Having no idea what I could have written at that age, I was surprised to see that “Massage therapist” was listed at number two!

What is your favorite service to give?

Right now, the EV Signature Massage.  The honey heel glaze smells amazing and it is fun that you can use it to exfoliate and soften any area of the body, not just heels.

What is your favorite spa service to receive?

That is a tough question! Any sort of massage.  Feeling my muscles and tissues being manipulated and stretched in ways that I can’t accomplish myself through yoga/exercise is just amazing.  My strong second choice is facials.  I love that feeling of having such a “fresh and clean face” and you also get deep relaxation with your facial service.

What is your favorite retail product?

So far, the Farmhouse Fresh Coconut Beach Scrub.  I love the gentle exfoliation but also moisturizing benefits.  I love using the scrubs on my feet with my foot file.  I’m looking forward to learning more about and starting to use the Rhonda Allison skin care line.

What is your favorite way to reduce stress?

Yoga, walking, being outside in general, listening to music, and of course getting a massage or facial whenever possible!

What is your favorite suggestion for clients?

Stretching consistently, whenever you can.  Stretching is especially important in the morning, after sitting for longer periods, and before bed.  I’ve experienced amazing benefits from yoga.  I love, love, love yoga.  Finally, drinking water.  Too many people odn’t drink enough water and it is one of the most important parts of our health and being alive!

Why should clients visit YOU?

I enjoy understanding and executing whatever it is that each individual would like me to focus on .  I love being able to vary my treatments, provide therapeutic benefits, and most importantly offer my clients what they are looking for in a massage.

To book YOUR appointment with Tisha, click here and schedule online!  She is currently providing our Wellness, EV Signature, and Seasonal Special massages.



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!
Thank you to Teresa for sharing her story! To learn about our massage therapists, our services, or to schedule an appointment online, click here!

What kind of massage should I book?

People always want to know which massage is the best.  It is a great question and not always the easiest to answer until we get to know someone a bit, but I hope this post helps you to sort through our four most popular massage styles to find one that suits you best!


EV Signature Massage East Village Spa

This is our most popular massage for a reason: It is easy to customize for many preferences.  Our Signature Massage is usually full body, but can include more focused work on a specific area of tension.  Your massage therapist can vary your pressure from light to firm throughout the session based on your needs and preferences.  He or she will also incorporate a few warm stones on the back and feet (not to be mistaken with a hot stone massage, the stones are used for only about 5-10% of the treatment time in the Signature massage).

Your therapist will often blend some essential oils into your massage cream based on your health intake and he or she will also use a warm honey mask on your back with hot towels to soften skin (and the towels feel amazing).

If this massage was a vacation it would be: A trip to Colorado to take in some nature, great food, light hiking, and a visit with an old friend.

If this massage was a flavor of ice cream it would be: Neapolitan or cookies and cream



All of the therapists who offer the Athletic Edge massage at our spa have extensive training in deep tissue techniques or sports massage, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and/or assisted stretching.  You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from this service, it is for anyone with a busy lifestyle, injury, or chronic aches and pains.

Don’t book the Athletic Edge massage if you want to drift off to sleep, but when you want to feel like you and your therapist really accomplished something.  This massage is generally not full body, but is focused on a few areas of pain or injury.   Your therapist will incorporate a variety of techniques and possibly even stretches, products to warm or cool muscles to reduce inflammation, and might ask you to participate by engaging muscles or assisting with a stretch.

If this massage was a vacation it would be: RAGBRAI, a ski trip, or a week off work spent remodeling your kitchen.

If this massage was a flavor of ice cream it would be: A frozen fruit and protein smoothie or rocky road



If you love firm pressure, but still want a full body massage that lets your mind drift away, this is a good choice.  Your massage therapist will stand on the table and use bars overhead for balance as she massages you with her feet.  Unlike a traditional deep pressure massage that uses hard surfaces like the therapist’s elbows or knuckles, the feet are softer and spread pressure evenly over a broader surface.  Your therapist isn’t “Walking” on your back, but rather using her feet to provide a massage that includes flowing and targeted strokes. This is a great choice for people with a more dense musculature or people who like to feel like the pressure is firm, but don’t like to feel sore the next day.

If this massage was a vacation it would be: A trip to Thailand or Bali

If this massage was a flavor of ice cream it would be: Dark chocolate chili pepper or Cherry Garcia


The therapist uses a variety of different shaped warm jade stones as an extension of their hands to relax tense muscles.

We call this massage “Heavenly” for a reason.  This is our most relaxing massage.  Your therapist uses warm jade stones of different shapes and sizes to provide a massage that is extremely relaxing and boosts circulation.  He or she will use a combination of long, flowing strokes and quicker, focused techniques with the stones to increase blood flow while warming and relaxing the muscles.  While this treatment doesn’t use heavy pressure, the heat of the stones works deep to relax the muscles for the muscles.

If this massage was a vacation it would be: Relaxing on a beautiful beach with a cocktail and a great book.

If this massage was an ice cream flavor it would be: Mango sorbet or a hot fudge sundae with a toasted marshmallow

Ready to schedule your massage? Click here to book online at East Village Spa!

Get to Know Tiffany Jackson, LMT

Our photo of Tiffany's first day of massage school, in 2011. We were so proud of her!

Our photo of Tiffany posing outside of the “old spa” before her first day of massage school, in 2011.

Tiffany Jackson has been our longest-serving spa employee, starting as our front desk manager in February 2009 right after we opened, eventually attending massage school to become one of our popular Licensed Massage Therapists!  While our spa guests missed seeing Tiffany at the desk, they quickly determined that she was meant to be in the healing arts profession and fortunately, she can still fill in for occasional desk shifts.

How long have you been in the industry?

6 years total, 2.5 as a licensed massage therapist.

What are your licenses?

Massage Therapy and Reiki Master.  I’m currently studying Unlimited Body modality too.

Why did you go into this field?

I wanted to help people feel better and I’m fascinated by the mind/body connection.

What are your favorite spa services to give?

Prenatal massage and the Gong Fu Chai Scrub

What are your favorite spa services to receive?

Massage and Facials

What is your favorite spa retail product?

Kneipp bath salts, especially the arnica joint and muscle salt

What are your favorite ways to reduce stress?

Epsom salt bath with bergamot, vanilla, and tangerine essential oils

What are your favorite wellness resources?

Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup and You Can Heal Your Body by Louise Hay

Why should clients visit YOU?

I can help them reach a deeper state of relaxation.

To schedule your massage with Tiffany, click here!

The “Spa Newbie” gets her first professional massage!

Our Intern Alyssa has I have only had two massages before receiving our summer special, the one-hour “Massage on the Rocks” treatment with our therapist Tiffany.  Both of Alyssa’s previous massages were done by students so this was her first professional treatment.  She had the “tough” job of getting her first REAL massage and writing about it for her internship.  Here’s what she thought:

Massage on the Rocks Products

Massage on the Rocks Products

I had only had two massages before getting the Massage on the Rocks at East Village Spa (a one-hour full body massage that incorporates warm and cool stones, Farmhouse Fresh Agave Nectar, and Farmhouse Fresh Watermelon Basil Vodkatini back scrub).

This massage was different from the others because I have only gone to massage schools where I didn’t feel a professional mannerism. I felt at ease with my Massage Therapist, Tiffany.  In the first few minutes she checked with me to make sure that the pressure was just right.  I had a knot underneath my shoulder blade for quite some time.  She used more pressure in that area to work it out.  She also used hot and cold stones which was definitely my favorite part.

The atmosphere at the spa is very relaxing. I felt completely comfortable just resting quietly and not having to speak.  They allow you to get undressed at your own comfort level and  I had no problem doing so. I am the type of person who always thinks of what I need to be doing next. I don’t know that I could fully shut my mind off but it was the closest thing to peace I have had in a long time.  At one point I believe I fell asleep.  I want to go back for another one just thinking about it!

After getting the Massage on the Rocks I would like to try the Two Feet Deep or Athletic Edge Sports massage next.  It would be fun to compare different techniques and finding the best fit for me.

Envious of Alyssa’s great massage?  You can book your OWN Massage on the Rocks through the end of August.  Just click here to go to our online scheduler.  Stay tuned for Alyssa’s last “Spa Newbie” post coming soon…next she tries a Shellac manicure!

Top 5 reasons an honest health intake is important

We know it can feel like we’re inundated with paperwork and forms these days, so we really do empathize when our clients groan about having to fill out a health or skin care history. These forms were developed by our employees to help them get the information they need to give you an amazing service.  If you’d like a preview of our health history form, click here.   We keep all health information confidential and do not share it unless we have your written consent to do so.  Here are 5 of the main reasons we require a health history or skin care history before your service:

5. We need to know what products to use.  If you are booking a facial, our estheticians have many options for cleansers, toners, masks, scrubs, moisturizers, serums and more. The information on your skin care intake in addition to their assessment of your skin guides their choices.  If you are investing time and money in your facial, you deserve a wonderful service customized for you.  If you are scheduling a massage, we need to know if you have any allergies or sensitivities so we can select the best massage cream or oil.

East Village Spa Products

4. We might need to modify a service based on health concerns or preferences.  Certain medications require a change in pressure or technique due to a risk of bruising or tissue damage.  For example, some medications make skin more sensitive to waxing and can cause skin tears.  Some health conditions contradict exposure to heat so we might suggest changing your Hot Stone massage to a Sports or Signature service so as not to to exacerbate symptoms or cause burns. Some symptoms might seem harmless, but could indicate a serious problem like an infection or blood clot requiring medical attention.

3. We need to know which techniques to use.  There are literally hundreds of styles of massage therapy.  Many of our therapists have over 1000 hours of initial training and are required to take continuing education regularly, so our technique “tool boxes” are far bigger than what you can tell by looking at our brochure.  Letting your therapist know injuries you have, areas of pain, and pressure preferences will make a world of difference in the effectiveness of your service.  Just because you had a light and relaxing massage with a therapist once, doesn’t mean he or she isn’t able to give a good injury-specific focused treatment another visit or visa versa.  You just have to let us know exactly what you need so we can raid our massage “tool box” for the best techniques to for you.


2. Some of your answers clue us in to ways we can go above and beyond for you!  Have allergies or a headache? We can add a cold compress to your face rest to help relieve the pressure.  Work long hours standing on a cement floor? We an add a cooling mint foot cream instead of the regular massage cream.  Under an incredible amount of stress and struggling to calm your mind before your massage? Your therapist can add a couple of drops of lavender oil into your massage cream and have you do some breathing exercises. We can even re-position to an incline or side-lying position for recent abdominal surgeries or breast tenderness. The possibilities are endless, but we can’t help you if we don’t know what you need our help with!

1. Your current concerns may be caused by issues you wouldn’t have suspected.  A thorough intake could lead to underlying causes of current issues you may not have thought of.  An old surgery or injury may be contributing to current pain in a completely different area of the body.  Your current skincare regimen could have unintended side-effects you didn’t know about that could be causing dry patches or clogged pores.  Your favorite hobbies may be taking a toll on your body over time. All of this information will help us to provide the best results possible for a better treatment value.


If we don’t have the information we need,  your service provider will need to take time out of your treatment to ask questions and you won’t be able to relax as fully.  If you come a few minutes early to complete your form, it will give you a time to decompress and shake off the day, relax with some hot tea or water, and focus on your treatment goals so you can be sure you are getting the best value for your time spent at the spa and a the best service and recommendations from your expert provider.


Tips to get the most benefit from each massage

There is nothing better than waking up on the day you have a massage scheduled and knowing you are about to get a big dose of much needed relaxation and TLC.  I talked to long time massage therapist, Justin Behanish, for his tips on how to get the most benefit out of your massage before, during, and after your treatment.


  • Finish work or get any home projects or stressful tasks out of the way
  • Get in your workout
  • Drink plenty of water and eat a light meal, it is hard to relax with a full (or empty) stomach and your muscles will respond better to the work if they aren’t dehydrated.
  • Find a way to make things easy for after your treatment so the rest of your day can run on “cruise control.”  For example, set up a healthy meal in the crock pot in the morning so you can get home after your massage and dinner is ready!


  • Speak up!  No massage therapist is a mind reader and our favorite clients are the ones who will honestly give us feedback when we ask if the pressure or temperature need adjusted.
  • Take some slow deep breaths and try to think of nothing but how your body is feeling.  Take time to just enjoy how good the massage feels!



  • Do things to help continue to relax your muscles and mind like light stretches, reading a book, or relaxing with a cozy blanket.
  • Relax in a hot bath with aromatherapy or bath salts from Kneipp, or try tiger balm on any areas your therapist worked deep before you go to bed to keep muscles loose and reduce the likelihood of soreness the next day.
A soak in a warm tub to keep muscles warm and loose is perfect to extend the benefits of your massage.

A soak in a warm tub to keep muscles warm and loose is perfect to extend the benefits of your massage.

Gender Roles and Massage

I debated whether I should even discuss the topic of massage therapist gender on this blog, but I think we have enough questions and comments that it seems to at least warrant brief acknowledgement.  As a therapist of over 9 years and a massage educator, I work with massage therapists who are men and women.  Of course, a majority of licensed massage therapist ARE women, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t an ideal profession for men as well.

Many industry leaders, authors, and pioneers are men. 50% of the 2015 Massage Therapy Hall of Fame Inductees are men.  Men with a natural caring nature, or those who come from sports, engineering, science, or medical backgrounds are often drawn to massage as a profession or a career change.  I know two male doctors in Des Moines who also have a massage therapy license!  There are even men in the area who have created a niche as prenatal therapists because of their great respect for the pregnancy process.

That being said, discrimination goes both ways.  While the vast majority of clients who have gender requests ask for a female therapist, we do have clients without a good understanding of massage techniques or body mechanics who don’t believe women can provide enough pressure (definitely false!) or who see men as more “scientific” or “medical” which drives our science-minded female therapists crazy!

It is  quite rare we have someone request a therapist of a specific gender due to past history or religion (for example, I have taken courses with an Orthodox Jewish married couple who could only work with same-gendered classmates, clients, and instructors per their religious beliefs).

Mostly, I think people have body image issues or subscribe to outdated assumptions about gender and career roles, or aren’t 100% clear about the therapeutic nature of massage.  We’re constantly told by society how we should act or look as men or women and it is hard to tune that out.  I understand that no matter how many times your massage therapist works to assure you that he or she is not judging (or even noticing your “imperfections”) because your therapist is focused more on how well you and your muscles are relaxing, it is hard to believe if you aren’t a massage therapist.  At one point or another, all of our massage therapists were massage clients with no understanding of massage therapy at all!

It also surprises people to learn that when a guest discriminates against a male colleagues for non-medical or non-religious reasons, that male therapist’s female colleagues feel sad, as though they were chosen not for their skill as therapists, but only because of their gender.  A strongly stated gender preference (that is not attributed to religion or past history) also raises a therapists’ concern that perhaps a guest doesn’t fully understand that massage is strictly therapeutic and perhaps the guest is confused about the nature of their treatment.

All of this being said, we do respect our guest’s choices and certainly don’t require an explanation if you state a gender preference in your massage therapist, but I wanted to at least give you this post as “food for thought” because so often a client calls in desperate pain and we CAN help…but the therapist open is not the preferred gender so the client decides to wait a couple more days in pain until the therapist of their preferred gender is available.  Or perhaps a client’s health issue could be better solved by a therapists with specialized training in that area, but the client would rather see a therapist who is less skilled with that particular condition (and therefore not get the desired result) solely on the basis of gender.

A client just sent this nice message to me the other day and I thought I’d pass it along:

“Never really thought much about a male LMT, but Justin is AMAZING! Really, I haven’t had a bad massage at your spa but Justin made a lot of aches and pains melt away and did a number of great stretches that really worked my hip. I’m so glad I made it in! Already made my recovery appointment as well! Thank you & big thanks to Justin as well.”

We have male clients that see male and female therapists and female clients that see male and female therapists.  Most of our clients do not have a preference and trust that all of our therapists are highly skilled, ethical, and well-educated people who love their careers and are looking forward to helping you feel your best!

Justin and Mallory wowed the "Women who Wine" group with chair massages in 2014

Justin and Mallory wowed the “Women who Wine” group with chair massages in 2014

Memories lie in muscles

Off and on, I struggle with stiff feet and ankles when I run.  I call them my “franken-ankles” because I feel like I’m running like Frankenstein’s monster.  I often see Tiffany or Teresa for massage to help increase my ankle mobility and range of motion and with my last visit with Tiffany, a flood of memories surfaced.

foot massage

She was working deeply on the muscles and ligaments of my foot as I was drifting when I was startled awake by a very vivid flashback of the time when I was 15 and one of the bones in my foot snapped in a freak accident on the day my mom was scheduled to have a major surgery.  Because of the timing with my family, the doctors postponed casting me and my foot took a very long time to heal.  It doesn’t consciously give me any issues now and I truthfully wouldn’t even remember to write that injury down on a health history, but the moment Tiffany worked around that area, I was instantly transformed 20 years back in time to that day like it was happening right then.

Our bodies hold on to tension and stress in ways we can’t consciously comprehend.  Many times, a client has felt a rush of emotion as their shoulders loosened up or their jaw relaxed during a massage as the stress from from a tense argument at work, or the death of a loved one starts to escape.   Clients might perk up with an “a-ha!” moment when a muscle releases, revealing an old sports injury or childhood fall.  We have even experienced clients having an anxiety attack on the table as a muscle releases.  Even if our minds aren’t consciously aware of all of your memories and emotions, you can be sure that your muscles are.

courtesy of ABMP

courtesy of ABMP

If you happen to experience an “emotional release” during a massage, don’t be embarrassed.  Chances are, your therapist has witnessed several, and many therapists have received enough massage through their schooling and self-care that they may have even experienced one themselves.  If you wish to have a moment alone, that is fine.  Your therapist can also offer you a tissue and a safe space to talk, laugh, or cry while they continue with the massage.  They will take their cues from you.  If you remember an old injury, do share!  It is certainly possible it could be contributing to new pain.

If you get massage all the time but never experience a rush of emotion, you are also perfectly normal!  We have had clients over the years try to “force” a release, thinking hard on old traumas or forcibly breathing deeply during work because another therapist or a friend told them that it is the only way to heal, but that isn’t true!  Your body knows what it needs and whatever your response to massage, you are a-ok!

The article “The Body Remembers” and the sources used in the article are good reads for anyone who is curious about this topic or who may have had their own instance of “remembering” a physical or emotional trauma that their body was holding on to.

courtesy of ABMP

courtesy of ABMP

Safety and Prenatal Services

We’ve been getting lots of questions about the safety of spa services for pregnant women and I’m excited to share more information with you!  First of all, massage therapy is a time-tested and safe way to help nurture a mom-to-be.  Unfortunately, many people hear conflicting information about what is and isn’t safe and we’d like to help dispel any myths.

Myth: Prenatal massage is only safe in the second and third trimester.
Truth: Prenatal massage is safe throughout a healthy pregnancy.  If your physician has any concerns or you are at particularly high risk, please consult with them so they can share with your massage therapist their recommendations for the best treatments.  If you are having a healthy pregnancy, massage is great throughout!  For a great article about the safety of massage in the first trimester, click here.

Myth: Pregnancy massage should be performed with the client laying face down and her abdomen poking through a hole on the table.

Truth: While many prenatal therapists do use a table or pillow positioning system that has the pregnant guest laying face-down, more and more therapists and experts are recommending the sidelying positioning for pregnant women (which we have always used) to prevent injuries to the back and uterine ligaments.  Also, sidelying position allows great access to the hips, gluts, shoulders, low back, and legs, where most pregnant women complain of pain.

Myth: If you rub over a point on the ankle a woman can go into labor
Truth: Pregnant women have been getting foot massages from their untrained partners for ages, wearing tight shoes, and more without stimulating preterm labor.  True, some forms of therapy (particularly Reflexology, Acupressure, and other Eastern techniques) do focus on points in the body that correspond to other areas of the body like the uterus and some practitioners feel that if intentional, firm, and sustained pressure is applied, those points could stimulate uterine contractions.  However, for a normal foot or leg massage, this will not be the case.  Your massage therapist and nail technician can give you a great foot massage (which is very helpful for feet with swelling and pain from the added weight) without lingering deliberately on those points.  If you have any concerns, please talk to your massage therapist and if it helps you to rest easier, we can skip the foot massage, but truly, your poor feet deserve it and experts from the American Pregnancy Association feel it is safe.

Myth: All spa services are safe for pregnant women.
Truth: While most services, including modified facials, pedicures, and massage are safe and very beneficial for pregnant women, some forms of these services should be avoided including facial peels or facials that use ingredients that are not pregnancy safe (we only use the products recommended by the Derma E for pregnant women, our estheticians know which ones to avoid!)  Our massage therapists will not perform heat treatments like body scrubs (lots of hot towels) or hot stone massage on pregnant women so as not to raise core temperature.  The only therapists who perform our prenatal massage are those who have training and who LOVE helping our pregnant guests.  We also recommend that if pregnant women want nail services, they look for nail salons who have very high safety standards and who use high quality products.

For more information on the safety of prenatal massage from a trusted source, The American Pregnancy Association, click here.

To schedule a prenatal service, including our Pampering Pregnancy Massage, our Pregnancy Glow Facial, or any of our manicures and pedicure, click here.

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