Founded 15 years ago this month by owner, Rick Sharpell, and a late colleague, this small massage studio was in a fringe location in 1997. Since then, the population boom in the area has been good for business. Sharpell now has seven part-time licensed massage therapists and is open seven days a week from 9 AM to 9 AM, by appointment only. This reporter enjoyed the restful décor and citrus andjasmine scent in the reception area while interviewing Sharpell.
Relax offers medical, deep tissue, sports, Shiatsu, Swedish and pre-natal massage. Currently, demand for pre-natal massage is the fastest growing service. (We all notice the literal population boom around us.) The aim is to make the woman as comfortable as possible at each stage of pregnancy, after the first trimester. The single largest medical complaint is upper back pain between the shoulder blades. Sharpell demonstrates the tense position of a worker under job pressure at a computer. Medical massage focuses on the specific problem, sciatica for example. Athletes are helped by pre and post competition massages to lengthen the muscles and increase circulation in stressed areas of the body. The amount of pressure used is up to the individual. Some clients want to feelpain, in varying degrees; others do not want to feel any pain.
Sharpell got his training at the Swedish Institute in New York City, where he is now on the Advisory Committee. He cites three medically proven benefits of massage therapy: increases in endorphins and oxytocin (decreasing pain and increasing contentment) and decreases in the stress hormone cortisol. People also cite increased range of motion, from frozen shoulder for example, and believe that massage can break up scar tissue in injured muscles.
Sharpell tells us that the salon has a loyal and informed client base. “We are definitely a neighborhood business,”he says.
716 Greenwich Street (near Charles Street) 212-206-9714
Relax is offering reduced prices through July 19, its annual anniversary offer. It’s a good time to get acquainted, if you are not already.