In the early 1990s, Francois Minani was teaching high-school biology and raising seven children in his native Rwanda. Forced by the genocide to flee his home, Francois and his family took refuge across the border in Burundi. Eighteen months later, the Minani clan arrived in Kingsport. Grateful for asylum in America, Francois nevertheless faced the daunting task of making ends meet 8,000 miles from home. He took up heavy labor, but the demanding work and repetitive movements took a serious toll on his upper and lower back. Painkillers and months of intensive care at a rehabilitation center did little to alleviate his injuries. Only massage therapy took. The results were dramatic. Two months of intensive therapeutic massage banished his chronic pain. On the strength of his own experiences, Francois decided to attend massage school to bring the same relief to others. Today at Appalachian Medical Massage Associates, Francois combines his background in biology and years of massage experience with a hard-won empathy for his clients’ aches. He specializes in working with delicate patients such as expectant mothers and fibromyalgia sufferers, but his range is broad—his Swedish-massage therapy and sports massages work to relax tough muscles.
Healing Waters Health Spa & Salon boasts a unique formula, but the secret ingredient is talent rather than an obscure essential oil or imported cleansing mud. The salon’s trio of massage therapists banishes bodily tension, subjugating it with light strokes or focused pressure. Estheticians work on whitening teeth, sculpting nails, or smoothing skin with organic facials. The skills of seven hair stylists and colorists round out the salon’s robust repertoire of services. The staff not only trims and colors hair, but also adjusts skin's hues with tanning and spray tanning.
What would be the point of treating pain if the cause of discomfort is allowed to continue? That's the central question behind the method at LaFrance Wellness, where most courses of treatment begin with a thorough assessment to reveal underlying habits or problems with posture. Only then will the team begin to use a variety of techniques—which include lymphatic drainage, Swedish massage, and alignments—to treat the ailment.
Amid taupe and lavender walls, Studio 11 Salon and Day Spa's staffers groom physiques head to toe with a suite of pampering services. Licensed aestheticians perform a dozen facial treatments, dousing skin in rejuvenating products to help to remedy fine lines, uneven or dull skin tone, and ill-timed lycanthropy. Nail technicians meticulously trim and shape talons, and hairstylists diligently shampoo tresses at salon stations as clients crane their necks to spot the Magic-Eye picture hidden in a nearby oriental rug.
After Mark Szostczuk completed his undergraduate studies as a Human Biology major, he was unsure what his next step would be. Friends and family suggested that he could be a doctor, since he was interested in both anatomy and caregiving. But Mark had inherited a healthy skepticism about western medicine from his father, who had treated all his kids' illnesses with Polish home remedies and pooh-poohed the idea of a medical degree. Mark's dad did, however, speak glowingly of the chiropractor that had soothed a chronic pain in his hip—and just like that, Mark realized he had found his calling.
Having graduated from New York Chiropractic College in 2000, Mark—now Dr. Szostczuk—has today been pursuing his ambitions of healing and helping others for a dozen years. With the help of his staff at Blue Ridge Chiropractic, he works with patients using careful adjustments and a variety of massage modalities, designed to help ameliorate pain and prevent future injury. He has also received his certification in Chiropractic Bio-Physics, an honor that fewer than 200 doctors throughout the country possess. This knowledge helps him rehabilitate patients through ligament reshaping following adjustments, resulting in a faster and safer healing process and less chance of reinjury during impromptu limbo-offs.
Within the tranquil, century-old walls of the Belvedere house, the staff of The Secret Spa & Salon beautify bodies from the toes up. Hair stylists transform coifs with Aveda, Bumble and bumble, and Schwarzkopf products, as owner Richelle enhances natural nails with OPI, CND, and Gelish polish or extensions made from acrylic, silk, or fiberglass. A massage therapist eases tension with hot stones, aromatic oils, and custom pressure, and Dermalogica skincare experts clear complexions with relaxing facials that combat fine lines, acne, and premature aging. The spa also uses Jane Iredale makeup products.
Built in 1905 by the same architect behind the historic Biltmore house, Belvedere?which is part of the historic society?now has a slightly more modern feel thanks to the spa's staff, who accented its wood floors and abundant natural light with green plants and paintings by local artists. The multigabled house also boasts a projecting bay window, which makes an ideal spot for drying nail polish or testing the reflective properties of freshly waxed skin.