Spa in Iowa City

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What do a mainframe programmer and a massage therapist have in common? Both break down complex puzzles into their elemental parts and work toward solutions methodically. But for Bruce Morgan of Bodyworks By Bruce, a former engineer, no matter how long he worked with a particularly confounding programming problem and no matter how technically rewarding the project was, the human element of building relationships was missing.

That difference is what drew him into massage therapy. Whereas programming works within defined parameters, Bruce never knows what sort of puzzle he's going to solve when presented with a client suffering from pain. Before sessions, he consults with all clients extensively to get to know them and their symptoms, and encourages them to give feedback during sessions so that he can customize his approach. Shoulder pain, for example, may be symptomatic of a person compensating for damage in the ankles, which is why Bruce routinely delivers full-body massages. His training specialized in myofascial release and cross-fiber friction, whose strokes alternate between going with and against the muscle grain, and he uses these techniques to target problem areas.

Each client enjoys warmth in the private treatment room, both from a table warmer and the sage green shade of the walls. A salt lamp lends the room a relaxing glow, and Bon Vital all-natural lotion keeps skin hydrated. To set the soundtrack for their session, clients can select from a range of light jazz, Native American music, or nature sounds, including a chorus of dolphins covering Barry White songs.

2220 Mormon Trek Boulevard
Iowa City,
IA
US

The licensed massage therapists at Massage Advantage dote on visitors with a slew of custom massage techniques, including Swedish, prenatal, and deep tissue. Armed with warm blankets and a credo to respect patients' privacy, therapists begin each 30- or 60-minute session with a discussion on clients' specific aches and ailments. Therapists can also haul their equipment to office buildings for workplace chair massages that help reinvigorate fatigued employees or stressed-out water coolers during 5–15 minute stints. Each succession of kneads is designed to alleviate stress, muscles soreness, and various medical conditions, such as high blood pressure.

960 South 1st Avenue
Iowa City,
IA
US

Licensed massage therapist Caitrin Rames, LMT, specializes in shiatsu bodywork, a form of massage that focuses on balancing the body's chi in order to treat internal ailments and imbalances. Rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, shiatsu massage employs focused pressure along the body's meridians to heal backs strained from kneeling in rice paddies or from pole vaulting over the Great Wall. In addition to her flagship shiatsu technique, Caitrin also soothes muscles with cranial-sacral-release therapy and pregnancy massages for expectant mothers.

332 South Linn Street
Iowa City,
IA
US

Melissa McTee spent upwards of seven years honing her craft and learning new skills, and has become something of a beauty Renaissance woman, single-handedly performing an array of services ranging from haircuts to nail treatments. She revives worn-down digits and tops them with glossy polish, and infuses strands with rich, vibrant hues using Schwarzkopf Professional color and melted crayons. She also removes unwanted facial hair quickly and meticulously, deploying stripless wax infused with essential rose oil to render skin smooth.

1302 E 3rd St
Washington,
IA
US

Natural light floods into the cozy Hair Expressions Beauty Salon, giving the yellow stippled walls the vibrancy of a sunflower. Large mirrors add further dimension to the space as highly trained stylists ramp up tresses with sleek layer cuts and elegant color highlights. Clients may also de-frizz manes with a keratin smoothing treatment, or banish unwanted hair from brow outskirts with a specialty waxing session.

1930 S Gilbert St.
Iowa City,
IA
US

Licensed therapist Nic Huette has more than 11 years of experience slackening shrugs. Though he specializes in deep-tissue, sports, and Swedish massage, his real expertise is in blending techniques to fit the needs of the individual. Outside the studio, Nic can be found reading and writing, doing yoga, and teaching massage tables to roll over and play fetch.

24 Sturgis Corner Drive
Iowa City,
IA
US