At Elements, you don't need spelunking gear and bat repellant to be considered a "caver." The staff applies the term to those who regularly visit its artificial salt cave—a grotto lined with pink Himalayan salt and lounge chairs. The salt dispenses particles into the air that potentially soothe the skin and combat respiratory ailments, such as congestion and asthma. And, by mimicking a natural cave, the room falls in line with the spa's eco-friendly motif. This focus on the environment pervades all of their treatments, paying homage to the elements of earth, water, wood, metal, and fire.
A wet room, complete with a vichy shower and soaking tub, best embody the "water" aspect, whereas skin and massage services incorporate the remainder of the elements. Aestheticians light up complexions with products from Naturopathica Holistic Skin Care, applying extracts of alpine willow, rosemary, and chamomile to fight the signs of acne and rosacea. Massage therapists, meanwhile, customize their kneads to the unique aches of each client. They might untie muscular knots with help from Mexican beach stones, or conduct an ashiatsu massage with their bare feet, the best tools for conducting deep-tissue work behind jackhammers set to "gentle."
You won't find fluffy robes or soft slippers at A Matter of Touch. That's because founder C.J. Johnson is more concerned with effectively relieving pain and muscle tension than with creating a spa ambience. A licensed massage therapist, Johnson consults with clients to discuss their individual needs before setting to work with deep-tissue kneads or soothing Swedish strokes. In addition to dissipating pain, the customized treatments can improve circulation and relieve anxiety.
Apricot Blossom Therapeutic Massage’s licensed, experienced therapist melds soothing scents with muscle-mollifying techniques, specializing in the profundity of deep-tissue massage. During each one-hour session, guests are wafted into clouds of fragrant bliss as muscular tension is tamed with long, therapeutic strokes, essential-oil blends, and reverse psychology. The studio’s atmosphere remains peaceful and centering and adheres to aesthetically pleasing style.
The word meditation typically calls to mind a feeling of stillness and solitude. Matt DeMichele, however, believes in a shared meditative experience—one that takes place in the muscles as well as the mind. For him, massage is "meditation-in-motion," a way to acknowledge and address the tensions that have restricted one's potential. Since graduating from the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy and earning his certification in therapeutic massage and bodywork, Matt has hoped to build this awareness in others and act as a conduit for their body's healing.
Each appointment at Shadow and Trees Massage Therapy begins with an in-depth evaluation. Matt logs information on his clients' recurring aches to better customize a mix of modalities, often blending elements of Swedish, orthopedic, and myofascial massage. Having studied with Aaron Mattes, founder of the active-isolated-stretching method, Matt also leads muscles through short, specific stretches to boost their range of motion. A combination of his active isolated stretching and massage can help combat the effects of past injuries, encouraging ease of movement without smearing elbow joints with grease.
State-licensed massage therapist (license #004958) A. Malaika Sharp cultivates relaxation and targets each client's unique issues with a focused menu of services. She can shoo everyday stress away through basic relaxation massages, but she’s as focused on function as she is on feeling good. An avid martial artist and cyclist, Sharp consults with all clients to understand the ways they use their bodies for work and recreation. That helps her pick out distinct patterns of motion and coax bad habits or stored tension out of muscles, whether she’s targeting chronic aches through deep-tissue techniques or helping athletes recover from strenuous duck-duck-goose training through sports massage. Or, for those suffering from headaches and migraines, she can incorporate trigger-point therapy. Sharp is also a member of the American Massage Therapy Association and is certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.
Experienced skincare and waxing expert Leigh Dorbuck Probulis specializes in enhancing clients' natural beauty from head to toe. This freelance beauty mercenary performs soothing spa services—including facials, mani-pedis, and hair removal—from the friendly confines of Moda-Rey Salon & Spa. There, Leigh's clients relax in a sleek, modern space adorned with hardwood styling stations as she clears clogged pores and shapes uneven talons into smooth, polished nails.
Kirk Scarlett is on the advisory board at Branford Hall Career Institute, where he works with faculty, students, and outside health-care professionals to promote massage and its benefits in the community. Kirk is also a licensed massage therapist, spreading his massage gospel more directly out of his cozy Healing Hands Studio. Guests can solicit him for flowing Swedish strokes, as well as more focused techniques such as deep tissue and sports therapy.