ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JANET HAMOUS
If you see a friend or neighbor walking down the street and they seem a little more at relaxed than usual, they may have just been the recipient of a “random act of massage.”
Kristina Thornhill of Marion is using the “random acts of massage” to kick off her new business, Touching Back. The free, on-site chair massages are Thornhill’s way of introducing the program to businesses in the county.
Thornhill has a massage chair she brings with her to each business she visits. The chair is lightweight and portable.
“It folds up, and it’s about 23 pounds,” she said. “It has a shoulder strap, and I just toss it over my shoulder.
“The chair has a place for knees. You bend your knees and lean forward into the face cradle and chest rest. And there is a place for your arms.”
Unlike a full-body massage, a chair massage involves no oil, and you remain fully clothed. Sessions last 10 to 15 minutes and treat the head, neck, back, shoulders, arms and hands.
Thornhill said employees leave “feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready to return to work.”
She said she hopes after businesses try the chair massages they will set up a regular program for their employees or clients.
“It could be set up any way-weekly, biweekly, monthly, or as an incentive for work done,” she said. “It can be done on a regular basis or can be hit and miss.”
The massages are often done during employee break times.
Thornhill charges $10-$15 for the chair massages, depending on the length.
“The employer could pay or could split the cost with the employees, or the employees could pay for it,” she said.
Thornhill said massage helps increase energy and alertness and helps employees manage job stress and burnout-all things that benefit an employer. Offering the on-site massages also demonstrates an employer’s commitment to its employees’ health, she said.
Prior to becoming a massage therapist, Thornhill worked as a cosmetologist at the Hair Company in Marion and gave pedicures.
“Carolan McFarland had a class in reflexology, and I took it thinking it would help me in pedicures and that I could also offer reflexology,” she said.
“Then I decided to take a massage class, and it took off from there,” she said.
Although Thornhill does some table massage, her specialty is chair massage marketed to businesses.
“I was looking for an idea that wasn’t around here,” she said.
She did some research and came up with the idea of doing chair massage.
“Chair massage is real big on the coasts and in Kansas City,” she said. “I am hoping to turn it into a full-fledged business here.”
She has been pleased so far with the reaction from employees.
“Most everyone has participated, and they all want me to come back,” she said.
Thornhill has found that people are more willing to try a chair massage than a table massage.
“The table massage is a little more personal,” she said.
Thornhill is willing to travel to any business within the county. Generally she likes to have at least nine clients at a location, but she will consider a location that has at least five participants.
“I hope I will get the chance to go into every business and give free massages,” she said. “The more people I can touch, the more it will grow.”
Employers interested in talking about on-site chair massages can call Thornhill at 620-947-1492.