There is a beautiful book on writing penned by Haruki Murakami called “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.” From the title, you’d think it was a book on running.
And it is. But it is also a deep meditation on the act of getting a pure thought on paper, and the intersectional discipline it takes to be good at both: running, and writing. The truly standout feature of the book is its seamlessness. Learning and absorbing without noticing it happen. Michelle Bryant, owner of The Massage Associates in San Juan Capistrano, knows a thing or two about getting results without her clients seeing the process.
Born and raised in Southern California, Michelle got her degree in Biology from UC San Diego, and moved to Orange County when she got married. In February, she’ll be celebrating a special event, and if you guessed her wedding anniversary, well, almost. The Massage Associates have been in business since February of 2001, and while the impact of COVID-19 has put a bit of a damper on celebrations, Michelle and team are more dedicated than ever to providing best in class service, inviting new clients into the community, and helping people feel pain free.
At the outset, “there was me, and one other massage therapist,” says Michelle. “Then we added another, and another as our clientele expanded. We now have 6 massage therapists and specialize in deep tissue, therapeutic massage.” But like Murakami talking about writing when he is talking about running, what she means is that they offer massage as a vehicle to developing relationships with their clients that extend well beyond a typical therapist visit. They specialize in community pain management. “It’s the only way to help you feel better if your needs are known we can tailor our massage to fit.”
“The relationships built over the years (at Massage Associates) help determine the offerings, the order, and the onus to come back ... it’s dedicated, deep, and disciplined time spent on your health.”
I would venture to say that the majority of businesses offering massage also offer a litany of spa treatments: sauna, facials, skincare treatments, etc. But the beauty of Michelle’s service is that they only offer massage. “We want to specialize in one form of treatment, and do it the best we can.” Need a deep tissue focus on your shoulders but some reflexology on your feet? No problem. Hot stone to relax, with a light stretch and some CBD cream for that recurrent sports injury? “We can do that. And we all work together to make sure that even if one time you can’t see your regular therapist, our other therapists can see the detailed notes on what you like or don’t like so that we can take great care of you.”
The relationships they have built help determine the offerings, the order, and the onus to come back. It isn’t some cookie cutter massage. It’s dedicated, deep, and disciplined time spent on your health, and it is available to you even now, during a global pandemic, due to the focus and flexibility of the team in place.
“In 2019 we received designation as a health care service provider business so we were allowed to stay open during these wild days of the COVID crisis," says Michelle. "People are in pain, people are stressed. And we’ve taken all the CDC precautions and made all the modifications to our office so that our clients feel safe, comfortable, and most importantly, so that nothing interrupts our goal of getting you to total health.”
Michelle and her team do regular temperature checks, require masks, space clients out to allow for (even) more cleaning time, and even went so far as to offer at-home massage for those who don’t feel comfortable coming to the office. The experience is total: rich, and revelatory. Much like Murakami’s ode to the road he runs, and that which he writes, this 20th year for Michelle and her team bring constant challenges to be met, and yet also reminds us what we have been celebrating all along: the seamless triumph and trial. An end to pain and the work that gets us there.
The Massage Associates
31952 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano