Unique touches on massage

Spa: New wellness center in Ellicott City mixes makeup and facials with unconventional therapies.

Small business

Howard Business

January 05, 2004|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For customers looking for something more than the average massage and facial, Adam and Laura Gensler have the answer. The mother and son have opened Hands From My Heart, a wellness center that offers services ranging from hot stone massages - in which heated basalt stones are used in conjunction with a massage - to enzymatic sea mud wraps.

But those are just the start. The center offers "ear candling," a process where a specially designed hollow candle is lighted and placed inside the ear canal. The suction from the candle is supposed to gently remove wax and other impurities from the ear.

Also available is craniosacral therapy, a method of massage said to release "blockages in the body." The Genslers learned about craniosacral therapy from John Upledger, who developed the technique.

As Adam Gensler explained, a craniosacral massage is one hour or longer, and the client is fully clothed.

"It's a very, very gentle touch, very noninvasive," he said. "I would feel the rhythm in different areas of your body," looking for blockages and helping the body "ease past that," he said.

In addition to the unconventional, services found in many beauty salons - waxings, facials, help with cosmetics - are also found at Hands From My Heart.

The Genslers said they focus on physical pampering, removal of stress, and improvements in health and looks. The rooms are painted in purple and gold. And scented candles are intended to set a relaxing mood.

While Adam Gensler is an experienced masseuse, having studied hot stone massage and Swedish deep tissue massage, Laura Gensler is more focused on facials and makeup, though she also performs ear candling and reflexology, which focuses on the nerve endings in the foot.

For Laura Gensler, the business is a natural continuation of her work as an esthetician. Before opening Hands From My Heart with her son, she worked for 12 years in Columbia, most recently at Holistic Skin and Body Care Center on Sterrett Place.

But for Adam Gensler, who lives in Prince George's County, the venture fulfilled a goal that he had been nurturing for years.

Adam Gensler had worked in a corporate environment, he said, but he knew it was not the ultimate career for him. "I decided that I wanted a career change," he said. "I've always had sort of an interest in healing and that kind of on-hands approach to the body.

"I just got restless with it. I knew I wouldn't be happy doing that the rest of my life." About three years ago, he completed a program at the Baltimore School of Massage. He began performing massage therapy part time, going to people's homes, while keeping his computer job.

In August, he and his mother opened the Ellicott City center.

"So far, so good," he said of leaving the corporate world. "It's a risk, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm a lot more fulfilled with what I'm doing. While it is a risk, at the same time I've got to follow my heart."

Hands From My Heart is at 3505 Ellicott Mills Drive, Ellicott City. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Information: 410-480-0037.

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