Glenwood Springs woman rubs away the recession stress
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Motherly ingenuity, and some honest advice from a 5-year-old, helped Sydney Hastings kick the recession blues.
After the local massage therapist was laid off at the beginning of the year from the physician’s office where she had been working, she was understandably devastated.
“All of a sudden I found myself a single mom without a job,” Hastings said. “I was angry at first, but I soon realized I had to pick myself up by the bootstraps, and so I become the ‘mother of invention.'”
Some encouraging words from her young daughter, Savannah, prompted Hastings to market herself and the valuable service she offers like she’d never had to before.
“I was afraid to go knocking on doors, because I didn’t want to face rejection,” she said. “Then my daughter says to me one day, ‘Mommy, you’ve heard no before, don’t be afraid of no.'”
Soon thereafter, she set out to open her new private massage therapy business, Essential Therapy, in downtown Glenwood Springs, and has been “shameless about beating my own drum” ever since.
She was invited to offer chair massage during the 24 Hours of Sunlight endurance ski race at Sunlight Mountain Resort in February, setting up in one of the rooms at slope-side Brettleberg Condominiums, much to the delight of many a tired and sore race participant.
“I also started working with a lot of companies that wanted to provide incentives to their employees, without going to a lot of expense,” Hastings said.
At $1 a minute for a chair massage, a scaled-down version of a full table massage, she quickly found she was onto something.
“People are tightening their belts, but I find they still want, and need, the stress relief that comes with massage,” Hastings said. “They may not be able to justify the expense of a full body massage, but they can afford a quick 10 or 15 minutes in the chair.”
She calls it a “recession recess,” and her business has taken off, offering chair massage in offices around town, as well as for staff and patients at Valley View Hospital through its Integrated Therapies program, and at her studio on Eighth Street in Glenwood Springs.
Hastings caters to locals with a special local’s rate for all of her massage services and a punch card deal, and she gives generously to a variety of charitable causes in the valley.
For the third summer in a row, Hastings is also on hand to give massage at the Tuesday night Downtown Market in Glenwood, and has added the Thursday night New Castle Market to her schedule as well.
It was at the Glenwood market in particular that she really noticed people were craving the quick fix of a chair massage – so much so that she couldn’t keep up with demand by herself.
So, she hired fellow massage therapists Anji Timmons and Tricia Sproles to help her out.
“They’re both single moms, too, so it was nice to have some empathy for each other,” Hastings said. “With the extra help we can spell each other, and it cuts down on the wait for people wanting to get a massage.”
Their children are more than tag-alongs at the market. They run an art table to occupy other kids while mom is getting a massage, and also sell frozen treats to customers.
“It occupies the kids, and helps them understand the value of a job,” Hastings said.
Adds Timmons, “My daughter loves watching me work, and she’s a good little therapist herself. She has fun there, and there are lots of other kids around just having fun being outside.”
Timmons also spoke to the benefits of massage, whether it’s a few minutes in the chair or a full hour or more on the table.
“A good one-hour body massage is the equivalent of two to three hours of sleep in terms of rest and relaxation,” she said. “It really does promote health and taking the body out of stress and disease.”
Hastings notes that during the July 7 Downtown Market, they grossed $540 in nine hours. “We were turning people away at 9 p.m.,” she said. “It’s just been hugely successful.”
“Massage is about helping people feel better,” Timmons said.
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