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VOL. 121 | NO. 10 | Wednesday, January 4, 2006

A Touch of Health Helps Clients Realize Resolutions

By Rosalind Guy

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PROMOTING WELLNESS: A Touch of Health owner David Pryor and employee Kara Guido look over products offered at the Memphis spa and wellness center at 4726 Poplar Ave. -- Photograph By Rosalind Guy

Stop smoking. Lose 10 pounds. Eat healthier. Exercise more.

Each New Year brings a list of renewed promises aimed at breaking old habits and treating ourselves better.

David Pryor, owner of A Touch of Health Lifestyle and Wellness Spa on Poplar Avenue, usually is on the receiving end of these and many more New Year's resolutions. He said the spa offers a number of packages that help clients pamper themselves and stick to their promises to live a healthier lifestyle.

On the menu. The spa's services include massage therapy, hypnotherapy and facials. Among the most popular services is the deep tissue massage, in which a trained therapist uses slow strokes and direct pressure from the tips of the toes to the scalp to release chronic aches and pains or stress.

Just as popular is a seaweed facial that includes the application of a milk and honey mask followed by a soothing massage with seaweed serum. Together, the treatments make for a relaxing couple of hours that provide health benefits and allow for a little pampering, Pryor said.

Another new feature Pryor has started at A Touch of Health is the spa party. Through the program, groups of up to 40 people can come in and take the entire spa over for the evening.

A Touch of Health's catering partner, Napa Cafe, gives guests the opportunity to choose from a list of hors d'oeuvres ranging from fruits and cheeses to beef tenderloin. Along with the meal, guests - dressed in simple white robes - can take advantage of a wide range of services.

"It really gives the guests an opportunity to have time to sit and socialize with friends while being pampered," Pryor said.

A business is born. Pryor first got the idea to open a spa during the late 1980s after he was in an automobile accident.

"A week later, I woke up and I couldn't move," he said.

After visiting a number of doctors and chiropractors, someone suggested to Pryor that he have a massage. He'd been taking muscle relaxers but found difficulty functioning while taking them.

A Touch of Health Lifestyle and Wellness Spa
Owner: David Pryor
Founded: 1988
Basics: The spa and wellness center offers a veriety of services designed to promote relaxation and a sense of well-being for its clients. 767-8484, www.atouchofhealth.com

"I thought, 'Well that's something I've seen in the movies and on television,'" he said. "'That's a pampering thing and not for me.'"

But he tried it. And between the chiropractor and massage therapist, he received some serious pain relief, eventually weaning himself down to just the massage therapist.

New opportunity. Attending once-weekly massage treatments, he found himself thinking massage therapy was a great way to make money.

Pryor had been studying to become an X-ray technician at the time of his accident and started taking massage therapy classes along with his other classes.

"I'd been in X-ray for a while and you're doing barium enemas and you're doing all kinds of things that just aren't pleasant to people or to be doing, and massage was just such a nurturing outlet," Pryor said.

So he and his then-fiancee, Cissie, who also was studying massage therapy while working as a nurse, began to toy with the idea of opening their own spa. He and Cissie first started giving massages from home. Still, it wasn't a full-time endeavor.

Then one day, a guest house behind the duplex the couple was living in became available, and Pryor made a spur-of-the-moment decision that it was time to devote their efforts to making it work. He called Cissie at work.

"We've got space and we're ready to go," he told her.

Building success. Though the pair was scared in the beginning, the business has seen definite success over the years.

The spa's first commercial space was at 2552 Poplar Ave. At the time, it was called The Massage Center. The center's direct competitor was another small business called A Touch of Health.

The owner of A Touch of Health came to the couple one day and told them she was considering selling the business. Over time, two became one and the new business, A Touch of Health European Day Spa, moved to its current location at 4726 Poplar Ave. between Perkins and Colonial roads.

Since then, Pryor has changed the name to better reflect the services the facility offers. It's now called A Touch of Health Lifestyle and Wellness Spa.

Spiritual connection. The spa, in conjunction with the Tennessee School of Massage, offers seminars and events geared toward helping people find their spiritual center.

"It's my opinion that a lot of people don't wake up on a daily basis and say, 'Yahoo - another day,'" Pryor said.

Either because of stressors such as dealing with an irritable boss, looming deadlines or unhappy relationships, people tend to forget to take care of themselves, he said.

"Some people don't have a clue how to nurture themselves, and if they were told what to do, they'd say, 'I don't have time for that. You don't know me - I've got too many things to do that are way too important,'" Pryor said.

Importance of pampering. A Touch of Health's spa pass program allows individuals to pay one lump sum to receive unlimited treatments throughout the year. With the program, Pryor said, clients can make one phone call and schedule as many treatments as they need.

The overall objective of the program is to teach clients to make a priority of taking care of themselves, Pryor said.

"That's what A Touch of Health is all about," he said. "We want to help you feel good about who you are and help you reconnect with that part of yourself that is lacking the nurturing that you deserve."

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