Downtown office workers and others who head to Canalside to escape their cares this summer now have another new way to ease their stress: chair massage.
Licensed massage therapist Theresa M. Gantz is offering massages for $2 a minute from one of a half-dozen shipping containers that have been converted to storefront-style kiosks on the lower level of The Canals on the old Aud site. She shares the space below Shark Girl, along the remote control sailboat pool, with Allori Jewelry, Zandra Bath and Body, Harborside Mercantile and Buffalove.
Ten bucks will buy you a 5-minute massage here in one of two chairs tucked into her shaded summer business space from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, or 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. That’s often long enough to relieve that pain in the neck, or back, or shoulders, and take a new feeling into the rest of your day. She also sells Johoba essential oil blends and lotions to ease anxiety, foster relaxation and relieve allergy symptoms. They range in price from $5 to $25.
“Massage increases circulation and it helps decrease pain,” said Gantz, 49, a Silver Spring, Md. native who came to Buffalo in 1992 with her husband, George, to run the youth ministry at Buffalo Church of Christ in Williamsville. They’ve raised three daughters in the Town of Tonawanda. When the girls went off to college, Gantz went off to the New York Institute of Massage in Clarence. She worked at Massage Envy during school and set out on her own after graduating in October and getting her license in March. She thought a Canalside gig would help grow her table massage business, TMG Wellness (tmgwellnesscenter.com), based at Curl Up and Dye Salon, 7149 Transit Road in East Amherst, and drum up more of the corporate chair massage opportunities she seeks from companies looking to bolster employee wellness offerings. She’ll be at Canalside through Sept. 13.
Q. Why Canalside?
It’s such a vibrant place. Part of why I like it so much is the excitement. Anybody I’ve worked on or talked to down here, everybody’s so proud of the city and what’s happening here. And it’s beautiful. I feel like I’m on vacation everyday … on the ground floor of a really exciting time.
Q. Who tend to be your customers?
They’re all ages. They’re people who have lower back pain, people who’ve never had a massage. Ever. Chair massage is so good for that because it’s a great introduction to see the amount of relief you can get in just a short amount of time. I’ve seen a lot of people who have a muscle problem with their levator scapulae, an area in your neck and shoulders. I had one woman that had been having a problem for a couple months in this area. She really didn’t want to stop for a massage but her husband convinced her to. She felt so much better that she did. I gave her some treatment exercises she could do at home.
Q. Why did you decide to take your talents on the road?
My plan is taking the chair massage into businesses, coming into the workplace, right where people are working, right where the stress is. It’s difficult for people to find that hour but to experience a 5-, 10- or 15-minute massage can take away so much pressure, so much tension off of someone during the workday. I also wanted that table aspect (in East Amherst) because people do that, too. As I’m building my business, I thought I’d come down here to Canalside, too.
I’ve been to a company called Triple Track HR Partners. I will be doing a chair massage during one of the wellness days for the Food Bank of Western New York. I’m starting to make connections. There’s a group called B.inspired. It’s a social crafting, networking group. They’ve had me come in and do chair massage for their events. Little by little, I’m getting my name out there. I’m also working with the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo and looking to do some wellness fairs.
Q. Canalside alone sounds like a grueling summer schedule. Do you have helpers?
I do. I have some subcontractors who come in. They’re massage therapists as well: Julie Cheman, Chelsea Coyne, Alana Hoffman and Evonne Ostrozinski. I went to school with all of them. (Gantz always takes Sunday off)
Q. What tend to be the busiest days and times?
Usually afternoons, 2, 3 and into dinnertime or after dinner. Fridays. Saturdays and Sundays tend to be the busiest but this past Monday it was really busy. A lot of people come down for the boats and they discover me. I recommend a 5-, 10- or 15-minute massage. It depends upon whether you have a problem area, an issue you want to address, or you just want to relax. I’ve had people go 30 minutes.
Q. Talk about bringing massage into other settings. What might be some benefit for a short massage for corporate clients?
Just think about the incredible incentive it is if you know you’re going to be going into work tomorrow and get a 10-minute session for a massage to help with the sore neck or sore back that you’ve been having. You’re going to show up for work that day. It decreases absenteeism. Being part of the wellness equation is really important. It’s keeping people healthy. It’s keeping them happy.
Q. How often to you get a massage and who gives them to you?
I’m giving a massage in a couple of weeks to a friend who's a massage therapist and I try to get a massage at least once a month. It’s important we’re taking care of ourselves.