holmgren_102Joseph Holmgren is a holistic massage therapist with an integrated approach.  New to Ithaca, he is establishing his business 'Relaxation Point' at two locations in Lansing and Freeville.  He pulls from a large repertoire of techniques to match the right massage to each person.  That includes trigger point therapy, kinesthetic awareness through movement, connective tissue therapy, Swedish massage, and hydro therapy, among others.

"What works is what I'm going to palpate," he says.  "I offer therapeutic massage, or if they wish to have a relaxing massage that's great."

Holmgren grew up on an organic chicken farm in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, near Sturbridge, the youngest of nine siblings.  When he was small a sister got what he says was the worst case of asthma in Massachusetts.  He spent a lot of nights helping his mother, patting her back to help keep her breathing, and helping with scores of hospital visits each year.  That was the first time he realized he could do something with his hands that would make a difference in a person's health.

With a masters degree in acting from the University of Alabama.  He and his wife Effie acted in regional theater and television with stints in California and New York City.  He even appeared in a Verizon Wireless commercial, standing behind the 'Can you hear me now' guy.  Like many actors he also tended bar and took other jobs.

At a point where he was frustrated with auditions in California he went to Ojai to study massage.  He had received a massage at Christmas that he says was one of the best massages he had ever had.  "Where did you learn from?" he asked the therapist.  "How can I learn from you?"

It turned out she was opening a school in Ojai, so he moved there from Los Angeles and earned his certification there, adding massage therapy to the jobs he could do.  Moving back to New York, he found that certification here was more stringent, so he attended Ithaca's Finger Lakes School of Massage to meet the local requirement.

"I'd never seen the Finger Lakes," he says.  "We came up here and fell in love with it.  We couldn't imagine such awe, and gorges, and beauty.  It was great for our young child and us.  We had fresh air and blue sky."

He was there for seven months, and after visiting family in Alabama for the summer, they decided to settle here.  Two months ago they moved into a house in Lansing.  Holmgren says an hour and twenty minute session is ideal, with a work-up period, the therapeutic part, and a work-down piece at the end.

"The autonomic nervous system triggers a mechanism that once you lay hands on an individual it can be between five and fifteen minutes before a person lets go and lets that 'fight or flight' response give way," he says.  "It's visceral, instinctive, old-brain stuff.  That needs to give way before any real work can get done."

holmgren_400Joseph Holmgren in his room at Salon Escape, on Graham Road in the Village of Lansing

Today Holmgren is making the rounds, letting people know about himself and the services he has to offer.  He is visiting businesses around town, including doctors, dentists, and physical therapists.  He even offers massages while people wait to get their hair done at Lansing's Salon Escape, where he is locating his business.  He also has a location at Freeville Family Chiropractic.  He has been offering massages at the Lansing Farmer's Market each Saturday.  He will have a booth at the Lansing Harbor Festival, as well, will have a massage station along the route for the Aids Ride For Life 2010, and at the Ithaca Antique Center at the flea market on the lawn on Sunday.

"Ultimately I'd like to have a private practice in my own home, I hope within a few years," he says. 

He says that will give him the ability to create the space to expand the styles of massage he can offer.  But for now he is enjoying the area, meeting people, carving a niche for his business, and helping clients feel better.

"I love seeing the effect of the work," he says.  "Seeing the effect on a person's face and on their body.  Sometimes there is a dramatic difference.  Seeing the openness and hearing their voice going down a whole octave and feeling extremely relaxed going out."