Meet Laura Piteo, Director of Massage at both our Westchester and NYC locations and a NYS Licensed Massage Therapist herself. Laura has been practicing massage therapy for 15 years and has been a part of the Oasis family for over a decade now. Her passion for the industry has led her to pursue several certification programs in addition to her formal education at the Swedish Institute including prenatal, medical massage, hot stone massage and she’s presently working on a reflexology certification. She looks forward to sharing the healing power of touch for many more years to come!
What does wellness mean to you?
In our busy day to day lives it’s really easy to neglect the needs of our bodies and tune out those signals that we should slow down, check in and tend to those needs. Whether it’s something as simple as taking a stretch break at our desks or pouring ourselves a glass of water it’s easy to put our wellness on the back burner in a world of deadlines and responsibilities. I don’t think of massage as a luxurious treat as delightful as it can be. I attribute my self care routine, which includes a 90 minute deep tissue massage every other week, to why I haven’t developed an overuse condition like tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Massage therapy is a physically taxing profession and caring for myself allows me to continue to care for others. Relieving stress, even just for an hour, shouldn’t be underestimated either.
I had an instructor in massage school who framed it nicely for her students who were more interested in all the clinical benefits of massage therapy. She asked us to really reflect on the powerful physical changes that the stress response creates in the human body. Increased respiratory rate, accelerated heartbeat, digestion being put on the back burner…all that powerful adrenaline coursing through your veins…it’s intended for a fight or flight response. Being able to run from a predator or fight off an attacker is a necessary defense mechanism but we’re having this response all the time over things like our deadlines at work or our responsibilities at home, so it’s important not to underestimate a service that takes us out of fight or flight mode and into rest and digest mode. Massage also boosts the immune response, speeds up muscle repair, increases circulation and increases range of motion and flexibility. It truly is a fantastic way to thank your body for all the abuse it takes on a daily basis and do something positive to promote your own wellness. Oasis offers some great incentives for getting into a good routine too. Our frequent user series packages or rebooking discount is a great way to make a consistent massage routine fit into your budget.
Why did you get into Massage Therapy?
I didn’t start out thinking I would make a career out of massage therapy. The profession sort of chose me, in a way. I was pre-med in college and looking for an alternative to waitressing and bartending while I put myself through school. It seemed like a great way to work smarter rather than harder and have something that was in line with the health care field. While I was completing my massage education, I took a job in medical billing for a chiropractic practice. I think the combination of the bad taste left in my mouth from working with insurance companies and seeing first hand the healing that took place on the massage table left me with the thought, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
I was drawn to healthcare from a desire to help people and that’s exactly what I was already doing. Unlike the lifestyle I would have had as a doctor, however, I had the freedom and flexibility to make my own hours, travel and there was candlelight and tranquil music in my office. I’ve also been to almost 30 countries and I’m only 37. Life is good…no regrets!
What is currently your favorite treatment at Oasis and why?
So, as the massage director, one of my favorite aspects of the job is creating the seasonal specials. I quite literally get to design my idea of the perfect offerings for each season. These services are spin offs from our already amazing and varied menu but they often throw in a delicious add on or a fitting bit of aromatherapy or incorporate a new and interesting product available in our retail area. I love the creative outlet this offers me in my profession but I also love having the opportunity to show the clientele at Oasis how to really mix and match and customize their massages at our spa.
We have so much to offer and a client’s needs change throughout the year. During your spring allergy season you might want more time focused on the acupressure points around the sinuses and a 30 minute scalp massage with eucalyptus aromatherapy added to your usual Swedish massage would be perfect. In the fall, as the weather gets colder, it might be nice to incorporate some stretches into your session for the stiffness you’ve been feeling and couple that with a muscle meltdown treatment that incorporates moist heat, a pain relieving gel and cool marble stones. These are just a few examples but the seasonal specials change every 2 months and are always posted on the Oasis website so check them out! They come at a great discount too!