Don Sylvester, ABMP Certified, LMT
Basic Training: Kirtland Community College
Waldoboro School of Massage - Waldoboro, Maine
Soverneign Seminars - Michigan
CrossCountry Education - Michigan
Erik Dalton Seminars - Illinois
“Ambiance” Roscommon office is decorated in a hippie style and is located towards the rear of the Art~Y~Facts flea market. It is restricted by having to jump through local government hoops for approvals on everything. So we do what we can when we can steal some time. Improvements happen at a slow pace; I’m happy to now have hot running water in the employee restroom and electricity now in the massage room.
It is private and large enough for the therapist to work using proper body mechanics, Very tough ambiance with the main business operating. However, if you have a sense of adventure and are looking for a very good massage, don’t hesitate to try the Roscommon office. Shop before your massage so you don’t make too many purchases afterwards when you are under the influence of massage.
The Houghton Lake office is a little better with ambiance. It also is located deep inside another family owned business AJ’s Quiltery.
Last year it finally dawned on me that yes, ambiance can play a part in the massage atmosphere. I had been given the opportunity to work under different circumstances during last summer when we were able to return to massaging. Every time I went to that location, it was magical and very inspirational. That is now my goal to transform at least one of my rooms into something similar.
Sounds easy right? Well summer is our busy season. I am a one person massage business and usually fill my appointments one week in advance. Thank goodness for the automated online scheduling system. But wait, I do the majority of the maintenance at both Quilt shops in Houghton Lake and at Art~Y~Facts in Roscommon. So my projects have to wait for the off season.
Ambiance, I can do what the spas do. Charge $130 for a 50 minute oiling massage, pay my therapist $25 for the hour. Silly me, I’ve been doing it wrong all of this time. I have been focusing on acquiring profession equipment such as lift tables so you don’t have to climb a ladder to access it. I focus on education to improve your massage outcome. Guilty, I focus on your massage to allow you to activate your body’s natural healing abilities.
Why I do what I do
I had been in the lawn care business for 18 years serving the northwest suburbs of Detroit. Performing a task improperly, I developed carpal tunnel. My wife being so ever helpful, gave me a certificate for massage. The massage therapist eliminated my carpal tunnel during the very first visit; I knew at that point, there was something special about massage. The wife and I traded massage certificates back and forth until moving up north from the Detroit area.
I needed a job that was portable and could transfer to another location. My wife pointed out the massage program in the Kirtland catalog. I had a couple of years receiving massage under my belt before entering the program, so I knew what we were suppose to accomplish. I took the Intro to massage weekend class, passed and thoroughly enjoyed the hands on work with a variety of people.
My massage career started out in a chiropractor's office where I had a taste of medical massage and insurance billing. Next was a hair salon where I stayed for a little over 2 years. The salon was up for sale, so my next location was at a metaphysical gift shop. Great place for learning and a very relaxing atmosphere. Had no intention of leaving, but...my arm was twisted to set up a joint venture with a parent. The up side is I have two rooms dedicated to massage and business has grown every year.
I used to travel in my line of work for a local company and would find therapists in different locations to trade massage with. I had one session in Holland, Michigan that is now used as my goal for relaxation massages. It felt like my body was floating 2 feet above the table, pure relaxation. I have never experienced that again, however quite a few of my clients do experience a similar feeling of pure relaxation.
11/2019 After a good run of 18 months the therapist who joined my practice in June 2018 has left. In their defense, transitioning to an independent contractor status after only working previously as an employee, is a tall challenge.
6/2018 Attempting to expand the business by adding another therapist to the practice. This new therapist has 8 years spa experience downstate and is available during most business hours. My other therapist is still restricted due to her work hours, only available after 6pm weekdays or after 2pm on Saturdays. Both are bookable online.
May 24, 2011 finds me back in the salon environment. I had formed an alliance with Roscommon's Fifth Street Salon. The goal was to develop a world class day spa and this alliance moved a little closer to reality. Sadly the salon was sold and the idea never left the starting gate. Slapping "Spa" on a regular hair salon has been done in Houghton Lake numerous times. Think Big and think Las Vegas as our vision to guide us in creating a must visit Spa destination.
Roscommon Salon chapter 2: ownership change on December 1st. Same personnel, new equipment and products. The tanner is gone and will not be replaced. Grand plans for a spa have dimmed once again and have finally been extinguished. Good experiment but the timing is not right with the new salon business.
New - old adventure: Time to move back into the nurturing environment of a metaphysical enterprise. Great owners and plenty of positive energy to share. Time to explore and learn more about the energy aspect of massage and bodywork. Maybe even explore a bit of Reiki. Was fun while that lasted.
The last few years has found the focus shift back to a more medical style massage. The number one complaint in my office is low back pain. Neck and shoulders come in second. The additional training in those areas allow me to provide a good deal of relief. Maybe the instructor was right? Massage just might be the best alternative care for low back pain. That needs to be shared with anyone seeking relief.
New chapter - Still helping with the family quilt business when possible/necessary. We ran out of room at the original location even to the point of losing one of my massage rooms to fabric. The solution was to acquire another building and open a second location. That building opened for business 8/7/2017. It took a lot of work on my part to ready the place to open. But, that's not all...my spouse decided to open her own business in our village.
So, we acquired a building in Roscommon. Wife's business and minimal input from me. (Right) Her business is a "flea market" only open on the weekends and since the building was already a retail business, that worked. Great idea, move my office into our building from the rented space across the street. The Village is clamoring for new business. Let's just say you need deep pockets to jump through the hoops, pay for engineered drawings, pray to the zoning gods and hope you land on their good side. So, yes I do have an office in Roscommon, however until the funds build up to paper the village coffers, I am working inside a tent inside the building. Different concept, easier to heat than 4,000sq.ft. and close to home. Remember, "Try it, You'll Like it."
There have been some requests to take a peek inside the massage room in Houghton Lake. You can see a few more pictures on Facebook, what you don't see is the electric lift, chest comfort cut-outs or the extra padding on the table.
My philosophy: You are in charge of your massage session. You determine what you want to accomplish and areas to be worked. To receive a good massage, you must actively participate. Notify the therapist about temperature or pressure, if something doesn't feel right, tender or feels good. Tell the therapist to quit working on an area if you feel it is being over done. You are teaching the therapist your tolerances and preferences.
Massage should be painless and enjoyable. There may be a little tenderness when a sore muscle is being worked, but there should be no "pain."
"Deep Tissue" what does that mean? That term has only been around for 50 years. I get a lot of requests for "deep tissue" after people hear it in a television program. My regular pressure is heavier than a lot of therapist's "deep tissue." You must provide constant feedback for the session to go smoothly. After the second "ouch" from someone that has requested "deep tissue," I back off the pressure and finish the session with a light touch. Besides...it is easier to convince a stubborn person to make them think it is their idea to conform to what you want to accomplish. When forcing someone stubborn to do something against their wishes, you will have a fight on your hands. Muscles act the same way. Tell the therapist what your goal is and forget about driving the bus.
The Roscommon office has gone through a few changes, two temporary tents and now a permanent temporary wall system. Temporary? Yes, the walls were built in sections and bolted together. The room can be dismantled in under one hour if necessary. No more stepping over the tent entrance and wrestling with the zipper. The solid walls make it much easier to heat plus it has a door at each end. Yes, my older lift table is now located at the Roscommon office. There has been electrical updates and the massage room has a couple of plugs to power the equipment. Biggest improvement is we now have running hot water. No longer have to bring it from home.