Afton Swesey had no intention of becoming a massage therapist. As much as she loved it, massage was her mother's profession.
"Who wants to be like their mom?" she laughed.
So she worked as a live-in caretaker, a dental hygienist, a sandwich builder at a deli -- and all the time she was having her hair styled at Tre Bella on High Street.
"I always felt comfortable and safe there," Swesey said. "I remember thinking, 'I love it here. I Don’t want to leave. What could I do to be able to work here?'"
Then one evening a friend mentioned that she had a sore muscles, and Swesey -- who'd received massages from her mom all her life -- offered to massage her friend's shoulders.
"'Why are you not doing this professionally?" her friend asked.
"'Yeah,' Swesey said. 'Why am I not doing this professionally?'"
Two weeks later she was registered for massage school.
Because she's spent so much time on the massage table, she knows exactly how she likes to be massaged, and she knows that everyone is different.
"I used to boss my mom around while she massaged me," she said. "I think that's why I'm so open to clients telling me what they like. I get it."
It's been three years since Swesey began offering Swedish, prenatal, hot stone and raindrop massage at Tre Bella, and she has loved every moment of it.
"I am always honored to have a client's trust," Swesey said, "honored that someone feels comfortable enough to allow us to have this quiet and tranquil time together."
Swesey always begins by listening to her clients. They tell her about any allergies or trouble spots they may have, where to focus. She may include acupressure, energy work or lymphatic drainage during the session.
After a session Swesey checks in again, discusses any tight muscle areas she noticed and suggests stretches or exercises for home.
"I never have any kind of judgement with my clients," she said. "Whatever they come in with or share with me is theirs, and I’m there to support them in whatever that might look like."
Whether a client needs to cry, chat or sleep, it's all OK, she said.
"When a client falls asleep it is such a compliment."
While massage therapists are all different, Swesey said, here are 10 things she'd like her clients to know:
1. Food: You don't want to be too full or too hungry during a massage. Plan your meals so that you're comfortable.
2. Water: You should drink plenty of water every day, but especially before and after massage, as you may experience a slight detox.
3. Make space: We're all busy, but a massage is your time to relax. Turn off your cell phone and empty your mind. Let the quiet be the gift that it is.
4. In the Buff?: Swesey is happy to work around clothing if the client prefers, but clothing isn't necessary. All massage therapists are trained in draping, or covering the body so the client never feels exposed. While she understands that many people are uncomfortable with their bodies, she believes there are no ugly bodies.
"I've never seen a body that wasn't beautiful," she said.
5. Jewelry: A small necklace or a ring won't get in the way of massage, but leave the larger, chunkier jewelry at home.
6. Stuffy nose: Your sinuses may become congested during the massage, and that's normal. It could be your lymphatic system reacting to the massage or it could be pressure from the head rest. Either way, Swesey always has tissues handy.
7. Speak up: 60 or 90 minutes is a long time to spend on a table. If you need to stretch or change positions, say the word. The same goes for anything that doesn't feel good. Also, know that the massage will improve with each visit as you and the massage therapist develop a trusting relationship.
8. Go slow: When the massage is over, sit up slowly, take some time to get grounded and balanced. Take a few deep breaths and return to your body.
9. Keep it up: Afterward, drink water, eat a nutritious meal, be nice to yourself. If you can, go home, put on pajamas and take a nap, allow your body to stay in its relaxed state.
"After such amazing self care, don't end it right there," Swesey said.
10: Massage for all: Massage therapy is beneficial for all bodies. It’s physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healing. Touch is powerful, and massage is a form of self care.
"Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do," Swesey said.
For more information about Tre Bella, or to schedule an appointment with Swesey call
530.885.6969 or visit: