The Best Spa Therapists

Continued (page 3 of 6)

Jim Waddington: Hilton Sedona Resort and Spa

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up 84 percent of the massage therapist work force in 2006. So how does a man who has been working in the field since his graduation from Phoenix Therapeutic Massage College in 1995 fare? Jim Wadding­ton smiles at the question. “I think in the beginning it was harder because I was self-conscious about it, but it’s changing. Now people want me because they think I’ll apply more pressure, though that’s not necessarily true. If I can get a woman who’s apprehensive to the table I can usually convert her.”

Jim became interested in massage via a girlfriend who was a therapist – previously, he owned a roof-trussing company in Illinois, painted houses, and worked as a cook. After completing his schooling in Phoenix and practicing in the Valley for a few years he was hired at The Ridge Spa and Racquet Club in 2000. When Hilton Sedona Resort and Spa bought the club in 2001, Jim stayed. He now works at the Hilton three days a week and divides the rest of his time between his private practice (he travels to see his clients, and is building a studio at his 100-year-old Clarkdale home), making house calls at local B&Bs, and volunteering at Sedona Winds retirement home. His specialties include therapeutic, Swedish, deep tissue, pre-natal, and sports massage, and he’s taken an interest in craniosacral therapy, where pressure is applied to specific points on the head for utter relaxation.

“My specialty at the Hilton has to be the Integrated Massage, which uses Swedish and deep massage techniques,” Jim says. “It’s very therapeutic but intention is more important than pressure. Once the muscles are warmed up the pressure is involuntary and you are drawn to certain parts of the body for release. It’s important to work with someone who isn’t resistant and who works with you. If you’re working against the grain the person can get hurt.”

Jim is a firm believer that massage isn’t just a luxury for well-to-do spa goers but a necessity for everyone. He says in his private practice he sees everyone from a client with Parkinson’s to a woman who’s had a standing weekly appointment for five years. He cites benefits such as improved circulation, detoxification, and, perhaps most often overlooked, taking time out for yourself. “When you’re on the table it’s your time, no one else’s. Bob Hope once said all he needed to be happy was laughter and massage therapy – he had a massage therapist on his staff – and I think that says it all.”

Sedona Monthly Recommends… The Integrated Massage
This 90-minute treatment uses jojoba oil and combines Swedish and deep tissue massage with some craniosacral therapy for an intensely relaxing experience. Jim uses hot damp towels on your feet, hands, chest, and forehead, something we haven’t seen in other massages, adding the delicious sensations of heat and moisture to the treatment. Jim asks beforehand if there are any areas you’d like him to focus on, such as a tight neck or stress in your lower back; he then tailors the treatment accordingly. Luckily, Hilton Sedona is a beautiful facility for lingering after your treatment – spend time in the sauna or Jacuzzi or just curl up in the lounge area with a cup of tea. You’ll want to relax and soak up the feeling after the treatment.

Jim Waddington
Hilton Sedona
90 Ridge Trail Dr. in the Village of Oak Creek
Jim works at the Hilton Thurs. to Sat. from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Massages, wraps, scrubs, LaStone Therapy, chakra balancing and Ayurvedic treatments

Katharine Stewart: Katharine Stewart Acupuncture

Does acupuncture belong in a spa? Katharine Stewart, who practices the Chinese medicinal technique from her home studio in Uptown and at Sedona Spa at Los Abrigados, has no doubt. “It’s a safe environment and it allows the therapist to tell you how acupuncture reduces stress and makes you feel rejuvenated,” she says.

Acupuncturists insert ultrafine needles into specific body points, adjusting the flow of energy (Qi) to restore harmony. Katharine was introduced to it in her early 20s while suffering from chronic fatigue and fibromylgia. Even though she says the needles unnerved her – “I was shaking the first time,” she admits – she tried acupuncture treatment at the urging of a friend. After two to three sessions a week for six weeks she felt a lot better and was sold on the benefits. In 1990, she graduated from the Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine and opened her own practice. After ten years teaching acupuncture in Phoe­nix she moved to Sedona in 2005. Her soothing home studio is painted seafoam green and cream with Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling.

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