RIDGWAY – Inside a small massage studio in Ridgway’s Trail Town, Rachel Barth has created a bodywork boutique dedicated to promoting total wellness. Opened last April in Trail Town, Breathe Wellness Center provides therapeutic massage, Polarity therapy, Reiki, Reflexology and CranioSacral therapy, all under Barth’s own very skilled hands. Whether indulging in a basic, 35-minute scalp and foot massage or 90-minutes of integrated body and energy work, a treatment from Barth is a true, blissful escape.
“My long term vision is to eventually grow the business into more of a complete wellness center,” says Barth, who hopes one day to add an aesthetician, acupuncturist and perhaps a chiropractor to her business. But for now, “this is where I wanted to begin,” she says.
Barth and her husband and five-year-old daughter moved to Ridgway from Monument, south of Denver, in September of 2009, when her husband took a job with the Bureau of Land Management Fire Interagency in Montrose. Barth used the move to take a break from her 12 years in bodywork (most recently at an Aveda spa in Monument) and to focus on remodeling their new house and getting her daughter adjusted to a new community.
“We really fell in love with this area and I wanted to plant some roots here,” she says.
Originally from Illinois, Barth used her bachelor’s degree in psychology to become a mental health counselor at a Chicago hospital. Frustrated by the level of care patients received there, she found herself wanting to do something more holistic. A stint as an office manager for a medical doctor who incorporated Chinese medicine into her practice gave Barth an introduction to alternative approaches to healthcare, such as prescribing Chinese herbs and acupuncture treatments before drugs and traditional western medicine techniques.
She was inspired to begin studying Reiki, a gentle balancing technique that promotes stress reduction, relaxation and healing. “Think of it like a radio dial that you can’t see – tuning into balancing and healing energy. It’s very calming, grounding, balancing,” she explains. From there Barth expanded her studies to include Polarity therapy, which stimulates and balances a person’s electromagnetic fields, and CranialSacral therapy, used to release restrictions and imbalances in the central nervous system and relieve pressure on the brain and spinal cord. According to Barth, although all three modalities are gentle and subtle, they are very powerful, and have all benefited her personally.
Barth eventually moved to Colorado to work at Sequoia Wellness Spa in Golden. She later worked as the assistant director of a holistic learning center in Evergreen, during which time she decided to take classes to become a certified massage therapist, while also teaching Reiki, CranialSacral therapies. Today Barth is a Reiki master, registered Polarity practitioner, CranialSacral Therapist, and a licensed massage therapist. She is also trained in reflexology, the practice of applying pressure to specific zones on the hands and feet, which blends well with the other modalities she practices.
When asked what treatment is her personal favorite, Barth says, “Oh, they’re all so delicious. Probably a 90-minute integrated massage.
“Energy work is more long lasting; Reiki and Polarity make me radiate happiness and feel grounded and balanced. A massage by itself is more superficial, but it feels great physically.”
With her clients, Barth “typically integrates therapies, as long as the client is open to it.”
Along with Reiki, CranioSacral, Polarity and Reflexology treatments, Breathe Wellness Center’s menu of services includes therapeutic massage, prenatal massage, stress relief scalp and foot massage, and even cupping – a Chinese healing method used to soften tight muscles, lift connective tissue, bring hydration and blood flow to body tissues and drain excess fluid and toxins by opening lymphatic pathways. Most treatments are 60 or 90 minutes, and cost around $1 a minute. Barth also provides special promotions, such as $20 discounts on birthdays; $50 Thursdays for all 60-minute services; and five treatments for the price of four. Those who send four new clients to Breathe Wellness for treatments are eligible for a free 60-minute service.
Contact with a new client starts on the phone, where Barth finds out what a client thinks they might need. “They know their body best. We formulate goals, find out where they carry tension, etc.” She asks if they are open to the different techniques she is trained in. “Some aren’t as interested – [the energy work is] so gentle. Some very much know what they want. It’s very much a partnership,” between her and the client. “My job is to help facilitate their goal. Part of my job is to educate, but still respect the client and their wishes.”
Barth’s prior practice was called “Healing Touch,” but when she decided to open up her practice in Ridgway, she discovered that name was already in use. So she decided to change her business name to Breathe Wellness – “It made sense to start fresh in this area,” she says, adding, “and it’s a good place to breathe.”
Barth’s choice to locate her business in Trail Town came after looking at “every available space in Ridgway,” she says. She credits her friend Carrie Allison at Panny’s restaurant for turning her on to Trail Town and its property manager, Ned Bosworth. “He spoke of this place so lovingly. I liked his vision.” And she liked the storefront entrance to her space, along with its in-unit bathroom. Barth has transformed the small space into a quiet, inviting sanctuary, with a modest entry area separated from the treatment room by a not-quite floor-to-ceiling partition. Clients have complete privacy, as there is no walk-in traffic; she takes appointments by phone first.
Since her April opening, Barth says, “I have met fantastic clients and have a lot of regulars,” and she is pleasantly surprised by her success so far, with 80 to 90 percent of her business coming from word of mouth. “I’m as busy as I want to be,” she says.
“It was always important for me to keep my price reasonable, helping make health maintenance affordable. There are so many benefits for massage and body work. People tend to look at it as more of an indulgence, but if you can maintain your health, it benefits all of society.”
Breathe Wellness is located at 276 Palomino Trail, across from the Conoco station. Barth is available for appointments seven days a week by calling 970/209-6441. More information is available at her website, www.breathewellness.abmp.com.