- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2003

Audrey Anne Sukacz wants to give shovelers a hand.
Well, two hands.
Ms. Sukacz, a massage therapist, found extra business opportunities in the aftermath of the weekend's snowstorm, handing out business cards to her snow-shoveling neighbors.
"People were very receptive to the idea, since most were complaining of strained back muscles while they shoveled," she said, adding that she gave out 30 cards and made two appointments on the spot.
Massage therapists and chiropractors say they expect a jump in business within the next two weeks from those who dug their way out of the 16 inches of snow that covered the Washington area.
While winter is generally a low-demand period for massage treatments, the blizzard has made conditions "ripe" for new clients, said Steve Olson, spokesman for the American Massage Therapy Association, an Evanston, Ill., trade association for about 46,000 massage therapists.
"Storms like this one really bring out the new clients, because people are frustrated and end up vigorously shoveling the snow in a steady, hunched-over position," Mr. Olson said. "It just screams backaches and muscle sprains."
Dr. David Fishkin, a Bethesda chiropractor, said he had received 12 calls from prospective clients by yesterday afternoon.
Dr. Fishkin said he expected his schedule to pick up early next week, noting that roads are still impassable to many of his clients.
"There's the accessibility and also the fact that clients generally wait until their pain intensifies before finally scheduling an appointment," he said. "It's always a delayed reaction from first timers."
At Body & Soul Day Spa in Arlington, co-owner Connie Rosenthal said she had received a few eager calls from prospective clients on the availability of making a massage appointment this weekend.
"As of right now, we're pretty empty for the weekend, but it certainly does indicate a growing mentality that people want to de-stress their body after such a stressful week," Mrs. Rosenthal said.
But forecasted rain and fears of flooding during the weekend are likely to bring last-minute bookings Friday afternoon, she added.
"People are going to wait and see what the weather will do, so the busy time may not come until Friday evening," she said.
Bonnie Bacon-Aills, Ms. Sukacz' boss and owner of Wellbody Wellbeing in Alexandria, has prepped clients to ice their backs before coming in for massage treatments.
"This is often a last resort for new clients, so I try to help them loosen up their body to get the most out of an hour treatment," which costs $70, she said.
Several day spa owners, such as Mimi Lippold, say they have a backlog of canceled appointments to reschedule as well as new orders.
"It's a good position to be in, as long as you can service all of the people," said Ms. Lippold, owner of the Unique Salon & Day Spa in Northwest. Ms. Lippold said her 10-employee day spa had to turn away eight customers Tuesday because of too many requests.
"People have hit a point where they can't take anymore aches or stress from the snow, a possible war, or terrorism alerts," Ms. Lippold said. "Massage therapy has simply become a popular release venue for those people."


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