Mmmm...a decent deep tissue massage. I get goose bumps just thinking about it. Over the years of my various athletic and sporting endeavors I’ve learnt the value of massage therapy, and have experienced a range of different sport massages – some good and some not so memorable. For me, the best massage therapists are like the best coffee – strong, reliable and available whenever you feel the need.
So with an upcoming expedition to climb Anidesha Chuli (6815) in the Eastern Himalaya of Nepal this April/May, and the physical and mental demands of training and planning for it, I figured it was a good idea to source a decent therapist in Dunedin.
Fortunately, my friend Theo Wallis and his brother Matthew have recently started up The Muscle Mechanics, a sports massage business opposite Les Mills Gym in Dowling Street. I gave Theo a call and was stoked when he offered me a deal on 3 months of weekly deep pressure massages aimed specifically at supporting my training for the expedition. Having weekly sessions with Theo, through his athletic support package, would certainly help greatly in my training regime.
I have had 6 weekly sessions with Theo now and am pleasantly surprised to see that the program is actually making a noticeable difference to my health and fitness. Recovery has been quicker after strenuous exercise, which means I am able to train more intensely and more frequently. I have had no niggles or injuries to hinder my training, and really look forward to my Tuesday morning massages – perfect timing after a weekend of training!
While Theo and Matthew also offer a much lighter relaxation massage, it is the deep tissue/ deep pressure massage where Theo sees the most benefits for his clients.
'Our goal here is to release as much tension as possible during each session,' he says. 'Working towards a desired level of intensity, there will be a noticed improved muscle recovery and development.'
Theo and Matthew have put together a very sharp little business. They are both big and strong which seems to help them hit the right err spots, and they also have created their own intimate studio, including an insulated internal room which they heat to 25º. During my massages, I have found the warmer temperature to be very relaxing and comfortable, especially when coming in from a chilly day outside or if my muscles have been quite sore from my last training session.
The quality of Theo and Matthews' business and massage skills doesn't come as much of a surprise – adventure sports with a health and fitness focus have been an integral part of both of their lives.
I’ve known Theo since 2005, when we worked and surfed together in Otago.
A rangy teenager with a big grin, back then Theo and his mates chased southern waves, before wanderlust took hold. Theo spent the summer of 2006 teaching at a surf camp in San Diego, then ski instructed in Whistler and surfed round Vancouver. He returned home for a year, and in 2008 joined a volunteer LEAP (Local Empowerment Assistance Project) programme in Sumatra. When the LEAP programme ended, Theo headed to Perth, where he worked on Rottenest Island and looked a luxury yacht before sailing it up to Indonesia. ‘I did a lot of strength and endurance training, pushing my body, starting to become aware of how it works and recovers’ he says. It was there that Theo focused on yoga, and after 2 years of setting up and running an impressive holistic center called Power of Now Oasis in Bali (I had the pleasure of visiting there in 2010), he has returned to New Zealand to spend more time with his family and friends especially his brother Matthew.
Matthew is also sport and health focused. His travels have included North America, South East Asia, Bali and Europe where he snowboarded, surfed, kite-boarded, mountain biked, dived, and did meditation retreats, as well as working with youth, building and pursuing adventure sports here in Dunedin.
In preparation for setting up their health and fitness based massage business together, the brothers have both spent 18 months doing a Practical Apprenticeship with their Uncle David Baillie before studying with The Lotus College last year.
'I guess this is just another step along a path to helping people lead healthy lives,' Theo tells me. 'My own life is very focused towards a balance of health, fitness and fun, and I see massage therapy as a vital element of an optimal lifestyle.’
Theo explains that they personally receive massage therapy every week and find it very effective in releasing tension as well as assisting to repair and rebuild a more efficient, higher performing body that stays more resistant to injury.
Theo is excited about the current success of The Muscle Mechanics studio, and for the prospects ahead. 'Dunedin is a great place to live, and we are stoked to be able to offer this service as a complimentary part of the ultimate life style,' he says. 'There is a young, sports-orientated population here and plenty of outdoor pursuits to get immersed in. Health and personal fitness is an important part of life.' Theo also studying Sports Nutrition and Matthew Personal Training, so they are looking forward to continuing to expand their business and become a cornerstone for their clients health and fitness based lifestyle.
As for me, weekly massages with Theo is allowing me to train harder, which in turn increases my chance for success in the Himalaya. Being around someone as fit and focused as Theo, helps with my motivation in the short term, so that my long term goals may come to fruition.
For more information go to Theo and Matthew's website: www.themusclemechanics.co.nz