Resuming massage services for clients across the city was slow going at first for Rosa’s Natural Healing Center, but with regular clients getting scheduled for follow ups, business is almost back to where it started, according to studio owner Rosa Saidel.
The first couple of weeks after the reopening was spent catching up on approximately 60 regular weekly, or biweekly clients, she said.
“It was a little weird at first — some of them had prepaid, so I didn’t financially recover much from that,” Saidel said. “Now this week is the first week I’ve started to open up to the public,” she said on June 16.
During the shutdowns mandated by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in response COVID-19 pandemic, Saidel said her regular clients would inquire frequently as to when she would reopen — occasionally offering to pay her extra if she could come to their house.
“Those clients were ready to jump on the books immediately as soon as we opened,” Saidel said. “A handful of the ones with compromised immune systems have not been ready to come back yet.”
Meanwhile, Saidel joins other local massage studios, including Ironclad Bodywork in Killeen and Copperas Cove, and a variety of other businesses in taking extra precautions to put her clients at ease.
Rosa’s Natural Healing Center at 1010 W. Jasper Drive in Killeen has offered a variety of massage therapy and spa services since it opened in 2016, Saidel said.
“I specialize in ashiatsu — which is a type of massage deep tissue massage using feet instead of hands,” Saidel said. “We also offer different services including massages with hands, skincare, prenatal massages, facials, body treatments and scrubs.”
Since reopening for business following Abbott’s latest mandate, Saidel said they have made a few operational changes.
“At this current time, we aren’t accepting any walk-ins,” Saidel said. “Because of the extensive cleaning we’re required to do, we may be in the middle of cleaning or preparing for the next client.”
Many newer clients call requesting same-day appointments, but with the new cleaning routine, it isn’t always possible to squeeze them in that quickly, she said.
“You want to give your therapist, the next day — -check on the following day,” Saidel suggested.” I can’t do 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. same-day appointments either because of previously scheduled appointments, or cutting into cleaning time between appointments.”
Saidel said that in addition to the usual cleaning routine, she runs an air purifier to minimize the virus threat.
“I have to place the machine on and UV ray light to clear the air for 30 minutes,” Saidel said. “Then I must air out the building for 20 to 30 minutes after that.”
Since reopening, Saidel said she is taking about three clients a day.
“That gives me time to do the cleaning I need to do and not overwhelming myself,” Saidel said. “I was burning myself out doing five, six or seven people a day. Now we are only going to be doing a maximum of four clients a day spread out an hour to an hour a half.”
In addition to enhancing the cleaning routine, Saidel said the lobby area has been closed.
“If you are coming in for an appointment and it is your first time, instead of the lobby, we have people fill out paperwork in the treatment room or it is emailed in advance.”
In addition to increased signage encouraging better hygiene and more hand-washing, salons across the city are enforcing varying levels of mask requirements.
Depending on the position the client is in for the massage, they may not be asked to wear a mask at Rosa’s Natural Healing Center.
Clients lying on their back facing up are encouraged to wear a mask, but a pillowcase over the head-rest adds a layer of protection for clients lying face down, Saidel said.
Jovita Ildefonso, owner of Massage Avenue at 2006 North W.S. Young Drive, said they do their best to encourage all safety precautions.
“I make sure to follow protocol guidelines and do everything we can to be more cautious and safer,” Ildefonso said. “We wear masks when we give massages. But it’s hard for clients to breathe lying down.”
Ildefonso said the focus at Massage Avenue is on hand washing and general cleanliness practices.
“I would say that I tell them to wear the mask if they feel like wearing one,” Ildefonso said. “This is my principle: If you are sick, don’t come to get a massage, and if I’m sick, I don’t need to come to give a massage.”
Ultimately, Ildefonso said she prefers to be respectful of individuals’ choices when it comes to wearing masks at the massage studio and allowing them to be able to circulate oxygen in their respiratory system.
“I’ve been here in America for 20 years, and I thank the Lord I’ve never gotten sick or infected with any flu and I’m 60 years old,” Ildefonso said. “The key is to know how to clean yourself--hygiene is very important.”
Otherwise, Ildefonso said her sanitizing practices haven’t changed in the aftermath of COVID-19.
“The flow of clients are always coming back to me, because of the way I give them a massage,” Ildefonso said. “The price is affordable for the quality of massage.”
Natural Relaxation Massage Studio at 1519 Florence Road, Suite 16, offers a variety of spa services, including massage, according to owner Nadejda Rice.
The studio does not require clients to wear masks to receive services, Rice said, although that is likely to change Monday in the wake of Bell County Judge David Blackburn’s requirement of masks in all places of business.
“We are sanitizing everything between the clients and we are trying to make spaces in between so we can clean it a little more than usual,” Rice said.
“I do not see a client if they are having any symptoms of course,” Rice said. “If they sound sick on the phone, they will not be seen that day — but that would be happening if we did not have this virus going on.”
Overall, Rice said she has seen an increase in business in the aftermath of the COVID-19 shutdowns.
“We’ve had more people reaching out because everybody is not able to go on vacations or do recreational activities as much as they used to,” Rice said. “And everyone wants to get de-stressed and strengthen their immune system through massage.”
The studio owners all expressed they are excited to get back to where they were before the shutdown, Saidel said.
“We’re happy to be back — we’re very thrilled to be back at work able to interact with our clients again,” Saidel said. “Some of them suffer from chronic pain, and while no one is going to die from not getting a massage, a lot are in a lot of pain because they can’t get their regular massage.”