By Preston Knight - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- If you have heard someone describe an athlete as being built like a house, you have heard Nate Cravener's depiction of every human body.
There's no insult implied, just one man's opinion based on the two careers he has last held -- a carpenter for 15 years working for his father's company, and a licensed massage therapist for the last two. Cravener, 33, found the transition from one to the next as a "natural crossover," and linked the makeup of the human body to that of a house, with the nervous system being the running electricity, the skin acting as insulation, bones the actual structure and so on.
In June, after six months of using his skills from his former trade to get the building for his new profession ready, he opened Remember Yourself Massage with his girlfriend, Dorian Brown, at 18 S. Braddock St. The early success stories coming from it have a lot to do with the sense of community the business offers, employees said.
"People open up a lot here," said Carolyn Wolfe, who serves as the shop manager. "It's a great place to sit and talk about anything you need to."
In other words, it's becoming a home away from home for all those people built like houses.
Besides getting the knots and pains out of people's bodies through various massage offerings, which often includes quick stop-ins when time allows in Cravener's schedule, there are self-help and inspirational books, motivational tapes, jewelry from local artisans and more on sale at Remember Yourself, along with crystal therapy and reiki, a form of holistic healing. The end result, ideally, is that someone can one-stop shop for emotional, mental, spiritual and physical bliss.
Cravener said the working-class population is one group he would like to see more of.
"Once I got into massage therapy school, it just called to me," he said. "I started to see how I'd been abusing myself for so many years. ... I try to reach out to people that have a lot riding on them making it to work."
About once a week, Vicki Puckett, a property manager and employee with Coldwell Banker Premier Properties, pays Cravener a short visit, sometimes during her lunch break. She needs treatment for migraines and lower-back pain.
"I've had massage therapists for years," Puckett said after a recent chair massage. "Nate is the best."
Perhaps as a sign of how much she feels that way, she called the business about 30 minutes after she left to clarify that the massages are not a luxury, but a necessity. Cravener coins massage as a "good first line of defense" to aches and pains.
"It's not a luxury, or pampering. It's deeper," he said. "Sometimes you have to physically move body parts to break up the connected tissue."
If it's not a massage, then healing can come from Lisa D'Arcangelis' crystals or from reiki master Christy Reffner, who said her craft is popular with cancer patients. It's a relaxation technique that starts with Reffner saying a prayer and positioning her hands either on or around various places of someone's body for as long as 90 minutes.
"I'm the conduit for the energy," she said.
Reiki is becoming more mainstream, Reffner added, and she offers a free 15-minute session to anyone who is interested or skeptical. A disabled veteran, she went to The Book of Knowledge, which closed in December on Loudoun Street, and received a reiki treatment and was immediately drawn to it. Reffner said she walked in with a cane she had used off and on for 12 years and, within two days, was mobile without it.
"It's really helped me," she said. "There were days I couldn't get out of bed."
Cravener taught Reffner at Book of Knowledge. He moved to a rented space in an acupuncturist's office in Kernstown after the store closed and before opening his own location on Braddock Street.
"Nate's giving us the opportunity to build our clientele up here," Reffner said of herself and D'Arcangelis.
The same can apply for Wolfe, a freelance writer who has children's books for sale.
Cravener is trying to strengthen his reach in the city, too, by staying open as late as 8 p.m. six days a week and taking his massage chair to businesses. Meanwhile, Brown, his girlfriend, handles more of the retail side of Remember Yourself.
"You can get a lot of goods in here at one time," Wolfe said. "It's a very eclectic place to be."
And whether you have the body of an athlete or not -- Cravener tends to some of them, too -- you're built to come in. Take the carpenter's word for it.
"I'll work on anybody," he said.
For more information, call 722-6283 or visit www.remember-yourselfmassage.com.