Oct 092006
 
Authors: Margaret Canty

With one footstep students can leave the bright lights, ticking clocks, ringing phones and incessant chatter of school and enter a world of utter calm.

The Wellness Zone, located on the main level of the Lory Student Center near the bookstore, offers several ways for students to escape the stress of midterms, work and everyday life without putting a big dent in their increasingly lighter wallets.

Perhaps the most popular stress reliever is the 10-minute chair massage, offered three days a week for $5 a session.

“In our society we choose to touch as little as possible,” said Tabitha Guasta, a certified massage therapist at the zone. “But touch is a great thing, and we need it everyday.”

Upon entering the Wellness Zone, the chaotic atmosphere of the LSC immediately changes. A combination of soft lighting, easy-listening music and fluffy furniture offer an escape, even if only for a few minutes.

“Massage really helps stress levels,” said Lynn Kalert, a transcultural nurse for Health Promotions at Hartshorn Health Service. “We offer a convenient, quiet and calm environment where students can just pop in in-between classes.”

And reducing stress, Kalert said, is incredibly important.

“Stress is bad for our immune system,” she said. “It makes us more susceptible to colds and sickness and hurts our concentration levels.”

Students plagued by this negative stress are taking advantage of the Wellness Zone’s offer.

“The Wellness Zone is a collaboration between the counseling center, recreational center and health center,” said Deb Morris, a health educator at Hartshorn. “We started offering massage as a way to get students into the zone, and it became really popular.”

Massages at the Wellness Zone are for the head, neck and shoulders, and clients are therefore fully clothed. However, both the Student Recreation Center and Hartshorn offer full-body massages at $37 for 60 minutes and $21 for 30 minutes – a full-time student rate.

Dedicated to helping CSU students, the zone hires only certified student massage therapists and doesn’t profit from the massages.

Wellness Zone employee Josh Byczkowski, a freshman open-option seeking mechanical engineering major, said he has seen the positive effects a massage can have on students who come in.

“Today a guy came in, and he was definitely in pain, but he left thankful,” Byczkowski said. “I would recommend everyone get a massage. It’s a great deal.”

Claire Smith, a nurse practitioner at Hartshorn, stresses the importance of massage and human touch in general.

“A weekly massage gives you the chance to zone out and relax,” she said. “The touch of another person is emotionally and physically a good sensation that gives you positive endorphins and feelings of well being.”

The zone takes cash, but also can charge the massage to a student account. Gift certificates are on sale for those with friends in need of a stress-free rub down.

Guasta, who said stress is the No. 1 reason why students should check out the Wellness Zone, started studying the art of massage as a way to help people.

“Stress lowers our concentration level, makes us more tense and more susceptible to lash out,” she said. “Students under a lot of stress don’t want to do their homework and can turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. Massage offers a release.”

Relying on massage to help her through injuries while playing soccer in high school, Guasta describes massage as a performance booster for athletes and a natural “pick-me-up” without caffeine or drugs.

Along with the chair massage, the Wellness Zone offers several other programs and activities, including r/sum//career workshops, guest personal trainers and sex experts, free condoms and more. It is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We want to focus on the wellness of the students here,” Kalert said. “People can come in here and treat themselves before a deadline or after a hard week.”

Students and nurses agree the benefits of massage are well worth the cost.

“I always say that if once a week everyone got a massage and an hour of counseling, we’d have world peace,” Smith said.

Staff writer Margaret Canty can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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The Cost of Relaxation Outside the Wellness Zone:

(For an hour long massage)

Hartshorn Health Service or the Campus Recreation Center – $37

Cleopatra’s Day Spa – $74 – $150

Tranquil Health Massage and Wellness Center – $60

Barcelona Clinical Spa and Salon – $45 – $95

Amara Massage Therapy Center – $50 (for 50 minutes)

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