Couple united in life, massage business

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Four years ago, Brian Grafstein and Victoria Anchor met as students at the Finger Lakes School of Massage in Ithaca. They have since become partners in a thriving business and partners in life and are now exploring ways to partner with others who share their interest in health and wellness.

Their business, Attuned.Life Massage and Wellness, located at 225 S. Fulton St. in Ithaca, offers a barefoot massage technique called Ashiatsu.

“We both specialize in Ashiatsu and are now the area’s only practitioners,” Grafstein said. “We have bars on the ceiling and we use our feet instead of our hands. This type of massage provides a broad, deep, sustained pressure.”

They also offer other modalities such as Swedish and deep tissue massage sessions. Victoria enjoys using a kinesthetic-awareness-through-movement approach inspired by Moshe Feldenkrais who pioneered the slow, gentle style that bears his name. 

“Of course, I work with what the person wants,” Anchor said, noting that the goal of every session is different for each client.

Attuned.Life’s sliding-scale fee structure is another way the therapists try to meet the needs of their clients.

“Our mission is to take massage out of the luxury zone and into the health and wellness zone,” Grafstein said.

People have different concepts of money, Anchor explained.

“We were working in a spa setting getting a different target market,” she said. “We used those rates as one end of the scale. We wanted people to come regularly, to make a commitment to themselves and the therapist.” 

During their first year in operation, they were exclusively sliding-scale based.

Now, they are incorporating other pricing models like membership options and subscription-based services. Clients who purchase a yearly membership to their services are able to participate in Attuned.Life’s subscription program, where they receive a free 30 minute massage to give away, access to discounts and specials and, most unique, receive a wellness box twice a year full of local health-related products. 

“We wanted to reward our community to receive [massage] more frequently,” Grafstein said.

Interestingly, the name for their business existed before they even met. Attuned.Life Massage and Wellness was first used as a name for Grafstein’s music blog that he started in 2014. A Reiki practitioner, Grafstein is aware of the significance of being attuned. In fact, the logo for their business is an image depicting the 528 hertz frequency. According to Brian, it is known as the sound of love and healing.

“When people see our logo, they can experience that,” Grafstein said.

While their office is located in Ithaca, clients can also choose to receive sessions at their Newfield location in a more nature-centered setting. In fact, a developing aspect of their business requires a quieter locale. Grafstein and Anchor’s Newfield space, while only 10-15 minutes away from their downtown office, offers a completely different experience.

“We had our wedding here,” Anchor said of the large batten-board house that sits on a mix of woods and open space on a dead-end road off of Route 34/96.

The couple envisions hosting community dinners here in the near future. While classmates, they joined a CSA, splitting the cost and the food. 

“We found it was hard to cook for one, so we would get together on pick-up day and cook together,” Anchor said.

At a time when loneliness is increasingly common, they believe one solution lies in inviting people into their home to share a healthy, community cooked meal alongside good conversation.  

Currently, they are researching how to open parts of their large home for workshops and accommodate the needs of presenters and participants.

Anchor was recently in contact with a doula from Idaho who wanted to hold a training outside of Ithaca. Last fall, the pair welcomed a local acupuncturist who held an informal talk at their home on Gua Sha, a traditional Asian healing method that uses a tool to scrape skin and address adhesions.

Ultimately, they hope to create a retreat center where folks can be fully immersed in nature and share in a healthy lifestyle. Visitors will be encouraged to join in on regular household chores like stacking wood and gardening. 

“We want to be here and interact with our guests,” Anchor said.

The walls of their home also serve as a gallery featuring the work of local artists. Most recently, Gaia Woolf Nightengall’s mandala works were featured. 

As they begin their second year at their rural retreat permaculture, building trails and expanding their garden are high on the list. Items a little further down the list include building a sauna and a yurt. Later this month, they are traveling to Kripalu, a yoga and health retreat center in Massachusetts for both some R & R and R & D.

In Brief:

Newfield Public Library news

Friday, Feb. 14 is the Newfield Public Library’s annual Valentine’s Day Bake Sale. Your purchase helps support the library. Sale starts at 8 a.m.

Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Child Development Council are holding an event at the library on Wednesday, Feb. 19 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Enjoy dinner and then watch and discuss the film “The Raising of America: DNA is Not Destiny-How the Outside Gets Under our Skin.”

The event is free. All are welcome.

The library continues its Technology Education Series on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m.  Learn some tips on purchasing a computer or tablet and about installing the Libby app and linking to Kindle to access free ebooks and audiobooks with your library card. 

Visit www.newfieldpubliclibrary.org for more information on upcoming events and programs.

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