I met with Stephan a few weeks ago to talk about his passion for massage therapy, love for art and life.
Apex: What motivated you to become a massage therapist?
SL: I had spent too much time working in the service industry and I started inwardly thrashing people. I worked in a bar downtown Toronto. After a few incidences happened I realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to do forever and it wasn’t making me happy. I knew that I’m not going to be able to hide myself away from the world. I had to cultivate a different kind of relationship with humanity…
You don’t feel good inside going through life like that. Unfortunately that spills over into your personal life as well, to some extent. It caused me to deal with people in a set mind set, and I knew I had to change. I knew I could not do office work, I could not sit behind a desk - I knew I would lose my mind!
I needed to be physical, I needed to be moving. A friend of mine just said “go and become a massage therapist” over and over again. He was right, so I took the program in Toronto and graduated in 2004.
Apex: You are the only therapist at Apex offering reflexology, can you tell me more about reflexology and who can benefit from this treatment?
SL: Everything begins and everything ends, you have your brain, your central nervous system that branches down your spinal cord, all the nerves branch out from the spinal cord to the organs, the muscles and the glands. Everything has to be innervated by the nervous system and the brain. But these nerves also have to end somewhere, they end in your ears, hands and feet. The application of reflexology is actually stimulating those nerve endings. What that does is it sends signals throughout the body, and in theory anything that’s working too hard comes down a bit and anything that’s not working hard enough picks up the pace, and they meet at a point to create balance. Or what is known as homeostasis.
Reflexology can help tremendously! There is such a verity that you can do with it. It helps with constipation, it helps a lot of women with hormonal imbalances, it can also help prep for child birth. It’s not a onetime fix, it takes multiple sessions to see the results.
Apex: What type of music do you like to play for your clients?
SL: Nothing too mellow nothing too lively, because you want them to go somewhere but not too far! Preferably no words, there may be the odd song with a few words, but no long lyrics or telling a story because that is peoples time with themselves, with their bodies, with their minds. They are supposed to connect with themselves. Some people like to talk, some like no talk or limited talk, but in terms of music I like to keep things somewhat neutral. It creates more openness for them.
Apex: You are a senior therapist with a significant number of regular clients. What has been your biggest success in terms of restoring someones health/well-being?
SL: I guess the person who responded the most excitedly once he was out the door and didn’t have to come in anymore was this one man - he was a big tall guy and had been hit by a car when he was walking through a cross walk. He had fallen over onto the car and he had a huge adhesion that pulled him. It was me for an hour doing fascia work all on his side. I mean I did other things too because you are aiming to create an overall response, but this was the big thing for him. He kept re-booking in with me and he would ask me to do it but he would howl through it… He would be in a lot of pain and I would be hesitating while I’m doing it saying “it’s not supposed to feel this bad”. His English was quite limited, I think that’s why he never really explained to me why he kept coming back for more… Finally I said “ya know I really don’t feel comfortable doing this”. And he said “No this is it, this is what I need! I have been seeing other therapists for two years and not getting anywhere”. We kept on doing it for another 2 months once a week, and he was done. He was so grateful it actually made me a little bit… I don’t know… emotional because he was so grateful for getting better.
Apex: I know that outside of work you are an incredible artist- you paint in acrylics. What do you like to paint the most? Did you take lessons? How did the passion start?
SL: It started when I was a kid, I loved drawing pictures! My grandmother would put all of them up on her fridge…Everything was on display. She encouraged it in a very indirect way. I like to paint things in fragments because everything is connected. Right now I’m kind of on a digital kick. It can be about something I feel strongly about whether it is personal or political…or anything really. But it’s done in a digital way. Its very time consuming because there are a lot of straight lines, very precise, so I actually get annoyed with it sometimes but that’s the urge! I use lots of colors, bright colors because it’s stimulating that way. I do my art from memory, or it could be completely imagined. I like to read into art and find the deeper meaning.
(Here are some of Stephan's art work)
Apex: I know you love red wine, what is your favorite and why?
SL: The grape I tend to gravitate towards is Chianti, there’s nothing like a good Chianti! But it has to be classic. It’s an Italian wine, something a lot of people don’t realize is a lot of Italian wines are actually organic or very close because they’re very old vines. The people who run these estates don’t want to mess with what they have.
Apex: What’s important to you as a massage therapist?
SL: I want people to understand what’s going on in their bodies. I want them to have the knowledge of how to help themselves after massage. It’s not always good for business though - I’ve taught people how to do TMJ on themselves and I never see them again…
I explain to them that I’m not doing this for myself. I put video links together for the clients so they know how to do the after care. I tell my clients – “learn what’s going on”. Especially the young people, who are already having problems. “You’re so young this will be fixed a lot faster than someone who’s my age”. It gets harder to change these things the older your body gets. NOT YOU, your body!
Stephan Lewis - graduating from Sutherland Chan School and Teaching clinic in Toronto in 2004, Stephan has been practicing therapeutic massage for 10+ years. While researching for "additional tools" to add to massage, he discovered the benefits of reflexology to help with a verity of issues and became certified in foot reflexology (2012) and ear reflexology (2014). Stephan's goal is to help you create balance and overall well being whether it be injury related, chronic pain or simply reducing stress in day-to-day life.