Muscling In


 Given the mushrooming number of LaVida Massage locations, you wouldn’t know we’re mired in a recession. But maybe precisely because of the stressful economic climate, more people are seeking relaxation in the form of a massage. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that this Commerce Township-based business, founded in 2007, is going great guns.

A new franchise opened in Troy in January, joining other locations in Brighton, Canton Township, and Clarkston. Then, in February, a Commerce Township LaVida sprang up inside the company headquarters. And a Lake Orion location is on tap, not to mention existing franchises in Illinois, California, North Carolina, and other states.

Part of the draw may be the reasonable prices. Ordinarily, my hourlong massage at the Troy location I visited would have been $54.95, which is a good value. But I got a new-customer discount, making it downright cheap at $39.95. The receptionist also told me discount coupons are offered via e-mail for repeat customers.

Another attraction of LaVida could be what the company calls “gender-neutral” décor.” Some spas tend to be a little too frilly, which can make men uncomfortable, but the apple-green-and-chocolate-brown color scheme is neither too masculine nor feminine.

Technically, LaVida isn’t a true spa, because it offers only massages, facials, and waxing. Although it claims fewer amenities than most spas, it’s clean, comfortable, and no-nonsense.

After being seated in the waiting room, I was led down a long corridor of rooms, where requisite ambient music was piped in. Among the types of massages LaVida offers are Swedish and deep-tissue, but I wanted something in between. Swedish is relaxing, but fails to target really troublesome knots. A deep-tissue massage is therapeutic, but can be painful. Shawn, my masseur, obliged with a combination of the two.

He worked hard at loosening my tight quads and hamstrings, and applied acupressure to my knotted-up traps (upper-back muscles.) Instead of gentle kneading, he employed finger pressure and long, deep strokes.

Sure, there was some fleeting pain, but at the conclusion, my range of motion was improved and my legs didn’t feel as though they were supporting a linebacker’s frame. Shawn also demonstrated some helpful exercises to beef up my back muscles. Overdeveloping the pecs and upper-arm muscles takes its toll on the back, and my toll was heavy.

Following the massage, I spent a little while in the relaxation room, downed a couple of glasses of water, and was on my way with a new bounce in my step.

LaVida, of course, means “the life” in Spanish. After my experience, I’m tempted to echo the Coldplay song “Viva la Vida.”

73 E. Long Lake Rd. (at Livernois), Troy. Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat.; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. 248-813-1330,

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