You don’t have to fly all the way to Hawaii to get a sense of what it feels like to experience bodywork on the island. Nell Rueckl, owner of Spot Spa in Northeast and Uptown, is an expert in Lomi Lomi Hawaiian Massage. The specialty is rooted in the Hawaiian philosophy called Huna, which emphasizes healing and harmony. It involves deep, flowing massage strokes.
Rueckl has been in the wellness business for 16 years. She has studied chi qigong and has experience with many other body treatments.
Before she opened Spot Spa in Northeast in 2001, she worked at the Horst Salon in St. Paul (now known as JUUT) and the Aveda spa in Osceola, Wis., before it closed. She did more than 3,000 massages when she worked there.
She opened Spot Spa in Northeast in 2001. It’s tucked below the Bulldog bar. She has 15 other therapists on board who do all kinds of treatments, including reiki (a Japanese healing method designed to reduce stress) and Thai massage (a deep massage that involves slow yogic stretches).
Massage therapy has many benefits, she notes, including improved sleep, a bolstered immune and stress relief.
SWJ: What drew you to bodywork?
Rueckl: I started to go school for sign language. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I moved around quite a bit. I lived in Wyoming. I lived in Hawaii. I moved back here and I just decided out of the blue [to go to massage school]. I had never even gotten a massage.
What are your goals for the business?
I’d like to see Spot grow quite a bit this year. The last two years I’ve been really OK with just holding because of the economy. I’ve been trying to look for ways were we can really grow. I want to feel more grounded in the community that we’re in. I want to feel like we’re here — we’re a stable part of this community. I’m working on another spa concept, too. This business is great, but I would like to branch out a bit. I will always do bodywork though.
What does it mean to you to be a small business owner?
To be a small business owner is to be myself. It fits the way I function. I think you need to be comfortable in your own skin and willing to look into the dark corners of your business as well as celebrate the accomplishments. This gives me the strength and courage to expand.
What is unique about your Hawaiian massage specialty?
Hawaiian massage is unique in every way. It is a ritual-based massage. Lomi Lomi in Hawaiian means ‘to massage.’ The lomi I am trained in uses breath, dance and movement to clear the past, and help nurture and transition the client for the future. The practitioner uses breath to assure there is no stagnation in they body. … This massage uses the forearms, and long, full body strokes — shoulder to toe — for most of the treatment and repetition. Therefore it is very deep, but not invasive. When people leave after a lomi they usually have a sensation of feeling lighter and a bit like something has been lifted.
What are some of your favorite treatments at Spot?
I love the ashiatsu, when I am feeling jammed up and compressed; the traditional, when I am feeling acute injuries cropping up. Thai massage when I need to release blockages; and a facial for the change of every season or before on event.
Our traditional Spot massage varies from practitioner to practitioner, but I’d like to note that we have four practitioners who are also trained in shiatsu and cupping. This can be very restorative and healing. What I’d like to get across is there is not one way to heal for anyone it depends on the day and what your body is needing.
What have you learned since opening?
Make sure you have advertising funds. I didn’t have any money when I first opened. I worked to pay for the build-out. I had no real sense of what was achievable as far as business goes. … I feel like I’m still learning all the time. Infrastructure is so important. I’ve always been pretty good at knowing what the customer vibration is just because I was so entrenched in it for so long. Customer service and being good to yourself. Being able to handle the blows and to learn from even the hardest feedback.
Who comes to see you?
Our range of clients vary because the Twin Cities has so much to offer in alternative care. We get clients that really know what they want, and usually have found us by word of mouth because of our scope and quality of our services. I just had a client the other day who drives from Apple Valley because she knows she’ll get a service that she values. With that said I would say that our clients are discerning and want what proves to be effective.
What are your thoughts on the Uptown area?
Uptown’s business corridor seems to be under a rebirthing and I think the future is unknown. It does continue to provide important small businesses like Barbette, Lucia’s and Bryant Lake Bowl. As these businesses stand tall and strong they are being eclipsed by big businesses like Victoria’s Secret.
I would like to see more of what is happening in Lyn-lake where small businesses are able to plant their seeds and grow. To be more forward, I think the residents and shoppers in Uptown need to stand strong in their support of these businesses that have provided comfort and inspiration to us all over the years.
Where: 401 E. Hennepin Ave. & 1600 W. Lake St.
Services: Bodywork and skincare