Body Building

An old hotel with historic associations now attracts therapists and bodyworkers

Warshay, a New Yorker who danced for several years and is also a trained Pilates teacher, studied with neuromuscular trainer and anatomist Irene Dowd. After renting a smaller space at 80 East 11th Street, she moved Sage Fitness two years ago to suite 414 (212-982-5756).

REBECCA KLINGER has been offering sublime massages—from prenatal and infant treatments to bodywork for adults dealing with various health challenges—in Manhattan since 1981; she moved into the St. Denis in 1989. "After my sweet suitemate in Gramercy Park moved upstate to get married and have babies, I decided to go solo. The building worked in terms of my clientele at the time. This was not such a hot area then, but you could get charming one-room offices for relatively affordable rates." Her love of the ocean has led her to create a studio that feels like an urban beach cabana, decorated with dozens of fish images (suite 521, 212-777-4201,

Circle time: Pamela Warshay works out on a Gyrotonic Tower at Sage Fitness.
photo: Shiho Fukada
Circle time: Pamela Warshay works out on a Gyrotonic Tower at Sage Fitness.

In addition to what she jokingly calls "Yiddish massage, because it's such a conglomeration of all the styles of bodywork I've studied over the years," Klinger is certified in "interactive guided imagery," a profoundly effective, safe, and fast mind-body technique that uses the power of the imagination to address issues ranging from stress management and pain reduction to life challenges, decision-making, and creativity. As a holistic health counselor, she also advises people about developing healthier lifestyle choices—"mood, food, and attitude. I want people to leave here feeling better than when they arrived."

JULIANA LUECKING, a massage therapist who divides her practice between Park Slope and the St. Denis, is a fairly recent arrival. She offers massage and Reiki, and treasures "Lawrence and Tamika, the security guards, and the awning coming out in the street—before my clients get onto my table and under my hands, they have a feeling of comfort and welcome. When I walk in, I can feel the depth of New York, the solidity. I like the age of the building, and the spiral staircase; I'm lucky 'cause I'm on the second floor. I'm very people-oriented, and there are several psychotherapists next door, a lawyer, an antiques magazine. We refer folks to each other. There's a whole feeling that's grounded, peaceful; we're quite independent of each other, but there's a comfort level because we're all helping folks make positive transitions in their lives, learning about their bodies and their minds. Even the lawyer.

"I did intuitive healing for many years before I learned about the physiology of the body. There are sources I have already on tap. Doing Swedish massage, sports massage, or deep tissue massage is what folks ask for, but if they talk to me about other complexities in their lives that are manifesting energy block, then I love to assist, leaning my energy against theirs. I'm a big listener. My experience with hospice patients and their families helps me learn lessons about those transitions. I'm patient with myself and with people." (suite 238, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 718-622-7342)

Lifelong Learning
In studios, in books, and online, healers, coaches, and cosmetologists offer their expertise

Kannikar Ravinsky massages at WAT
photo: Cary Conover

Marketing itself as a full-service, non-mechanical gym, the fragrant and tranquil WAT in Lower Manhattan offers its patrons Western and Thai boxing, Thai massage, and jai-yet, an exercise that co-opts movements from yoga and massage. I chose a two-and-a-half-hour Thai massage—nuad phaen boran in Thai, also known by the cheeky appellation "the lazy man's yoga." Performed on a floor mat in loose clothing (provided by the gym), the technique uses the push and pull of body weight to aid circulation, relax the muscles, and relieve fatigue. From toes to scalp, P Dang, the Wat's star masseuse from northern Thailand, prodded energy points, kneaded the tension from my tendons, and listened to my muscles moan their tales of New York City woe. P Dang's shoulders and forearms served as fulcrums between our bodies, stretching my legs and arms every which way, releasing pent-up tension (and a little flatus).

The remarkable grand finale: P Dang cracked my back from what felt like the fifth lumbar vertebra up to my neck in one sweeping gesture. I emerged from our session well-oiled and embarrassingly giggly. As if her adroit hands weren't enough to ease my neurotic tension, P Dang quelled my pre-session jitters by sharing her credentials: "I learned massage from my ancestors." Who can argue with that kind of expertise? DEBORAH S. ESQUENAZI

The Wat, 31 Howard Street, 212.966.4010, Sessions: One to three-and-a-half hours. Pricing: $80 to $225 for nonmembers, $60 to $210 for those with monthly memberships


"I want to work directly with people who are in trouble and struggling to survive," says dancer and visual artist Jennifer Donello, a new faculty member at the CREATIVE CENTER: ARTS FOR PEOPLE WITH CANCER. "I connect to that process of spiritual, emotional, and physical healing. I know I'd be lost if I weren't able to do what I do." Tuesdays at 6 in November, CCAPC hosts Donello's new series of workshops in folkloric Afro-Cuban dance, music, and song. Participants will channel the awesome cleansing and strengthening rhythms of nature—Oshun's river, Yemaya's ocean, Oya's storms. This fall, CCAPC also presents Michelle Lerer's "Dance, Dance, Dance!" (Tuesdays, October 5 through 26 and Friday, October 29, at 6), in which students will experiment with improvisation and choreograph pieces for performance. Peggy Peloquin, artist in residence at Dance Theater Workshop's Public Imagination Program, offers her stress-healing movement and storytelling retreat, "Tender: Tending to Ourselves" (Saturdays, October 23 and 30, noon to 4), to "transform life's 'extreme moments' " through relaxation, creativity, and community. All workshops are free and held at CCAPC's loft at 147 West 26th Street. For registration details, call CCAPC at 646-336-7612 or visit EVA YAA ASANTEWAA

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