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Where the magic happens: Alchemy Bodywork & Massage hopes to transform wellness

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — Returning to open arms, Michele Smith is back in Salisbury at Alchemy Bodywork & Massage.

In 2010, Smith opened a thriving massage practice at 118 E. Council St. She moved away in 2015. Now, she is back at the same suite in the Heritage Room.

“It’s been interesting because I feel like a different person because of all the changes I went through when I was gone,” Smith said. “A lot of my clients have come back, and I also picked up a lot of new clients.”

Smith said she was missed by her clients. Some would visit her in South Carolina to get a massage. She felt truly welcomed back when she returned in 2018.

“When they were on vacation, they would come see me at the spa I was working at and they kept saying, ‘Salisbury loves you, Salisbury loves you, come back, come back,’” Smith said. “I really felt like this town welcomed me back with open arms.”

Jes Buckwalter, a client, said Smith’s massages have helped her significantly. Buckwalter has multiple sclerosis and gets deep-tissue injections. She says going to Alchemy to get a massage gives her some relief to the symptoms, and her doctor knows when she has seen Smith.

Smith recalled working with a client with spastic cerebral palsy who is in a chronic state of tension. Although he is quadriplegic, Smith said throughout the massage he commented about how amazing the massage felt. Family members said when they helped him off the massage table, he was much looser.

“That’s one of the best things about this job is that people are excited to come see you and to see the transformation that happens when they get a massage,” Smith said.

She said the Alchemy name comes from this transformation.

“I’m not turning people into gold in the sense of that word,” she said. “It’s kind of a magical process of a transformation. When people come in the door, usually their shoulders are up around their ears. They’re talking fast, they’re in a hurry. You can see their furrowed brow. When they leave, they’re in a completely different state.”

The Salisbury community has helped her as well. Massage therapists here support each other whether it’s personally or professionally, she said.

“There’s no way I could still be doing massage 16 years later if I did not get a massage on a regular basis,” Smith said. “It’s hard on the body. … I don’t feel like there’s a sense of competition. That was another thing that made me excited to move back to Salisbury, to have that network of colleagues I could trade with.”

Smith mixes Swedish massage with deep tissue, myofascial release, stretching and thermal stone therapy, which is using hot and cold stones. She just began providing CBD oil-infused massages.

“I just try to quiet my mind and listen to what the client needs,” Smith said. “Sometimes the client thinks they need deep work when really they don’t. It’s not like I know better than them. Their body tells me what they need.”

Before the massage, Smith will meet with the client, especially new clients and those who have never had a massage. She talks about what they should wear and what she and they expect. She wants to ensure her clients feel safe, heard and nurtured before they are on the massage table.

“If they’re not relaxed with me, then their body is not going to relax on the table,” Smith said. “I found that’s when the true healing happens is when we quiet our minds. The body wants to go back into that relaxed state. And when we get out of our heads and kind of become calm, still and be present in our bodies, that’s when that magic happens.”

Looking forward, Smith says she wants to see the wellness community continue to grow and for clients to have one location to go for massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga and nutrition advice. She would also like to add another massage therapist at Alchemy.

Alchemy’s hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and by appointment from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. She offers 30- to 90-minute massages.

To contact Alchemy, call 704-431-6631. The website is alchemybodywork.net.


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