A Teacher, Leader, and Friend: Zee’s Massage Philosophy

by Samantha Wolfe

Have you had the chance to enjoy the massage therapy sessions offered at the Hockessin Athletic Club? If you have, chances are you have heard of Zee Cowan. Zee is not just one of HAC’s most well-known massage therapists, but a teacher, leader, and friend to many of her clients.

Zee has been a massage therapist for many years; however, it was not her original career path. Zee is originally from Michigan and moved here to Delaware with her husband when she was in her twenties. With degrees in exercise science and kinesiology, Zee has always had a love of the body, as well as an appreciation for the connection between the physical body, mind, and spirit. Zee recalled to me that she asked herself what she wanted to do when she grew up at about 30 years old – that was when massage school called to her. Zee enjoyed massage school as she already had a vast knowledge and interest in the human body, therefore the practice of working directly with the body came easily to her. Over time, Zee developed her own unique style of massage therapy, catering each appointment to the client’s needs for that given day. Three years post-graduation, Zee went back to her massage school to teach anatomy and bodywork.

Zee loves to teach – she has been a gymnastics teacher and a youth director on top of teaching at her old massage school. She loves working with children, but it’s the challenge of adapting to working with adults that has kept her coming back for more. Zee has worked at HAC throughout her entire massage career and has grown a client base that she views as friends. The intimate setting and the levels of therapy that occur in her office allow for a close relationship to form between therapist and client.

Zee with HAC’s 2014 Bike to the Bay team

Zee views massage therapy in an intuitive light; in her eyes, massage is the cross between anatomy and psychology. She has a vast knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the body, but she can move past the physical and tap into the emotional and spiritual sides of her clients, too. She prides herself on being able to feel the body and know on a deeper level what the client truly needs in that given moment in time – Zee mentioned that most of the time her eyes are closed when massaging a client. By closing her eyes, Zee is able to follow her hands and tap into what the client’s body is communicating to her through her fingers. Most times she gives a massage, she can also identify what types of activities her client has been doing, as well as what mental or spiritual struggles they have been going through. Our bodies reflect our hearts and minds, and a great therapist can see the entire picture.

Additionally, Zee’s vast knowledge of human anatomy and ability as a teacher gives her the ability to educate her clients the best plan for their personal health. While many massage therapists will conduct a specific type of massage technique, such as deep tissue versus Swedish therapeutic, Zee seeks to personalize each experience to what the client’s body needs. She makes the clients aware of the actions they have been conducting which contribute to their current issue and provides guidance on ways to adjust their everyday habits to prevent additional irritation or injury. Whether a client is an active member at the gym or sits at a desk for 12 hours a day, Zee can give them the best advice as to how to take care of themself.

By closing her eyes, Zee is able to follow her hands and tap into what the client’s body is communicating to her through her fingers.

Massage therapy is exactly what it says in the name – therapy. Massages should not be a luxury that you get on a special occasion, but rather an integral piece of one’s healthy lifestyle. Scheduling one massage per month is sufficient for the average person, but a person with a more active lifestyle could partake more frequently. The idea of massage is to allow your body to recover. Everything that you go through each day physically, emotionally, and spiritually is reflected into your body. There are plenty of activities you can add into your daily habits that can improve your well-being such as stretching and taking time to decompress and reflect inward to evaluate your current mental and emotional state. Zee also recommends yoga as another great activity for your mind and body to relax and focus on what’s going on around you.

One detail that Zee expressed multiple times is that “no pain, no gain” could not be further from the truth. Pain is what tells your body there is something wrong. When your body is in pain, it triggers a response in the tissue to guard against further damage. In fact, to endure long periods of pain during a massage is counterintuitive for the body. There can be discomfort during a massage but should never be excruciatingly painful the entire time.

Zee and the rest of the Hockessin Athletic Club massage therapy team’s goal is to educate their clients on the workings of their body and how to care for themselves daily. They are here to help you relax and help you attain and maintain your health and wellness goals. If you are a current client of the massage team, please be sure to keep massage therapy as part of your wellness plan.

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