‘HEALING TOUCH’: Rich Chhoun brings massage therapy business to Brooks Salon and Spa

Published 3:00 am Friday, July 29, 2016

Rich Chhoun, Licensed Massage Therapist at Healing Touch, set up his studio at Brooks Salon and Spa in June.

Rich Chhoun, Licensed Massage Therapist at Healing Touch, set up his studio at Brooks Salon and Spa in June.

Before he became a massage therapist, Rich Chhoun made six figures working as an engineer in Mobile. But Chhoun said the money wasn’t satisfying and the setting was stressful.

“It was a big shock for a lot of my friends when I quit to work in massage therapy,” Chhoun said. “But my job was stressful, and so I chose a job where I could de-stress and help others de-stress too.”

The turnaround for Chhoun happened when he diagnosed with a ruptured disc in 2010. The doctor was ready to admit him into surgery, but instead redirected him to a program to quit smoking and drinking and to start praying. Within three months, Chhoun was healed and he began focusing on health and fitness.

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Going from the bustling city of Mobile to the much smaller and quieter city of Troy could have been a bit of a culture shock, but Chhoun said his time in the Navy helped prepare him to adjust.

“It wasn’t a bad adjustment actually,” Chhoun said. “When I was in the Navy, I was hopping from wild to mild. What I love about Troy is that it is a small community that has done a lot to support me in my relocation.

Now, as a community member, I’m trying to provide the community with the best service possible.”

Chhoun started working in massage therapy about a year ago, and took the opportunity to partner his business, Healing Touch, with Brooks Salon and Spa in June. Owner Jennifer Brooks moved the Brooks onto the square in March and decided to start a spa at the salon.

The son of Chinese immigrants, who fled the country’s communist regime, Chhoun mixes Western and Eastern forms of massage therapy such as Shiatsu, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and common Swedish.

Chhoun said that his work is similar to that of physical therapist, but he is a specialist in muscle manipulation that focuses on the whole of the body.

“Some people only do weight training and they ask ‘Why am I still hurting?’” he said. “The problem is they’re strengthening but not lengthening. Some people only do yoga. They’re lengthening, but not strengthening. You need both.”

Some people don’t understand that massage therapy is a serious practice, Chhoun said.

“It’s not just rubbing the skin,” he said. “It goes deeper than that. If you go to a doctor with a headache, he’ll probably ask you how long you’ve been dealing with it and then prescribe a medicine. I can’t prescribe medicine, so I’ll ask questions about where you work and about your lifestyle to try to understand where the problem might be coming from. I can’t help it with massage, but it’s about a lifestyle, not just one treatment.”

Like a splinter, Chhoun said, it is better to remove the source of the problem then to cover it up with a treatment.

Chhoun got married earlier this year and is now expecting a baby with his wife. Although he loves his work, he knows that he has to stay proactive in keeping his massage business going.

“Initially business was good but it has hit a lull,” Chhoun said. “I’m going out and contacting local physicians and businesses to try to let people know I’m here. It isn’t like a job where you have a set salary. If I don’t have clients, I don’t have pay, so I have to stay busy.”

Chhoun is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. He offers a Swedish massage at $60 an hour and specialty and table massages for $75 an hour, with discounts during August.

To set up an appointment, call Brooks Salon and Spa at (334)-670-0028.