Local Fitness Check-in: Zach Weiss

Posted on July 2, 2013 by


Zach Weiss, a local who’s recently back in Cville, is dedicated to spreading the knowledge and benefits of massage therapy. We sat down with Zach to learn a bit about him, how he got into massage therapy, what it actually is, and its benefits.

Kink in your neck? Nursing a sports injury? Just need some stress relief? Find out more about Zach’s upcoming workshop where you can learn how to do deep tissue massage with a partner!

©cville niche, zach weissWhat got you into massage therapy, and how long have you been practicing?

I’ve been practicing massage for just over three years now, two of them running a private practice in Philadelphia and one practicing in Charlottesville. I initially got into massage because of my interest in medicine: I knew I didn’t want to go the traditional medical school route, and other alternative medical schools (like acupuncture) were a much bigger commitment than I was ready to make. Massage school was only a 6 month program, and I felt it would be a great foot in the door. It turned out to be much more than I expected – enriching, challenging, and eye-opening. I had a few great teachers, and it really changed the way I thought about the body and myself.

How should people approach (or prepare for) a massage if it’s their first time?

  1. Think about why you want a massage.
    If you’re training for a marathon, make sure your therapist knows that (and knows how to work with people like you). If you’re looking just to relax, the same thing applies. A little research and inquiry will go a long way to finding a good therapist and having a good first experience.
  2. Schedule around your session.
    You don’t want to schedule a massage right before or after a really intense meeting. Allow yourself some unscheduled time to wind down beforehand and appreciate it afterwards.
  3. Ask questions.
    You will be a lot more comfortable if you know what is going on, so don’t hesitate to ask your therapist about anything and everything you’re curious about in relation to your massage.

What are the benefits of deep tissue massage versus a “regular” massage? What are the differences between the two?

When people talk about a “regular” massage, they most often mean a Swedish massage.

A Swedish massage is a massage of long, smooth strokes and geared towards relaxation and increased blood flow.

Deep tissue massage, on the other hand, is geared towards directly working out knots and tension.

While a therapist doing Swedish won’t go very deep or address underlying tension, a therapist doing deep tissue will look to do just that. Also, it’s important to note that deep tissue techniques can sometimes be painful, but they should be felt as that ‘good hurt’ that you feel when someone is working out a muscle that needs it.

If you’re doing any athletic training, you want a deep tissue massage to address all the inevitable aches, pains, and tweaks. At the same time, I see clients that have developed some pretty intense pain and knots in their upper back, neck, and shoulders from just sitting at a desk all day, and deep tissue work is appropriate for that as well.

If you just need a break from hectic day, though, Swedish is right choice for you.

©cville niche, massageMany people view massages as just a treat they give themselves every once in a while. Are there benefits to getting a massage with regularity and does it depend on the physical issues/pain?

Massage does have that reputation, yes, but there are very real benefits to regular massage. Besides being relaxing (which is reason enough if you ask me), massage promotes general muscle health.

Take a knot, for example. A knot is a muscle that is not working at 100% capacity. Since it’s stuck in a contracted position, it can’t provide the same leverage as a loose one. A relaxed, supple muscle, on the other hand, can contract and release fully, giving you the greatest mechanical advantage and most efficient use. More importantly, knots and tension also effect the way you hold your body, so addressing them can help improve posture and minimize related pain down the road.

In what part of the body do people typically retain the most stress? Is it different for men and women?

Stress manifests itself all over the body, and I can’t give a general statement about where most of it is retained. At the same time, there are a lot of interesting theories about where different kinds of stress show up. The first thing you need to understand about stress is that all stress has an emotional component. Whether your stress is related to anxiety about a presentation or (trying not to be) angry at a co-worker, the emotion is the key.

Just as all stress has an emotion, all emotions have a posture.

Don’t believe me? Think about the last sad person you interacted with. There is a certain way they look, talk, and stand; the emotion is reflected in their body. A person who is feeling care and concern for another will look differently.

Now, What does this mean? It means that while we stress about things, while we perpetuate a worry or remain in a stressed/emotional state, we are remaining in a certain body position with certain tense muscles. And when we do this day in day out, week in week out, our bodies can suffer.

So with massage, we work backwards. We release tight or overworked muscles and, if we’re lucky, we let go of whatever stress it is related to. Now not every tight muscle has an emotional component – you could have just swung that hammer one too many times and pulled a muscle in your shoulder, or slept funny and now have a crick in your neck. But you would be surprised how many aches and pains correspond to held emotional states and stress.

Where are you located in Cville?

I mainly travel to clients’ homes to work with them and I also see clients at UVA’s Aquatic and Fitness Center.

What are the benefits of your upcoming workshop on August 11? Will my massage partner and I be able to help each other out with back pain in the future or still need to go see a massage therapist?

This workshop will teach you the basics of how to help your partner with back pain, yes. But I only have so much time to teach, and you will only have so much time to practice, so you most likely will not become the next massaging guru. But if you practice regularly, you bet you’ll be able to prevent and relieve some of your partner’s pain.

Check out his upcoming Couples Massage Workshop on August 11th, from 2-6pm.

Describe yourself in 5 syllables or less.

Geeze, That’s Impossi-

Favorite Cville activity/event in the summer?

A warm summer night on a patio with a few good friends.