Richland Pointe Wellness Center with a Member lounging in the pool.

It’s so peaceful inside and out at the Richland Pointe Wellness Center. Even the birds near the cabanas seem to be whispering. Massage Therapist Christine Stell gently presses her thumb into the shoulder of a Member on the table, who, before slowly melting away, asks a question: “How did you learn to do this?”

The bubblers in the pool provide ambience as Christine begins to softly tell a story.

“My aunt gave me the first massage of my life in her living room. She’d just graduated from a massage school, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this feels really good.’ I’d always been the one in our family to rub shoulders and make people feel better. Apparently, everyone in my family thought it was time for me to do it professionally.”

In massage school, Christine would give four massages a day. At night, she had to soak her sore hands in ice water. Like an athlete building strength and flexibility, those hand muscles eventually transformed into intuitive comforters.

“This is no longer just a job,” she says, ensconced in the scent of eucalyptus mint. “It’s developed into a love for relationships. Everyone feels better after a massage, including me.”

Christine uses the entire toolkit to get the job done: her fingers, thumbs, heels of the hands, elbows, and knowledge she’s developed over the years. After a treatment, she has to stretch herself back out. She’ll flex her fingers, loosen her forearms, and do some squats — anything to relax, which usually means spending a few minutes taking in a deep breath of fresh air and a wide view of Lake Oconee.

“I can’t imagine a better location to get a massage, or to give one,” she says.

The best compliment for a therapist often comes mid-massage. The serene conversation stops … and light snoring begins. A Member has fallen into la-la land. Recently, a woman came to the spa and said she’d been trying to take baths to help relax her back muscles, but she couldn’t even bend down to turn on the faucet.

“I said, ‘When we’re done here, you’ll be able to turn on every bathtub at Reynolds,’” Christine says.

After an hour, the woman pivoted off the table and did something she hadn’t done in months: She bent down and touched her knees, and her feet. Then she stood straight up and gave Christine a long hug.

“I told her to go out and turn on some bathtubs,” Christine says.

To be clear, the word “spa” can create some unrealistic expectations. People who had a hip replacement on Monday want to be back on the tennis court by Friday. Golfers whose shoulders won’t allow a thigh-high backswing expect to drive it 270 yards after an hour at the Wellness Center. A therapist like Christine has to be blunt: “How long did it take you to get into this condition? It will probably take a little time to get you out of it.”

That isn’t the worst prognosis in the world. Every minute at the Wellness Center will be a minute of peace, where stress is not allowed.

“I like to know I’m adding to self-care,” Christine says, “and that Members leave here feeling better than when they arrived. That’s why this is the best job I could ever imagine.”

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