Bodywork is essential. Along with proper nutrition and movement, it is one the major components necessary to maintain optimal health. Bodywork encompasses a multitude of arts and practices. In my Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Los Angeles chiropractic office we provide clients with a form of bodywork that not only offers pain relief, but prevention and wellness, too. My clients know that by visiting a chiropractor regularly, they will be able to live their lives as they love, in freedom from pain and in effortless motion, as they are meant to live, because the human frame is made precisely to move.
To aid in that endeavor, it is my belief that exceptional muscle and tendon-based bodywork must coincide with the chiropractic adjustment. But not just any old muscle work will do. Like all other forms of bodywork, if the musculo-tendinous practitioner is not skilled in his art, the therapeutic effectiveness is minimized. For this reason, I am very particular with whom I recommend to my valued clients. I will never give my stamp of approval unless I am certain that it is the very best of care. As a result, my practice has been without a go-to massage therapist for years. I just hadn’t found the right practitioner for which I could feel completely confident that my clients were getting top-notch massage work. Until now.
Enter DeMauriea LeVias. DeMauriea is a practicing massage therapist, artist and, get this, stand-up comic. When he is not turning his clients into butter, he’s turning them onto guffaws, laughs, and merriment. You’ll see in this interview I conducted with DeMauriea this past September, that there was no shortage of laughter. Mr. D understands the body, and he understands that with every pain there has got to be a little pleasure, too. So take a minute and learn about the newest massage therapist to be practicing his healing craft out of my sports chiropractic clinic. Without further ado, I bring you DeMauriea LeVias.
Nick: So DeMauriea, how long have you been doing massage?
DeMauriea: I’ve been massaging people since I’ve been about five years old, but professionally…about six years.
N: How does that work, you’ve been massaging people since you were five years old?
D: (laughs): It was just an instinct. I’m one of five kids; and my Mom was always running around doing things; and she just looked like she was…tense. And she looked like she just needed some work, so I started massaging her shoulders and her feet. When I got older, I started massaging my grandfather; he’d drive up from L.A. to Lancaster or Palmdale, wherever we were living at the time—it’s a long drive, like and hour or so—and he was always tense in the shoulders, so I would just work on him, and he’d be like, “Aw, that feels good!”
Then when I was in high school—I went to a military academy my last year in high school—and there I was sore from all the work we were doing, and I just started trying out new things, like stretching…
N: On yourself?
D: Yeah, and then I started working people in my platoon. I became known as the guy that gives massages.
N: Sergeant Massage.
D: Pretty much. That was really one of the first hints of what I wanted to do in my life. I was always an artist and a writer, but I was like, what else do I want to do? Maybe I should go to school for art and massage.” And then I thought, “That sounds stupid; I don’t even know if you can do that.” And I ended up doing just that.
N: So massage might be your art? It IS your art, yeah? So from five until now, you’ve been massaging.
D: Oh yeah. I mean it has increased, but there were months or years when I didn’t do anything. You know, it was sometimes hard to get people to even want a massage when I didn’t have a license. They’d be like, “Hey, why do you want to touch me?” But I did have a lot of friends in high school and college who were like, “Wow! You’re really good at this; you should probably go to school for this.” But I was already in art school and I was thinking why would I go to two schools at the same time?
But then I did try it, and it was the best semester in school I ever had because I got more massages than I ever had in my entire life for two months straight. Then I went through withdrawals.
N: What do you mean?
D: After so many people are touching you; you know, when you are getting so many massages all the time—you don’t get that many when you get out of school, and you feel like, “Oh my god, I been working on so many people, but I need some help.” Everybody goes through touch-withdrawal. Ask any massage therapist who’s been through school—they’ll tell you they loved school because you’ve had so many loving hands on you. Now you’re like…in the real world.
N: So how long have you been doing this professionally?
D: Roughly, six years. It’ll be six years in March.
N: Where did you go to school?
D: California Healing Arts College
N: Where is that?
D: Santa Monica and Bundy (West Los Angeles)
N: What’s the massage program there like?
D: It’s integrative. They have a lot of different styles there. They have Swedish, sports, deep, and oscillation.
N: You have to learn all of those, or are they electives?
D: They’re electives but they pretty much give you an overview when you first start there, but then you can specialize from there. You can take some of the classes, or you can take them all. I specialized in sports, Swedish…and I took a lot of deep classes.
N: How long is the program?
D: I did the 150.
N: Is that hours?
D: Yeah. It’s a two-month intensive. I didn’t really know how I should do it, whether I should just go to school or whether I should work on the side while in school. Then I started working at the Massage Place in Santa Monica around December ’04. That’s pretty much where I cut my teeth, because I had so many clients. I was just working, working, working…
N: So you said you’ve studied a lot of sports massage, what drew you to that?
D: I loved the whole idea of working on athletes, because I love that people who work their bodies to top-peak performance and condition; that to me is…amazing, because I’m not at that top-peak performance (laughs). You know, I’m vicariously living through them like, “You guys are doing it. You guys are really doing it.” I’m just on the sidelines watching you do it, and if you need my help, I’m gonna fix you; but other than that…I’m not doing a triathlon.
Click on photo above for a cool video of DeMauriea at work!
N: What’s the difference between working on an athlete and an everyday average Joe?
D: Well, I notice a better sense of awareness of their bodies—they know what’s going on usually. Most people who work on a computer all day long don’t recognize when something’s wrong with their bodies. They just kind of feel that pain build up, and they just ignore it—they pile through it. But athletes, when they feel something wrong with their body, because that is their machine, you know? It’s their bread and butter. They feel something and they are like, you know, I gotta get something done; I better get some massage, a chiropractic adjustment, you know, get something worked out. Like that video you posted [on Facebook] about using chiropractic to make an athlete even more on top of their game…it’s true, because it’s to help them move forward, to keep them from injuring themselves, it’s all preventative.
N: That’s right.
D: It’s the same with massage. Most people who come in to get a massage come in after something is already wrong. They don’t realize that they were already working themselves to the point of muscle exhaustion, and then they have muscle tension headaches, and there’s a real problem, and that’s a big no-no. And it’s going to suck when I massage them because it’s going to hurt. But if people come in before there is a problem, they are not going to hurt as much.
N: Absolutely. So do you consider what you do health care?
D: (thinks about it for a second)…Yeah, I do. I do. And I wish that the health industry would recognize what I do as health care. I mean they do to an extent, but it took you guys [chiropractors] a long time to get recognized, right?
N: Yeah…there are still some political and economic obstacles, for sure.
D: Yeah, and with massage there is a negative stigma attached to massage.
N: I don’t know this negative stigma.
D: (laughs) Yeah.
N: I don’t.
D: Well, put it this way: When I tell people I am a massage therapist the first thing they say is…
N: Happy ending.
D: Yeah. Ha ha ha ha…everybody says it; it’s not funny; it’s the most obvious joke. It would be like if my name was John, and someone was like….heh heh heh heh, so, so, are you a toilet? You know…whatever. It’s something that I hear all the time.
N: It’s lost its funniness.
D: Yeah, it’s like, no, dude, I went to school for this. And then after awhile I realize like, “Are you calling me a prostitute?” That’s basically what you are calling me. What I don’t like about it is that when I go to work, I’m really working. I mean this is my job. I love…it’s not even my job…this is what I do. You know, the fact that I get paid for it is just gravy. This is one of my main callings—it actually makes me feel good to make other people feel good. So when somebody insults that, it kind of sets off this trigger, like, I don’t like you. (laughs). I don’t take too much in my life seriously, but I take this seriously.
You know, for some massage therapists, maybe in other countries, if that’s what they do; and then they come here, and that’s what they do…one, it’s not legal; and two…well, to each his own. But for me…this is what I do. I go in there; I make you feel good…legally! (laughs)
N: It’s health care.
D: There’s so much you can do to a person’s body to make them release muscle tension. I have heard so many times—I don’t know if I agree with them—but I’ve heard so many of my clients say it’s better than sex for them. I think, you’ll have to have many massages…
N: (laughing) How old are you?
N: Yeah, you’re still at that hormonal age where nothing beats sex. But there will come a time when those hormones come down, and you’ll be like, “Yeah, yeah, now I get it!”
D: I’m sure. But for me, what I enjoy most about connecting with people with massage, especially say with friends or in a relationship, is the level of intimacy that is achieved, that goes even beyond sex. I see couples that think they are intimate with each other because they have sex, but actually they are less intimate than some friends that touch each other all the time. I have really good friends that I exchange massages with, and we are really close; and I know some people who are together and you wonder if they are even dating because they barely touch each other.
N: OK, so massage is true health care, just the way you described it, in a preventative sense. It helps not just athletes but people, because it’s undoing tensions and muscular stresses that actually have an effect on all the structures of the musculoskeletal system—the joints, the ligaments, the muscles, the tendons—but the real problem is that what we call health care in this country…is sick care.
D: It’s sick care.
N: It’s not health care.
D: It’s not preventative.
N: I’m writing a blog on that today, so watch out for it—massage is real health care, because it maintains the health of the body.
D: Yeah, that’s really important. You know, I don’t really go to the doctor. I haven’t been sick in like six or seven years. I should probably get a checkup, to make sure I’m okay; but I have such an awareness of my body from massaging people. I feel like it’s a cycle. When I touch someone’s body that’s feeling ill or something, or they’re stressed out, I’m pushing energy into them while I’m touching them, and they are pushing out negative energy into me.
N: For sure, it’s all energy exchange.
D: But I have to kind of take that in, change it within me, and then push it out—it’s a cycle. The best massages are when they are giving me energy, and I’m giving them energy—it’s reciprocal. And we both walk away like, “Wow, that was amazing.” I have had that a few times where we were like, “Damn!”
And a lot of times people open up. Usually I like to try to set a tone, and if they want to talk about something, I’ll allow it, and we’ll have a conversation. I’ll use it sometimes as a distraction if I’m going to do something that’s going to be a little painful; or it helps them open up because sometimes they want to get something off their chest, and when they do, they often just let everything out and release. And then I’m better able to get into the muscles…because a lot of it is mental. They are holding so much emotional junk in their muscles. Once we get that out, they are like, “Ah….man, I feel so good.” And if somebody doesn’t want to talk, then we go into this completely crazy, emotional thing…where it’s like a cave—it’s so primitive—and we just connect on another level. And the person is telling me so much without even saying one word to me. It’s like when you are dancing with a partner—you don’t have to say anything. I do salsa, and it’s like connecting with your partner without talking at all; it’s all rhythm and moves, and it’s beautiful.
N: You are a true healer, man, because that’s what it is; that’s true healing. My clients who have had your work tell me you have a very unique style. Tell me a little more about your style.
D: I hear that very often, mainly because I adjust on a client per client basis.
N: So your massages are customized.
D: Yeah. I have an idea of what I am going to do. Before I massage anybody, I always have an idea of a pre-massage technique I’m going to do like…Thai-style infused…
N: What’s Thai-style infused?
D: It incorporates a lot of stretching and movement, and I’m using my whole body; there’s a lot of weight displacement to release muscles in your body without having to give you pinpoint pressure. Because a lot of time the body receives pinpoint pressure as…an attack. So you’re putting the person under stress. The elbow for instance is a very great tool, but at the same time the body has to be prepared for that, because it’s all skin and bones, and the body thinks it’s being attacked and it tenses up. And yeah, I can sit there with my elbow and release it, but my theory is that some people will be more sore afterward because their body is working so much, and so, that’s kind of unproductive for me. So what I do is I get on the table and I use my knees, my heels, my palms—whatever is necessary to release major structures like the hips. And so I’m stretching people; I’m moving them. At one point, I’ll have my hands on their shoulders, and I’ll have my knees on their hips, and my feet on their calves, and we’re working. We are doing six different things at one time. It’s all moving of their body; and their brain is like, “What’s going on?” It shuts down—that’s the release. They’re like, I don’t know how to fight this, so I’m not going to.
D: That’s pretty much standard on my clients, but I will adjust according to what they need. So if somebody needs more footwork, I’ll be on their feet for like, you know, ten minutes. I’ll spend a lot of time on the feet, because my theory is that if you are going to release any muscle in the body, you need to get to those feet first. It’s like a ponytail: all the stress and tension is going straight to that point; and to release all that tension, I have to start from the bottom up. It’s like getting to the hardest working parts of their bodies—their hips or their shoulders; their hands, their feet, their head; these are all key areas that need to be hit. If you are not hitting these areas they’ll feel like…you’re rubbing me, that’s it.
N: I do a lot of work with the feet, too; and I agree they are mega-important. So, I’m signing up. I’m going to do a session with you—next week, we’re doing it.
D: You know the feet, they tell a story. It’s like reflexology—I do reflexology, but I don’t focus too much on the organs. They get hit, because we are there, but a lot of times I just go to the spots that your body…I listen a lot to what your body is telling me. It’ll be like, “be here,” and I’ll go there. I don’t ask too many questions. There are two parts of my brain working: there’s the analytical side, that is all math and all structure; and then I learned in art school how to think of the body; a lot of what I learned in art school is what I see when I look at the body, so when I touch them, that part of my brain is working, connecting everything, the Gestalt of the body, how it’s all one piece, how all the structures form this one beautiful sheet. And then the other part of my brain is all primitive connects, like, I connect to you; your body tells me what to do and then I go from there. We just connect, and I know what you need before you tell me.
N: It’s intuitive.
D: Yeah. And so those two parts are working in concert. To me it feels like the marriage between massage and chiropractic work, because on one level it is intuitive, but very analytical, too. There’s so much you have to know. Whereas, you can walk up to anybody on the street and touch somebody because have an intuitive sense…but you can’t just walk up to somebody on the street and start doing chiropractic. I mean, YOU COULD (laughs), but there is a lot of danger in that.
N: Oh yeah. Nah, we don’t do that…I don’t do that.
D: All that together is basically where my massage goes. After that, there’s a lot of stretching, there’s a lot of sports massage, there’s a lot of deep tissue. It just depends on a case by case basis. Some people don’t need it deep, others need it deeper; sometimes I’m not using oil at all, other times I’m using a lot of oil. Sometime we do a lot of emotional release work, working in the stomach, sort of quasi cranial-sacral, because with cranial-sacral you’re not really even touching so much; it’s a lot of energy work. I’m doing hands on; I’m walking them a little bit; so I make it just like they are a little baby, where they’re at the most relaxed point in their life, ever, and trying to revert them back. And sometimes it brings up stuff from years ago. I had a client once tell me that I helped bring up third grade bullying stuff in him. He was an actor and he had to go up and be other people, and you know, his body is his tool, and he has to emote with it. So they have to take on all this emotion, they have to take on all this stuff. I never really thought of it until I worked on this guy, but it made sense after that. And so sometimes we just pull out all kinds of stuff. You know, it’s amazing when the person just looks drunk afterward.
N: (laughing) I think some of my clients do come out of that room looking drunk.
D: And that to me right there is my biggest tip—yeah, money is great and all that, whatever—but mainly, when I see somebody get up, forget their wallet and their keys, and they stumble out…they don’t have their shoes on, and you know, they can’t even stand up straight because they are like, “I’m so relaxed.” Or maybe they’re like, “I’m going to go work out after this.” And I’m like, no you’re not…(laughs)
N: So let’s talk about how you and I met.
D: Wow! I didn’t want to throw that out there, but OK…we met through one of my clients, who is a friend of yours as well, Dawn D. I’ve been massaging Dawn for maybe three, four years now. I love her. She’s like the older sister I’ve never had, you know? I-I-I’m actually gonna say the younger sister that I DO have (laughs)…yeah…she’s not older than me at all. She’s great; she’s a therapist (mental health), and she’s a part of IAEDP (International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals).
N: And we worked an event together.
D: We did. And it was funny, because I had just put it out there that I wanted to work with a chiropractor or a sports medicine doctor, somebody who can help me get past this point where I…I feel like I want to learn some new stuff. There are times when I feel like, “If I just knew this extra piece…” It’s kind of like mentoring, you know? Just going in and learning what they know about the body, and any theory they have, and have somebody to talk to about it, because…I could sit there in another class, but…
N: So you were talking about having the withdrawal from massage school…do you get massage?
D: I do, but the problem is that I’m very picky.
N: You sound like me.
D: Well, exactly…that’s what I loved about you when we met was that you had been looking for a massage therapist for years.
N: Exactly right…
D: And we just met for like two seconds…
N: And my clients know this because they’ve been asking me for a massage therapist for a long time; and three years ago the massage therapist who was working with me, Marcus, a great massage therapist, moved to New York, and it was very hard to replace him, because…I’m picky. I only want to give my clients the best.
D: Yeah, exactly.
N: It was fortunate meeting you. But, again, do you get massage?
D: I do, but sporadically. There are so many people that I work with that I love, but I have little time to hook up with them. Last year I got a massage from a friend Adeline—I’ve known her for about three years, and I had massaged her a couple of times, but she had never massaged me. Well, last year for my birthday I got a massage from her, and seriously, it was the best massage I ever had. She massages the same way I do, from a place of love. But it was what I needed—she was like the ying to my yang. Whereas many of my clients call me a nurturing, deep-tissue male therapist, she was a very strong, structural female therapist—very strong—but innately already very nurturing. You know, men we are not innately as nurturing; we are more structurally based; so often times when you find a male therapist, they are going to fix you, but they are not going to make you feel good, you know? I love having that balance, having both going on. And on the flip side, a lot of female therapists nurture you, which is great, but I need to have my butt kicked, too. But anyway, she moved to San Francisco. I was like, “Why do you have to go to grad school? I just found out this works for me.”
But I did get another good massage this year from another girl Lisa Ray; and I’ve also been seeing this Thai therapist, Lisa, so…well, she’s an actress so we don’t really have much time to massage each other. I have an esthetician that I trade massages with, and she’s great. She’s not as deep as I’d love it, but she does give me what I need—she relaxes me and makes me feel good. At times it becomes like…I just need to be touched.
N: For sure.
D: And give me energy, because…if you’ve ever seen an angry massage therapist, it’s because they are not getting enough massages; or they probably shouldn’t be doing it, you know? It may sound harsh to say but…this isn’t for everybody.
N: Have you ever had chiropractic care?
N: You’ve never had chiropractic care?
D: No, not at all.
N: Well, this is what I’m gonna propose—a trade. We gotta do that.
D: Yeah, I agree.
N: Why don’t we do that next week? You know, you come in and experience the chiropractic care.
D: Yeah, from years of doing massage, you know, I’ve got issues. I work on many of them myself with yoga and Pilates. But there are things that I could definitely use…
N: How often do you do yoga?
D: I used to do it once or twice a week. You know, I trade for everything—I’ve got an esthetician, two estheticians, a life coach, a Pilates instructor, yoga instructor, a salsa instructor. Anything I can get in trade, I do. If any clients are listening…if you have anything…that you want to trade…
D: But we can’t do it at the office…
D: Because Nick does not take trades….
D: But if we do it outside, we can trade.
N: No, I trade with diamond dealers…and bankers…
D: You can trade for rent…
N: There you go—gotta find the right landlord.
D: But, no, I do trade for everything. The barter system is just, ah…it’s primal, it’s beautiful, and it’s just something we’ve been doing forever. And I seem to attract the best of the best. I have the best yoga instructor, and she keeps me in shape. I massage her—she’s pregnant right now—but I love her. I’m very monogamous with my people.
N: Do you do it on your own…yoga?
D: I do a little bit; I’m always stretching; I’m always doing something; but I’m still working on my form. Whatever [my yoga instructor] sees in me when I’m doing a pose…I don’t see it yet. She’ll be like (high pitched voice): “That’s amazing!” And I’m like, uh…I don’t see that; maybe I need a mirror.
N: It’s all relative to what you were doing before, you know? Listen, DeMauriea…this has been great. I learned a lot. Thank you!
D: Thank you!
DeMauriea and I did meet one week later, first for his brand new chiropractic experience, and then two days later for my massage. I have to say…I walked out kind of drunk, too. Definitely, a different and unique experience—very strong, very effective—and since I know what my clients look for, I’d have to say, DeMauriea is going to please all the way around. For the clients of mine that prefer a softer touch, never fear, DeMauriea is as gentle as he is intuitive. As he said in the interview, he goes where the client’s body tells him to, and he gives it what it needs—a true artist and healer. I cannot recommend a session or a few with DeMauriea enough—he’s the real deal. The feedback from my clients has been outstanding, and I concur…you will not be disappointed. So, as always, when you are looking for chiropractic care and pain relief in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Beverly Hills, look no further than my office. And now you can add great deep-tissue, sports massage to the menu, because DeMauriea LeVias has arrived. Call our office for an appointment.
-November 16, 2009
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