Rebecca Cohen, Urban Oasis
Lincoln Park/Old Town
The fact that Cohen is barefoot when she pads over to retrieve me from Urban Oasis’s sun-filled waiting area should have tipped me off that she’d be hopping on the table to walk on my limbs during my massage. But still I’m caught off guard when, halfway through one of the best massages of my life, the diminutive, pigtailed Cohen is suddenly working the knots out of my glutes and thighs with her sure, nimble feet. The thought, What the…? breaks through my blissful trance, immediately followed by, Damn, this is amazing.
Cohen, 28, says she has free rein to customize her massages at Urban Oasis, which is why she started working there shortly after graduating from the Chicago School of Massage Therapy five years ago. “They also let you walk around barefoot,” she adds. Combining elements of Thai, lomilomi (techniques she learned while traveling in Thailand and Hawaii, respectively), ashiatsu (which means “pressure from the foot”), Swedish and deep tissue, Cohen’s massages smooth out knots, stretch out your arms and legs, and transport you to a deeply relaxing state. Another nice touch: After she finishes massaging your back, she places heated pads on the worked-over area while she turns her attention to your legs and feet.
A long-distance runner (currently sidelined by a knee injury), Cohen also can perform a mean sports massage. “I have quite a few clients who are runners, so I can relate to what they’re going through,” Cohen says. “I probably had that injury at one time.” You’d think such a skilled massage therapist would go to town rubbing out her own muscle injuries, but “it’s not as good as someone else working on me,” she admits, laughing. I, on the other hand, will take her magic hands any day. 60-minute Swedish massage $100.
Extend the bliss
1000 W North Ave, 312-475-9782
A coffee shop in a strip mall might not be your idea of relaxation, but in the Clybourn corridor’s chain-store wasteland, this is your best bet. Grab a peppermint hot chocolate ($3) and just be thankful you’re not at Starbucks.
1800 N Halsted St, 312-664-1801
Order a glass of wine (we like the Mirassou pinot noir, $8) and collapse on the comfy couch or on one of the low-slung chairs in the front half of this well-worn bar-restaurant.