Will Courtney, Continuum Studio
Upon first glance, Courtney—5'5" with a boyish face sporting muttonchops—doesn’t look as if he’s about to deliver an especially powerful deep-tissue massage. But after the soft-spoken therapist asks about my physical condition, I lie facedown on the table—and immediately wonder if a much larger man has taken Courtney’s place. It’s not brute strength; there’s a focused, assured and attentive quality to his talented hands. The slightest shift in my breathing, the subtlest tensing in my muscles, and Courtney’s mitts intuitively respond.
In only 17 months at Continuum Studio, Courtney has become, according to owner Johnnie Grozenski, the spa’s most requested massage therapist. A recent client who’d suffered whiplash sent Courtney a Christmas card reading, “You’ve helped me more than four doctors in four years have helped me.”
About seven years ago, while working with disabled adults, Courtney moved a patient in his bed and “threw out my back terribly,” he says. Before then, he’d had “maybe one massage in my life,” yet after receiving weekly massages for several months, Courtney had found his calling. The Des Moines native trained at the Brenneke School of Massage in Seattle and, in summer 2007, moved to Chicago.
“Being present for somebody as a therapist, being there to witness what’s going on in their body, is a powerful thing that affects people on an emotional level, too,” Courtney says. In fact, some clients have burst into tears during tension-relieving sessions. “A platonic physical connection—in our world, that’s not something that happens a lot.” On Courtney’s table—as my satisfyingly intense massage attests—it is. 45-minute to two-hour massage $70–$220.
Extend the bliss
Gethsemane Garden Center
5739 N Clark St, 773-878-5915, gethsemanegardens.com
In Gethsemane’s warm, quiet nursery, commune with nature by strolling among the vibrant cyclamens, orchids and begonias, and the fountain filled with colorful koi.
5628 N Clark St, 773-271-7881, thecoffeestudio.com
Ease back into society at this sleek, modern corner storefront. Sip tasty coffee and people-watch A’ville residents: from the middle-aged straight couple reading the paper to the young boyfriends wearing muscle tees in the dead of winter.