Reinhold is a licensed massage therapist specializing in Thai massage. His practice in mostly in Manhattan, but he travels to all 5 boroughs for in-home Thai massage and works out of a studio in Hoboken, NJ as well.
His foundational training is in Western medical massage but he has since learned to integrate these techniques with the Traditional Thai, adding the best of his training in Shiatsu, Myofascial Release, Trigger point Therapy and Sports massage as well.
You can learn more about Reinhold and his treatments in New York at his website www.ThaiMassage-NYC.com
When did you receive your first Thai massage?
In our final semester at Swedish Institute, we were asked to take at least three 20 hr. intro courses to gain exposure to different modalities. I chose Thai Massage because I had no idea what it was.
When and why did you decide to study Thai massage? I think the stretches that a partner at your training give you impressed you a lot, how exactly was that?
On the first night of class we talked about energy lines, which was not an unfamiliar concept for me since we had all been through an extensive Eastern Studies program in addition to the Western curriculum. We also began to learn how the Thai work the legs and I remember that night being quite impressed at how effortlessly and deeply the hamstring muscles could be compressed with the feet compared to the exhausting hand and elbow techniques that had been covered in Western modalities.
On the second night, part of the demo was a move designed to stretch the low back muscles. Even though my practice partner had never experienced Thai Massage nor had she ever tried the technique, as soon as she put me into the position my body immediately recognized that this would be the way to overcome the chronic back pain that I had resigned to accept for the last 20 years.
When she arrived at the same stretch to address the opposite side I sensed that the resolve which had guided my educational path toward a goal to become a medical massage therapist had slipped away. When I felt the profound effect that even a beginner could have utilizing the Thai method for back issues and the personal affinity that I have for employing the stretching techniques that the Northern Style Thai sequence is loaded with, I knew that this was what I wanted to specialize in.
If this were not enough to get my attention, the therapeutic effects of these stretching techniques, combined with specific pushing had a notably longer lasting result in comparison with all of the other work that had been covered in other classes. I do not intend to say that it takes no experience to be a good Thai Masseur. This individual was always an exceptional practice partner and what I sensed was like a deep vast well of potential and value for my future clients.
You chose to study at the Old Medicine Hospital in Chiang Mai. Why did you chose this place to learn? What did you like about it? Is there something in particular that you think could be improved?
The book that our intro teacher chose as the text for our class was:
Thai Massage: A Traditional Medical Technique
Out of all the fine books on Thai Massage, I am glad that he chose this book because inside it there was a distinction between Northern style Thai and the Wat Po or Bangkok Thai style. The Northern style being characterized by the passive stretching that I loved from my class and the Wat Po style known more for the pressing of the energy lines (Sen). I wanted to stay along the path that I had started through Dr. Gold and he had credited The Old Medicine Hospital as the source for this understanding.
As a matter of fact, as I receive the request for this interview I am back in Chiang Mai Thailand a second time attending a newer school which is a descendant of the Old Medicine Hospital called ITM.
It’s founder, CHONGKOL SETTHAKORN is one of the leading pioneers in creating and teaching a modern curriculum of Northern style ancient Thai Massage. He incorporates movements and body postures from Tai Ji Qi Gong and Tai Chi Chuan creating a truly wonderful healing art.
For twenty years, Chongkol has taught people from all over the world the ancient art of Thai massage. In 1992, he founded the International Training Massage School (ITM) in Thailand to promote the Thai massage technique internationally.
Chongkol was the lead teacher at the Old Medicine Hospital School in Chiang Mai for six years (1985-1991) and was Richard Gold’s teacher when he attended the school. In this capacity Mr. Setthakorn helped to design the Thai Massage instruction and routines that are the standard in Chiang Mai for Northern Style Thai Massage.
The reason that I chose to change over to ITM this time around is because there is a 2 week Level V course offered here. This was quite appealing to me since it has been a goal of mine for quite some time to serve in a teaching capacity. My recommendation is that if you have any thought at all about obtaining a teaching certification in Thai Massage, begin your course of study at ITM because even though Chongkol originally set up the curriculum at Old Medicine Hospital there are now numerous subtle differences between the two that make it unnecessarily tedious to properly prepare for the weekly exams should you decide to change to ITM for level III after taking level I and II at Old Medicine Hospital
How many years have you been practicing Thai massage now? What were particularly memorable experiences you had?
I have been practicing Thai Massage for 3 years. These trips to Thailand have made quite an impression on me. The loving kindness, compassion, vicarious joy and equanimity that the Thai people exude throughout their day to day lives is good example for how I can effect the goals of my practice as a Thai Masseur. I believe that it is of equal importance to deepen these aspects of my being as well as adding to the repertoire of moves and stretches that Thai Massage is most popular for.
What’s the most common thing you hear people saying about how they feel after your treatments?
When you give a Thai massage treatment – how much of your work is based on anatomical and physiological knowledge, and how much on intuitive awareness?
As my practice matures I find it expanding into the latter but the former will always be indispensable.
I understand you offer both a traditional, authentic Thai massage treatment like it is given in Thailand, or a kind of fusion that integrates techniques from Swedish massage and Shiatsu into the treatment. How would you describe the difference between these two choices, as it relates to the effect the treatment has on your client?
Well, the choice is offered on the website, but in reality, all of my clients get the fusion.
Interestingly, on this trip, I have been enjoying the Wat Po style treatments after class at a location just down the alley from my guesthouse where all of the practitioners are blind. I really enjoy observing their interactions with each other when they are not doing the bodywork. There is an extra level of collective consciousness in addition to that which I have observed as a matter of course everywhere around here. These blind folks keep the hands busy by making toy figures, jewelry and other things out of fishing line and colorful beads while their other community members take the next customer as they come in the door. Anyway, what I am realizing is that what my practice has become is more accurately described as a fusion of the Northern style and Wat Po style Thai. When the blind people work on you it hurts, but your body knows it going to be better off when they are done and there is no malevolence in them at all.
You practice Thai massage in New York City – from your experience, is therapeutic Thai massage widely known there, or do you still meet a lot of people who don’t really know what it is?
Short Answer: I do meet allot of people who do not know what it is and have been filling an emissary role.
Long answer: About half of my week is spent on customers who get weekly treatments. Some of them got a tip from a friend who told them Thai Massage would address their concerns. The rest is a steady stream of tourists, curiosity seekers and those referred by my regulars. From these people I have learned that Thai Massage is much more well known in Los Angeles as compared to NYC. The number of people who discovered Thai Massage on vacation in Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia also stands out. I think the typical spa goer has a basic knowledge of Thai Massage since it’s more and more commonly seen on menus. Many have also been exposed through retreats in the South West and the like. Whenever I experience a Thai Technique that is new to me I can’t imagine why it has taken as long as it has for the awareness to spread since, in my humble opinion, this is far and away the superior form of bodywork.
– End of Interview –
For more about Reinhold visit www.ThaiMassage-NYC.com