Skip to content
Join Life Time

Why Massage?

With Zac Ellis

Season 6, Episode 16 | March 21, 2023

Many view massage as a luxury or splurge — but some experts argue that it’s an investment in your health and wellness and deserves to be part of your routine. Zac Ellis, certified massage therapist, explains why he suggests adjusting your perceptions around massage, the benefits that can be reaped from the practice, the different types of massage modalities, and how to get the most out of a session.

Zac Ellis is a certified massage therapist at LifeSpa at Life Time.

Massage is often thought of as a relaxation service. While that certainly is a benefit, there are several other lesser-known advantages, including:

  • Relieving tightness and tension. There are many things in our daily lives that can cause our bodies to tense up, including working out, stress, and anxiety. Massage helps to melt that strain.
  • Combating headaches. People often turn to over-the-counter medications for relief, yet oftentimes headaches are muscle-related. Reprieve can come from compression on the spot where tension is coming from.
  • Aiding in digestion. Stomach massage can help with recirculating how the body is digesting food.
  • Supporting immunity. Massage helps facilitate the circulation of lymph (a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells) in the body. Cortisol (a stress hormone) is damaging to immunity, and massage helps decrease cortisol.
  • Improving sleep. Lessened stress, pain, and tension from massage can all lead to your body being more relaxed at bedtime. Massage also increases serotonin, a precursor to the sleep hormone, melatonin.

More From Life Time

A LifeSpa waiting room.


Take care of your yourself. Heal, revive and transform with skin, hair, nail and massage services at LifeSpa.

View LifeSpa Services


More Like This

a woman receives a massage

How Massage and Healing Touch Benefit Overall Health

By Mo Perry

Massage can help with pain relief, digestion, and even immunity.

Woman receiving a massage

What Is Corrective Massage Therapy?

By Jolene Turner

A massage therapist explains this massage technique and how it can support healing in areas of discomfort.

Transcript: Why Massage?

Season 6, Episode 16  | March 21, 2023


Welcome back to Life Time Talks everyone. I’m Jamie Martin.

And I’m David Freeman.

And we are talking today in this mini episode about why massage for health. And with us, we have Zac Ellis. Zac is a certified massage therapist at Life Time here in Minnesota at our Minnetonka location. Zac has been with lifetime since 2013. He was first in our operations. And he knows all the ins and outs of our clubs. And he knows what’s happening there. He’s been a massage therapist at Life Time since last year. So Zac, thanks for joining us. We’re so glad you’re here.

Thank you. I’m very happy and excited to be here.

Great. Alright. So something about massage that’s often a misconception for people. Many people view it as a luxury or a splurge. What we want to do in this conversation today, is what we’re hoping to do is reframe that into talking about why massage is actually can be part of a health care routine, and why it’s an investment in our well-being and health? Tell us a little bit more about that and how you came to be in this space.

So yeah, it’s crazy, because I definitely used to be one of those people who is like, this is a luxury. Massage– I put it together with going on vacation. Some reason to get away, and this is– now you deserve this for all your hard work. But for myself, in 2016, I was actually in two car accidents. So that’s what started my journey with everything– with health care, and even chiropractic work. I just didn’t know anything about massage or chiropractic work.

And I met a couple of really great massage therapists. And they were more focused on me just getting the information. What can I do in the meantime at home, rather than, you got to come here all the time. And this is where we take care of you. So I really like that, that I could leave back home, and it gave me research to do. And then it started to peak my interest of massage, and just how it works with the body. From being in a car accident where I was rear ended, to one where someone reversed into me.

And it was like, your foot’s placed here. This is how it recoils up to the body, and affects this with the seat belt. And just how the body works with everything hitting across the body. So that’s what got me started with looking into massage and getting to really focus on just learning more about it.

So it was really a part of your recovery plan when that happened.

Yes. Definitely was that. And it was like, oh, I’m getting massage through my insurance. This is great. I’m loving this. And then once the insurance ran up, and I was like, I think I need this, and I kept going at it. And then just learning more about it. I was like, how do more people not know that massage is actually important for your health care journey in life. And that was a big piece of it– what got me into it.

I love that.

I think you led with it. We think of it, as far as this condition believe– that this is a luxury. This is something that we’re splurging on. And to your point, a lot of times it is reactive. Alright. Now, I’m getting this because I have pain. Versus being proactive with a lot of the different areas of opportunity in this space. I’m big on recovery. And to have massage as part of your routine, it should be part of your program. Right?

So now that you are trying to talk about your experience within what you personally went through, and what you are now– you’re placing hands on individuals to help change their lives as far as in the recovery space. What are some benefits around massage?

Yeah. So benefits with that– I think most people just think of Swedish or like a relaxation massage. And they’re like, this is just to relax. They don’t think about it of the benefits that it has. And some of the other benefits are relieving tightness, relieving tension, and all those things come from with working out, to stress or anxiety, and they just cause their body to tense up.

And just with massage it helps melt all that away. And I think that people need to understand that it even goes beyond that. From someone with cancer, they can get massage all the way through the whole time, they’re dealing with cancer. And that brings some happiness to their body just because it’s like going through that. I could just imagine someone every day, like the pain I feel from this. Just down and depressed about it. So that’s another thing.

Headaches. It can go from, OK, what type of headache do you have? There’s cluster headaches. There’s tension headaches. Migraines as many people are aware of, those are the worst to have. And people think, oh, they get so used to the pharmaceuticals, and I’m going to take Tylenol, or ibuprofen, and Excedrin. And it really just ties down to where might you be holding your stress. Where might this tension be coming from.

So it could be muscle related, and most of the times it is. I have many people I work on their neck or their traps. And then they’re like, oh, I can feel that squeezing where my headache is. But then you just learn about massage, it’s not about just moving on from body part to body part. Sometimes you just need that compression just set on that spot, and it helps that dissipate. And like I said, to just melt away the pain in a way.

Oh, I love that. A couple of other things you mentioned– aiding digestion is a thing that can help supporting immunity, improving sleep, which we all need more of.

Oh, yes.

Yes. So a additional things.

Definitely, improving the circulation of the body. Even after injuries, I know– like six weeks ago, I rolled my ankle. And so that just came back with getting the movement back into that. Getting the tendons to move all around, and everything to build back up. I’m very big on working out, and being part of health. I don’t really stretch the best. So going to massage, that’s another thing that sometimes they do some stretchy movements in there. And that just helps me overall with that. And like you said with the digestion as well.

Some people I know they have stomach issues, and they can even recirculate how you digest, how the body moves with some stomach massage, or it could be tied to another part of the body. And that is just another thing about– it’s always crazy how the body works. Just could work on this area, and how the person fills in that area. And then everything just comes together.

Oh, I love it. It’s part of a larger, more comprehensive experience, right?

Yes, it is.

So when it comes to massage, many people think about it– you mentioned the neck and the back. But really, it’s a full body experience. You describe it as a full body reset to bring increased overall wellness.


What do you mean by that?

Yeah. So totally with massage. For myself, I started out with just, oh, neck, back, and shoulders. And it would just be a temporary fix, I would say. And then I started going into, OK, focus on my hamstrings. And then now hamstrings are pulling into the low back, through the glutes. So then that’s tied together. And then someone might feel something in the calf, and now that ties all the way up to the shoulder.

So even if somebody just wants to focus on their head or their neck, sometimes at the end of that session, if you just go down the body and compress everything, just give everything a little– like a gentle touch, it just– people, they come out and they’re like, I can just feel everything just tied together. So I just think that’s just a big benefit of just putting it all together, and not just focus on one area because everything in the body is just connected.

Yeah, absolutely.

Yeah, like you said it, like focusing on one area. So speaking of that, you have different doctors that specialize in different treatments, Alright?


For different ailments. So massage is its own specific treatment. Can you dive into that?

Yeah. Yeah. So a good example I like to use, like they have an ear doctor, or someone has a neurosurgeon, and that comes down to massage like, OK, I’m coming here for neck pain. And then it’s like, OK, where did the neck pain come from. Do we need to work on doing just compression there. Do we need to work on another area of the body to get that to loosen up so then it ties into theirs.

People like deep pressure, but then like that specific massage. So then there’s sports massage where they just kind of dive into it, and you just go straight at it. Or there also be lymphatic massage, so that can help with cancer. And then there’s also craniosacral. And that helps with the fluids around the nervous system. And there’s even modalities for the skeletal system. And people just think, like massage just based on the outer tissue. But it’s also so much more that it ties in to.

So I really just think that people need to take a chance. Just sometimes I like to say that, people get in their comfort zones with certain things, and sometimes you just need to get a little comfortable with discomfort. Just like a workout, you don’t want to do that last rep, but you just got to push through, and you’re like, I can feel the benefit of just that extra step in there that helped me feel so much better.

That’s awesome.


So one experience that I’m just going to share from recently as I was having a massage done. And they were– we talked about where my areas of tension were, and where the areas of focus were going to be. And actually there was a supplementary experience in cupping. So there’s also additional treatments, or types of things like, CBD being used within products, or like cupping, or other types of modalities– stones are brought in. Tell us a little bit about some of those accessories that can come into this.

I’m actually very happy you mentioned cupping, because that was just in my mind. Because I actually just got a session done yesterday.

Oh, I loved it.

Yeah. So that’s something I think that it’s been around for a long time. But lots of people are starting to get their minds open to it now, like, oh, what’s cupping or hot stone. And cupping therapy being added into that, it just allows some focus, and tension to be put in that part while we’re working around the area, or working a different part of the body, then we can come back to that. And that’s another thing. Cupping is getting big.

Like stretching– they have stretching labs open up now. But stretching is another modality that is in massage. So you can begin your pictorial massage. But then also getting some rotation in it. And I think the best thing about massage is that all therapists are always trying to learn how can we give you the most in that treatment session. Because people think about it that, oh, massage is just this one way. But we listed as a custom massage, because it’s not the same for everybody.

Every day when someone comes in, that massage is going to be what is best for you today. And we take in what the team member is saying, what the member is saying to us, that we want to make sure that we’re listening to them. But also what we find we communicate that with them. So sometimes people they might be uncomfortable, like, oh, I didn’t want that area of focus. But we make sure to tell them like, this is how this ties together with this. And I think that helps open people up to just know more about moving to a different area of the body, how it can help where they’re feeling it.

Absolutely. There’s the education that happens within it too. That’s awesome.


It’s all about the empowerment through the education. So with that, I’m going to now drop in– this empowerment from you. For someone who’s never experienced massage, where should they start? I’d say a very good thing is chair massage would be a good start for people. Just with that– if it could be a discomfort that they don’t want to get undressed down to a certain clothing level. But we always let people know come get massage in your comfort level, whatever you want to wear.

I’ve massaged people fully clothed, and they’ve had a sweatshirt, and sweat pants on. But it’s just finding that spot on the body where you connect most with them, and then telling them like, do you feel the difference of this. And they communicate back to you, letting you know that the pressure is good. So it could be that. They could be tense because they’re not used to someone working on them.

And I know that with not having massage before, you might not be used– some people are like, oh, a stranger giving me a massage, or I’m alone in a room. So just being with them, communicating with them that when you’re working on a body part, that’s the only body part that’s uncovered. And then you cover it back up, and then you move to the next part.

So draping is a big part of that. And we want to let people know that we’re there to listen, because we’re the massage therapist, but it’s their session. So we want to let them know they’re in control. They can let us know what they want. And we want to make sure that they’re just feeling the best at the end of the session.

That’s awesome.

Just makes me want to go get a massage after this session.


So how would you suggest– we’re talking about this as part of a regular– part of your health and wellness routine. What does it look like to integrate that? Like what suggestions you have. And obviously, I want to also know– you said, you can bring elements of this home too. So what does that look like?

Yeah. So I do get lots of people that come to me. And I’m like, what do you do in the meantime to help keep your muscles loose? And they say, I do yoga or I do meditation breathing. But then also they’ll do foam rolling. And I like to say for that, it’s like, OK, foam rolling, there’s always those tools out there that you can use. But even massaging, like trying to work on myself, it’s not the same as going to get a massage because that person they might push a little harder than you would.


And it’s like, OK, I can feel it’s like that good hurt that people tend to feel. So it’s like, OK, this is good. So then I tell people, OK, now when you go back, this is a good area to focus on– foam rolling or like a lacrosse ball. Or there’s just all that stuff that can work out in the body that they can take home and learn about that I’d like to share with them throughout the session so–



Different types of massages. So I want to go back to it. So advice as far as how to communicate. I’m coming in to get a massage. I’ve been getting massages for quite some time. If I’m more of a performance athlete, should I do this type of massage, versus I’m coming from some type of trauma, I need this massage. So how do you suggest what type of massage an individual should get based off of– is it some type of intake form? So how do you discover what is the best massage for an individual?

Yeah. So with the intake form, they do give us some notes on there, if they had any previous injuries. If someone’s pregnant, because throughout pregnancy, people can also get massaged. We just position them different. So the baby’s comfortable, they’re comfortable. So yeah, with that, it’s just communicating with them to let them know that with– yeah, with the massage, that you just want to make sure that– you’re again, like I said before, just the communication with that. That they’re able to understand that there’s just different types of massages that can be beneficial for whatever they’re feeling.

So we’re want to make sure that we take down, we look at the notes. We go over back with them to let them know that, OK, we see what you’re saying. You’ve had this injury here. We’re going to focus on that. And we can see that it ties up to some tightness in the calf. So we’re going to focus on the calf. Then we’re going to move down to the foot.

Or if someone’s having some issues where like, a past trauma. One thing that came across was that someone had a neck tightness. And they were just not really aware about where it came from. And then they came in for a few more sessions, and that’s where they’re like, oh, there is a time where I was just like, really frightened, and I always just tense up on that side.

So that’s where I learned is like, OK, this is why it’s good to come back for multiple sessions because you learn more about that person. And it’s good for me, because then now, I’m just more comfortable with them to be like, OK, that’s where this came from. So there’s just so many levels from the trauma in life, physical trauma, and then with sports injuries where we just like to communicate with people just to figure out what’s best for them.

Love that.


Well, we touched on massage as a form of self-care. It’s not something that you have to work to deserve it, right? You mentioned that as well. Anything else that you want to add around massage before we sign off?

Yeah. One thing that I always love to tell people is I like to say, like, health as well. And there’s people out there that like to say, time is money. But look at it as time as money. So you want to take that time, and you want invest that time into yourself. And you only get one body that you’re in control of taking care of. So why not spend that time to see where the self-love and the self-care can really take you in life with your workouts, with your everyday living. Just the comfort it can bring to your overall wellness.

And if you fell out of your massage routine, like with COVID, lots of people fell out of it, fell out of their workout routines. Just take that jump, get back into it. Or if you’ve never gotten a massage before, just book a session, and we’re here to take care of you.

I love that. I mean, you just said it best. Like the best investment you’re going to make is in yourself. Because when you’re at your best, guess what? You get to deliver your best to the world. So I love that you said that.


So I feel good. I feel like it’s time to go get a massage.


Yeah. I think we should go right now. All of us.

Let me go check my schedule right now.

Or actually, Zac, is just going to hang out, like do a chair massage right here. I love it.


I love it. Well, Zac, thank you so much for coming in. If people want to connect with you, are you on social media, or how can people learn more about you?

So Yeah I’m at Minnetonka location for a massage. And you can give a call or also we have an online app where we can book people for that. But yeah, I just– I’m at the gym. I’m around there. So if people see me, they always can just talk to me. I can get them booked right there.

Love it. Alright. Thanks for coming in.

Thank you.

Yeah, take care.



We’d Love to Hear From You

Have thoughts you’d like to share or topic ideas for future episodes? Email us at

The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.

Back To Top