Therapists offer peace, wellness

FAIRMONT – Peace, wellness, restoration – these are the goals massage therapists Erin Howk and Stacie Gerhardt have for their clients at The Healing Place.

The new establishment is located at 83 Downtown Plaza in Fairmont, and it offers a tranquil setting that portrays its owners’ mission:?The reception area is spacious but cozy, a mix of contemporary and old-world comfort, with lounge chairs and ottomans, a tea and coffee center, global artistry, and seasonal decor.

“It’s a little bit bigger than my old space,” said Howk, who has been operating out of Clancey Chiropractic.

She now has ample space for two massage tables, one for standard massages – Howk specializes in deep-tissue massages – and one that’s wider, with overhead bars, which Howk uses for DeepFeet and Ashi-Thai massages.

“I needed more room to do my new techniques,” she said.

DeepFeet Bar Therapy is a westernized version of Ashiatsu barefoot massage. The bars help her balance and control the weight she applies to clients. Another massage method Howk recently learned is Ashi-Thai yoga massage, which is done over clients’ clothing, without oils.

“It’s about movement and stretching and re-energizing yourself, but I’m stretching you,” Howk explained. “It’s still relaxing … while increasing flexibility and range of motion.”

Gerhardt, who is returning to the industry after a three-year hiatus, has her massage area prepped for her services, which include massage therapy, Esalen massage, Reiki massage and traditional Reiki. With an Esalen massage, Gerhardt uses long, flowing strokes over the length of the body. She also likes to incorporate aromatherapy and heated flax packs with all of her massages.

“Our goal with The Healing Place is to bring these things that are hard to get in our area and make them accessible,” said Howk, who knows of people who would drive hours away for services like DeepFeet massage and Reiki.

The Healing Place provides the entrepreneurs a unifying umbrella under which to operate their individual businesses: Therapeutic & Stress Reduction Massage with Erin Howk, BCTMB LLC, and Gerhardt’s Hands of Light Massage and Wellness. In the future, they would like to have another holistic practitioner join them, as The Healing Place has room to grow.

The Fairmont women met in 2005, when both were working for the former Fairmont Medical Center hospice program, Howk as a massage therapist and Gerhardt as a certified nursing assistant. Then in 2007, after completing her training and certification, Gerhardt too began working as a massage therapy. The two friends have been trading massages ever since.

Sessions at The Healing Place are available by appointment only, by calling (507) 235-8226. Appointments with Howk also can be booked through her website,, and Gerhardt also can be reached at (507) 399-9155.