By Jeanette Frost

Massage provides more than just pampering, it is a healing experience for the mind and body. I’m a believer in the benefits of massage because it has helped me through the tension and pain caused by scoliosis (a curve in the spine). I have been to many great massage therapists but Nicolena Inniss-Stubbs is a true talent in the healing art. To gain insight on the importance of massage therapy, I met with Nicolena over tea to discuss her work.

Jeanette: What made you transition from being a model to a massage therapist?

Nicolena: I have been a model most of my adult life. I have two sons and when they were 1 and 3 I was going through a divorce. I needed another career. I had just signed with Ford Models in Chicago. Ford wanted me to go on auditions, but I couldn’t just leave at a moment’s notice when I had an infant and toddler. I tried sustaining through the clients I built here in Detroit, but it simply wasn’t enough.

One day, I was hanging out at a girlfriend’s house. My pregnant friend, Tiffany was saying how achy she was. I told her “Come on baby, put your legs up”. And while everyone was enjoying drinks and chatting (except the pregnant lady) I gave her shoulders, legs and feet a rub down. The whole time this was happening we were discussing how to figure out my life. Suddenly, Tiffany said “Coco (that’s my nickname), you should be a massage therapist! All my friends agreed and said it would be perfect for me. So that “wow moment” came over me knowing they were right. That’s how it all started.

JF: Why do you feel massage is important?

NIS: When in life do you ever have someone take care of your needs alone for 60 or 90 minutes non-stop? There’s nothing else quite like it. You just lay there, let go, and be nurtured. It becomes very personal when the massage therapist truly cares. It’s a wonderful experience that I feel every person should be able to receive. As human beings we react to touch, you can sense certain energy.

It breaks my heart when a person feels they shouldn’t get a massage because of how they look. If people aren’t happy with themselves physically, they probably need touch more than anybody else. It shouldn’t matter if a client weighs 100 or 400 lbs, I want them to feel good and cared for. You wouldn’t believe how many people feel like they have to lose weight before they’re able to get a massage, it’s ridiculous!

JF: Do you find that more with men or women?

NIS: Definitely women. Women deprive themselves because of their insecurities. It’s crazy how many of my female clients apologize for not having a pedicure, or the razor stubble on their legs. It’s so sad how hard we are on ourselves.

JF: How often should one get a massage?

NIS: Unfortunately, many consider massage a luxury. I wish people would view it as part of their health regimen. Personally, it’s more important for me to get a massage than have my hair and nails done. It’s hard because not everyone can afford regular massage. In a perfect world, it would be ideal to get worked on every couple of weeks.

If time or finance are the issue preventing people from getting worked on, I recommend getting a quick 30 min neck and shoulder massage. It will at least keep you loose and break up some of that tension. I believe we’re building on something. If I see you every 2 weeks there will be steady improvement with each appointment. If I only see you once every other month then we’re starting over each time. I also recommend self-maintenance. Exchange massages with your significant other while you’re watching TV. Or put some heat on your neck and give yourself some TLC. Do this often, if not every night.

JF: Do men and women carry tension differently?

NIS: Some of it’s individual but there are certainly some commonalities. Almost all of my female clients carry tension either through their low back or the shoulders (from the traps and up into the neck). A lot of women complain of headaches and I think it’s from all that tension in the neck we carry. I have a lot of men who are athletic so they tend to carry tension in the hips, glutes and hamstrings.

JF: What are your feelings on aromatherapy?

NIS: I incorporate aromatherapy into all of my massages. I hate places that offer aromatherapy as an add-on. I feel it’s a big part of the whole experience that adds to the healing process. I listen to my clients needs and just pick what I think would help them most. So far my method has worked. Of the 9 years I’ve been in massage, I’ve only had 1 person complain, and that’s because he doesn’t like any scent. I feel that people should utilize aromatherapy everyday, it can reduce stress or energize you depending on what oil you chose. I recommend putting some drops in a steamy bath and soak for a while. I also recommend getting an oil burner. You just add a little water, a few drops of essential oil and it permeates your house with fragrance.

JF: What do you love most about your profession?

NIS: I feel blessed that so many people have trust in me to take care of them. Laying on my table, sometimes naked with just a sheet over them, can be a vulnerable feeling. It’s a blessing that they trust in my expertise and are able to let go. I genuinely care about what I do and I truly want people to feel better.


Find Nicolena Inniss-Stubbs at Deyo Studio for Face and Body

576 N. Old Woodward Ave. 2nd Fl, Birmingham, MI (248) 203-1222 and


Jeanette Frost is a professional makeup artist who loves chocolate and a good massage. Find her on Facebook.