New ashiatsu studio hopes to attract massage holdouts with unique therapies

Eva Borcherding wants to introduce the St. Joseph and Benton Harbor communities to a massage style that’s firmly within their comfort zone. 

Her startup, Eva's Ashiatsu Massage, an ashiatsu and Ashi/Thai massage studio, just celebrated its grand opening at 3665 S. Lakeshore Drive No. 5, St. Joseph. "People aren’t as familiar with ashiatsu and Ashi/Thai massage. I’m hoping to do some demonstrations and help people to fall in love with those types of massages as much as I have," Borcherding says. 

Ashiatsu is a centuries-old type of barefoot massage in which the therapist walks on the client's back, using bars and other props for support to vary pressure and weight. Ashi/Thai massage is a type of assisted yoga. For Ashi/Thai, the client wears loose, comfortable clothing, Borcherding says. 

She hopes her style of massage attracts people who’ve avoided it so far. "They think it’s a luxury. They don’t understand how proactive it is when it comes to health, how it can help prevent injury and even surgery." Shyness may be a factor, too. "Part of (the reluctance) for some people is it’s difficult to let a stranger touch them, let alone have to take their clothes off. The wonderful thing about Ashi/Thai massage is that it’s clothed massage. The client is wearing loose comfortable clothing."

Eva's Ashiatsu Massage also offers deep tissue and medical massage, as well as Indian Head Massage, facial massage and reflexology – modalities "where people can get massage for relaxation or myofascial release or neuromuscular health, without having to get so far out of their comfort zone." 

A licensed massage therapist, Borcherding studied massage in Arizona and has been practicing since 2010. Having her own studio allows her to market her services more broadly than when she practiced out of her home, she says. 

The economic development organization Cornerstone Alliance in Benton Harbor helped Borcherding plan and finance her start-up, through its Small Business Services and Women's Business Center. 

"They gave me a lot of encouragement," she says. "They helped me create a business plan and obtain a microloan, and they’ve got ongoing trainings and network events I’m looking forward to attending." The Cornerstone Alliance Small Business Services program focuses on income-disadvantaged and women-owned businesses. 

Looking ahead, Borcherding wants to promote ashiatsu in the community and become known as an "ashiatsu artist," she says. "The first couple years I just want to build my clientele and get established, and from there I think I might like to expand, but I’m playing it by ear." 

Eva's Ashiatsu Massage is open Mondays through Fridays, and Sundays, 10 am to 6 pm. Appointments are available by calling (269) 930-0246 or visiting The studio is also on Facebook.

Writer: Cathie Schau, Southwest Michigan's Second Wave
Source: Eva Borcherding, Eva's Ashiatsu Massage

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