Riding the waves: Mastering Massage School with the help of kinesiology teacher Pascal Fromentin

November 2021: By Hope Katz Gibbs, LMT

In massage, it’s all about the hands. Obviously. But it’s much more than the strength of the therapist’s carpals, metacarpals, and phalanges. The magic of their touch is a superpower born from years of experience.

With one glance at Pascal Fromentin’s thick, well-worn hands, you know they have worked on thousands of bodies. A therapist for decades at Santa Fe’s world-famous spa, Ten Thousand Waves, Pascal explains that he has mastered the art of massage through continuous practice, 30+ years of study, and an endless fascination with the art of his craft.

Pascal’s gifts also translate to his role as a teacher, guiding each student in our class with his knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology, and kinesiology. He has a depth of understanding of the origins, insertions, and actions of each of the body’s hundreds of muscles, 206 bones, 91 bony landmarks, 23 ligaments, not to mention all those tendons, arteries, veins, and nerves. All of this is complemented by his years of study about the biology and chemistry of how our cells work.

“Our bodies are amazing machines,” insists the Frenchman born in Paris before officially becoming a US citizen in 2000. “I am changing the world by bringing peace in one body, one massage at a time.”

Please scroll down to read our Q&A and learn more about one of our favorite teachers at the Bodymechanics Santa Fe School of Massage. Below, you’ll also find details about Ten Thousand Waves — a not-to-miss spa on your next trip to the Land of Enchantment.

A Q&A with Pascal Fromentin, LMT

Hope: What has been your path to becoming a massage therapist?

Pascal: I have been a professional massage therapist for 20 years. I graduated from the Swedish Institute in NYC in 1992. I was not an American citizen then and couldn’t pass the national exam or be licensed. I worked then for the French Mission to the United Nations as a civil servant in the information technology department. I also had a short career in the Air Force before that. Then, after four years in New York, I went back to Europe. It took another eight years before I came back to the US and became an American citizen. In 2000, I graduated again from the Sherer Institute and officially became an LMT. I have been working since at Ten Thousand Waves Spa in Santa Fe.

Hope: What drew you to New Mexico?

Pascal: I came to New Mexico following the steps of my wife, an artist from NYC whose aspirations were leading west to Santa Fe. I had fallen in love with the American southwest during previous visits. I didn’t know anything about Santa Fe before. I just had heard the name in wild west movies.

Hope: What type of massage do you practice professionally, and what is your favorite modality?

Pascal: I have learned and practiced Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue, Myofascial release, Japanese Shiatsu, Japanese foot Massage, Thai Massage, Thai foot Massage, Spa treatments ( Salt glows and herbal wraps), Scalp treatment, 4 Hands Temple Lomi Lomi, and Watsu. My favorite modality is Thai Massage because I like the body mechanic and the possibilities of working on a client on the floor. I like the efficiency of using deep stretches to release myofascial meridians.

Hope: What do you think is the power of massage? 

Pascal: In my opinion and experience, the power of massage is the healing power of touch. The power comes from bringing together technique, attention, compassion, respect, communication, and love during a session. It creates relief of body pain and blooming of the spirit.

What do you think is the future of massage?

Pascal: Although I can forecast the future of our profession, the Spa where I work experiments with guided psychotropic experiences, which is interesting. I see the future of massage as it has always been: An eternal source of relief, help, and support.

Hope: If you could do anything to change the world through the healing power of massage, what would it be, and how would you do it?

Pascal: I think I’m doing it now — changing the world by bringing peace in one body, one massage at a time. As the Chinese proverb says: “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach him to fish, you feed him for many days.” Similarly, if you give a man a massage, you help him for a day. If you teach him to massage, you help him and his whole community for many days. 

Thank you, Pascal, for being our Bodymechanics teacher! 

Lessons Learned in Month 6 at Bodymechanics Santa Fe: 

  1. What I learned this month: Be the effleurage. While it’s in my nature as a journalist and activist for women’s rights to constantly question the status quo and be curious about what’s possible, I have learned that there is power in letting my massage education flow like an effleurage. Just as this stroke encourages relaxation, blood circulation, and lymph flow by increasing the temperature of muscles and preparing them for more vigorous massage techniques — it also stimulates the lymphatic system. By inviting this to be the metaphor for my training, I can better go with the flow of learning the language of massage.
  1. What I want other students to know: Our teachers are our gifts. This column has afforded me the privilege of getting to our Bodymechanics teachers, not just as instructors but as people. Each brings a unique perspective and decades of experience. I look to them as guides and role models, and as we begin 2022, I thank each of them for the gifts they have provided so far. I believe that the best is yet to come!

Next month: We’ll shine a spotlight on Bodymechanics Santa Fe instructor TC Gritt who runs our Monday morning labs and clinics, which will be open to the public in February 2022. Until then, wishing you endless health and wellness in 2022! — Hope

Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe NM

About Ten Thousand Waves

The tradition of bathing in hot water goes back millennia due to Japan’s abundance of thermal waters. The Japanese learned early on about the powerful healing and release gained by sitting in hot water surrounded by the beauty of nature. Ten Thousand Waves has taken this model and transplanted it to New Mexico, where nature looks very different but is no less beautiful.  We offer a unique ‘Japanese-adobe’ esthetic, combining the traditional with state-of-the-art technology.

Our humble beginning was a small bathhouse, eight outdoor hot tubs, and one massage room back in 1981. The emphasis has always been on the salutary effects of hot water. The Japanese bath tradition is mostly about winding down from the day, meeting friends, taking time off with the family, and relaxing. The health benefits are bonuses. Everything is provided at a traditional Japanese inn–including amazing food and lodging.

Our beautiful Izanami restaurant serves izakaya-style small plates with exceptional sake in a casual atmosphere. Fourteen lodging rooms, each unique, complete the sense of removal from the real world. In Japan, wearing yukata (casual kimono) around the property and the restaurant is part of the experience. Often guests store their street clothes when they arrive and never put them on again until they leave days later.

Massage Therapy: Amenities

  • All massages include unlimited time in the Grand Bath
  • All treatments are done in spacious rooms with natural light, HEPA filtration, and good ventilation
  • Private shower and changing areas provided with each massage
  • We train all of our therapists in tradecraft and ethics (everything about massage not taught in school) and offer continuing education to our therapists in proprietary treatments not available at any other spa
  • All therapists have:
    • At least 650 hours of training in an accredited massage school.
    • Membership in a professional massage organization.

Bodywork in the Time of COVID: Because safety for staff and guests is paramount, Ten Thousand Waves maintains the following protocols.

  • Sanitation: We allow extra time between massages to sanitize all surfaces.
  • Ventilation: We monitor every massage room with carbon dioxide meters to assure that there is adequate replacement fresh air
  • Filtration: Every massage room has a HEPA filter capable of filtering 99% of all aerosol particles sized 1 micron and larger. The average COVID aerosol is 3 microns
  • Staff COVID testing: any staff member not fully vaccinated is tested weekly with a PCR COVID test

Call 505-982-9304 for reservations. Click here to learn more!