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3 Things a celebrity massage therapist wants you to know about your body

Gabrielle Pelicci, Ph.D. is a leading expert on Holistic Medicine. She was recently featured on MSNBC as a Know Your Value finalist.

Going behind the scenes with a celebrity massage therapist

I’ve been in the most intimate settings with some of the biggest celebs, nothing between us but a bath towel and some almond oil. I’ll never forget the time that Patrick Dempsey — a.k.a. Dr. McDreamy — disrobed and got on my table in a swanky hotel room in South Beach. “I get paid to do this?!” I thought, as my hands glided across his back.

Since 2001, I’ve been working in Miami, New York and Los Angeles as an expert massage therapist. I’ve carried my 25-pound table like a piece of luggage in and out of penthouses, mansions, movie sets and exotic resorts. During one gig, my client flew me first-class to St. Barts to give him a massage on his massive yacht on New Year's Eve — followed by a party that lasted about five days.

Celebs can afford to do that sort of thing.

I’ve also had my hands on many not-so-famous people; patients with broken backs, cancer, AIDS and addiction. The hardest work I’ve ever done was in the drug and alcohol treatment centers in Southern California, where people were fighting for their lives to break the habits that were destroying their health, happiness and relationships. My hands-on healing was just one of the many tools they were using to rebuild their shattered minds and bodies.

I estimate that I’ve touched about 5,000 backs, 10,000 hands and 100,000 fingers and toes. You learn a lot about the world by touching so many people.

All bodies are beautiful — regardless of their size, color, texture or shape

There is an indescribable magic in the way that they grow and heal and change and operate independent of our control. Even the most brilliant scientists in the world don’t have our bodies all figured out yet.

The body and mind are inseparable

When I touch you, your mind will stop racing, your breath will slow down and your body will flood with delicious hormones that make you feel lighter and more joyful. If you think happy thoughts, your body will soften and all the systems will come back into balance.

Every memory is stored in the body

Memories are stored in the way that the muscles contract and the joints stiffen. You learn to “read” the body and “hear” a person’s story by the way she moves, breathes and hunches her shoulders over to protect her heart. When I reveal insights to my clients, they say, “How did you know that?” I am not psychic; I’m just “listening” to the body talk.

Working as a massage therapist offers a rare glimpse into people’s lives that is very unusual. I feel that it is a privileged position. We usually only get touched in passing, disconnected ways. If you want the opportunity to give a whole hour of caring attention to others that not only transforms them but changes you too, a career in massage therapy is a great choice. Sharing that hour away from the world — whether it’s with Patrick Dempsey or the average Joe — will benefit you and your clients.

Questions about how you can have a thriving career as a massage therapist? Visit

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