Truth be told, I never really had much interest in massages, didn’t really like to even have one myself, and absolutely would never have imagined that it would be part of my career.
It was one day in 2012, I woke up one morning and my whole body was feeling like I had an electric shock, never felt anything like that before. Every movement, even turning my head, my hand to get my phone just next to me, was hurting, really felt sharp pains everywhere.
I called out my kids to give me a phone so I can call ambulance then my phone rang and my mum was calling me from Thailand.
“Mum I can’t talk as I about to call the ambulance’’ - told mum
“What's wrong? Mum asked.
“I don’t know mum but it feels like an electric shock, I can’t move even a tiny bit, the sharp pain is going through my whole body. It hurts Mum, never felt this before. Can I call you later?”
“Maybe trapped nerves? Instead of calling an ambulance, why don’t you call a Thai masseuse?”
“How would that help Mum? It hurts really bad! I need a doctor!” I said
“Well, 15 years ago a doctor told your dad to have an operation for his frozen shoulder otherwise it will never get better, he couldn’t move his arm for months. But he didn’t want to go for an operation. He chose to go for a massage and exercise stretching. He felt better after and carried on for 4-6 sessions and his frozen shoulder was gone.
So, it helped your Dad. Why can’t it help you? I think you should try” - Mum told me then.
So I called my friend because I heard that her mum is a masseuse working in a hospital in Thailand and happened to be visiting my friend in the UK.
Then this old lady came. She looked at me and placed her hand on my neck. “It's a trapped nerve and I know it hurts you so bad - but don’t worry I can help you!”
She made me lie down on my back. She started working on my body with some massage - every touch was painful and I couldn’t move much, still stuck in bed, every touch was painful. After about half an hour I managed to get up and walked downstairs for more space for her to massage me properly.
Then she gave me a towel to bite and warned me it will hurt, but it will help me. Wow she wasn’t lying… It really was extremely painful! But soon I managed to get up and walk about. It was still hurting but 80% better.
“Just carry on your daily activity and you get better. There will be some bruises too” she warned, “as I had to be very firm in one go. I’m going back to Thailand tonight so can’t give you a second massage.”
Yep - had some bruises, but the pains were gone after 3-4 days.
Even then, I was not yet convinced or interested in massages, and wasn't quite believing in the “old Thai skills” of these treatments.
Until a couple of years later and it happened again, same pains, same problem. As luck would have it, my friend had her mum visiting as well, but this time someone had to me all the way into London to visit them. She helped me again!!!
This time - I was convinced. This ‘old traditional’ technique helped my Dad before, and I have experienced it twice now… so why wouldn’t it work for others?!
That was how Apinya was started… from that personal experience, to trying to start a business here, without any previous experience / qualifications of providing treatments…
I found a location in Harlow, my home town, and opened “the shop”. I remembered many friends said.. “Why open a Thai massage in Harlow? Others open in London with lots more client traffic”.
“Why not? Harlow people are humans too, with the same aches and pains, so I will open here to help people the same as it helped my Dad and me before”. So I started to learn from friends and self-trained. Flew back to Thailand to study and trained in traditional methods and different skills. It was hard the first few months as most people do not really understand the proper “Thai traditional massage”, and sure at times can be quite tough.
What kept me going was because I quickly came to love this job as it fits so well with my personality - because I have always wanted to help people.
There truly is no better feeling when you help someone struggling to move themself into “the shop”, not able to walk straight, in pain with every movement… and then walking out tall with a big smile, ever so thankful for fixing them.
Days, months and then years quickly passed. Since 2014 we have helped thousands of clients from all walks of life, from nearby to some travelling hours to us.
We became successful mostly through word of mouth, from one client coming in and felt so good that they book for friends, families, partners. In turns, they call up more friends with “You have got to try this place!”.
I do believe that our treatments may have helped in some cases to avoid more intrusive hospital operations during the years.
Over the years, I have trained many friends and staff using my skills and years of experience. The message from me is always ”Technique and skills are important - but the most important is your caring of how much you want to help them to feel better. Your attention to them is what they can feel, that you do your best aiming to help them. That’s the key to this job as a masseuse!!”
Fast forward to today… We are so busy everyday, "fixing" so many people. We will soon expand to another premise on Epping High Street, and more may follow after as we grow so we can help more people.