BARSTOW - Salle Williams starts her day with a little jolt from the coffee she drinks from a glass jar, but her clients keeps her going through the rest of it.

"There is an energy created between two people," she said. "I am energized by them."

She avoided evoking the more mystical and sometime fanciful notions of crystals and positive energy when talking about her career as a masseuse in Barstow, but could not dispute the therapy's effectiveness. She said people appear to melt when they lay on the padded table in a back room of No Limits Hair Styling. She keeps the room dark, starkly decorated and plays music to help set a mood ripe for relaxation.

"I think the initial touch is where they're like ooo ..." Williams said. "Just the simple touch helps them relax, period."

Williams has been practicing massage in Barstow for seven and half years and has built up a pretty steady clientele in her years here. Business seems to pick up in January, she said, as people look for a way to unwind after a hectic holiday. Her clients, mostly regulars who come anywhere from weekly to twice a year, range from teenagers to senior citizens. Some come for therapeutic reasons, she said, some for relaxation. One client, a stroke victim, uses Williams massage as part of his recovering process, even though Williams is not a doctor.

After finishing her associates degree, Williams decided she did not want to continue with the traditional college path, found a night school offering massage classes and started working on her career. Years later, Williams said the job, which relieves others of their stresses and worries, keeps her tranquil and calm at work all day long.

She said Barstow has grown to embrace the idea of massage in recent years. More masseuses have moved into town and many salons, such as No Limits, offer massage services. The main reason people turn to a masseuse, Williams said, is to relieve stress.

"Everybody's stressed, whether it be money, time management, a job, your boss," she said.

The idea of getting a massage, Williams said, sometimes causes stress or tension in her clients. She said many first-time clients are nervous about the process and the vulnerability and exposure of lying down on the massage table. Williams said a lot of people ask her what they need to wear to their appointment. The answer, she said, ranges with the person's level of comfort.

"Whatever you need to be comfortable," she said.

The Desert Dispatch is always looking for intriguing characters for the "Our Town" profiles. If you know of someone with a good story to tell, let us know. Call Aaron Aupperlee at 256-4121.
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