Morgan Frisch/Recorder staff
Amsterdam native and licensed massage therapist Jacob Bieniek shows the room where clients receive massages at his new massage therapy office on Market Street.

By MORGAN FRISCH

Recorder News Staff

When graduating from fifth-grade at McNulty Elementary School, Jacob Bieniek knew he wanted to pursue a career in massage therapy.

The students were asked to stand up at the end of the moving up ceremony and tell the crowd what they wanted to be when they were older. Bieniek said he gave his mom massages every night and from a young age realized how much she benefited from it.

However, after graduating high school in 2008 he decided to take a different path. Bieniek studied history at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, but said it was something he did to appease other people and it didn’t end up working out for him.

Now, at 26, he’s finally following his original passion and opened up shop as a licensed massage therapist on 15 Market St.

“I wanted something more that I could control,” Bieniek said. “Having my own business was always a goal of mine, so I figured I’m going to start living my life for what I want to do instead of listening to everyone else because that really wasn’t working out for me.”

In June 2015, he started the one-year program at The Center for Natural Wellness the School of Massage Therapy in Albany. Bieniek said the environment at the school was open and accepting and the teachers catered to all different learning types.

“The second I started making decisions for myself and really working on what I wanted instead of what everyone else wanted, my life really started to fall into place,” Bieniek said. “I graduated from my massage program with a 4.0, which I had never got grades like that before. I never had students coming to me to be tutored and asking me to help them out. It was nice. It felt perfect, like where I was supposed to be.”

Bieniek took the New York State Board for Massage Therapy in August 2016 and then rented a room in Clifton Park practicing three days a week in an effort to build a client base. He found that many of the people he knew in Amsterdam interested in a session didn’t want to make the 45-minute drive home, especially after a massage. This lead to him starting his own business.

In regards to studying history before pursuing his current career, Bieniek said he couldn’t help but feel a little regret. When he was able to see past the regret and realize how much was gained from attending SUNY Plattsburgh, he said he was able to focus on his future.

“I think regret is one of the most debilitating emotions that you can experience,” he said. “I think if you can take even the smallest positive out of a situation it helps you not feel as though it was a waste of time.”

As for opening up a facility in the city, he’s excited to give back to his community and hopeful he will be able to educate people on the benefits of massage.

“I think that’s going to be the hardest part because there isn’t a huge massage therapy presence in Amsterdam,” he said. “Really educating people and getting them to think of massage not as just a luxury that you do when you go on vacation or something. To get a one hour massage once a month can make you a happier person.”

Bieniek explained how massage affects the body in ways that can “bring you back to an equilibrium.” For example, he said it could help “bring down” a very anxious person, living life at a very high energy level or give energy to someone who is constantly fatigued.

“It’s an equalizer, so no matter where you fall on the spectrum, of either fatigued or high energy, it brings you back to balance,” he said.

Bieniek said the best benefit is stress reduction.

“I don’t think there is single person on this planet that we live on today that doesn’t carry a little bit of stress with them throughout their life,” he said.

He offers several different types of massage in an effort to provide people options depending on their needs.

The most general relaxation massage that people are familiar with, he said, is the Swedish massage. He also offers a deep tissue massage, which provides more pressure and focuses on a specific area. Bieniek said the myofascial release is a more gentle type of massage that works with the connective tissue of the body. The sports or athletic massage involves the prevention treatment and rehabilitation of injuries resulting from physical activity. Bieniek said after being a football player in high school he’s interested in getting into more sport-oriented massages in the future.

Another service he provides is acupressure. Bieniek said it’s essentially the same thing as acupuncture, but he uses pressure with his fingers as opposed to needles.

“I want you to be able to truly relax and let go,” he said. “To actually feel your body let go of all the tension and truly be able relax, some people don’t really get to experience that too often.”

One of the most common misconceptions Bienek said he faces is people thinking a massage needs to be “deep” in order to be effective. He said if a client doesn’t realize how much tension they have, the deep tissue can be intense. He mentioned the importance of talking to the massage therapist and telling them if it’s too much pressure. Bienek said causing someone to tense up is counterproductive.

Bieniek’s office is painted green and there are several plants throughout the room.  The goal was to incorporate nature therapy into the business model because he believes it creates a calming, relaxing, anti-stress environment. There is also relaxing music and the smell of essential oils coming from a diffuser.

“This is just the beginning,” Bieniek said. “I plan on creating a little jungle in here.”

His facility is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. by appointment only. Bieniek said he wanted to create space he was happy in because it’s where he will spending a lot of his time.

“I’ve always have a passion for it,” he said.

Anyone interested in scheduling a massage can reach him on Facebook at Jacob Bieniek, LMT.