By Greta Sowles
After beginning her career in business marketing, Cathy Stahlke began to struggle with migraine headaches, treating them and her reconstructed shoulder with massage therapy. She experienced the relaxing and pain reducing benefits of massage therapy first-hand, and became interested in providing others with the same relief that she had experienced. When it came time for a career change, she knew just what to do.
Stahlke received her massage therapy certification in 1995 and began her career in a chiropractic office in Mankato. Using her business marketing background, she was able to advertise the therapeutic massage offerings of the business and saw growth and success with repetitive clientele. Seeking more of a challenge and the satisfaction of owning her own business, Stahlke established Balance Life, LLC in Mankato in 1998. It was here that the phrase, “Stronger Together” became a business motto. It followed Stahlke as she moved to the western suburbs of the Twin Cities in 2001 and later began her office in Waconia.
Stahlke is the proud owner of Balance Life, LLC in Waconia, a group of wellness practitioners, offering services in massage therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, Chinese medicine and studio classes in yoga and Pilates. The business moved to Waconia in 2008 and soon saw rapid growth, expanding to a new office on Olive Street in 2012 that nearly tripled its square footage.
Since this expansion in 2012, the healthcare team at Balance Life has more than doubled to total 18 wellness professionals, including a reflexologist and studio teachers. Most of the therapists have more than 10 years of experience, which is rare to find under one umbrella.
Stahlke emphasized that Balance Life has experienced success because of the unity of the team of wellness professionals.
“You are only as good as those around you,” she added.
Nationally certified reflexologist Lori Stevenson of Sole Reflections joined the staff at Balance Life in 2011 after owning her own practice in Chaska. Stevenson did hospice care for her father, who passed away in 2011, after which she decided not to renew her lease in Chaska. Since moving to Balance Life, Stevenson has enjoyed working with Stahlke and their team of professionals.
“She really respects other peoples’ modalities and specialties,” Stevenson said, adding that Stahlke trusts other therapists and is a great mentor to younger, aspiring massage professionals.
Yoga instructor Marcy Beix first became connected to Balance Life as a massage therapy client after moving to the area four years ago. Beix heard that Balance Life was interested in starting yoga classes and she stayed connected with Stahlke. After being certified in yoga instruction, she began teaching some of the first yoga classes at Balance Life in September 2012.
Beix currently teaches workshops and series classes, beginning yoga levels one and two, restorative yoga, slow flow and gentle stretch, although she is confident that she could teach any class that Balance Life offers.
“It is a nice component to the wellness aspect of [Stahlke’s] business,” said Beix.
Beix believes that yoga is here to stay, suggesting that Balance Life has built a solid foundation that will continue to grow. She could not speak more highly of Stahlke’s leadership.
“She’s so generous with her time, and she deeply cares for people,” said Beix. “And it’s authentic.”
One of Stahlke’s foremost goals to educate the community on the benefits of alternative care and to attempt to correct some of the misconceptions associated with it.
“Taking care of yourself should never be a luxury,” Stahlke said, imploring that while many people maintain cars and homes, they forget to take care of their biggest asset. “We are a society that we pack as much into one day as we can, and people are stressed to the max.”
With the growth in the business, Stahlke has been challenged with learning the balance of business management, client care and family life away from work.
“Few people realize the dedication it takes to run a successful business,” Stahlke added. She will often work 50 to 60 hours a week.
Additionally, it has been emotionally difficult for Stahlke to work with patients who have been affected with some form of cancer. This past spring, Stahlke worked with four double mastectomy patients during their treatment, three of who were younger than her.
“Many days I left with a heavy aching heart, but there is no greater satisfaction than when somebody comes out and you either took away their pain or lessened their pain or helped in their healing,” she said.
Gayle Guthland began going to Balance Life after experiencing a neck injury about five years ago and continued care when she was diagnosed with cancer in May 2012. While she didn’t have much pain, the acupuncture and spiritual yoga were calming for her and helped her get on a good sleep schedule. She also enjoyed having someone else to talk to, in addition to her family and church family.
“Cathy is very good at what she does,” said Guthland. “[Going to Balance Life] becomes part of your routine because it makes everything better.”
Guthland gets a massage every two weeks, acupuncture at least once a month and attends spiritual yoga weekly if she is in town.
In the future, Stahlke hopes to bring the healing touch of complimentary care to hospital inpatients. “From illness, injury, post surgical to infant delivery, complementary care assists with decrease in pain and anxiety and increases the healing process,” she said.
Away from the office, Stahlke enjoys working on her hobby farm right outside of Waconia, where she lives with her husband, Gary, and their three children Liv, 14, Claudia, 11 and Weston, 9.
• For more information about Balance Life, visit www.balancelifewaconia.org or contact (952) 442-2288. Yoga class availability is listed and walk-ins are welcome.
All of the props and supplies are available for use at the studio. Balance Life is open seven days a week: Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday noon to 9 p.m.
It is located at 138 Olive Street in Waconia, which is right across from the Mocha Monkey.
Contact Greta Sowles at [email protected]