The Right Touch
Dhahabu Bellard promotes massage therapy
Sighs of pleasure could be heard emanating from several attendees during the recent three-weekend African Marketplace extravaganza held at Rancho Cienega Park. Lying prone on a cot, clients smiled with pleasure as the capable hands of Dhahabu Bellard, owner and operator of The Right Touch Mobile Massage, worked their magic.
“From a child, I was always fascinated with massage,” said Bellard, 33, a certified massage therapist who also teaches massage at Intercoast Career College in Carson, Calif.
Bellard, who grew up in Compton, Calif., said that from the age of five, he was “into touch.” I would regularly rub my mother’s shoulders and my sister’s feet,” he recalls. “They would always tell me, “that feels good.”
The former plumber with waist long dreadlocks said that he “really got into massage” when a girlfriend surprised him with a trip to a spa in Manhattan Beach where he received his first official massage. “During the massage, I had an out-of-body experience that brought on total relaxation,” said Bellard, who underwent a 50-minute Swedish massage.
Several years later, Bellard was riffling through a holistic magazine at Simply Wholesome restaurant when he noticed an ad for a massage school.
Recalling his “out of body” massage experience, Bellard decided to visit several massage schools during their open houses. “One school particularly caught my attention,” said Bellard. “It was called the Institute of Physical Structural Balancing.”
Bellard enrolled, and soon he was mastering the different techniques of massage, specializing in sports and deep tissue massage. “There are actually 150 modalities of different massage techniques you can learn,” said Bellard, who said that he has mastered 30 different massage techniques.
The message therapist said his most requested massage is deep tissue which can last from an hour to 90 minutes. “A deep tissue massage releases connective tissue that has hardened around the muscles. It causes the muscles to be restricted and does not allow the muscles to receive the circulation and proper lengthening and stretching that it needs.”
Bellard said that a good massage is beneficial in a number of ways. “When I touch you, I release energy and that goes straight to the nervous system and releases serotonin and dopamine hormones which regulate moods and reduces irritability,” Bellard explained.
Bellard, who charges from $100 to $150 per hour, now rubs the shoulders and backs of a regular roster of clients, 90 percent of whom are African American. “Since I run a mobile massage service, I go to their homes or their offices,” said Bellard, who said his busy clients are celebrities, financial planners, business owners, doctors and lawyers. Bellard said that he will also travel out of town to massage a client at their request.
“Touch is essential for a human being’s growth and development,” Bellard revealed. “Human beings crave being touched. Research shows that people who haven’t been touched as children exhibit violent behavior. When you get a massage, there are certain chemicals that are released in the brain. So when people don’t experience that release, they tend to be angry and withdrawn.”
Bellard is planning to hold workshops in December to educate the public about the restorative and rejuvenating benefits of massage. “I plan to call it ‘The Secret Language of Touch,’” he said.