Cynthia Flesher isn’t particularly a fan of golf.
She doesn’t play the game and doesn’t watch it on television.
So why does a former paralegal, who switched careers to become a certified massage therapist, have such intimate knowledge of some of the nation’s greatest golf courses?
Well, as a massage therapist – she owns Therapeutic Body Work in Turlock – Flesher was recruited by the United States Golf Association several years ago to become part of the wellness team for the U.S. Open, perhaps the most prestigious golf tournament in the world.
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“I still don’t follow golf,” said Flesher, a 1978 alumna of Beyer High School who graduated from Chico State with degrees in political science and public administration, as well as a certificate in paralegal studies. “My passion now is the courses, and the beauty of the courses.”
Flesher has provided massage therapy for golfers, caddies and tournament volunteers at such prestigious courses as the Olympic Club (San Francisco), Congressional (Washington, D.C.), Pinehurst (North Carolina), Merion (Ardmore, Pa.) and the famed Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula.
Q: So, you must provide massage therapy for a lot of famous golfers?
A: I find that the majority coming in for massage are the caddies. In their case they need lower back, foot and leg treatment – particularly the calves. I think over the years, the bags they have to carry have gotten more ergonomically friendly, but still they’ve got a lot of weight on their lower extremities, and having to walk with all that weight, their lower extremities take a beating. Then there are the volunteers, who just get a chair massage on their breaks, as opposed to the players, who get full hour-and-a-half treatments.
Q: Do you have a favorite golfer you’ve treated? Tiger Woods perhaps?
A: The more famous golfers often have their own massage therapists. Actually, the highlight for me was to have (caddie) Fanny Sunneson come in. She stood out because she’s female. I thought it was intriguing how she came up through the ranks. She was a golfer herself for a time, then trying to live here and in the U.K. and keep up a relationship with her boyfriend, and all the tournaments.
Q: How many U.S. Opens have you been involved with?
A: I’ve been part of the USGA’s U.S. Open wellness team from 2010 to the present.
Q: You were a paralegal for 16 years – first for a Sacramento law firm and then for Gallo here in Modesto – and then decided to switch careers. Why?
A: In ’98, with my daughter starting high school … I think the empty nest thing started entering my mind. I figured I might as well use my skills in research, going into more a holistic realm and being able to help people; studying more of the complementary medicine enhancements people could make in their lives. My motto is “helping people help themselves.” We have to be our own advocates when it comes to medical care these days.”
Q: When you were a student at Beyer High, what did you see yourself doing?
A: I always looked up to my teachers as role models. I had a strong relationship with my teachers, from kindergarten on up. I still have connections, to this day, to my childhood teachers. And I had a really strong pull toward research; I loved, from a young age, doing book reports. In college, as I found out more about paralegal programs, I thought that it suited me. I liked being behind the scenes and doing the research. So, I decided not to become a teacher and enter the legal field.
Q: Was it hard to give up a successful career?
A: No, it was a challenge. I’d been a volunteer for the United Way for many years, now going on 23, and I’d always done fundraising for Gallo, so I had a strong interest in marketing. I realized if I were to start my own business I could use the abilities I’d gained and market myself. It’s really just getting out there and networking, and it all just sort of fell into place.
Q: What’s most rewarding about being a CMT?
A: Just recently I had a client come in and relate to me that they had been very highly dosed. There were blood-sugar issues and medicine for that; high cholesterol and medicine for that; high blood pressure and medicine for that. The client had been able to go off, or significantly decrease the dosage of, these meds. And the client attributed that to massage and their body-wrap regimen.
Q: Typically, how often will a client visit you?
A: On average most clients are biweekly or monthly. The majority are monthly.
Q: What types of massage do you practice?
A: I practice Swedish, Hawaiian lomi lomi, chair massage, myofacial release, acupressure, acupressure trigger point, acupressure facial massage for headaches, sports massage, hot stone therapy, therapeutic essential oil therapy, reflexology, detox wraps by M’lis, and pregnancy and infant massage.
Q: How is being a CMT similar to being a paralegal?
A: You always have to stay current. In the legal field, as well as the world of massage, you’ve constantly got to stay current, constantly doing the research and staying current with the trends.
Q: How are the fields different?
A: The stress levels. Being able to work on a one-on-one basis with clients and relieve my own stress level as well as theirs. That doesn’t generally happen in the work world.
Q: Can you see yourself doing this for the remainder of your work life?