May 2009

Transform Your Body, and Your Life: Esmeralda’s Massage Therapy & Pilates Center can teach you how

Author: Blanche Sullivan | Photographer: photography by anne

According to Esmeralda Flores, co-owner of Esmeralda’s Massage Therapy & Pilates Center with Luis, her husband of 30 years, “If you are strong and healthy, you can give more to others.” Flores should know. With more than 25 years experience in massage and fitness, the agile, energetic and engaging Honduran native is well-versed in the art of transforming bodies, and lives.

Local Linda Moree, owner of Moree Electrical Construction, can attest. A few years ago, Moree had an accident during which she tore her rotator cuff. In spite of having surgery and undergoing physical therapy for about a year and a half, Moree said she wasn’t getting better and couldn’t even lift her left arm above her heart. A friend suggested she try pilates at Esmeralda’s Massage Therapy & Pilates Center.
“I was pretty miserable. Once she [Esmeralda] opened a new location, I decided to give it a whirl,” Moree said. She began with private classes and now faithfully attends semi-private classes three days a week, in spite of her occasionally ‘challenging’ commute to Hilton Head.

“I live in Bluffton and take the eight o’clock class. With the traffic, you have to be devoted!” she explained. “But, I love it. These are my best days.”
For Moree, a type 1 diabetic whose body does not produce adequate insulin, the benefits of Esmeralda’s personalized care and pilates expertise go far beyond helping her to merely regain mobility in her arm and shoulder. “Pilates keeps me more level. It makes my heart feel good, my body feels good. Everything feels good,” she said. “I can’t do aerobics, due to my diabetes, and Esmeralda is very hands-on. She knows each of our strengths and limitations. She even researched diabetes. I feel very safe here.”

So what inspired Flores to pursue a career helping others lead healthier lives? Flores said that her husband, a chemical engineer, massage therapist and trainer, played a key role in her decision.

“Luis began a gym in Honduras when he was in high school. He was helping kids—some with drug problems—and was well-known as a trainer. We travelled all over the world, as delegates, participating in body building competitions and championships with our students. It was fun,” she said.

And how did Flores, a mother of three who counts celebrities, such as Ralph Lauren and Mel Gibson among her clients and friends, wind up on Hilton Head Island? Like so many others, she began as a tourist. “We came to the States in 1990 for vacation,” she said. “My older son was living here and we decided to visit. We rode our bikes around the island and I said, ‘That’s it. I’m not going back!’”
Because they owned three gyms in Honduras, they did return to their native land long enough to address business matters and file papers, which would allow them to assume residency in America. Flores began offering massage therapy at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa and thought about having her own center.
“A friend said, ‘How can you open your own business when you can’t speak English.’ I don’t know the word ‘can’t.’ There is no ‘can’t,’” Flores said.

Since opening her own doors years ago, many of her students have adopted that philosophy, achieving things they never would’ve thought possible. Nancy Springborn, for example, has been doing pilates with Flores for seven years. “I was losing bone density and wanted to do something about it, to be healthier,” she said. “I hate gyms, and a friend told me she was going to the opening of a new pilates place. I fell in love with Esmeralda’s enthusiasm. She is proficient as an instructor; she makes every class interesting and there is always time for a tear, for a laugh. Esmeralda has a heart like no other. She is my hero.”

Ed McCullough, host of WHHI’s “Talk of the Town,” is also a student and enthusiastic fan. “I completely blew my back out and was horizontal for a month and a half. I was in excruciating pain and began coming in June 2008—as soon as I could walk. Out of everything I tried—doctors, chiropractors, physical therapy, etc.—I think pilates did the most good,” he stated.

Said Flores, “If more people would do more preventive health care, fewer people would be sick.”

In spite of being highly trained, Flores is a firm believer in continuing education and is always seeking to enhance her ability to help others. Along with her current offerings of pilates and massage, she will be adding Active Release Techniques (A.R.T., activerelease.com) to her repertoire.

“My brain never stops and I never stop learning, because I never feel as if I have learned enough. You can always do more,” she said.

Notorious for her skills, upbeat personality and unrivaled attention to details and clients, she is a pilates pro and master of massage who is passionate about health and people. This has helped her garner a devoted following and develop a thriving business.

“I’m very blessed. I had knowledge of what I really wanted to do early,” she said. “I love what I do. I love my friends, I love health and I love helping people.”

??Esmeralda’s Massage Therapy & Pilates Center
14 New Orleans Road, Suite 6
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(843) 785-9588??

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