After a lengthy and satisfying career New Paltz's Dale Montelione ... -- Hudson Valley One
Dale Montelione Grust (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Every journey is not a straight line. However, one thing that has increased in exponential proportions in the case of Dale Montelione Grust is her ability and expertise as masseuse and female business owner of a business in New Paltz for more than three decades.

After finishing her massage therapy studies at the University of New Mexico in 1981, Montelione Grust relocated back to New Paltz, where she went back to school and became registered massage therapist from New York State in 1983. “One one of my clients I had included the Dr. Herb Weinman,” Montelione Grust remembered. “Ryan her son was a baby while I was working outside of my home at the time. Herb was suffering from severe sciatica and asked me if I could alleviate it. I was able to.”

As a young single mom and therapist, Montelione Grust was working when they could and be an emerging practitioner of the healing arts. “In the beginning, I worked at home, in an apartment that I rented within Fitness & Sport [a gym located in the Cherry Hill Plaza] and along with two other therapists at Some Like It Hot,” she explained in reference to the trendy 1980s hot tub spa located situated on Academy Street in downtown New Paltz located across from Barnaby’s restaurant.

From the beginning her healing abilities were sought-after, and she soon had enough clients to open the Center for Therapeutic Massage, currently entering its 35 years year. “My business grew and I was active in finding space and getting talented massage therapists who could work with myself,” she said. When she was in 1987, she considered leasing space in the Times Square building on Route 299 close to Lowe’s. “I was required to hire other massage therapists to assist me in my work; and as I think about it I’ve likely been the source of more than 25 massage therapists who continue to collaborate with me or have started their own companies.” The names of them are Marissa Pileggi and Jennifer Hunderfund. “They’re incredible women, and amazing massage Therapists.”

When the Center for Therapeutic Massage began to expand its client base across the region and beyond, Montelione Grust was contacted by an chiropractor who was listening to her talk on the radio. The chiropractor asked if she would like to join him along with other practitioners of healing arts to build the wellness and health facility within Hyde Park. “I played a role in the creation of the Wellness Center, which included myself, as well as an esthetician, a chiropractor as well as a theotherapist, nutritionist and a reflexologist, esthetician,” she recalled. Never shy from a new challenge the Montelione Grust said “Yes,” and soon she was in charge of and running two centers.

When asked about what it was being an entrepreneur of a woman in a predominantly male-dominated world especially back during the 80s Montelione Grust replied, “I was very aware that I was female. I was in contact with some retired businessmen who I was in a position to meet with when I decided to launch an organization called the Wellness Center. They basically advised me to be kinda foolish and not to bother. Saying ‘No’ to going after a business or a goal only makes me stronger,” the woman added.

Despite the old-fashioned boys’ snarky attitude toward Montelione Grust’s dream of starting her own company The Wellness and Therapeutic Massage centres were not just profitable, but they were able to expand and flourish. At one time there was more than 12 therapists working for her.

When she bought her house located on Plains Road in New Paltz along with her husband, she considered building the center in their land. It would allow her to spend less time spent in the car and help her focus her attention on one venture and build a commercial space that was just a few feet away. While it sounded great but in the midst of her busy schedule at work she never gave her time to think about it until the day that changed her life when Montelione Grust who is a lover of all outdoor pursuits like landscaping, gardening as well as biking and hiking was involved in one of her most favorite pursuits such as alpine skiing.

She claimed that she thought just before the accident took place it was that something tried to stop her from her tracks. And the next thing she knew, she was taking a huge tumble. She was speeding on a rocky slope of Copper Mountain in Colorado when she fell upside down and flipped inside-out. The incident was so serious that it resulted in an injury to her tibia, and completely destroyed her fibula. “There weren’t any bones securing my leg to my foot,” she said. “Just tissue. When they needed to take my boots off, I was in shock.”

The accident needed two surgeries, plenty of medical equipment, and a long period of healing. Although she was able to manage the two centers, and even came up with ways to walk on one foot and provide massages, she paused to think about the next step. She opted to leave Hyde Park Wellness Center. Hyde Park Wellness Center and start to plan and construct an Center at her home located at 99 Plains Road, which has been a popular destination for those who want to relax for the past two decades.

The experience of walking into The Center is like entering the warm, silky slumber of a cocoon, enveloped by the aroma of essential oils white sheets, beautiful musical instruments, water-based features, and fresh bouquets of flowers which clients of Montelione Grust often send to her to say “Thank to you.”

Another of her initial clients who asked to be her last client before she retires, was Bobby Delay. “I saw Bobby’s brother-in law when I attended SUNY New Paltz taking Anatomy again, to study for I took my New York State exam,” she explained. Delay is a skilled carpenter in the local area, was smacked by a drunk driver taking his pick-up truck to work one day back. Montelione Grust recollects the incident as if the day it happened. “He injured his back in addition to other things. I would visit his hospital, and massage his shoulders in order to ease the pain he was suffering that was inconceivable.”

Montelione Grust says it’s usually pain that prompts people to visit her Center. “They’re typically suffering from a issue in the body. It can manifest as knee pain, back discomfort, or shoulder pain, but after they’ve been diagnosed they’re often regular clients, and may shift between pain relief to more preventive treatment. I’ve seen some patients such as Bobby [Delaywho has been with me for more than 30 years. However, I have a number of clients whom I’ve worked with and treated on for 10to 15 or 20 years. It’s awe-inspiring to me.”

When they have come to become familiar with Montelione Grust and have had the pleasure of experiencing the work she does, there’s not a surprise that people will follow her wherever she goes. They’ve followed her and they’re doing it. Her curious nature and desire to assist others has led to a long-term quest to learn about human physiology, and getting educated in all aspects of massage therapy. This includes the use of orthopedic massage, craniosacral therapies and the spontaneous muscular release therapy (SMRT). She is also an accredited infant massage instructor that has worked on premature infants and infants suffering from various medical conditions.

“I’m an avid student of continuing education,” she said with a smile. “I believe that’s the reason why my work is very great. I’m never able to absorb enough to be capable of taking what I learn from each class and integrate it into my daily work. This way, I am able to use different methods when a patient presents with an individual situation that requires a specific kind or work.”

Montelione Grust was a tourist at Costa Rica on a beach where massage therapists were working with clients. “I strolled along the beach, watching the massage therapists at work, so that I could choose the best person to receive an appointment with, and then I saw a woman working using her feet. This gave me an idea.” She completed her studies and attended classes on ashiatsu. This is a type of deep-tissue massage employing feet to apply the proper pressure. Her partner had to put bars across the ceiling in her massage room to ensure she could practice “because I’m a total massage enthusiast!”

In her first try at giving an ashiatsu massage she was unaware that the table for massage was way too high. “I took a seat onto the table, held the bars in place and began working on the client’s feet. I then experienced this intense painful sensation.” She had smashed herself against the lighting fixture with “blood running across my face. I was embarrassed!”

With every setback, there are a dozen opportunities for Montelione Grust, such as being the founder and owner of CoreStones that can be heated or cooled to provide deep-tissue massage. The company was sold in 2012, just when it was booming and she also offered courses and guidance to hundreds of massage therapists on how to perform an e-massage using CoreStones.

There are currently five therapists who work with her. Two of them are with her over more than two decades. “Everyone working at the clinic is warm and loving. It sounds like a cliché however it’s essential. I am blessed to be surrounded by these incredible women. We’ve built a true family in The Center.”

If asked about the thing regarding massage that keeps her interested throughout the years, she responded, “Being able to help clients and offer them some relief. We see people arrive here suffering tremendously, or experiencing a separation or loss. Touch is crucial and, when you consider it, doctors do not touch their patients. They prescribe and operate however, they don’t have an understanding of the anatomy of their patients.”

Montelione Grust has said that within her field of expertise she’s found blood clots within a client’s foot, and a tumour while inspecting an abdomen, suspect moles that required examination as well as ticks. “I’ve received reports from people who claim that I saved their lives and that’s hard to believe but I’m guessing it’s real.”

She explained that she let her hands guide her. “I follow the movements of my body using my hands, and then try to discover what may cause the imbalance within the body. My hands feel as if they are intelligent and are aware of how deep to go as well as when it is time to back off. I might start in an area the client believes is problematic, but it leads me to a different area that I’ll then return back.” There are methods and techniques given to therapy professionals, there’s the ability in the individual that can sense and understand what the body is trying to tell you.

Montelione Grust has taught classes for her entire life, she was the head for the New York State Chapter of the American Association of Massage Therapists. “I even learn while teaching a class,” she said.

In the course of the summer, Montelione Grust is set to end her time in the field of therapeutic massage. She will still run her Center that is well, but after more than four decades of examining people’s tension and pain and helping them recover, she has decided it’s the right time to go on some serious exploration – whether in her backyard or the Mohonk Preserve or other remote locations.

“I’ve worked for quite a while and now it’s the time to play,” she said. “If you have a friend who asks me to go on a hike I’d like to be able say ‘Yes. If there’s a spot I’m aching to go to I’d like to be able to visit. Perhaps I’d like to get on my bike to ride or even create walkways and gardens in my backyard. I love being outdoors and active. I feel like I’m ready to do something back to myself.”

But Montelione Grust acknowledges that the process will be a struggle. “It’s sure to be a natural process. I’m not sure what it will appear like but I realize that I’m grateful. I’ve been so surrounded by the residents from New Paltz throughout my career. I’m so thankful having been able assist people and that they’ve listened to me and accompanied me when I’ve moved around, as well as to all therapists who have assisted me. The community I’ve been in has been fantastic.” The Montelione Grust experience has also been an amazing great gift to this community, too.