The Secrets of Stress-Free Self Care

By: Angela Johnston

Ryan Heath and Natasha Prybyla, owners of Sloco Massage & Wellness Spa set out to create their wellness centric spa so that San Luis Obispo locals could feel guilt-free about prioritizing self-care. The spa offers massage, facials, waxing, cryotherapy, infrared sauna sessions, foot soaks and even has a retreat space. Their business model emphasizes protection of our local community and education on guilt-free advocating over one’s own health, some very noble causes I must say!  

Ryan says, “Regular massage is so important because our bodies are taking a beating even when we don’t realize it – from sun and pollution damage weakening our immune systems, to stationary desk work storing lactic acid in places we don’t want it. Increasing circulation and reducing inflammation require a vigilant routine, and certainly, regardless of if you’re extremely active or sedentary and illness-prone, both can equally stand to gain from a Sloco Membership.”  

Ten years ago, owning a thriving day spa in SLO wasn’t even a thought. In hindsight, their journey all started at Cal Poly – SLO where Natasha majored in journalism and struggled with chronic jaw pain that doctors told her may (or may not) be solved with surgery or eased with prescriptions. With quality of life deteriorating, Natasha visited a massage therapist specializing in craniosacral and trigger point therapy and was surprised by how this minimally invasive, simple, cheaper-than-surgery option opened up a world she’s thankful exists. Natasha started doing massage work herself under the Sloco name in Morro Bay more then 9 years ago before moving her business to downtown SLO. Nearly 5 years ago, they made the leap to turn her private massage practice into a full-service wellness spa on Santa Barbara Avenue, where they are currently located.

Ryan was also a journalism major but at the University of Oregon and has always had deep rooted family ties to this area (was a proud C.L. Smith Elementary Superstar, a Laguna Middle School Lancer and a SLO High Tiger). With his extensive background in the food, beverage and hospitality industries and a particular focus on customer service practices and work culture maintenance, it was inevitable that Ryan would join Sloco full time. However, this didn’t occur until about two years ago (nearly 8 years after him and Natasha had first met and found the glory of massage). It was just in time for him to nab extra credit for Sloco’s continued growth, which wouldn’t have been possible without so many employees, guests and general well-wishers first laying such a great foundation and continuing to look for efficient ways to flourish.

Ryan and Natasha both agree, “The best part about living and working in SLO is the people. Even though our little city doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to inclusiveness and diversity, this ever-growing and evolving community remains steadfastly positive; we give an example for how to treat and care for one another. Oh yeah, and the weather, topography and conserved lands are bonkers awesome. Have at it and get outside!”

Their movement and nutrition beliefs are center around those notions, by getting frequent outdoor activity and locally-sourced whole foods. Beyond the carbon footprint reduction of community farms and human-powered transportation, the cardiovascular and nutrient benefits are out of this world.

In terms of how it’s incorporated into their business, they encourage these habits in their guests because, “we keenly understand how well the human body can function when these practices are combined with regular massage, infrared and cryotherapy. We train our employees to offer suggestions for stretches, tools and minor lifestyle changes that help our guests retain the gains of their visits. We firmly believe combinations of customized modalities and routines (i.e. Athlon Fitness & Performance for strength, AXIS Chiropractic for re-alignment, SLO Family Acupuncture for circulation, Obispo Hyperbaric for oxygen therapy, etc.) are key to achieving wellness goals.”

Their general recommendation of self-care over the long run is “to listen to your body and always be a diligent advocate for your own health. With the information we have so readily available, if we can be honest with ourselves, that could be all that is necessary to avoid or quickly combat chronic illness, and be our healthiest possible selves.”

The extent of their research led them to several, very prominent certifications in their industry including Certified B Corp, and members of 1% for the Planet, the CA Green Business Network and Green Spa Network. They also just added Flume, a water saving app company created by Cal Poly grads. It’s no wonder they too enjoy Sloco’s eco-friendly services! Natasha enjoys receiving massages yet mainly does it to monitor the success of the business model, of course 😉 Ryan participates in frequent infrared therapy sessions and massages and is excited to incorporate cryotherapy into his regular routine.

Ryan concludes, “Some guests come in weekly for 90-minute massages, and end up saving nearly $1,500 per year on body work. That doesn’t even include the savings from not needing future surgical procedures and prescriptions or days missed at work due to avoidable illnesses. We don’t think we can even quantify the personal experiences that are lost to a “bad back day” or digestion nightmare.” 

If you’re as interested as we are in joining SLO’s eco-friendly day spa membership, it’ll cost $85 per month and you’ll receive your choice of a one hour massage, one hour facial or 4-pack of sauna sessions; your credits never expire or lose value, but the goal is to witness the benefits of regular visits. There is no application or cancellation fee, nor a minimum commitment beyond the first two months. If the monthly commitment isn’t right for you at this point, walk in, have a glass of Whale Bird Kombucha and set up your own personalized wellness plan for the day. Believe me, once you walk in you’ll want stay for the week!

Check them out and book an appointment today:

| Sloco Massage + Wellness Spa | (805) 439-2515 |

| 1957 Santa Barbara Ave. | San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 |

Get to know Ryan and Natasha just a little bit better:

  • What skin and self-care products do you use regularly?

At some point, we have and will continue to regularly use every product in the spa. In terms of current regimens and routines, Ryan uses Laurel‘s cleanser, facial elixir, antioxidant serum and Whole Plant Healing Balm in the mornings and evenings. Also in that pattern, are the Manduka Studio Gear yoga mat, Hugger Mugger Back Arch and the Urb Apothecary Beard Tonic. Those items are for everything from skin health to mental health with core strengthening and vanity incorporated for good measure. Natasha’s daily routine utilizes Whalebird Kombucha for gut health, Nipomo luffas and All Good Coconut Sunstick for skin and reef health, Trigger Point AcuCurve Cane for muscle health and the Green Love Wildflower CBD foot soak for the overall anti-inflammatory benefits (plus it smells amazing, has hop-derived CBD, uses locally-grown flowers and feels super good on your toesies). Of course, there is some overlap and sharing of products. Most notably, the Snooz White Noise Machine and Chocolate from Wei of Love of Baceae insures a good night’s sleep for both of us.

  • What are a few of your favorite things?

We love hikes, dogs, beach days, time with family, fermented treats, interesting foods, locations or experiences, concerts, hammocks, volunteering, movies with comic book violence (or none at all), and spending simple times together. More specifically, Ryan loves Natasha, the Giants (MLB), Niners (NFL), Warriors (NBA), Liverpool (Premier League and Champions Leauge), Oregon Ducks (NCAA), Timbers (MLS), Sharks (NHL), Barcelona (La Liga), Werder Bremen (Bundesliga), Palermo (Serie C – :(), skimboarding, snowboarding, Subarus, road bikes, goats, tattoos, Flour House, Sidecar, CCB, Seven Sisters, Lincoln Deli, SLOtography, WeVow, Rotary, BNI and B Corps. Natasha loves Ryan, chocolate, trips, plants, SLO Pilates Collective, Dr. Susan Lundgrenmeditation, Dr. Kelly Brogan, SLO Creek Farms, spa days, SLO Chamber of Commerce, elephant seals, SLO Natural Foods Co-Op, Green Spa Network, California Green Business Network, business plans, Barrel House, High Street Deli, Nite Creamery and 1% for the Planet.

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