Island native Antone Dias can spot your postural issues from a mile away. “Nobody is anatomically correct,” Dias said as we sat chatting in his living room. “Everyone complains about their neck and shoulders. The most common postural issue in the world is internally rotated shoulders and a forward head posture.”
Anyone else correcting their posture at this very moment?
“We start to lean forward like that as we age,” Dias said. “That can pull on our lower back, and transfer to lower back pain. These are the most common things that we deal with as human beings.”
Dias has studied and worked with the human body for over a decade. He began as a personal trainer at Equinox Fitness in Boston, where he found health and wellness to be a niche that resonated with him. “Helping myself through helping other people,” he said. “That’s what struck me.”
But he found that something was missing: “If you want to create real change in someone’s body, there has to be a more holistic approach.”
That’s when he decided to go to massage school. Dias signed up for a nine-month program at the Cortiva Institute. “I found massage to be such a broad practice, with so many modalities and different approaches,” he said. “The learning never stops.”
In 2009, Dias moved back to Vineyard Haven, where his family has lived for four generations. He started Eclipse Massage Therapy, a business meant to encompass all aspects of holistic healing, to serve his Island community.
“People traditionally think of massage as a luxury,” Dias’ sister and business consultant, Mercy Bell, said. “Self-care, but indulgent self-care. But massage is a necessity for the strengthening process. If it were more affordable and accessible, it’d be something everyone would try.”
In many major countries, massage is offered through a medical plan. It’s used to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, circulatory issues, and migraines. After a car accident, some doctors will prescribe a series of massages before prescribing pain medications.
“There’s such a long list of ailments that massage is proven to help,” Dias said. “It’s a tough subject in the U.S., and it has to do with healthcare. Massage therapy is still getting there, and it’s going to take time.”
Dias has spent the past nine years working to make massage more accessible and available. Eclipse offers eight different massage modalities, including injury relief, first-time relaxation, deep work, aromatherapy, prenatal, Thai, Reiki, and acupressure. Eclipse also offers private yoga classes, personal training, acupuncture, and chiropractic work.
“A lot of times, a massage therapist is not in touch with your chiropractor or personal trainer,” Dias said. “There’s a disconnect in practitioners. But we like to generate a plan tailored to the client, and we handle all services.”
Eclipse is primarily mobile, and partners with over 60 Island affiliates to provide integrative, reliable, and holistic services at a moment’s notice.
“The summer for us is just like any other business here on Martha’s Vineyard,” Dias said. “There’s a sharp contrast. We’re busy from Memorial Day to Labor Day.”
Eclipse services are available year-round from 6 am to 11 pm. Peak hours for massage are between 3 and 8 pm, and peak hours for yoga and personal training are in the early hours of the morning. “When I get a request, I literally always say yes, and then we make it work,” Dias said.
Dias comes from a background in hospitality, and ran a complete concierge service for professional athletes in Arizona. When he returned to his Island home, he figured out what the Vineyard was missing.
“I saw all these practitioners without full-time employment,” Dias said. “But there was such a demand for massage.”
Prior to Antone’s business, massage therapists would work on call for a number of different Island hotels, inns, and spas. When a guest requested a service, receptionists would work their way down a long list of on-call therapists. Antone approached these places and offered his business model: “Instead of using your time at the front desk, here’s my number, give me a call and I’ll handle the headache. A professional, punctual, and excellent practitioner will be there within the hour.”
Dias said the networking aspect is what he’s grown to love most about his business. “It’s less about things being monetary, and more about having fun,” he said. “It’s fun to see something grow and thrive, and providing a service that makes people happy.”
Dias also commented on the mutual benefits of massage. “It’s not only good for the client, but also extremely therapeutic for myself. When I’m in a session, there’s flow to my technique. There’s music. It’s a very meditative thing for the practitioner. It’s my hour too.”
During summer, practitioners come in from all over the country to work for Antone and Eclipse Massage. “There’s no chance of getting bored; you just learn something new,” he said. When practitioners arrive, they share tricks of the trade — everyone has something different in their toolbox, according to Antone. “We learn from each other and get better as a collective,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s just about taking that hour for yourself,” Dias added, “It’s imperative.”
I recently woke up with a severely stiff neck, limited to about an inch of mobility in all directions. It was a Thursday morning, and when I realized the pain wasn’t going to get any better, I reached out to Antone to see if he or any of his practitioners could squeeze me in over the next few days. By 2:30 that afternoon, I was half asleep in relaxation, face down on a massage table in my front yard. All my perpetually neglected toxins were being cared for and released, and my one and only job was to lie there and breathe. After the hour, I told Antone it was quite possibly the best massage in the history of human existence.
He responded without hesitation, “I know.”
You can find Eclipse Massage at the Chilmark Flea Market, M.V. Artisans Festivals, Featherstone Flea Market, and Oak Bluffs Open Market. For more information and to book a session, visit eclipsemassagetherapy.com. And keep an eye out for future updates — after nine years of being a primarily mobile service, Eclipse Massage is exploring an opportunity to occupy a space in Vineyard Haven. Stay tuned.