The Power of Empathy

I found this video incredibly powerful, both in images and ideas. I appreciate Brene Brown’s every word, down to the last line: “Rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.”
(Her TED talk about vulnerability hangovers and shame is also amazingly inspiring to me.)

Just doing it. (Iron Aries #2!)

In my experience, there are three parts of training:

1. Plan it. *

2. Do it.

3. Record it.

Of these three, I am definitely best at the “doing it” part, and I’m starting to see results. (Thanks, in honesty, to Chris.)

The results do not look at all like this. Because I am a human.


Continue reading


Hi, I’m Aries — I’m a licensed massage therapist and I work here in Washington, DC, predominantly at Freed Bodyworks. This is a collection of my thoughts on health, fitness, pain management, injuries, stress management and self-care strategies.

I see most clients in relation to chronic pain and athletic injuries, including issues such as shoulder injuries, headaches, TMJ, carpal tunnel, low back pain, neck pain, and restricted movement. I also appreciate working with clients to foster relaxation and assist in stress management. I use deep tissue techniques (and “Swedish” techniques) to decrease pain, increase movement, and help people feel more at ease in their bodies. I am in the process of getting my personal trainer certification so I can understand more about exercise physiology, stretching, and fitness.

As a massage therapist, I seek to create a safe, non-judgemental space for all people to receive bodywork. I welcome people of all body types, races, ability, ages, ethnicities, sexualities and gender identities. There are many reasons to seek massage, and I look forwards to creating massages that fit your needs and your body.

You can book a session online here (even for a same-day appointment) to find a time that fits your schedule. For more information, you can call or text me (202) 670-3886, or shoot me an email at aries [at] freedbodyworks [dot] com.

The sad season

As much as I love the holidays, this isn’t always the happiest season. With the days shorter, the light more scarce, and the wind more harsh, most faces around me grow more closed.

I see my friends getting sad. 

This week, a very close friend of mine wrote a powerful piece on depression — Riding It Out — on Disrupting Dinner Parties. I’d strongly recommend reading it all — here’s a section of it:

“I’m scared that my depression will turn me into someone who is not worth loving.

I’m scared of who I become under its influence. Someone who binge-watches vampire TV shows, who never comes out of her room, who can’t bring herself to call her friends or go dancing or write blog posts. Depression strips away all the external markers of my personality. It strips me of my ability to do any of the activities that validate my sense of self-worth, while simultaneously filling my head with a litany of my own worthlessness.

I’m scared that I will ride it out, make it through to the other side, and look around to find that I have lost all of my friends.” Continue reading


“Keep Telling Yourself, ‘This Workout Feels Good’

My friend/housemate Steve sent me this awesome article by Gretchen Reynolds about the impact of positive self-talk on exercise performance. The approach of exhaustion is an interesting place to do research, and personally, I love pushing myself longer and further in my workouts.

So today, I tried to incorporate these findings into my workout, trying to ramp up the positivity in my workout. As it was a “nuclear arms” day, my own encouragement did keep me from quitting after my third set of dips. Because I believed that I could do them.

For me, I like to think of my workouts as games, where I’m… well, Link. Or She-hulk. Or, um, Donkey Kong. And I think of them as games that I’m good at, and I get to push into the “Hard” mode. In my workouts, there’s mini-quests and bosses to fight, and things to jump over, and all the components of an awesome game. And in my workout, I tried to imagine myself as “feeling good” and feeling “powerful.” My best friend and I said “Level UP!” more than once. 

 In my mind, there are plenty of roads that get you to the intensity of a good workout — that optimal place where you’re pushing at your max. I like pushing myself through positivity — I like trainers who tell me that I *can* do something, and that I just have to try it. I like being in a large group, and feeling everyone’s excitement to move together. I like working out with a partner, and knowing that they’ll spot me, and that they’re working hard with me. Adding that extra dose of positivity from myself definitely made the workout sweeter.

That doesn’t make me less sore right now.

Top 12! Top 12!

Good news, everyone! Freed Bodyworks was featured in DCist’s “The 12 Best Places And Ways To Splurge In D.C.“!

For real– the company we kept includes The Columbia Room, car2go, the Kennedy Center, and Komi.


For me, the best type of splurge is one that lasts. And nothing beats a really good massage on an aching shoulder or painful lower back. Aries at Freed Bodyworks in Southeast D.C. is not only a wonderful massage therapist, she’s also a great listener. It’s a holistic-type of massage that leaves you feeling good in the body and brain. And at $110 for 90 minutes, it’s barely a splurge. — Sarah Anne Hughes

Freed Bodyworks is located at 1426 Pennsylvania Avenue SE.

Yep. Good news.


Iron Aries!

I was a chubby kid. And an unhealthy teen.

But as a grown-up, I’ve tried to found something close to a happy medium through regular exercise. Running, dancing, and calisthenics are my self-care.

As a massage therapist, I’ve definitely been pushed, both physically and mentally, to have a more complete understanding of bodies. I seen a number of clients in regards to pain management and injury recovery, and in our sessions, I’ve craved a more complete understanding of kinesthesiology and anatomy. I’ve wanted to be more skilled at explaining “good” soreness and “bad” soreness, and be more able to field questions about athletic training. I want to learn all the things. Continue reading

Why do you want to talk to me?

“Why do you want to talk to me?”

I hear this question at least once a week. As a part of a first session, massage therapists conduct an intake to hear about your history, goals, and what brings you in. While most massage therapists speak to their clients for five to ten minutes, I speak with clients for up to thirty minutes. We don’t charge for this time, nor does it “come off” your table time.

Yea. Thirty minutes: mostly of you speaking, describing your body and how your use your body regularly.

Thirty minutes is a long time, especially in our busy lives.

This is a vital aspect to Freed Bodyworks, and working with Frances, a piece that I initially struggled with. But as I’ve spent more time at Freed, I’ve realized how meaningful this time is to the practice. The thirty minute intake significantly changes the way massages work.

So why do we do it? Continue reading