Massage Therapist Finds Joy in Helping People Feel Better Naturally
by Sheila Julson
Petra Whisenhunt (nee: Bray) knows what it’s like to overcome adversity in search of a successful and fulfilling career. Today, as owner of Petra’s Massage Therapy, she takes pride in providing holistic, top-notch massage and wellness services in a warm, welcoming environment where everyone can leave their worries at the door.
Whisenhunt is an Alabama native who was raised by a single mom. Although her family was economically disadvantaged, she aimed high and held a strong interest in pursuing a career in health care. Her grandmother on the Bray side of the family was a medicine woman of the Cherokee tribe, and although she died when Whisenhunt was very young, family members tell her that she embodies her grandmother’s nurturing spirit.
After working at a nursing home during her teens, Whisenhunt’s next venture into the care-giving arena was helping animals. She studied and worked as a veterinary technician, but after seeing the difficult aspects of veterinary work, such as the euthanasia process, she realized she wasn’t suited for that profession.
In the late 2000s, Whisenhunt’s husband’s employer transferred him to Oklahoma City. Whisenhunt settled into her new home state and continued working in health care as a medical assistant for a cardiovascular physician. Yet she still felt a desire to do something more rewarding, so when she was researching different schools for new opportunities, she came across a brochure for a massage therapy school. She liked the idea that massage, as a holistic therapy, involves no medication or surgery. She enrolled at Central State Massage Academy and completed her schooling in 2008.
Massage therapy turned out to be the right decision for Whisenhunt, who, under the name Petra’s Massage Therapy, established a dedicated client following while she rented space at different wellness centers. In 2012, she acquired her current 3,400-square-foot location on 63rd Street. She and her team of 11 massage therapists have since received multiple accolades, including placing among the top vote-getters in the massage therapist category from 2014 to the present in the Oklahoman Readers’ Choice Awards.
Petra’s Massage Therapy offers several types of massages, including prenatal, sports, deep tissue, stretching and reflexology for the hands, feet, and even the head and face. “Anywhere the nerves end, that’s a trigger point,” Whisenhunt says, noting that head and face reflexology has grown in popularity in recent years.
Petra’s Massage Therapy also specializes in couples massage. “Not many massage facilities have the capacity to offer couples massage,” she notes, “but we have three rooms to offer couples massage, and another that can accommodate four people for group parties.”
New services to be offered this year include light laser lipo cold sculpting. Whisenhunt is completing certification for the procedure, which, she says, allows LED light lasers to enter the body and manipulate the fat cells. The body then absorbs the fat cells into the digestive tract, ultimately expelling them naturally from the body. The process involves leaving the laser device on a targeted area, such as the legs or arms, during each session. Whisenhunt notes the procedure is Food and Drug Administration approved and has been featured on The Dr. Oz. Show.
Another new service that Whisenhunt plans to unveil in 2017 is the Skinny Wrap. Local naturopathic professional and acupuncturist Twyla Wilson has developed the all-natural product, which Whisenhunt has personally used. She was so impressed by the results from the body wrap that she has chosen to offer it to her clients.
Whisenhunt feels that she has finally found her niche in massage therapy, and owning her own business allows her to give back to the community. Petra’s Massage Therapy regularly donates cash and gift certificates to shelters for homeless and abused persons and to cancer awareness groups. She recently gifted $400 worth of massages to a fundraising effort in Yukon to build a handicap-accessible playground.
“Massage makes me feel like we can help people in a natural way,” she enthuses, “and we provide a place where everyday stressors—whatever they are—can melt away. People can let everything go and feel better.”
Petra’s Massage Therapy is located at 3013 NW 63rd St., Oklahoma City. For more information, call 405-205-4876 or visit PetrasMassage.com.
Sheila Julson is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.