Muriel Hattori has been practicing massage for over 30 years, but for the self-proclaimed “workaholic,” massage isn’t simply a career — it’s her life’s work. Over the years, she has developed her own therapeutic massage style, with techniques pieced together from massage techniques she’s experienced while traveling the world. The end result is a style that is very Asian-based and is fast-paced but also very relaxing and therapeutic, according to Hattori. Her clients have dubbed her technique “Muriel Magic.” Hattori’s clientele have included many prominent sports personalities, including NFL Coach Tom Coughlin and several PGA Tour players. Hattori is employed at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, Sawgrass Country Club, and Kudos Massage Therapy at the Ponte Vedra YMCA. She lives in Ponte Vedra with her husband.
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and after I finished school, I moved to Los Angeles, met my husband and moved to Ponte Vedra. He was relocated here with his work. So we came to Ponte Vedra in 1993 and we thought we’d only be here three years — and here we are still!
What do you enjoy about living in Ponte Vedra?
I think Ponte Vedra is really great, and everyone I know who moves away, they all come back. I go back to Toronto and I go back to L.A. quite often. There’s a lot to be said about the smaller, quieter city.
How did you get started in massage therapy?
I kind of fell into this. I started out actually studying acupuncture and fell into doing massage. I have traveled a lot. When I finished school, my parents encouraged me to travel for a different kind of an education, and as I traveled more and more and more, I started to get massages in all these different countries. It was always amazing how everybody was different; how every technique had a little bit of something special and different, and that’s what I like. So when I ended up pursuing massage, I developed a style over all these years.
How would you describe your massage style?
As I travel, I get more massages, I pick out what I like in each style and I kind of combine it into what I do and I have a very unique and a very eclectic style. It’s pretty much made up of what I think I would like to have done on me, and it’s probably a little bit of the best of all of the different ones that I have done.
How has your career evolved or differed in PV versus L.A.?
I have been very fortunate that when I moved out here, I kind of fell into the sports world. When I was in Los Angeles I was very fortunate and my business was built around the entertainment world, so I was very lucky; I met the right people at the right time which I think is crucial in any business that you’re in.
The person who really put me into all of this golfing who introduced me to the PGA Tour was Fred Couples. He’s wonderful; I actually owe a lot to him. He put me on the map with PGA Tour. Somehow it got out that I do a lot of therapeutic work and he found me and asked me to work on him for the week of The Players, and this was in 1996. And fortunately, he won. Word got out that I worked on him, and he is renowned for having a really bad back, so that didn’t hurt my career in any manner. He really set me on the course so I’m really, really grateful to him for that.
What do you think the secret to your success has been?
I like to help people. Most therapists don’t last as long as I’ve lasted. I think that they say that the average therapist only works five to seven years and I’ve gone over 30. I think a lot of it is the fact that I still enjoy what I do and I get a lot of satisfaction when I get somebody who comes in on the table and they say, ‘oh I have something wrong with me.’ I find that when I can help somebody and they get off my table and they’re feeling better, or they get off happier, that makes me happy.