When Olympia local Nicole LaPraim was in her early twenties, she made a life-changing and momentous decision – to attend a year-long intensive massage therapy program. That one decision shaped her future – and as we sit down in her business, Ballaura Wellness Spa in Lacey, Washington, she explains how that one choice changed her life.


“At the time, I was going through a lot of anxiety and depression,” Nicole tells me. Massage school proved to be the turning point for her to learn to nourish and nurture her own body. “I developed a passion for health and then a passion for fitness, and my life changed when I changed my health.”


Nicole wanted to be able to share that personal experience with other people. After working as a massage therapist for a local chiropractor and then in an upscale salon, Nicole took the leap to open her own business – and Ballaura Wellness Spa was born. The name came from her own maiden name of Ball and the word “aura,” the conceptual energy field that spiritualists believe surrounds all living beings.


Her business took off – and before she knew it she had more customers than she could have imagined. “I ended up with seven employees in my first year and I had no idea what I was doing. I was in the school of hard knocks and I didn’t even know it.”


With extreme highs can come the lows as well, however, and Nicole experienced this when the building she was leasing came under new ownership. With a huge rent increase, she knew she couldn’t stay there any longer. “It was very devastating to my business when that happened and it scared me. I ended up moving and going to a leasing model.” With a business plan in place to lease rooms out instead of having direct employees, Ballaura Wellness Spa became more secure to weather whatever financial storms might come. Since then, however, Ballaura has returned to having a direct employee model, with most of the team as employees and a few lessees.


These days, Nicole says she spends only part of her time giving massages to clients. Instead, she is slowly making the shift away from the massage table and focusing on bringing in fresh faces to join the team. “I really love the business aspects. I like helping new people out. It’s also really exciting for me as a business owner to see the other women succeed and be able to be flexible with their businesses.” Currently, Ballaura Wellness Spa has six highly experienced massage therapists with room for one more. “It’s amazing here. Everybody gets along really well and we’ve created an environment where everyone loves to be here.”


With a variety of services available and a relaxing atmosphere, it’s a calming and relaxing place to be. Ballaura’s massage team focuses heavily on sports massage and injury relief, in addition to providing prenatal and relaxation massage among a variety of other styles and methods. However, with a master esthetician on board, clients can get also receive every kind of skin care service from facials, waxing, and peels to micro-blading, eyelash tinting, and micro-needling.


Whatever your needs are, Ballaura Wellness Spa has you covered – whether you’re receiving a massage to treat arthritis or just taking an afternoon to relax and have a facial. “I’d like to see more awareness around the benefits of massage. Because, statistically, people that receive massaged more often experience lower doctor bills in general. It’s great for people who sit at a desk all week and can come in and massage away the tightness. Not only are you working on tight muscles, but you’re also reducing stress.” Massage provides stress relief and aids in chronic pain as well as helping break down scar tissue within the muscle.


Even if you’ve never had a massage before, there is nothing to fear. “You [the client] are completely in control. I’ve given massages to people that didn’t want to be touched by hands so I used hot stones. I’ve given massages to people who had some body issues and didn’t want to be seen so I did compression through the sheet. We can facilitate whatever people’s fears are. We are not here to judge you, we are here to make you feel better.”


For Nicole and her team at Ballaura Wellness Spa, it’s all about sharing what they’ve learned from their experiences and making a difference in someone else’s quality of life. “Whenever I have gone through a stressful period in my life, I want to go to work because I relax here. I think there’s something to be said for helping others to take your mind off yourself. For me, having people come in and find stress relief is huge – seeing people get motivated to change their life and change their health.”


To schedule an appointment, visit Ballaura Wellness Spa online or call (360) 539-7726. Nicole and her team look forward to welcoming you – and helping you to “relieve, relax, and recover.”