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Our Therapists

We're a massage therapy center with a team of skilled, licensed massage therapists who focus on creating real and positive change in our client's body, mind and spirit. We combine a variety of targeted, therapeutic massage and general relaxation techniques.



Valinda Britt Dees, LMBT #3848 
Valinda Britt Deese, LMBT, calls the small Robeson County town of Orrum her hometown. She studied massage therapy at the South Carolina Massage Therapy Institute and has been a massage therapist since 2003.

She previously practiced massage therapy in Lumberton and Fayetteville, but has been with FirstHealth Fitness in Pinehurst and Raeford for the past six years.

She is trained in Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone and prenatal massage as well as in aromatherapy, reflexology and bambo fusion.

Valinda has a very grounded philosophy about the value of massage.

“Everyone can benefit from massage, both physically and mentally,” she says. “Massage should be an integral part of your personal wellness program. In other words, every body needs massage.”





Pamela Marks, LMBT 

Pamela Marks, LMBT, graduated from Sandhills Community College in 2005 and has been practicing massage therapy ever since. She is trained in a number of modalities, including Swedish, deep tissue, prenatal, hot stone, trigger point, myofascial release and cupping. Additionally, Marks is Reiki II trained and certified and has experience working with oncology and hospice care patients.

She believes massage is a valuable asset to both mind and body. Her favorite quote from Irene Smith sums up how she feels about massage and its pain and stress-reducing benefits: "Touch was never meant to be a luxury. It is a basic human need. It is the action that validates life and gives hope to both receiver and giver."





Sheneka Patterson, LMBT #5410
Born and raised in the Sandhills, Sheneka Patterson is a Carthage native who was educated at Sandhills Community College. A practicing massage therapist since 2005, she has done continuing education in energy-based fascial conduction and Lomi Lomi, a Hawaiian-based massage.

Her specialties include traditional Swedish, deep tissue and pregnancy massage.

Sheneka believes in the health value of massage.

“Massage is a great health benefit, because it increases body awareness, reduces stress and allows one to enter into a state of relaxation,” she says. “Having clients leave and say they feel so much better and got exactly what they needed means so much to me. When that happens, I know I’ve communicated well with them and used my expertise as a therapist to effectively meet their needs.”




Jo Ann Richardson, LMBT #10608
Massage therapist Jo Ann Richardson, is originally from Star, but has been in Moore County since 1994 and currently resides in the Robbins area. She has an associate degree in medical laboratory technology from Sandhills Community College and studied massage therapy at Body Therapy Institute in Siler City.

A practicing massage therapist with FirstHealth since 2011, she is a certified member of Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, a member of the Society for Oncology Massage and recognized as a preferred provider of oncology massage, as well as a certified medical massage practitioner.  Jo Ann is also certified in pre-natal massage, and currently working toward her certification in orthopedic massage.

Jo Ann offers an integrated approach to massage that lets her customize the session for the individual client, utilizing a combination of Swedish, myofascial and neuromuscular techniques.

“As a student at Body Therapy Institute, I learned the ‘whole person’ approach to massage, and it continues to be at the center of my work today,” she says. “My session time is focused on client objectives, but I work within a therapeutic model to help ensure optimal outcomes for each of my clients.”




Michele Santiago, LMBT #1448
Fayetteville native Michele Santiago, received her bachelor’s degree from UNC-Wilmington and also studied at the Coastal Carolina Institute for Massage Therapy. She has been a practicing massage therapist since 1999, previously in Wilmington and Aberdeen and currently in Southern Pines as well as with FirstHealth Fitness in Pinehurst.

She has earned a variety of certifications, most recently her Medical Massage Practitioner certification. She specializes in traditional, Swedish, deep tissue, pregnancy and post-partum, Russian sports, hot stone, myofascial release, orthopaedic and medical massage therapy.  She has also taken courses in athletic training to further her knowledge of therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, post-surgery and injury recovery.

Michele believes in individualizing the massage session to the specific needs and requests of her client.

“Massage therapy should be incorporated as frequently as possible into our lives to help aid our ability to naturally cope with everyday stress,” she says. “Massage is not a cure-all, but we know that if proper consideration and care is taken of our bodies, those constant stresses can be better tolerated.”




Genell Snyder, LMBT #11887
Genell Snyder received her training in massage therapy in 1997 with the East-West College of Healing Arts in Portland, Ore. A native of Fairbanks, Alaska, she now makes her home in Aberdeen.

Before joining FirstHealth, she had a private practice in both Fairbanks and Portland. Her areas of interest include sports injury and shiatsu. To complement her approach to sports injury therapy, she has taken classes in advanced myofascial techniques, PNF and injury management, and manual lymphatic drainage at the Vodder Institute.

Shiatsu, one of Genell’s favorite modalities – both to practice and receive – involves gentle non-invasive stretching and rhythmic pressure that opens energy pathways with attention on joints and movement.

“Massage is a time-honored method to maintaining our health,” she says. “Learning to understand the language of our body brings awareness and promotes a mind/body connection.”




Kristen Traunecker, LMBT #20195

Born and raised in Connecticut, Kristen now calls North Carolina home. She is a 2008 graduate of the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy (CCMT) and is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Before joining FirstHealth Fitness, she had a private practice, taught sports massage at CCMT and worked in various health care environments, including physical therapy and chiropractic care. Kristen also has a B.S. in equine studies. 

She employs a specialized, anatomically-specific style of massage to help restore function and mobility.

"I believe massage is an essential part of one's self care routine," she says. "That can range from taking time out for relaxation to recovering from orthopaedic surgery." 



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