By Gary Nager

One of our favorite local licensed massage therapy centers — Swiss Spirit Massage in the Cory Lake Isles Professional Center on Cross Creek Blvd. in New Tampa — has recently expanded its unique mix of available services.

Owner Marlen Caduff, LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist), who was a registered nurse in her native Switzerland, says she has long been interested in nurtitional counseling and it’s not hard to believe that the slim (but strong) Swiss Spirit owner knows what she’s talking about when it comes to eating right.

Even so, Marlen isn’t a registered dietitian, so she decided to do some research to find a way to combine the feel-good effects of licensed massage with teaching her clients how to have a healthier diet and live a healthier life.

What she found was an outstanding book by a German doctor named Wolf Funfack, M.D., entitled Metabolic Balance®, Your Personalized Nutrition Roadmap. In the book, Dr. Funfack, an internal medicine physician who specializes in nutrition-related medicine, debunks many myths regarding diets with a unique, holistic approach that already is changing the lives of many of Marlen’s massage therapy clients. She says she even went through “extensive training” with Dr. Funfack himself!

I have met or spoken with three of those clients and although none of them has lost more than 25 pounds to date (they all just happened to not be extremely overweight when they started the program), all three say they will never go back to the way they ate — or lived — before.

“A lot of my massage clients were complaining about aches and pains and health issues, many of which were obviously related to their diets and lifestyles,” Marlen says in her sweet Swiss accent. “Metabolic Balance® is definitely a different way to approach making a lifestyle change you can live with for the rest of your life.”

Unlike many of today’s weight-loss programs, which tell you to eat five or six times (or more) each day, Metabolic Balance® teaches you to eat just three meals — with no snacks — every day, with at least 4-5 hours between meals. It is definitely a low-carb diet, so carb “addicts” may be skeptical about their ability to stay on the program long-term. But, a Swiss Spirit client named Elaine, who is a native Italian New Yorker who says she previously craved pasta and bread, has lost 15 lbs. on the Metabolic Balance® program and says her carb cravings are no longer an issue for her.

“The first couple of weeks were a little tough for me,” she admits. “But, I have never had this much energy while on a ‘diet’ and my cravings for carbs are definitely gone.”

Marlen says that it’s important for clients to follow the Metabolic Balance® program to the letter for at least the first 2-4 weeks, so their bodies can adapt to the dietary changes and their “engines” can begin burning away their excess fat.

“There’s no doubt that the program works,” adds Connie, a client who has lost 23 lbs. on Metabolic Balance®. “I knew it would when I started on it, but once the weight loss started kicking in, it was easy. I can honestly say I’ve never been hungry on this program!”

And, Marlen notes, once the program is working, clients can start adding back their favorite carbs and other more fattening foods, although she says the best way to do so is to have one or two “cheat days” a week, where you eat basically whatever you like but go back on the program to the letter on your non-cheat days.

“But, even on the days you cheat, it’s important to have a bite of protein before you have a bite of carbs. For example, if you put smoked salmon on a bagel, have a bite of the salmon first, to get your engine started breaking down the protein.” She adds that it’s important that you have only one protein and one carbohydrate food at each meal. “For example, you shouldn’t have smoked salmon and cream cheese on your bagel,” she says. “Even on your cheat days, you need to learn the right way to combine the foods that you eat. The program teaches you the right ways and we provide the counseling and support you need to make it work for you.”

Her enthusiasm and sincerity are part of what has made Marlen a successful massage therapist. Her clients know she cares about them and they trust her to know what she’s talking about. “I have been a massage client of Marlen’s since she first opened Swiss Spirit,” says Elaine. “I know she wouldn’t offer a weight loss program she hasn’t investigated and tried herself, so I felt very comfortable giving this a chance. Best of all, it works!”


Massage Services

Of course, Swiss Spirit Massage is still first and foremost a licensed massage therapy studio and Marlen and her small team of professional LMTs — which includes Melissa Strautman and Dhonnie Labang (more on them below) — can provide everything from traditional Swiss/European massage to specialties such as traditional Thai massage, hot stone therapies and even lymphatic drainage massage. Each LMT at Swiss Spirit brings his or her own specialized training to the studio.

For example, Labang, who has nearly five years of professional massage experience, also is studying to become a physical therapy assistant. He specializes in pre- and post-sports massages, combining traditional Swedish techniques with deep tissue and lymphatic drainage therapies.

Strautman, the newest member of the Swiss Spirit team, has more than a dozen years of experience as an LMT and believes that all clients should receive consistent quality within their custom designed massage treatments. She specializes in Swedish Relaxation and Therapeutic Massage, Medical/ Sports Massage, 4-Handed Massage, Amma (Korean/TCM) Therapy™, Metamorphic Hot Stone Therapy, Pre-Natal Massage, Restorative Spa Treatments, Lypossage™ and Lomi Lomi.

Meanwhile, Marlen has a deep commitment to continuing education to meet her clients’ therapeutic/relaxation needs. She recently journeyed to Thailand to add new modalities to her massage repertoire and became certified in Traditional Thai Massage (levels 1-3) as well as certified in Chi Nei Tsang (abdominal massage).

Marlen has worked diligently to create a young and vibrant massage therapy office. Swiss Spirit Massage features a caring, professional staff and embraces and uses the best of traditional Swiss/European massage and bodywork methods, as well as the most recently incorporated modalities .

And, best of all, Swiss Spirit Massage offers a variety of packages to help keep your costs down, although massages with Marlen herself do cost a little more. But, take it from someone who has enjoyed more than one massage with her — she’s worth it!

Swiss Spirit Massage is open every day except Sunday, although you have to have an appointment, whether for any type of licensed massage therapy or the Metabolic Balance® program. It is located at 10323-B Cross Creek Blvd., next to AAP Fitness, less than 2 miles south of the Pasco line. If you mention the New Tampa Neighborhood News and sign up for the Metabolic Balance® program by Saturday, March 31, you’ll receive 10-percent-off the cost of your personalized weight loss/nutrition program. For more information, call 325-1296 or visit

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