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Meet Maricel Balanza of mb massage & bodywork in Solana Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maricel Balanza.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My journey to becoming a massage therapist and Reiki master started with being an artist. I have always been fascinated with the human figure that I usually sketched portraits and live models. When I was studying Graphic Design at CSU Fullerton, my favorite class was an elective class called life drawing. It was satisfying to interpret the flow of action movements and poses of the people that would model in class. I originally had dreams of being an illustrator or a fine artist, but I often let others’ opinions about what career would be best for me take precedence. After receiving my BFA in Graphic Design, I took a coveted job working as a design intern with the Jim Henson Company. But it quickly became clear that my career in Graphic Design would not be fulfilling to me because it lacked the freedom of creativity and heart that I yearned for. So in less than a year of working in the graphic design field, I decided to pursue other careers that involved helping others in a different way. Since I liked working with my hands, I explored careers in healthcare, such as dental assisting, art therapy, and even sign language interpreting.

From there, I moved back home with my parents in Temecula. I felt embarrassed, lost, and confused. I was stuck. Afraid to make a commitment to school again, I only job shadowed and researched as I looked for random part-time jobs in the area. Anxiety kicked in and I did not like where my life was headed. Since I was already into yoga, I turned to that along with some natural ways of healing myself. That was when I became interested in massage therapy. It started with wanting to heal myself before I could help others. I had to begin with healing my internal conflict of finding my life purpose and meaning to life.

I decided to take one introductory massage class, and instantly I was hooked. The combination of learning human anatomy and using my creativity and intuition kept me immersed in wanting to learn more. I took a job working at a spa at a local casino to help pay my way through massage school. There, I learned how to book appointments, know spa etiquette, and understand what a massage therapist’s day was like at a spa.

Massage school is where I met my boyfriend, and he introduced me to Reiki energy healing, which completely shifted my lifestyle and my work. We both studied under a Shaman and it was deeply healing for me. Reiki is now ingrained in my Lomi Lomi Hawaiian style massage. I discovered Lomi Lomi as an elective class for the massage therapy program. I have always loved the Hawaiian culture. I have family from there and so I feel connected to the Hawaiian energy. It feels like home to me. This led me to study with instructors from Hawaii at a local Sacred Lomi® retreat, which is rooted in the lineage of Kahu Abraham Kawai’i (sometimes referred to as Temple Style Lomi, Hawaiian Temple Bodywork, or Kahuna Bodywork).

This is how I’ve come to incorporate Reiki and Lomi Lomi in my practice. It is now a lifestyle for me; living a life through Aloha. Through my journey of discovering massage therapy and Reiki, I have also found myself. I choose to help others through sharing these same gifts because everyone deserves a chance to find their inner peace.

I currently live in San Diego with my boyfriend, who is also a massage therapist. I now work full-time at my own massage practice, MB Massage and Bodywork, in Solana Beach. I was able to use my background in graphic design, and create my own business logo and marketing materials for my massage business. I still love to sketch and paint on the side, often inspired by the spirit of Aloha, incorporating it with the body, just like a Lomi Lomi massage.

Has it been a smooth road?
I began with renting a space in Sorrento Valley and started offering deals through Living Social and Yelp. As I was grateful for people noticing my service, it still started off rocky. My schedule was unpredictable and I would have big gaps in between clients. I found myself working at two or three jobs at a time (either at chiropractic offices or other massage studios) to be able to keep a stable income. I also believed that I wasn’t attracting the right clients who appreciated Lomi Lomi massage and Reiki. I learned that I probably wasn’t marketing my service to the right clients, and I noticed that I can facilitate other ways to expose myself and my specialty.

After only a few months, I stopped working at the Sorrento Valley location because the owner decided to sell the space. Coincidentally, an old friend and co-worker of mine offered her space to share in Solana Beach. I absolutely had to accept this beautiful space. I thought it was perfect to offer my Lomi Lomi Hawaiian Massage service by the beach.

I slowly introduced myself to the community, collaborating with local dance and yoga studios and offering chair massages at networking events. It became a fun activity for me as I exposed myself and my services.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with mb massage & bodywork – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I offer therapeutic, Swedish, and sports massage with a specialty in Lomi Lomi Hawaiian massage and Reiki energy healing.

Lomi Lomi is a relaxing yet therapeutic massage with the use of forearms movements performed to a similar fashion as the hula. The movements are designed to confuse the thinking mind, inviting the art of letting go. During a session, I usually play healing Hawaiian music and chants during the session. There is something deeply healing about the Hawaiian language, which plays a huge part of the massage experience.

Hawaiian massage is based on an ancient healing system using Hawaiian charts and helpful techniques in which to clear unwanted patterns in your life and your body. The charts show exactly where issues are hidden in the muscles and joints to clear the body, mind, spirit and unwanted situations in life. I enjoy combining both scientific and spiritual approaches to healing. It’s amazing to see how different systems work toward the same goal

When I Incorporate reiki into a massage session, I like to utilize crystals and spirit animals. Some may find that peculiar, but most find it interesting. I create space for the client to heal, guiding them to heal on their own.

As a Lomi Lomi specialist and Reiki practitioner, I am grateful to see the world through energy and light. I love getting to know each of my clients and witness their progression in physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the beaches here in San Diego. My favorite beaches are Coronado, Windansea, Solana Beach, and Cardiff. I also enjoy the many outdoor activities to do such as kayaking, hiking, and surfing. San Diego seems to be a very fit city. From yoga to crossfit, I am completely inspired and motivated to keep up with my health and fitness. I also appreciate how communities in San Diego support small and local businesses. Last but not least, I am grateful we have many breweries to try!

I cannot really think of something that I don’t like about San Diego. If I must say, I would point out that the traffic can get hectic. Traffic is not as bad as Los Angeles, however.


  • $80 for 60 minutes of massage with Reiki
  • $100 for 90 minutes of massage with Reiki
  • $10 off your first visit!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jeffrey Lacson

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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