Restorative Massage open in Cutting Edge Salon

Photo by Robert Williams
Chelsey Kooiker has transferred her massage therapy business from the Fargo-Moorhead metro to her hometown of Vergas. Her business Restorative Massage is located in Lori Tjaden’s Cutting Edge Salon on Elm Street.

By Robert Williams


Vergas native and licensed massage therapist Chelsey Kooiker had a plan to move back to Vergas, but not necessarily in the massage business.

Kooiker grew up in rural Vergas. Her parents are Harold and Lisa Dahl, who own a hobby farm near Maplewood State Park and H D Electric. Kooiker graduated from Pelican Rapids High School before attending Minnesota State University Moorhead to study pre-medicine.

“I did restorative therapy at Eventide for five years,” Kooiker said.  

Restorative therapy in the nursing home setting was exercise routines and range of motion designated by a physical therapist. Kooiker began working there to gain experience for her medical school application.

“I never thought I was going to go into massage; I was going to be a medical doctor,” Kooiker said. “Here I am and I’m loving it.”

The change was due to a lacking interest in Western medicine and the medical practice.

“I was gung ho on Eastern medicine,” Kooiker said.

Pursuing a route through naturopathic school would require a lengthy move to either coast of the country, so Kooiker sought out massage.

“So, I quit my job; I had good benefits and maternity leave and my husband was, ‘you’re doing what?’” Kooiker laughed.

After completing massage school, the change ended up working out for the best in regards to the couple’s work and life schedules.

“We don’t need daycare and I can balance my own hours,” said Kooiker.

Restorative Massage by Chelsey Kooiker, LLC, can be found inside Lori Tjaden’s Cutting Edge Salon on Elm Street. Lori knew Chelsey as a youngster and has been seeking out a massage therapist since opening the salon early this year.

“She’s been really helpful,” said Kooiker.

Kooiker found out about the opening from a couple recognizable names in the Vergas business district: Vergas State Bank Vice President Sherri Hanson and Sarah Wacker, owner of The Lavish Loon. The vibrant downtown of Kooiker’s hometown was also a big reason in making the move from the Fargo-Moorhead metro to the lakes a viable life change.

“That was another draw too with MW Pastry and the coffee shop—I thought this could be successful,” she said.

Kooiker and her husband Casey lived in Moorhead for 10 years waiting for an opportunity to move to Vergas. They dreamed of living on a 20-acre homestead located near her parents.

“We had joked about it a year before, but we knew we wanted to be somewhere out in the country,” she said. “It was really a godsend. It wasn’t really on the market when we found out about it. So, we went to the bank and put an offer in right away and everything went very smoothly.”

The purchase happened in May and the family, including the couple’s two-year-old daughter, began working on the transition to Vergas. Ironically, they closed on the purchase Aug. 14, their daughter’s second birthday.

The homestead the Kooiker’s purchased has another family connection—an old schoolhouse on the property that Chelsey’s dad attended school in until second grade.

“We want to renovate that one day into maybe an AirBnB or a massage business,” she said.

The couple began their move to Vergas in August and Chelsey has continued to transition her business to Vergas from Fargo.

“I’m hoping to be just in Vergas by the end of the year,” said Kooiker. “It was really stressful and you want your home to be your relaxing space.”

While the couple fixes up their new home and deals with a bit of chaos, Chelsey has found work to be that calming place.

“This is my relaxing space,” she said.

Kooiker aims to spread that level of calm to her clients.

“It’s so healing and I feel like I’m really good at it; I just didn’t realize that when I was going for medicine,” she said.

Kooiker used her pre-med background to find her specialty.

“I want to let people know that I’m here because massage is really important in people’s lives,” she said. “I specialize in deep tissue specific work for neck, shoulders and low back. Ever since I started in massage, everyone presents with that and I’ve been able to specialize in it. It kind of came to me that’s what I’m really good at – the deep tissue. We’ve got trigger-point, range of motion and I use cups a lot.”

Massage therapy and the services provided are also contingent on communication between therapist and the client. Kooiker provides a wide variety of different treatments.

“I do general maintenance too,” she said. “It’s not the same thing every time. Whatever you are telling me that you want, that’s what we’re going to do. I have experience working with a wide range of ailments. We don’t say that we fix people because your body fixes itself, but I’m an instigator trying to correct the muscles.”

Online booking with Kooiker is available at or by telephone: 701-404-9302. She also has Facebook (Restorative Massage by Chelsey Kooiker, LLC) and Instagram (massagebychelseykooiker) pages for more information.