If you're looking for a gentle way to get those kinks worked out, Renee Robb-Cohen has just the right touch. Her 4-year-old practice, called A Celebration of Being, features relaxation massage, stress reduction, therapeutic massage (for strained muscles) and reflexology. If you're not up for the everyday rub-down, reflexology might be more your style. This massage technique focuses on the feet, homing in on points in the foot that correspond to other areas of the body. It's a low-impact way to free blocked energy. -- AM
You can find Renee Robb-Cohen's practice at Chiavaras Hair Design (see Best Hair Stylist)
16 N Liberty St, Asheville
or call her at 215-4270
Just back from a 10-day trip to China, Rick Sibley is ready to add yet more Asian influence to his healing repertoire. "I'm a physical therapist by profession," he says, "but I don't do typical physical therapy." In fact, Sibley just renamed his practice New Horizons of Healing (it was formerly called New Horizons Physical Therapy) in order to include craniosacral therapy, organ manipulation and qi-gong, among other forms of healing. "Qi-gong uses the breathing, the mind, movement and postures to build up bioelectromagnetic energy in the body," he explains. "It's like doing self-acupuncture without the needles." No needles? Sounds good to me! -- AM
New Horizons of Healing
70 Woodfin Pl, Asheville
Xpress readers prove that "It's fun to stay at the YMCA," standing by this downtown fitness mecca/community center year after year as the top pick for best gym. The YMCA of Western NC leaves the competition in the dust, dominating the shape-up scene with both family- and individual-oriented options. Between aquatics, fitness classes, a gym and a barrage of kids' programs, getting (and staying) healthy can be mostly fun and games.
The Y has long been a favorite among downtown business folks who spend their lunch hour working out and jogging, and the after-school programs offer everything from arts to athletics. But there's more to this fitness favorite than just working up a good sweat. For more than 25 years, the Asheville Y has served at-risk youth in Buncombe County through programs like Project Youth Outreach. When it comes to building strong communities, Asheville's favorite gym knows how to walk the talk. -- AM
YMCA of Western North Carolina
30 Woodfin St, Asheville
Chiavaras Hair Design represents a dying breed -- family-run businesses that know and care about their customers. The Liberty Street salon was started by husband-and-wife team Chuck and Patsy Chiavaras in 1968. Patsy has since retired to take care of the grandchildren.
"I've missed only five days of work in 37 years," Chuck points out. He attributes the shop's longevity to dependability and professionalism. "We're here to give advice on hair," he says. "If you want a style that won't look good on you, we won't cut your hair just to make money."
Daughters Eva and Olivia and niece Tanja ensure that this remains truly a family affair. Chiavaras offers hair styling, hair replacement, nails and electrolysis. -- AM
Chiavaras Hair Design
16 N Liberty St, Asheville
No one likes to think about their car breaking down. But if yours ever does, the Elff team has you covered. From towing service to major engine overhauls, this multilingual auto shop has what it takes to get you up and running again.
Owned by Edson Degobbi and his wife, Lilian, Elff has been around for 11 years. Degobbi attributes his success to a combination of technological know-how and a great team of mechanics. "We do everything perfect," he insists. "I only use new parts, never anything rebuilt. We're constantly updating and adding new equipment."
Degobbi is also a racecar expert, a fact that attracts cliental. "Once a customer said, "I know that if you can fix those racecars and keep them running right, you can fix my car," Degobbi recalls. "That's the way we work." -- AM
Elff Auto Service
151 Coxe Ave, Asheville
Animal Hospital of North Asheville comes out on top again, and if there were any doubt about it, consider that staffer Dr. Warren Riggle collected the most votes among individual veterinarians (as opposed to an entire practice). The north Asheville fixture beats out the competition year after year, so what's their secret with the critters? Hint: It's more than just the segregated dog and cat entrances.
Dr. Jim Earley, a four-year veteran at the hospital, surmises, "I know it sounds cheesy, but I really like that I help the animals and help their owners at the same time." He feels that he sees more distraught pet owners than other veterinary offices. "Some people go elsewhere for shots but come here for more serious problems," he points out. "It's a nice facility. We have nice equipment and can do more procedures." Blue, the resident feline, can attest to that. Blue's owner, the night technician, sleeps on-site four nights a week to ensure that the sickest animals can be treated round the clock. -- AM
Animal Hospital of North Asheville
1 Beaverdam Rd, Asheville
A certified Iyengar yoga instructor, Cindy Dollar has traveled to Pune, India, three times to study with Geeta Iyengar, the daughter of yoga legend B.K.S. Iyengar.
Dollar has been in the yoga business since 1985. "I teach people to lead balanced and flexible lives," she stresses, explaining that through yoga, people can learn ethical discipline and develop a better relationship with the world around them. "It starts with how you are on the mat," Dollar says, "and as you learn your abilities and hindrances, you can be more accepting in all aspects of life." -- AM
Check out Cindy Dollar's classes at 191 Murdock Ave, Asheville
Arbor Creek Kennel and Stables is not only the best, it's the biggest boarding kennel in WNC. "We board pets for people whenever they need us," says owner Brenda Wright. This Weaverville-area kennel sounds like the perfect place for a dog to, uh, vacation. There's a/c in the summer, a heated floor in the winter, plus big indoor/outdoor runs that let pets go in and out as they please. Isn't that every dog's dream? "We even have play time," adds Wright, and with 30 acres, there's plenty of room for supervised romps. Arbor Creek also has stables where they board horses, offer rides and hold birthday parties.
Arbor Creek unseated the top pick of the last few years, Top Dog Kennels, which tied with Avery Creek Kennel for an honorable mention. -- AM
Arbor Creek Kennels and Stables
426 Flat Creek Church Rd, Weaverville
Top Dog Kennels
600 Old US 70 Hwy, Swannanoa
Avery Creek Kennel
527 Long Shoals Rd, Arden
Do a Google search for "pet sitters" and you get more than 17,000 hits. No doubt about it, caring for our four-legged friends is big business. According to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, 60 percent of all U.S. households have some kind of pet waiting faithfully for their owners' return at the end of the day. So who do you trust to watch your favorite canine when you have to go out of town? Xpress readers overwhelmingly seek out the personal touch. Elusive pet-pal Jill Nelson is this year's top pick, proving that you don't even have to be listed in the phone book to make a name for yourself. (Note: Justin Keiser, who ran a close second, isn't in the phone book either!) If you see Jill, tell her she gets two dewclaws up. -- AM
As the self-proclaimed "best in the business," Beverly-Hanks & Associates might not be shocked to be Xpress readers' choice for best realty company two years running, but they do appreciate the compliment.
Spawned by the 1976 merger of two local companies, Beverly-Hanks has nearly three decades of real-estate experience. "We've built our business on references from past clients," says Neal Hanks Jr., who co-owns the company with business partner George Beverly. "We offer full-service relocation," he continues, "everything from temporary housing to move management. We even have an in-house mortgage company. It's a true one-stop shop for our customers."
With 165 full-time sales associates, Beverly-Hanks covers Buncombe, Henderson and surrounding counties, offering properties in every price range. Hanks has definitely earned its bragging rights: This local company sold more than $500 million worth of real estate last year and is gearing up to beat their own record. -- AM
Beverly-Hanks & Associates
five area locations
254-7721 in Asheville
Whether you want a simple butterfly on your ankle or a full-sleeve mural, Man's Ruin Tattoo and Piercing can get the job done. As the name suggests, the all-female staff is also ready to pierce whatever body part you need an extra hole in.
"We're very excited," owner Zoe Dimiceli said about the shop's first-place finish, and judging by the traffic coming through the door on a Monday afternoon, it's obvious they're popular for a reason.
For those of you considering going under the (tattoo) gun, Dimiceli offers this advice: "You should be comfortable with your tattoo artist. An artist should answer all your questions and shouldn't be intimidating. Make sure they have a thick portfolio with at least five years of work." Man's Ruin's favorite designs? "We like to do tribal and new school/old school," says Dimiceli. -- AM
Man's Ruin Tattoo and Piercing
857 Merrimon Ave, Asheville