Our sustainable swim shorts are worn all over the world by so many interesting individuals, some of whom we work with to produce images of our shorts being used in an endless summer environment. One such person is our friend Franco Rebagliati, a holistic massage therapist and surfer who currently lives and works in Sri Lanka on the sun soaked shores of the Indian Ocean. Franco’s story is both fascinating and inspiring, and his message well worth sharing.

Franco Rebagliati in Peru wearing Riz boardshorts

Originally hailing from Argentina, how did you come to be practicing holistic massage on the shores of Sri Lanka?

After traveling and surfing around Asia my partner Jazmin and I came to Kerala (south India) to visit my good friend Josh Stenning. Josh was the surf manager for a growing surf and yoga retreat called Soul & Surf. We loved the atmosphere and environment there from the beginning, and felt really inspired by the approach they were taking to introduce surfing to people in a more soulful way. I had been working as a therapist for long time, so made an offer to the owners Ed and Sofie to have my work as the signature body work at the camp. Soul & Surf’s business evolved over the years and they opened a new venue in Sri Lanka. Jazmin and I were offered to be part of that new project, and we said 'yes' almost instantly!

Can you explain to us the massage therapies and bodywork that you offer? How does it differ from “regular” massage, and what are its benefits?

We like to call the massage that I offer an “experience”; it’s an organic kind of work, and this means that no two massages are the same. Nature is asymmetric, amorphous and unstructured in its shape and in many forms, so I work with that. When I perform, I become an element of nature. I articulate the techniques that I learnt mixing expressive artistic elements such as dance, drama and music. The patient’s body feels a deep empathy for the work as it resonates with its inherent capacity to appreciate artistic expression. I believe that art is a higher way of communication for humans where the message is not rational but rather emotional. We incorporate a concept when we feel deeply inspired by it, in the same way that the massage experience aims to inspire a shift in behaviour pattern within the participant.

Our bodies contain so much information! And more often than we’d like, we are disconnected from them.

Holistic massage therapist Franco Rebagliati at work on the beach in Sri Lanka

How does holistic massage intertwine with activities such as surfing or yoga?

Great question. Yoga and surfing are also holistic activities; they teach us about unity, they teach us about the ways of nature and the universe. In our journey to awaken our consciousness, we realise that nature holds most of the answers for our transcendental questions. Surfing and yoga are life paths and when they are practiced with discipline, patience and acceptance they can teach us deep lessons about life. Holistic massage tries to awaken our inherent capacity to process life experiences with acceptance. We try to encourage those who are not focused to reconnect with this capacity.

Holistic massage therapist Franco Rebagliati at work on the beach in Sri Lanka

As a keen and very capable surfer, and being based on the wave-rich west coast of Sri Lanka, do you treat lots of surfing based muscular issues?

Yes, I do, but we try to explain to people that the muscular issue is the last stage in a long chain of unbalanced patterns that people build into their bodies. Lots of surfers from different levels come to see me, but lots of them are beginners or are having their first experiences with surfing. I always start by saying that surfing teaches you to see the bigger picture, and teaches you about patience and long term results. It’s amazing that when people can accept that, they see surfing with different eyes.

Franco Rebagliati surfing in Sri Lanka

Presumably, holistic massage can be of benefit to all of us, not just as a response to an injury or physical complaint?

We live in a time when listening to one’s bodily processes is almost impossible. Hectic routines and work cause us to live in a constant survivor mode, where we calculate and try to control every act. Sensitive body work is always a way to get back to your body, developing consciousness on how much the mind can create boundaries, and getting you back to trusting more in your intuitive capacities.

Holistic massage therapist Franco Rebagliati at work on the beach in Sri Lanka, holding a patient's tattooed feet

Can you tell us about the in-ocean therapy that you offer?

The work in the ocean came from an epiphany. After several years of working with movement on the table and a whole life surfing, I realised how beneficial it could be to provide the participants with an experience where movement can be provided by the motion of the ocean. To bring about an experience where people not familiar with the ocean can feel conformable and express themselves in that environment is amazing. Basically, after a few sessions on the table, and by request, I take people to the ocean. In this practice I will be taking their bodies for a ride in the ripples and the waves. This work triggers the control patterns and conflicts your mind’s perception of what’s dangerous. Once the patient can feel comfortable letting anything happen, there is a big buzz of joy from feeling connected with the ocean and trusting in it, but most importantly, trusting in their body’s capacity to process life experiences.

Holistic massage therapist Franco Rebagliati at work on the beach in Sri Lanka

What role does the ocean play in your life, both personally and professionally?

Total inspiration. It is definitely my source. I found myself through the ocean. All living creatures come from the water; our bodies are 80% water. The ocean means life, connection and unity. I feel blessed to have found my path so early in my life. The inspiration that I draw from nature is endless and if you can enjoy nature in the way that surfers do then it is a blessing.

Do you think that more of us need to connect with the ocean, in one way or another, for the benefit of both the planet and ourselves?

Our connection with the ocean is inside all of us, we just need to remember it. The planet suffers because of the disconnection between humans and the rest of life on earth.

My program, called You Are The Sea, is an approach to bodywork that enhances awareness of body processing and comprehension of life, looking at it in a bigger scale. I think that today’s situation with natural catastrophes makes every thing pretty obvious - we can no longer pretend that nothing is happening. I feel that we are at the beginning of a new era, a new awakening of responsibility for nature and self-development. It is going to take some time, but I feel that people are starting to look at the bigger picture.

Riz buckler short tailored swim shorts in aqua waves print

Franco wears the Buckler short in Aqua Waves print.

Shop the Shorts