Lauriel Bowen, who graduated from Florida Academy’s massage therapy program last summer (our massage therapy alumni), is anxious to put her massage training and techniques to use. Licensed in Virginia as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Bowen is waiting for the Florida Board of Massage to receive that paperwork so that it can issue her massage license.
When Bowen was contemplating career choices, she considered going back to school for additional EMT training. She decided she didn’t want to work such a stressful job for the rest of her career. Her father had his own hardware store, and Bowen admired his entrepreneurial spirit. “I thought about what I could do that is home-based or on my own that was also in the medical field, and that’s what led me to massage therapy.”
“My mother is one of the main reasons I went into massage therapy,” Bowen says. “She has severe rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, neuropathy.” Massage helps manage her symptoms. “I’ve noticed a lot of difference with her when I’m able to give her massages,” she says. “Her range of motion is better. The swelling in her legs goes down. Her overall joint pain is less, and she can get more done. She says her fatigue seems to be a lot better after she gets a massage. Her mood is better. Massage has anti-anxiety properties.”
Bowen, too, has health issues – including Lyme disease. Before she started the massage program at Florida Academy, she had never had a massage. “In school, I started to get massages three days a week and started to see dramatic improvement in my health.” Her lower back pain disappeared within the first few weeks, and the joint pain caused by Lyme disease is much improved. Her daily migraines now occur only once a week.
“I had no idea massage therapy was so medically based,” Bowen says. “I just thought that massage therapy was a thing that you went to a spa to get once a month.” Right after graduation, she went to Fort Lauderdale and earned certification in lymphatic drainage – something that has helped her mother. “I plan on really doing more medically based massages than anything.”
She cited another benefit of massage therapy when speaking of her grandmother, who passed away recently. “My grandma was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. I was told about different massage positions and home hospice and how beneficial it is for end of life when the muscles start deteriorating.” For those with cancer-related pain, massage therapy can help relieve the side effects of chemotherapy – including nausea and extreme fatigue – and generally enhance their quality of life. Used alongside traditional medical treatments, it can also help patients mentally cope with their illness.
It’s been several months since Lauriel Bowen completed her massage program. “Not a week that goes by that I don’t think about this time last year when I was in the program. I miss it already.” The people and instructors made it fun, Bowen says. “Everybody that went into the massage therapy program went into it with the mindset of helping people. It was great people to be around – students and instructors.”
Florida Academy’s comprehensive curriculum (with the flexibility of day and evening classes) can get you started in a massage therapy career in as few as 30 weeks. When you conclude your training and earn your license, you will be qualified for a massage therapist position in a clinic, chiropractic office, spa, hotel, fitness center, sports medicine facility, cancer treatment location or more. “It was a great structured program,” Bowen says. “It was very well-organized and easy to keep up with homework and assignments.”
Bowen enjoyed learning massage techniques and styles, but she wishes there had been more time devoted to specialized styles like deep tissue massage and hydrotherapy. One technique she learned and really liked was cupping, an ancient Chinese modality. Heated glass cups are placed on the skin, and the suction from the heat draws the skin up and breaks down the blood vessels. “It temporarily destroys the tissue underneath skin so it can rebuild itself,” she explains. “It helps with trigger points and tight fascia.”
The biggest challenge of the massage program, Bowen admits, was studying anatomy – even with her previous medical background as a CNA and EMT. “It blew my mind how much more information was in the massage therapy program.” She could see how students with no prior medical knowledge might struggle with the anatomy and physiology components, but Florida Academy’s learning tools – daily tests and quizzes, videos and hands-on activities – all help them learn.
Laurel Bowen’s ultimate goal is to open her own door-to-door massage business from her own home. “I want to go further with some more certifications – maybe get my reiki – and I’d love to get my cranial sacral therapy certification.”
As for her training at Florida Academy, Bowen says, “I would definitely recommend it. I’ve already recommended it to a couple friends who have thought about going into the program.”
If you’re looking for an in-demand career, consider registering for the massage therapy program at Florida Academy. According to O*NET OnLine, the career outlook for massage therapists is much faster than average. In Florida, the need for massage therapists is projected to increase by 29 percent through 2024. Contact Florida Academy today. New classes begin every six weeks.