North Surry High School students learned about career opportunities available in the field of massage therapy Wednesday.
Ica Eldridge and Bruce Draughn, co-owners of De-Stress Massage in Mount Airy, were on hand at the school to offer information about the health benefits of massage and tell students about the massage therapy career field.
Eldridge said one facet of Wednesday’s presentations to about 100 high school students was an attempt to change the “perception” of massage therapy.
“We want them to understand massage isn’t just for a spa-like setting for the wealthy,” explained Eldridge. “We make it affordable for the middle class.”
Eldridge said a one-hour massage at her business costs $38. A half-hour massage is $25, and De-Stress offers free massages to veterans of the armed forces.
Eldridge told students the health benefits of massage are great and lead to longer lives, citing famous comedian Bob Hope. Hope lived to 100 years old and said one secret to his long life was getting a massage every day.
Massage can be used for many things, said Eldridge. Each of the 75 modalities, or forms, of massage has its benefits. Deep-tissue massage can alleviate pain from the overuse of muscles and joints in athletes. A Swedish Massage, using long, lighter strokes, can help relieve tension and stress.
Eldridge told students they are at risk for carpel-tunnel syndrome more than any prior generation. However, massage therapy can help. She showed students different release points to alleviate pain that results from typing, texting and video games and recommended a couple stretches.
Eldridge and Draughn were invited as part of a program which informs students about the career opportunities which are available to them once their school days conclude.
Danna Carpenter Lyon, career development coordinator for the district, said she tries to bring professionals from throughout the community into the classroom setting to speak with students as frequently as possible. Students also visit employers at their locations of business.
“The program promotes pathways that go along with our courses,” explained Lyon. “It helps to get students career and college ready.”
Lyon said she and other school officials wanted to make sure students were exposed to the career paths offered in Eldridge’s field.
The path, Eldridge told students, is one which can be lucrative.
According to Eldridge, the average massage therapist will begin work fresh out of school making about $45,000 per year. A message therapist generally makes about $16 per client, prior to any tips clients might leave.
Those looking to go into the field don’t have to look far, according to Eldridge. De-Stress Massage is growing. With 11 massage therapists already on staff, the business is looking to add more.
“We are booked out to June, July and August,” noted Eldridge. “The demand in the community is here.”
Eldridge said while tips offered by patrons can range anywhere from $20 to $5, the greatest “tip” a massage therapist can get is when a client books another massage. Word of mouth is how most massage therapists book clients, and it’s working out well for De-Stress.
It’s not all about the money though.
“There’s nothing like the feeling of massage therapy,” said Eldridge. “We help people feel better and live healthier lives.”
Eldridge said massage therapists are licensed by the state, and a person must complete a course which lasts from eight to 12 months to earn his or her license.
She told students Kneaded Energy School of Massage in Greensboro was “hands down” the best school in the area to learn the trade.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.