These labs aren’t stressful

Published 12:02 am Saturday, April 13, 2013

In a dimly-lit room in the student center of LBW Community College, 10 students quietly massaged the backs and necks of fellow students Thursday as soothing music played in the background.

Consider it a lab, explained therapeutic massage instructor Candy Watkins.

The 10 students currently enrolled in her program on the Opp campus were doing chair massages, which Watkins explained can help relieve stress. Chair massages can even be conducted in the workplace with that thought in mind, she said.

Among the things students learn is the lifelong health benefits of massage, from infancy to pregnancy to the geriatric years.

“Massage can help from the beginning of life to the end of life, and all points in between,” Watkins said.

Students learn a number of modalities, she said, including hot and cold treatments, hot stones, and other practices. Students also study reflexology.

And she’s seeing a growing demand for their skills. Enrollment is double this year from last year, and she said she receives calls from doctors and therapists looking for help.

Those considering a career in massage should have a genuine desire to help people, she said.

“The No. 1 thing is you’ve got to have a heart to help people,” she said. “And a lot of people have to get over the fact that you have to touch people. Once students get comfortable with that, they are fine.”

Watkins has been on board at LBW since August of 2011, and has been a licensed, bonded therapist since June of 2002. She has worked with a chiropractor and in her own business.

LBW’s two-semester certificate program prepares students for the Alabama Board of Massage Therapy’s Licensure Examination – National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. In the local area, Watkins said, therapists who work 20 hours per week can expect to earn $60,000 per year.

Students can next begin the program in August, she said.

For more information, or to schedule a chair massage “lab” in a business, contact Watkins at 493.5318.