March 1, 2010
As with most businesses, massage therapy has taken a hit during the recession, but some areas have seen growth.
The Detroit Free Press reports that demand for massage therapists in Michigan is still strong, and opportunities are increasing at gyms, hotels, assisted-living facilities, airports, malls and other locations. At Beaumont Hospitals, for example, 20 massage therapists work with cancer patients and people seeking relief from stress.
"We're now being accepted by the healthcare profession," noted Karen Armstrong, supervisor of clinical massage at Beaumont Hospitals, who was quoted by the Detroit Free Press. "We're using our hearts and our hands to make a difference, and that's so rewarding."
Meanwhile, laid-off workers are finding new careers as massage therapists. Paula Nedzinskas, who lost her job over a year ago, told the Detroit Free Press that she will be graduating from Irene's Myomassology Institute this September and plans to eventually run her own business.
"More and more job opportunities are coming up," noted Kathy Gauthier, Irene's executive director, who was interviewed by the Detroit Free Press.
In Texas, the San Antonio Express-News reports that while most massage therapy businesses have not grown since last year, those that have lowered their prices are still operating and some are doing better than before.
"The massage therapy profession has been challenged by the recession," said Ron Precht, spokesman for the American Massage Therapy Association, "and massage therapists have had to make adjustments to how and where they work."
Massage Heights, for example, which has more than 70 units nationwide, is planning to open 40 more this year. It offers monthly membership fees and discounts on more than one massage a month. Shane Evans, one of the company's founders, told the Express-News that some locations reported 45 percent sales growth last year.
But the economy has definitely taken its toll on more traditional day spas. Ann Hollister, owner of Whispering Waters Day Spa in San Antonio, noted in the Express-News that last year "was probably one of the worst years we've had."
Nathan Frensley, who has had a difficult time starting up a massage therapy business in Portland, Tennessee, agreed.
"It's been tough. It's been very stressful," he was quoted as saying in The Tennessean. "There haven't been a lot of options up here in Portland; there's just not really a market up here."
Compiled by Yaffa Klugerman