Several years ago, Christy Gagneur discovered the art of massage therapy and the power of therapeutic touch. Now, the co-owner of Pneuma Women’s Wellness Centre in downtown Adrian wants to share the wealth by opening a new school to train massage therapists.
The Adrian School of Massage would be located at 117 E. Maumee St., downstairs from Pneuma’s current location. Gagneur, who has been a practicing massage therapist since 2009, said that “Getting my feet wet with Pneuma is what gave me the encouragement to say I can do this and do it well and do it with excellence.”
Gagneur had originally planned to pursue mission work in Africa, and then thought she wanted to work in art education — but then prayer and reflection led her to realize those weren’t the right paths for her, and massage was where she found her niche. She studied at the Ann Arbor Institute of Massage Therapy, becoming certified in myofascial release and neuromuscular therapy. She later started to specialize in women’s health, including sports massage, prenatal care, infant massage, and fertility massage to aid in conception.
“The more I learn about the body, the more I am in awe of how thoughtfully designed we are,” she said.
Pneuma Women’s Wellness, which will be two years old this June, started in 1,000 square feet near the movie theater and moved last June to its downtown location, which is about 3,500 square feet.
“Our team has grown and our clientele has grown, both by a lot,” Gagneur said. The wellness center’s team now includes a total of three massage therapists, two holistic health coaches, two fitness instructors, one counselor and one yoga therapist. The yoga therapist, Linda Martinez, is also Gagneur’s business partner.
The Adrian School of Massage will offer a 12-week, 700-hour course to prepare students for Michigan licensure as massage therapists. For the first year, the minimum class size for the school to operate is six students, but Gagneur said she hopes to enroll eight to 10 students. Each cohort of students will enter at the same time and go through the year-long program together.
Gagneur said enrollment is a challenge for massage schools, with class sizes dropping nationally.
“However, the industry itself is probably one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States,” she said. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that the field of massage therapy will grow by 23 percent from 2012 to 2022, and Gagneur said there are a lot of job opportunities available for qualified massage therapists.
The Adrian School of Massage would be the only massage school in the immediate area, and Gagneur said she will mostly try to draw students from Lenawee County.
The curriculum will cover anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and different massage modalities. Gagneur said she plans to tap into the expertise of other massage therapists in the area to make sure the curriculum represents a wide range of specialties. Instructors will need to either have prior teaching experience or go through a teaching course.
Regular tuition will be $6,700 for the 12-month program, but Gagneur said she expects discounts will be offered the first year as the program gets off the ground.
The Adrian School of Massage has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help with initial startup costs. The $3,500 goal of the campaign would cover the cost of getting licensed by the state, plus the first month’s lease on the location.
Gagneur hopes that starting a school to teach more people about therapeutic touch will have a “ripple effect.”
“I think that the benefits of touch are huge, and I think that our culture as a whole is lacking in that,” she said. “Americans are more anti-touch than a lot of cultures.”