By Dar Mikula, LMT
Brian Lewis says he knew it was just a matter of time before his long held occupation as a forestry firefighter would suffer from the economic downturn and force him into becoming an unemployment statistic. One night in the fall of 2009, as he sat thinking of a possible career change, he googled “physical therapy”. He tells the story of how “massage therapy” popped up with the Florida School of Massage at the top of the search list. Even though only 45 miles from his home, he had never heard of the Gainesville school.
“That looks interesting,” he thought, and clicked the link to the website. He saw the pictures, read about the program, and dreamt about FSM that night. In the morning he told his wife about what he’d found and she said, “Well, call and find out more!” They scheduled a tour, visited our campus, and he signed up for the January 2010 Massage and Hydrotherapy Program. The rest is history, and well, herstory too.
After witnessing her husband’s massage school experience for a couple months, Danette signed on for the next massage program and a year ago they together opened their Lake City massage clinic, “Integrated Body Work”. They are both in their 50’s and have raised 10 children. Massage therapy has given them the opportunity to take their lives in a whole new direction and to live on their own terms.
Danette said, “When Brian started massage school, I began to ‘re-see’ the man I fell in love with. He had been in the corporate world, working for timber companies and was always so stressed out. I saw the changes in him; the dynamics of our family even began to change. He became more peaceful, more relaxed, more serene.”
Brian will say that it is not by choice that he came to massage, but he affirms, “One door closed and numerous opened.” He has become a self-professed “study geek” and “muscle junkie” and beyond the required hours at FSM also completed the Integrated Massage and Personal Training (IMAP) Program with Vincent Cambrea and also Russian Sports Massage course. He is also currently working on his Reflexology Certification Program completion with Karen Ball. Both he and Danette have completed the International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy Level 1 and Level 2 Training in Texas, and hope to open a colon hydrotherapy clinic once successfully licensed to practice colonics in Florida.
Of his training at FSM and with affiliated instructors, Brian said, “I learned from the best – the learning system at FSM really works!”
Danette had a unique set of challenges to overcome in her massage training. Living with pain after four back surgeries over ten years, and with titanium rods installed from L1 to S1 in her back, Danette almost listened when doctors frankly told her they didn’t think massage was the career for her.
“Massage school was a challenge for me on a lot of different levels,” she said. “It was the first time I was apart from my kids all day. While I was in school, my daughter had a miscarriage, my father died, and I also had all this emotional stuff coming up around my back.” In the end, however, Danette managed to set the record for doing the most massages in student clinic, and, she said “That was with doing a foot soak for my client before every session!”
Danette now describes herself as “pain free” which she attributes to “good bodywork” and follow-up with her doctors. Brian and Danette have a busy practice, but are diligent about penciling themselves in to receive bodywork from each other.
These two therapists also pride themselves on the unique “treats” they bring to their practice. They begin every session for clients with a foot soak featuring bath salts specially prepared by FSM student clinic supervisor Gift Fox. They also are dedicated to using aromatherapy to set a mood as soon as you walk in the clinic. They don’t have an upcharge for the foot soak or for deep tissue work or for hot packs. Most often the session will exceed an hour at no extra cost.
Additionally, they have designed a room set especially for couples that may want to receive their massages together. Of course, “couples massage” can mean everything from a husband and wife, or boyfriend and girlfriend, to two or more friends with a special purpose. Their Integrated Body Work clinic has hosted numerous massage affairs, such as a Sweet 16 party and an observance by five women celebrating their girlfriend’s remission from cancer.
“I have been honored to meet my clients and they have invited me in to journey through their tissue,” Danette said. “I don’t consider this a job, I consider it a blessing.”
Contact Danette or Brian Lewis at Integrated Body Work (386)719-8887.