Center offers holistic massage therapy, training

November 09, 1997


Staff Writer

BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT, Pa. - Rachel, a three-year-old champion cocker spaniel was so exuberant after her half-hour massage that it took her five minutes to calm down.

Rachel is one of many clients - most of the rest are humans - who go regularly to the Synergy Therapeutic Massage Center and Training School for holistic massage therapy or to take classes to learn how to give them.

The center opened in May by Margie Schaeffer, a nationally certified massage therapist.

A native of Carroll County, Md., Schaeffer, 43, has a masters degree in the field, has taught physical education in high school and college and is a National Collegiate Athletic Association certified gymnastics coach.


"My whole life has been about eating right, exercise and wellness. I've always wanted to open a wellness center, but I never believed I'd have anything like this," she said.

The center, in a converted turn-of-the century Victorian at 13593 Monterey Lane has devoted its once downstairs parlor to a classroom and upstairs bedrooms to massage, exercise or training rooms. The office is in what used to be the kitchen.

Several of Schaeffer's former students are therapists in the center.

"Massage therapy is the fastest-growing health care profession and the third fastest-growing business in the country," Schaeffer said.

"Doctors do the best they can, but people get tired of impersonal health care where they go to a doctor's office, wait for a half hour, see the doctor for five minutes and get a prescription," she continued. "They come here for one-on-one attention. They want relief from stress, and stress-related illnesses."

In its simplest form holistic massage therapy treats sufferers of neck and back pain, headaches, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, muscle strains, whiplash and stress.

Talk to Schaeffer or her therapists and nothing about it seems simple. They speak easily of such body healing or touchy feely techniques as Feldenkrais or neuromuscular reduction, Shiatsu or oriental accupressure, one-brain therapy or holistic psychotherapy, and Cranio Sacral Therapy which, according to Schaeffer, "deeply relaxes the central nervous system."

Clients of the center - besides dogs like Rachel who came in because of stress from too many dog shows, according to her owner, Mary Lindquist of Sabillasville, Md., and an occasional horse, are pregnant women, senior citizens, workers under too much stress, even tiny infants.

Kim Leighton is a certified equine sports massage therapist. She combined that skill with her training from the center to massage dogs. She does Rachel every other week.

Lisa Costello is a center graduate. She first came for prenatal massages while pregnant for her son, Connor, now 11 months. She decided to take the course so she could massage her baby after it was born, she said.

"Studies show that babies who are massaged regularly gain weight well, have improved immunity and do better with colic and gas," she said.

It takes 500 hours of training to qualify to take the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) certification test, Schaeffer said.

The full course costs about $4,500 plus books and fees, according to a center brochure.

Schaeffer said she has graduated one class and needs one more to apply for her AMTA accreditation.

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