For Gaberial Venable, Navarro’s new massage therapy program is more than a career choice. Massage therapy revolves around her love for being able to help people.
“Really, my mom — she’s always in pain, especially near her head and shoulders,” Venable said. “And her hands, she has arthritis. So, I wanted to learn how to make people feel good and feel better, because I don’t like to see other people in pain.”
Venable visits her mother often, and said her mother is excited about what her daughter is doing. However, Venable needs to complete her certification in massage therapy with the help of the community.
The Ellis County community can now get some kinks worked out of their muscles or just go for a relaxing massage, given by college students completing course-credits and internships at Navarro College’s new Massage Therapy Clinic in Waxahachie.
The clinic, which just opened, is part of the college’s new massage therapy program, which started in August. The clinic provides hands-on training for students, with observance from an instructor. While the clinic isn’t opne during spring break, March 10-16, it will be open starting the following week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for one-hour, $25 massages.
“The students have to complete a certain amount of classroom time, but then they also have to do an internship,” said Ginger Mensik, Navarro’s Massage Therapy Program director. “So we need bodies to come in, because they can’t work on each other.”
Students, she said, must complete a 50-hour internship, where 40 hours are spent messaging clients and 10 hours are spent practicing office work and booking clients. Most clients, she said, are found through word of mouth, Facebook and fliers around town within state and health services guidelines.
For those who might be fearful when it comes to the idea of having a student and not a certified professional giving the massages, Mensik said it’s important for the community to understand a student can’t give a massage unless more than one teacher has OK’d the student’s abilities.
Massage therapy is a learning process, she said, and clients are asked to evaluate and grade students at the end of their massages, so students can improve their skills.
“Massage is a weird thing for a lot of folks, anyway,” Mensik said. “A gentleman called yesterday, and made an appointment. Then he called back 30 minutes later and asked me if he had to get naked. And I said ‘No, you don’t have to get naked, but you do have to take your clothes off.’ He was like, ‘But Ginger?’”
The clinic has eight massage tables, each surrounded by privacy curtains similar to what’s around a hospital bed for visual privacy, Mensik said. Instructors will walk through the clinic every few minutes to supervise and listen in to make sure everything is going well, she said. Theoretically, she said, most clients shouldn’t know the instructors are there.
Students, she said, are learning the technical and medical aspects of massage therapy throughout the two-semester program. First they start with fundamentals, she said, and then students gradually work toward the internships in the second semester.
Mackenzie Woods decided to go into the massage therapy program after she realized that college wasn’t for her.
“I’m smart, it’s just I don’t do good in school,” she said. “Here, it’s nothing like that. It’s completely different You have fun while you do it and you’re also helping people. And there’s the fact of the matter that you’re thinking you can heal somebody with the touch of your hands.”
Kristie Bailey, a non-traditional student at Navarro, went through the college’s cosmetology program and is now pursuing massage therapy as a way to enhance her customer base, she said.
“Hands-on for me, that’s the best part of it,” she said. “But you know, there’s more depth to it, more anatomy and pathology than I ever expected. I work from home with my business, so mine will be more for relaxation from stress of every day life than from the medical end of it.”
Whether the students are there to lend a healing hand, discover a passion outside of the traditional higher education route or develop skills to enhance a business, Mensik said one thing is for sure, the students are getting a diverse experience.
Mensik has hired teachers with professional experience in a variety of areas, from biology to kinesiology, to help the students understand the material as well as provide insight to different massage therapy opportunities, she said. Each instructor has at least 20 years worth of experience, she said.
As Venable continues her courses, she said she’s looking forward to bringing what she’s learned back home, especially because her father had a stroke two weeks ago.
“We’re going to be talking about that when he’s ready for rehab,” Mensik said. “In just a little bit, we’re going to be talking about the things she can do to help recover his movement,” she said.
For more information on Navarro’s Massage Therapy Clinic, call Mensik at 72-937-1297 or visit “Navarro College Massage Therapy Program” on Facebook. Clinic hours for spring are Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments are recommended. The clinic is located at the Navarro College Cosmetology Building at 600 N. Highway 77, Suite C in Waxahachie.