MASSAGE training company director Emma Gilmore is poised for a major expansion which will double capacity to meet growing demand, which, she believes, could be due to a reduction in funding for NHS services.
Exeter-based School of Bodywork is moving premises to provide more permanent space which will double capacity to accommodate the number of students wanting to train.
Emma, 50, who founded the school 10 years ago, believes the increased interest may be due to a lack of NHS funding and waiting lists for massage therapies.
She explained: ‘There has been a huge surge in the use of complementary health in recent years.
‘With the lack of funding for the NHS, people are taking their health into their own hands and seeking help from complementary therapist.
‘With our fast-paced lives and increased stress levels, people are looking to massage therapists for help to alleviate stress.
‘Clients are also seeking help with injuries either sustained through participating in sports or through poor posture, often as a result of many hours at a computer.
‘Therapists trained in advanced techniques, deep tissue or remedial massage would be well placed to help with these musculoskeletal issues.
‘Stress, depression or anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for the majority of days lost due to work-related ill health, 15.4 million and 6.6 million respectively.
‘Complementary and alternative medicine has grown rapidly over the last two decades and is now used by around six million people a year.
‘Britons now spend £130m a year on complementary treatments.’
Her new space at Exeter Community Centre, St David’s Hill, is a beautiful light-filled room with a wooden parquet floor.
It is twice the size of her current training room which will mean she can teach far more students, and in larger groups, with the help of teaching assistants, providing greater support for individual trainees.
The new location will also have access to a kitchen and a break out area.
As well as providing a way of expanding the school, the centre is a community hub for both residents and organisations.
From the end of September, School of Bodywork will operate in the Haldon Room which is on the ground floor, easily accessible to less able-bodied students.
The school also runs clinic days for students to practise their skills on members of the public.
At the new premises, less able-bodied clients will be able to attend the clinic days as the current home is up three flights of stairs.
The centre also has full time reception cover.
Emma added: ‘The idea of being in a community centre is that we are more accessible to the community, there is a great atmosphere and a hub of activity of like-minded people.’
School of Bodywork was set up by Emma 10 years ago and has grown from just one course in the first year with six students to more than 120 students in the last academic year.
The school offers a huge variety of courses, from an initial qualifying massage diploma, to advanced diplomas in remedial massage and myofascial release.
Last year saw a waiting list for some of the more specialist courses including Spine Sacrum and Coccyx, Cranial and Intra-oral work, Scar Tissue Release for abdominal adhesion's, Advanced Myofascial Release, TMJ release, or Massage for those with additional needs.
Emma became a massage therapist 25 years ago, firstly learning rhythmical massage and working with adults with additional needs and their carers.
She went on to study Swedish massage, sports massage, prance massage, scar tissue release as well as Myofacsial release both in the UK and US.
Emma explained: ‘I combine my in-depth knowledge of human anatomy, my understanding of the delicacy of the human condition as well as my passion for bodywork in my teaching.
‘When I first studied all those years ago, I was truly blown away by the power of informed touch, and the immediate benefits, it is this that led me to share my knowledge with others and 10 years down the line, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share my skills and knowledge with others.
‘This is a profession that is so rewarding as well as so varied.’