The most relaxing spot on campus

Last semester, our therapeutic massage students opened a massage clinic, Healthy Essence–and the collective marketing staff at Ivy Tech Northeast let out a collective sigh of relaxation.

Because as a staff, we really support that clinic (one of my coworkers has weekly appointments). And if you’ve never stopped by, you should give it a try–because it’s only a matter of time before Healthy Essence becomes your favorite spot on campus, too.

Not sure what to expect? Let me help.

Healthy Essence is located on the northwest side of the Coliseum Campus, facing North Anthony Boulevard. There’s a small waiting room to sign in and pay. For your first time, the clinic asks that you arrive 15 minutes ahead of your appointment to fill out paperwork about your health. (This is where I write that I have a bum back that acts up easily. That’s what I get for sitting at a desk for eight hours a day.)

You’ll also pay. If you happen to be a student or employee, it’s just $20 for the hour-long, full-body massage. If you don’t happen to be affiliated with Ivy Tech Northeast, or you’re not 55 or older or a veteran, the massage will run $25–less than half what you’d pay for a comparable massage locally.

Massage3

You’ll pay at the front desk of the clinic before heading to your private area for your massage.

The clinic assigns you to a student–you can’t request a particular therapist. This assures that students work with all sorts of people and get a full range of experience during his or her time working at Healthy Essence. This also means that there’s no way to know how far along in the program your therapist will be. This is why the program promotes this as a relaxation massage. If students are further along in the program, they may be able to do other helpful techniques based on your needs as a client, including sports, pre-natal, and deep tissue massage (what I prefer for that aforementioned bum back).

The lights are dim in the room, relaxing music plays, and four areas are sectioned off by curtains. Once in the privacy of a massage area, the therapist will instruct you to strip down to your underwear, or as far as you are comfortable, let you know whether to start on your back or your belly on the table under the sheet, and leave the area to give you privacy.

Each of the four "rooms" has the massage table, some hooks and a chair for hanging your folding your clothes, and tissues. Blankets are stored beneath the bed if the sheet leaves you too cold.

Each of the four “rooms” has a massage table, some hooks and a chair for hanging your folding your clothes, tissues, and disinfectant. Blankets are stored beneath the bed if the sheet leaves you cold.

Most of the therapists are great at gauging how talkative you want to be during the massage. They respect–and appreciate–that this session is intended to be relaxing, though they are great at checking in: “Is this pressure OK?” “Are you having any problem areas?”

Because my file mentions my back/shoulder/neck issues, the therapist typically knows to look out for a knot, and I will usually get some version of, “Holy cow!” Because this is all a learning experience for the students, an instructor will occasionally peek in to see if the therapist has any questions. Earlier this semester, my therapist asked the instructor a question.

“Is that a bone? What is that?” The instructor disinfected her hands and asked if it was OK to touch my back. Then, I proceeded to be a lesson–which was fascinating.

“That’s tissue,” the instructor pointed out, and then she ran her finger along one of my ribs. “Feel that? That’s a bone. Feel how solid that is? This tissue, feel how it’s a little spongier?” She proceeded to use technical terms to describe exactly where the bump was located. (At which point I realized: My back knots are so tight, they feel like bone. Yikes.)

Allie Bowman works on a client in fall 2015 at Healthy Essence, the Ivy Tech Northeast massage clinic run by therapeutic massage students.

Allie Bowman works on a client in fall 2015 at Healthy Essence, the Ivy Tech Northeast massage clinic run by therapeutic massage students.

The quality of the massages I’ve had at Healthy Essence are typically very good, though you can often tell if a student is a beginner–he or she might seem a little more hesitant to engage or doesn’t worry about working out any tension. Most recently, however, the therapist was so adept at working out the knots in my back, I asked her after, “How far are you in the program?”

“I’m graduating this semester,” she said, which was not surprising–I’ve had professional massages that weren’t as effective or didn’t use such advanced techniques: She even massaged my pectoral muscles, which tend to be tight on people with a desk job.

Which is all to say: Have you made your appointment yet? Check out Healthy Essence hours online, and the page will also direct you how to make an appointment.

Happy relaxing!

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