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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

Health Options Institute

Aug 08, 2012 05:26PM ● By Beth Davis

In 1982, Elizabeth Grubb took her first Shiatsu massage class, simply out of curiosity. By 1983, she was teaching the massage technique to others. In 1984, she founded Health Options Institute, a professional massage school dedicated to helping people to connect through the power of touch to the presence of the Living God within themselves and within all other living beings.

“When I first began, I was a single mom living and working in a tiny apartment,” she explains. “I had no money and when doing shiatsu, as it is traditionally done on the floor, the carpet was so thin that I had to put a quilt on the floor. The floor still felt so hard that a client gifted me padding for under the quilt that I couldn’t afford. The photos on the wall were cut outs from National Geographic. It was so bad that one woman actually walked out.” Though it was a meager start, it would be the beginning of a long, rewarding career in holistic health—one that she didn’t exactly expect.

 “Opening the school was never, ever planned, but I’m really proud of how much we’ve grown and what the school has become,” she says. “In the beginning, I had no idea how I was even going to pay for our space. I just told myself if I sat there seven days a week, the phone would ring—and it did.”

Grubb started by teaching Shiatsu, but quickly began expanding her own studies—and expand she certainly did. Her bodywork training now includes shiatsu, anatomy and physiology, neuromuscular therapy, Reiki, reflexology, polarity, sports massage, cranial sacral therapy, hot stone massage, Thai massage and much more. She has also had extensive holistic health training such as nutrition, mind/body training, herbology, iridology and homeopathy, to name a few.

This passion for learning has served as inspiration for the school, which teaches multiple modalities of massage (in addition to basic bodywork training) rather than the one or two typical in most massage therapy programs. At Health Options Institute, the 613-hour massage therapy program is designed for the serious student looking to enter the occupation of massage in a wide variety of settings such as spas, salons, resorts, athletic areas, wellness centers or medical massage. At completion of the program, students will receive a diploma. Additionally, eight certificates of completion are awarded for various subjects taken within the program: shiatsu, lomi lomi, reflexology, orthopedic neuromuscular therapy, scentsational aromatherapy, client communication skills, sports massage: American/European and sports massage: Russian/American. Students also learn nine entirely different bodywork routines for the body, which can be integrated together and customized for the individual client. It takes 11 to 22 months to complete the program, depending on the student’s choice of schedule.

 “The advantage of teaching multiple modalities is that students can blend them together and become an eclectic practitioner,” she notes. “It is like having 10 colors for painting instead of three. It gives you the artistic freedom to express yourself as you give a massage and really customize it for each client.”

Now located in a beautiful 10,000-square-foot historic building that boasts a warm and inviting atmosphere for students of all ages, the school is not only highly recognized for its comprehensive holistic program, but also its exceptional teaching staff. Once a one-woman show, Grubb now employs 24 staff members. She hand picks the faculty and personally oversees staff training, thereby promoting program excellence. “Our teachers know how to make the educational experience fun,” she states. “They are warm, caring, knowledgeable, experienced and extremely passionate. Every teacher is specialized in his or her own field and as such, they are teaching out of their own heart and what they believe.”

Grubb adds that she feels as if the Institute is really setting the mark. “We have something unique here. We’re not just teaching the techniques of massage and bodywork, but we’re teaching them how to be competitive, how to speak to clients and how to conduct a business. It is truly life changing.”

They must be doing something right. For the last eight years, the Institute has had a 95 to 100 percent rate of placement for its students. Grubb credits the students for some of that success. “We have an exceptional crowd of students,” she notes. “It is a wonderful family environment that is soft, loving and nurturing. They are all there because they want to be, and it shows in their dedication.”

Health Options Institute is located at 1926 Second St., in Bethlehem. For more information including new class start dates in October, call 610-419-3535 or visit

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