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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

Massage Academy of the Poconos, LLC: More Than Just a Massage School

Dec 28, 2018 02:32PM ● By Sheila Julson

Not long ago, massage therapy was once considered luxurious pampering, available only at exclusive resorts. Today, sources including Men’s Health and Shape magazines, along with the Mayo Clinic, are reporting how massage is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. As massage becomes an instrumental part of complementary and integrative medicine, the Massage Academy of the Poconos, LLC trains the next generation of massage therapists while offering a full menu of wellness services for the community at affordable rates.

Vicki Hicks, director and owner of Massage Academy of the Poconos, LLC, worked as a professional massage therapist for nearly three decades. She’s seen many changes in the profession that generated myriad career opportunities, so she formed the school in 2002 with an eye toward developing a strong career development program. The academy is licensed through the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s State Board of Private Licensed Schools.

“We’re a small, private school, and we encourage students who really want to embrace a career in massage therapy,” Hicks says. “It’s more intense than people realize. There’s a lot of anatomy and physiology to massage, and many topics. Students also have to know how to move forward and make good career choices, understanding the different modalities and types of opportunities.”

Potential students receive an informational catalog; resources to research Pennsylvania’s massage therapist requirements; and licensing exam information. They also get a tour of the school to determine if they’re a good fit for the program. Because Massage Academy of the Poconos is a small, private school, no financial aid is available, but students can make a deposit and monthly payments over 12 months, allowing them to graduate debt-free.

Students learn about what it’s like to run their own massage therapy businesses, along with working in franchise, spa, chiropractic and medical environments. The curriculum consists of 200 hours of anatomy and physiology and 176 hours of introduction level massage therapy. Smaller adjunct courses cover chair massage, reflexology and an introduction to spa therapies, for a total of 670 hours.

“Massage therapy is a very physical career, so to be successful the students must learn to take care of themselves, too,” Hicks emphasizes. “When some therapists come in, they’re smokers or they don’t eat a balanced diet, but throughout the program they learn to become healthier.”

Students also get 120 hours of clinic experience at the academy’s wellness space, where the community can receive professional massage services from Pennsylvania licensed therapists at affordable rates starting at $45. The student clinic is open Tuesdays from January 22 through August 13. The wellness center is open every day to schedule appointments with a licensed massage therapist or other healthcare professional.

Once students graduate and become licensed, they can return to work at the academy to offer professional massage therapy and services at the community wellness center, which allows them to grow a client base. The public can receive Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, sports, prenatal and couples massages, as well as anti-aging facials, meditation, cupping and reiki. Add-on services such as aromatic heat therapy or hot stone placement are available for a nominal upcharge. Massage Academy of the Poconos, LLC has also partnered with an acupuncturist to offer services at the clinic, and they will soon add yoga.

“There’s a shortage of massage therapists,” Hicks says. “It’s now more mainstream. Franchises such as Massage Envy have seen the need for the general public to experience massage, and they’ve gotten the word out that massage is beneficial. That’s given therapists more career options. Here in the Poconos, there are a lot of resorts that have spas.”

As more than just a massage school, Hicks says Massage Academy of the Poconos, LLC strives to offer professional massage therapy services to the community at affordable rates, while training people for a rewarding career in the diverse realm of massage therapy—a win-win for the public and the students. “We’ve got something for everyone,” she enthuses.

Massage Academy of the Poconos, LLC is located at 753 Phillips St., Stroudsburg. For more information, call 570-977-1900 or visit

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.

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