Florida School of Massage delays classes; launches online ‘Living Your Dreams’ series

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Florida School of Massage Director Bob Lee is watching the data about COVID-19 very closely and based on FSM’s criteria, he says it’s not time to set a date for the start of the next semester.
 
“We closed in March when everything shut down,” said Lee, who went through the FSM program in 2005, went off and practiced massage for a couple years and then came back in 2007 for a teacher training program. In 2017, Lee was offered the director role.
“We were scheduled to start a program in May and postponed that till June,” he said. “Given the pandemic and situation in Florida, we postponed the June class and next was supposed to be October.
“Two weeks ago, we decided again based on the number in Florida and the positivity rate in Alachua County, we haven’t met the CDC criteria for schools to be open based on schools that socially distance,” he said. And for a massage school to practice social distancing Lee said, “That’s difficult to do, rather impossible to do.”
So for now, FSM has decided not to announce a semester start date.
“Once we get to a place where we can safely invite staff and students back to campus to learn touch in a safe way, then we’ll schedule a start date and reach out to our prospective students,” Lee said.
In the meantime, staff at FSM are finding other ways to connect with former and future students and with the community.
FSM launched a new live web series: Living Your Dreams Livestream, “a live webcast of interview-style Q&A sessions with our community.”
The episodes are aired on the first and third Thursdays each month and host a variety of massage topics and experts who discuss topics that include intuition in massage, body mechanics as self care and exploring the pathways of massage school graduates whose careers have expanded decades and the journey they experienced.
“Given all that is happening with COVID-19 and the practice of social distancing, we are creating this series as an opportunity to stay connected,”  reads the announcement for the series.
“We warmly welcome alumni, current students, prospective students, and anyone interested in learning about FSM, and our approach to massage is welcome to join in!  This time will be an educational experience where we touch on topics we believe will support you to live your dreams in massage therapy and many aspects of your life.”
The next event will go live on Thursday, August 20th at 1 pm.
Those interested in viewing the events can register to be reminded of new episodes and receive an email notification when FSM goes live by clicking here.

To view past episodes and subscribe to FSM’s YouTube channel click here

For Lee and FSM, the mission continues to be focused on “enhancing life through touch and awareness.”

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“And during the pandemic, the health of our clients, the safety, health and wellness of staff and students is our No. 1 priority,” Lee said. “Rather than other driving economic forces.”
Lee has checked in with massage school graduates and said some therapists are reporting that business has slowed while others say it has picked up.
“There is some demand,” he said. “And as a school, there is a demand. Students are continuing to reach out to us wanting to pursue this career and I think from what I am seeing, that seems true across the country as well.
“As a whole the profession is really concerned not only with their own health and wellness but also for the wellness of clients,” Lee says.
It’s that compassion and empathy that is at the core of what FSM teaches.
In the last three years, FSM had about 90-100 students a year graduate.
Lee credits the reputation and longevity of the school, now in it’s 45th year, with not only the way it teaches massage therapy techniques but because the school stresses “living your life on your own terms.”
“It’s a transformative experience not only learning a career, but in their personal lives as well,” Lee says about the graduates. “That sticks with people who share with others and that brings another generation of students.
 
“Students who attend Florida School of Massage leave with a better sense of the world and themselves,” he says.
Lee says as the pandemic endures that staying connected has become all the more important.
“It’s such a difficult and unprecedented experience that we are all going through,” Lee says. “At a time when there are efforts to polarize us, we can easily lose sight of humanity and connectedness.
“This is a time to realize we are more alike than different. Each of us individually needs to recognize that we are going through a trauma and it’s normal to feel stress. With collective trauma it’s so important to be kind to ourselves first and compassionate to ourselves.
The next livestream event on Aug. 20th will feature an FSM graduate who works with trauma survivors and addiction. 
“Our goal has been to stay connected in a time when we have been isolated from each other,” Lee said about the livestream events. “We are continuing to find new ways of staying engaged and looking at some sort of educational opportunity.”
Lee and the FSM staff continue to explore options for reopening the school even though teaching the art of healing touch is “presenting unique challenges.”
“We have a list of mitigation efforts we prepared and were ready to implement,” Lee said. “But it’s not the time yet to bring things together.”

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