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Today’s harsh economical climate puts pressure on many Americans to find additional ways to earn money. For those with a marketable service, it is just a matter of being innovative to generate extra work. Falling squarely into this category, massage therapists have a valuable skill they can capitalize on. Opportunities for part-time gigs are especially plentiful for those trained in chair massage, in possession of a portable massage chair and driven to think outside the box. For an environment perfectly suited for chair massage, bodyworkers need look no further than a nearby university.
A college student’s needs are a good match for chair massage, because:
- Students Need Stress Relief – How a student fares on mid-terms and final exams could extend (or end) a merit-based scholarship. In addition, these monumental tests may have a direct impact on their future education or career direction. All of this pressure puts enormous amounts of stress on the serious scholar. Because even a short chair massage can lower stress levels, bodyworkers can offer monumental support during exam times.
- Students Need to Focus – In order to do well in their classes, students typically appreciate any resources they can find to help improve their scholastic abilities. Because balancing the central nervous system is one of massage therapy’s unique benefits, massage is ideal for helping students focus and stay alert.
A 1996 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience confirmed that chair massage is useful for reducing anxiety and strengthening cognition. Upon comparing the effects of a 15-minute chair massage with 15 minutes of relaxation, researchers concluded the following:
- Suggesting enhanced alertness, chair massage decreased frontal alpha and beta power.
- Compared to the relaxation group, the massage group showed increased speed and accuracy on math computations.
- Anxiety levels were lower only following chair massage, not after the control sessions.
- A physiological measure of stress, salivary cortisol levels were lower following chair massage.
From a therapist’s perspective, the university population consists of ideal massage clients. A 2007 National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine survey of over 75,000 Americans investigated the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Since massage therapy is one of the more popular CAM therapies, conclusions from the surveyors about CAM are also applicable to massage therapy. Of particular interest is the evaluation of who uses CAM therapies the most. While the investigators found that people of all backgrounds use CAM, the proportion is much greater in those with higher levels of education. As such, those pursuing a college degree are more likely to receive chair massage than those with less formal education.
When it comes to logistics of chair massage in a university setting, there are two important considerations:
- Location – In order to make signing up for a chair massage convenient, choose a central location where students often meet to socialize or study, like a student union or library.
- Payment – While charging $1 a minute is a common practice, the university setting offers some additional options. Some colleges run all of their finances through a student credit card. If your services are negotiated with the bursar’s office, students may be able to finance chair massage via these cards. In addition, most colleges require students pay an activity fee. If a therapist goes through the appropriate channels, the university’s student activity council may put chair massage during exams into their budget. As such, a block of time could be paid for by this student council, thus allowing chair massages to be free for eligible students.
For massage therapists in close proximity to a university, opportunity might be knocking. There are many reasons to include a local college in your business plan. For starters, chair massage is convenient, helps relieve stress and improves alertness and cognitive ability. In addition, pursuers of higher education are more likely to seek bodywork than the general population. And lastly, college students are among the few who have access to creative funding. Thus, massage therapists may find it is worth their time to check out this ideal demographic.
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