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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the August 21, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
From Night School, a New Career
In a Cape Cod office on Princeton-Hightstown Road, massage
therapist Darby Mackenzie Line, right, offers an amazing array of
therapies and classes — therapeutic massage, neuromuscular therapy,
aromatherapy, facials and skin care, LaStone, Thai massage, Trager,
Rolfing, shiatsu, reflexology, Reiki, sports massage, Hatha yoga,
and infant and partner massage.
Operating Full Circle Family Massage and Healing Center is her second
career, and one that Line found by chance — but she thinks it
was more than chance. "It’s like the heavens opened up and dropped
this on my head," says Line, who strongly believes that body and
spirit are connected.
Until Line made the mid-life career switch, she had never even had
a massage. The daughter of an Episcopal priest in Larchmont, New York,
Line majored in music and Russian at Dickinson College, Class of 1972,
and has a master’s degree in journalism from Marshall University in
Huntington, West Virginia. She worked for 12 years directing a senior
citizen center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and two years as a broadcast
Then she and her husband, Joseph, moved to New Jersey to work for
AD International (www.aditours.com), first at 20 Nassau Street, then
on Lawrenceville-Pennington Road. It specializes in music performance
tours but also does educational exchanges and religious heritage tours.
Joseph was the artistic director, and Darby organized the concert
tours overseas — doing sales and working with overseas partners
and clients. It was at the height of the Cold War, and she was the
company’s point person on its contracts with the U.S. Department of
State to arrange cultural exchanges for performing arts groups and
"I finally got to use my love of music, my Russian, and my interest
in the world," she says. "I got to go to places in the world
that I had either never heard of or never imagined going to. But any
dealings with group travel are quite stressful. If something goes
wrong at a hotel in St. Petersburg, it is your fault. And you are
dealing with a lot of details."
"As time went by I felt more and more drawn to doing something
holistic. I had never had a massage, but when I went to visit the
Health Choices Massage School, I knew that it was there I was going
to be." She earned her certificate on evenings and weekends and
quit her job the following year.
Her husband subsequently left the agency to teach and take a church
job in Bedminster. Their 24-year-old son, a vice president for Security
Watch in Philadelphia, is getting married next month.
"I never intended to work full time at massage, but I felt drawn
to it," she says. "Three months after I graduated, I thought
then, and still do now, that this is what I am meant to do be doing."
She continues to offer massage to her own clients, and she offers
space at Full Circle to a lineup of 20 practitioners of the various
therapies. Altogether, they offer 350 hours of therapy per month.
In contrast to similar centers, which typically split fees equally,
Line’s therapists get a better deal than that, though she declines
to specify the exact arrangements.
Line says her gross revenues have increased 28 percent but are less
than $200,000 a year and expenses have risen commensurately. "It
really isn’t a huge money maker," says the daughter of the rector,
"because any profit goes right back in the business. My son is
just starting an MBA program at St. Joe’s, and he is scratching his
head that I am not doing it to make money, but because I love what
"When people are in pain they find the money," she say. "We
do discounts for seniors, and half-hour massages, and we are not running
out of clients. I sometimes wonder what the stock market will do to
our business, but for a lot of people this is a priority — it
keeps them healthy."
Line notes that the massage school she went to, Health Choices, is
"tremendously holistic, labeling themselves as attending to `spirit,
mind, and body’ in that order. Most of the practitioners here have
Like Line, two of the practitioners here had also had corporate jobs.
Betty Serrano Post was commuting to New York City to work as a systems
analyst and computer programmer, and Doreen DelCol was a vice president
at PNC Bank. Both left those jobs to take training in holistic therapies.
Until four years ago, Doreen DelCol was running from school to daycare
center to pick up her two children by 6 p.m. She was a vice president
at PNC Bank when she made a lifestyle change. "I hung up my briefcase
and donned healing hands," she says.
Now she conducts group classes and private lessons at Full Circle
Family Massage and Healing Center. DelCol teaches an introductory
Reiki class on Sunday, September 29, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Second
and third-level training is Sunday, October 20, and Sunday, November
After three one-day sessions a prospective Reiki teacher can take
a full day of private instruction and receive teacher certification.
The lower level group classes costs from $200 to $250 and the teacher’s
class costs about $750.
DelCol took her fourth-level training from a Catholic nun in Neptune.
A native of Queens, DelCol earned a marketing degree at St. John’s
College, Class of 1982, and started her banking career in pension
administration. Her husband is a consultant in the global securities
industry, and their children are ages 12 and 7.
Through the laying on of hands, she explains, the Reiki practitioner
transfer positive energy into another person’s body. This balances
the person’s energy system with the physical body. "In the same
way you have a circulatory system, your body has an energy system
that moves like a stream. As humans, we experience difficult times
and create blockages in the energy system. If left for long periods
of time this can result in physical disease and dysfunction of the
human body." Some hospitals offer Reiki in their alternative therapy
DelCol charges $90 per individual Reiki session. When asked to explain
the per-hour fee, she compares it to massage therapy. "Money is
an exchange of energy," she says. "A practitioner is giving
energy, time, and, candidly, love. I can only tell you what my clients
say, that they feel extremely peaceful and happy and return for more
"You cannot get rich on this, because you cannot do more than
two or three sessions a day," says DelCol. She has heard about
those who offer this "hands on" therapy over the Internet
and considers that "very irreverent."
A native of Colombia, South America, where she studied architecture,
she received her computer training in the United States. Then her
oldest daughter, age 11, was diagnosed with scoliosis. Not liking
the prescribed treatment for scoliosis, a full-body brace, Post investigated
alternative treatments and discovered the Trager technique, a form
of bodywork developed to treat those with chronic pain, repetitive
movement injuries, and neurological conditions. Trager work helped
the daughter, and now Post is a Trager practitioner, offering sessions
at Full Circle Family Massage and Healing Center and at her home on
Princeton Hightstown Road.
This therapy uses gentle rhythmic, rocking and shaking movements to
ease joints and muscles and release patterns of physical and mental
tension, helping the client to concentrate on peace and relaxation.
Trager sessions cost $70 an hour, $90 for 90 minutes (609-275-3802,
www.trager.com). Post also coordinates Trager teacher training in
the tristate area. Prospective teachers invest about 450 hours including
classroom learning, tutorials, practical experience, and field work.
"The connection that you establish with the person is so deep,
so intimate," says Post, "that you can’t do this unless you
absolutely love it. That’s what makes it different."
329 Princeton-Hightstown Road, Cranbury 08512. Darby Mackenzie Line
CMT, director. 609-371-0888. Www.fullcirclemassage.com
There are 33 massage schools in New Jersey — most
of them in north Jersey, and graduates of any massage school with
a 500-hour board-approved program need only apply to get New Jersey certification.
Graduates earn $25 to $65 per hour, depending on where the job is,
because north Jersey jobs pay higher. Massage therapists generally
have a 25-hour work week.
The number of adults receiving massage has doubled in the past four
years, and the inter-related spa industry has reached $4 billion a
year. Among the places that therapists might find jobs: rehabilitation
centers, resorts, hospice centers, cruise ships, health clubs, sports
teams, hotels, and even at corporations that provide "chair massages"
to relieve employee stress.
Line Road, Hillsborough 08844-3867. Renate M. Novak, owner. 908-359-3995;
fax, 908-359-3902. Www.health-choices.com
The Health Choices school teaches an integrated style of massage,
comprised of four techniques — Swedish, shiatsu, polarity, and
neuromuscular — plus onsite chair massage. Its 630-hour holistic
massage therapy certification program is approved by the state education
department, and there is also a 435-hour advanced massage training.
Certification classes start Monday, October 14. Fees total about $7,000.
This part-time program meets three times a week, day or evening, from
6:30 to 10:30 p.m. or 9:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
"At least a fourth of all our participants have left other careers.
if you were to do it on your own, you could make $40,000 to $60,000
a year at most," says Renate Novak, owner of Health Choices Holistic
Massage School. "If you were to create a business, then the income
potential is even better."
Soon Novak will expand from 3,000 to 12,000 square feet to create
an Institute for Holistic Studies involving other therapies. "Our
idea is to create a university on the east coast," she says.
Piscataway 08854. Chris Froelich, president. 732-885-3400; fax, 732-885-0440.
Home page: www.ssmt.org
Somerset Massage School graduated 256 people last year and expects
that to rise to 300 this year. It places 75 percent of its students,
and 60 percent start their own practices.
The 550-hour certificate program includes instruction in neuromuscular
therapy, Shiatsu, and spa therapies and costs $6,100. The six-month
full-time program starts Friday, September 13, and runs Tuesdays and
Thursdays from 8:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Additional classes, for practical
work and Tai Chi lessons are held on Fridays.
This school also offers the massage therapy classes at Middlesex County
College, and students who register through MCC can receive up to 21
college credits toward an associate’s degree (732-885-3401). These
credits are also available through Thomas Edison State College.
"We don’t have a full associate’s degree but we can help people
get one-third of their associate’s degree with a special concentration
on massage therapy," says Neil C. Tucker, director of admissions.
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