Eriksons open Sanctuary Massage Therapy School in Alva, ribbon cutting June 30

Customers can take advantage of discounted massages by students


In action at Alva's new Sanctuary Massage Therapy School are instructor and national board certified massage therapist Josh Zink and graduate student Kassy Yauk.

Sanctuary Massage Therapy School – appropriately named because the new Alva business is located in the historical building that was the Otterbein Methodist Church at 4th and Center streets. The church was built in 1932 with the sanctuary finished in 1933.

After a great deal of research, Amy and Clint Erikson decided to open a massage therapy school in Alva. Research shows massage therapists are hard to get into. She spoke with the Board of Private Vocational Schools and learned that toward the end of 2020 there were only three massage schools in Oklahoma – two in Oklahoma City and one in Weatherford.

Erikson said they started the first massage therapy class in December 2021. This was on the top floor of the Runnymede cultural center in downtown Alva which they rented. Classes were held at the Runnymede from December to March.

"It was a win-win for me and them," Erikson said. In March and April they held classes in a house they rented from the Bradts. Then in early May, it was time to move in to the church building. The school is required to have a space of 2400 square feet or more. The church building is closer to 6000 square feet. Erikson said the Otterbein building meets their commercial needs and she "loved the historic value."

They started renovations in the basement of the church with private massage areas/treatment rooms in the former small classrooms. A reception area is in the middle.

With the purchase of the Otterbein building, Erikson said she received the book with all the church's history. She learned many members gave their time to build the church and much more info she is glad to share.

Sanctuary Massage Therapy is not only a member of the Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational School, they are also a member of the American Massage Therapy Association.

Public Can Get a Student Massage for a Great Price

So what does having a massage therapy school in Alva mean to consumers not interested in giving massages? Discounted massages from students is a popular perk.

When a student reaches 250 hours of training, customers can get a massage from them for $35. The only requirement is a little paperwork and making an assessment of the student who gave the massage. "You get professionalism and fill out a review sheet. That's part of the student learning. It's a line of communication," Erikson said.

Sanctuary currently has three massage therapists who graduated in May, but have not yet taken their boards. "They are all very talented and competent future massage therapist!" Erikson said of Janet Sheik, Jessica Allen and Kassy Yauk. They are working under the graduate clinic giving massages for $55. Erikson said the average price for massage by professional therapists in Alva is $65 to $75 for an hour.

"It's hard to get into a professional," Erikson said. She said the Alva area has maybe three full-time massage therapists, including one in Freedom and Kiowa, Kan.

A longtime hair stylist and nail tech as well as a retired member of the Oklahoma National

Guard, Erikson said she has two massage therapists who have 10 years experience in the industry work in her Alva salon, Hair Trenz and Hat Pinz. They are mother and son, Lisa Zink and Josh Zink who were licensed in Pennsylvania and are national board certified.

The Zinks give massages in Erikson's salon when they are not teaching at the school.

Massage Therapist Students Taught to Take Care of Themselves and Customers

Massage therapy students enrolled at Sanctuary take 600 hours of training. Attendance is 20 hours/week in this clock/hour program. This is designed so they can work their other jobs as well. Erikson said it takes students about six months to complete the program.

The last class that started in December graduated May 26. A new class began June 13. "We have a third class pending enrollment anytime," Erikson said. Upon completion of the program the state requires students to take a national test.

During their training, students practice giving massages on each other. Erikson said they not only learn techniques to give their customers the best massage, they learn how to get in the habit of saving their own bodies through wellness (what you put in your body); good posture and breaks between massages to help the body not to break down.

"We try to do a two to one ratio – give a one hour massage, take a one hour break," she explained. So if the therapist is in the clinic six hours/day they can give only three massages. This is one of the reasons therapists have to turn people away.

Erikson said they are required to do a background check on each student.

Ribbon Cutting Thursday, June 30 at Noon

The Alva Chamber of Commerce plans a ribbon cutting at Sanctuary Massage Therapy School, Thursday, June 30, at noon. Anyone interested in seeing the transformation of the old church into a massage school and wish the Eriksons well is welcome to attend.

Erikson's husband Clint describes himself as "the silent partner."

She's excited that the Alva Mural Society wants to put a mural on the north side of her building. She said plans are for the mural to be interactive so people can take pictures, etc.

As a community service project, Sanctuary gave individuals who qualified for their state track meet massages the day before they competed. That was 16 students total from AHS and South Barber in Kiowa. Earlier Sanctuary did teacher appreciation at South Barber, AHS and Longfellow elementary.


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