Vancouver WA Massage School Graduates First Class

Last December, I returned home from a business trip in Argentina to a message from Scott Lesieur about the only massage school in Vancouver closing their doors and immediately thought about opening a second campus.  I had long had the intention of opening a second massage school campus, but hadn’t decided on a location yet.  Hearing Scott’s message gave me goosebumps!  I learned last year from Brian Smith, creator of Ugg Boots, who says “follow those goosebump moment.”

I set a meeting with Scott and one of the instructors from the school that was closing and talked about the opportunity.  I did research on the market in Vancouver and in January decided to go for it.

To say that the launch was quick would be an understatement.  I found the location on Fourth Plain Blvd in February and started advertising.  I had 5 weeks to get my name out there and enroll students into our first class. I had to hire instructors.  I needed to get equipment ordered and the school set up and ready to go.

I held an info session and started meeting with potential students and instructors.  I remember meeting with each student and sharing my vision about Bodymechanics School.

March 22, 2016

Vancouver Massage School
First massage class at Bodymechanics School – Vancouver Campus

We launched the inaugural class on  March 22, 2016 with 5 students.   There were hiccups along the way and these students were the perfect class to help us work through the bugs of a new startup, in a city that is 90 miles away from the home office.

But, we did it together.

This group of students were as dedicated a group to the art of massage and the education process as I’ve ever seen.  They pushed each other to be better students.  They were prepared every day for class – even on days when the schedule changed due to instructor availability.  They helped us become better instructors.

We launched our second class just 4 months later with 10 students.  It’s rewarding to see the vision coming together.

Before graduating, each of the 4 that graduated had already taken and passed the MBLEX – which is the state exam required to become licensed in Washington State.  They all passed the school final exam of 200 questions with 90% or better score.


The first class is graduating almost a year to the date from when I had that first voicemail.  I had dedicated instructors who shared their passion for this community and the massage profession.  Between the home office and here, we worked through how to work with the distance.  I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people (staff and students) to achieve this outcome.

Graduation day - Bodymechanics School
Graduation day

Graduation  day arrived in a flurry of snow and ice storms, followed by rain.
We started the day with a ceremony called Bead Exchange – which every graduating student from Bodymechanics School has taken part in.  Bead exchange offers us the chance to be together as a class one last time and to share a bead that represents us with each other.  Each student and instructor leaves with a token that represents each person who played a role in their education.  We then went to lunch and shared goals for the future, funny class moments and enjoyed being in this moment one final time.

Graduation of these 4 dedicated people was exciting.  Each instructor shared their thoughts on why they were special and how they impacted our lives for the better.  Students shared their appreciation for each other, the friendships that had been developed and gave thanks to family and the school.

Just to be able to say this makes me feel so proud –> Vancouver WA Massage School Graduates First Class.

Here is part of me message to the graduating class:

I’d like to recognize this class for a job well done.  We couldn’t be more proud of them than we are today.

Graduating from an intense program like Bodymechanics is an incredible achievement.  When we first met, I promised you that you would become an exceptional massage therapist.  Today is the culmination of that, and I’m proud of all of you and your accomplishments!

During that first meeting, all those months ago, I talked with you about the 4 most important factors that will help you become successful.  If you remember that long ago first meeting, we talked about 4 factors will help you to stand out and ensure your success.

  • Technique –    
  • Marketing –
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking Skills:

9 months ago the thoughts of technique, communication, marketing and critical thinking skills were but a distant dream.  Today, you understand what I’m saying and you’ve made plans on how to implement them and continue to grow.

Along the way, this class has learned to provide a full body massage.  Many of you have benefited from their knowledge and probably agree that they are better than most therapists out there with years of experience.

They’ve learned all about the body, including muscles, systems of the body and the how and why people get injured.  They’ve successfully treated clients in our student clinic, and received rave reviews.  They’ve thought about their “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” and dreamed big.  They’ve written business plans and they’ve been exposed to big level thinking.

I know they have ALL the tools needed to succeed.

To you graduates – my dream for you is that you become the most exceptional massage therapist possible – your success is my success.  When you are busy massaging, and have a full clientele that means I’ve done my job and the world is better for it.

And those days when you are worried, stay positive and measure from day 1 in school – not against an ideal.  Pull out your marketing material, review your Big Hairy Audacious Goal and go make it happen.

Recognize that on any given day, any week, any month, or year, the pendulum will continue to swing from the unknown to the known.  You will question why you are doing this, you will know uncertaintly.

I challenge you to write an achievement list – and document all that you’ve accomplished.  Read this list whenever you are feeling low so that you can move the pendulum.  You have already accomplished so much.

I learned recently that Thurston County is expected to grow by 40,000 people in the next 20 years.  And, we need to provide 55,000 jobs to keep up with the current unemployment rate.  I’m sure the statistics in Clark County mirror that of Thurston County.  Today, you guys are taking a big step towards creating a self-sustaining job and future for yourself and your family.

The pendulum is definitely moved to the right now.

You are entering into a very noble profession; one where helping relieve someone’s pain is very fulfilling and exciting at times.

Often people come to us without hope of ever being out of pain, and to help relieve that person’s pain thru your hands is exciting.  You are getting into this field because of a desire to help people feel better.

Today, I challenge you to not lose that desire to help people.  I challenge you to continue learning about the human body, don’t sit back and be satisfied with what you’ve learned in the past 9 months.  Practice with a research mind – take ownership of furthering your education to better help your clients.  And also know that you are all welcome to call me with any question that you have at any time.

When I think of this class, I see one of the most cohesive groups we’ve seen come through the school.    I also see students with grand visions for their future and I couldn’t be more excited!

Sandy Parks – strong, speaks her mind, dedicated to helping people.  She’s the first one to step up and want to help out someone she sees in pain.  She’s got a great vision of her ideal client and has a solid grasp on what she wants to do in the future.  Certainly overcame a lot personally to be here tonight and showed dedication to completing the program.

Regina Swartz – quiet in the beginning that seemed to blossom as the program went on.  She has a great bedside personality that seems to have helped her step into her role as a leader, both in the classroom and in her own business in which she owns a massage franchise Elements Therapeutic Massage in Salmon Creek.

Ryan Cotton – the class jokester.  Added a nice element to the classroom when he joined after the class had already started.  His dedication to massage was noticed.  He had many clients requesting him for student clinic.  Picked up fast ideas and concepts for massage therapy.

Tish Stewart – an amazing bodyworker.  Knows the body very well due to her background in personal training.  Able to bring a wide variety of knowledge into the classroom that helped staff and students.  Tender heart.  Offered relevant feedback on the program, which will help us continue to evolve the program in the  years to come.  Damn good therapist.

To this group – best wishes for a long and prosperous career.  I am truly excited for each of you.

Our next morning massage therapy class starts January 3rd, 2017.  If you are looking for a massage therapy career in Vancouver, WA then give us a call.  I’d love to work with you and share your success after 9 months.  Call 360.260.7280 – or 360.350-0015 – and we’ll get you started.  In-house financing is available with easy terms.


Committed to all students success
Shari Aldrich, LMP