MOUNT VERNON – The path to a fulfilling career is often long and winding, and many people get lost along the way.
At Knox Technical Center, people of all ages, skill levels and backgrounds come together in pursuit of one common goal: to receive an education that will help them find new job opportunities in fields they love.
Lyndsay Walton graduated from Knox Technical Center’s massage therapy program in November 2018, and she now works full-time as a massage therapist at Knox Community Hospital’s Rehab and Wellness Center.
In 2017, Walton—who previously earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise studies—was already working at Knox Community Hospital’s Rehab and Wellness Center, hosting orientations for new gym members and occasionally covered for the exercise physiologist.
During this time, Walton sought ways to expand her education and explore other jobs within the health field. Several people at her workplace brought up massage therapy.
“I thought, why massage therapy? Massage therapy is a luxury,” Walton said. “And then I came to find out, after I did research, that it is totally the opposite."
After learning more about massage therapy and its health benefits, Walton became inspired to register for the one year massage therapy program at Knox Technical Center.
Soon after classes started, Walton realized she had finally found her life’s passion.
As an added bonus, she also found a wonderful community in her teachers and classmates. They made a lasting impact on her with their positive energy, professionalism and how passionate they were about their job. She remains close to many of them today.
“If I wouldn't have had those teachers, I can't imagine what type of massage therapist I would be now," Walton said.
“Seeing those people in the Knox County area, in a little small town like Mount Vernon, was just really inspiring. They inspired our class a lot,” Walton continued.
One of these Knox Technical Center massage therapy instructors, Linda Barlow, went through the same program Walton did, back in 2007-2008. Walton and Barlow now work together at Knox Community Hospital.
Barlow recalls her own journey to becoming a massage therapist was very unexpected and has been incredibly rewarding.
“Back in 2007, I was an aquatics director at the (YMCA), and an instructor’s son was in one of my swimming classes," Barlow said. “I was jumping out of the pool, and she said, ‘Hey, you should come over to massage therapy. You'd make a good massage therapist.’”
Barlow decided to give it a try. After she tried a technique from her introductory course and saw its effect, she became extremely passionate about the work.
“A massage therapist’s role is to help the person's body to heal, to rest and to recover,” Barlow said. “We can't fix anything, but we can encourage the body to heal itself and to adjust itself through massage.”
One of the most important things when practicing massage therapy is compassion for every client, Barlow noted. “Every person that comes in for a massage is there for many different reasons. They may be healing or they may be dealing with emotional or physical trauma.”
Each of the seven students Walton graduated with had a unique background story, too, and she found inspiration in their journeys.
“At least four people were in their 40s or 50s," Walton said. “They had been working a job for 20-25 years and they were like, ‘I’m just not happy; this is not what I want to do; this isn't how I want to interact with people. I'm not making people feel better about themselves.’”
“We all found that with massage therapy, we liked the fact that we could help someone in whatever capacity they needed,” Walton added.
Within a few months of graduating from the program, everyone in Walton’s class secured a job. Some work in medical settings while others work in spas. Walton assumed a new role at Knox Community Hospital’s Rehab and Wellness Center, where she was already employed.
Walton noted that one misunderstanding about massage therapists is the notion that spa employees only perform a luxury service for their clients. All types of massage–whether deep tissue or for relaxation–are vital tools in creating a healthier society.
During these challenging times, when people are feeling disconnected and stressed, massage therapy is more crucial than ever before.
“Almost two and a half years later, and now we're here, so it's been a good road. I've really enjoyed it and I've definitely found my niche and what I want to do in life,” Walton said.
In July, Knox Technical Center’s massage therapy program will begin its new one year day-time hours program for 2021. Click the link to learn more about program details to begin the registration process today.