'I can't keep up': Delta massage therapist sees demand surge amid pandemic, seeks to expand

·2 min read

As people seek ways to relieve anxiety, stress and pain during the pandemic, the newly opened Ethereal Massage Therapy in Delta is seeing a surge in demand for services.

Registered massage therapist Elizabeth Okum, who opened the clinic in October 2019, said that she’s already looking to add another massage therapist to her practice.

“There’s definitely demand for it and I can’t keep up. During COVID it really surprised me to be as busy as I am. I am pleased with (the demand),” Okum said.

During the first lockdown in March, Okum said she had to close her practice for over two months.

“That was a negative impact on my business. Massage therapy is very hands-on; it’s not something you can do virtually. There was no opportunity to adapt.”

Okum is glad that massage therapists “didn’t get ordered to close with the second lockdown. Health care is essential. I am glad the government realizes that.”

Okum trained at Sir Sandford Fleming College in Peterborough and graduated in 2017. She worked at the Sundari Day Spa in Westport, then started a home-based business in Chantry for a year before purchasing and renovating the building on 59 King Street, right beside the Jubilee Block in Delta.

It took her 10 months to finish renovations. Most building renovations have unpleasant surprises, but Okum only had pleasant ones.

“We had thought the building needed a new roof, but it ended up not needing it. A lot of things worked out. We didn’t really face anything unexpected, everything came up nicely,” she said.

Okum credits the success of her business to her loyal client base, who followed her to the new location, as well as the improved visibility of her clinic. “Being right on Hwy. 42, the exposure from so many people driving through really increased my business,” Okum said.

When asked why she chose massage therapy as a career, Okum explained: “It stood out to me … it just felt right. My favourite part is being able to help people and seeing (that I) have helped improve their quality of life.”

“Nobody ever leaves here not smiling,” she added.

According to Ethereal Massage Therapy’s website, massage therapy is “more than just a ‘back rub.’ It is an effective treatment for soft tissue injuries, Carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic pain, stress, anxiety, depression, muscle tension, headaches, golf and tennis elbow as well as a beneficial contributor to overall health and well-being.”

For more information, call (613) 415-8884 or visit http://etherealmassage.ca.

Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News