As a “theater kid” in high school, Betsy Duncan noticed that her classmates would get stressed out before performances. Always wanting to help, Duncan decided to rub a few shoulders. And her classmates told her she was really good.
So Duncan set her sights on a career in massage.
“Everything fell into place,” said Duncan on a recent Anatomy in Clay® Learning System podcast. “When I learned more and more about massage (and) how I can help somebody with chronic pain, and they’ve had this pain for years, and with a handful of massage sessions they can go off their pain medications … that was mind-blowing for me, how much an of an impact that I could have on somebody’s life.”
Duncan took 900 hours of training at the now-defunct Heritage Institute. License in hand, she started working with chiropractors and in high-end spas treating athletes and celebrities. But wanting to become a “triple threat,” she went back to school to become an aesthetician and nail tech.
In 2010, Duncan started teaching and exploring anatomy. She was teaching at Cortiva Institute, which used the Anatomy in Clay® Learning System. So years later, when she was recruited by Summit Salon Academy in Tampa Bay and asked to design and built a massage program, she knew what learning tools she wanted to include.
“The idea of being able to design and develop a massage program from scratch was just a dream come true for me because I was really able to pick the textbooks that I wanted and pick the exact curriculum,” said Duncan. “The owner was amazing to let me have carte blanche of what I wanted in the classroom. And the first thing that I thought of was the Anatomy in Clay system.”
Students who head into the field of massage therapy, she said, are “very much tactile learners” so the Anatomy in Clay system was a perfect fit.
“I love seeing the light bulb moment in the students faces when they see ‘Ohhhhh, that’s how it works.’”
Duncan likes to maintain a fun vibe in her classroom. She’ll wear a skeleton or muscle onesie. There’s a skeleton in her classroom named ‘Slim Jim’ who gets a new costume every month. The class will watch Crash Course videos or Amoeba Sisters videos on YouTube. And they will study The Trail Guide to the Body, too.
When working in clay, Duncan said she needs to reassure students that their work doesn’t have to yield a work of artistic sculptural perfection.
“They love it,” said Duncan. “It helps that connection to the anatomy and it gets me away from being just a talking head up at the front of the classroom … They get so much more immersed and more invested.”
In the end, said Duncan, is a “sense of pride” that “really helps their understanding.”
Even though she runs the massage training program at Summit Salon Academy, Duncan takes on clients for treatments because of the satisfaction from helping others live without pain. “What that gives them is pretty amazing,” said Duncan. “I try not to have too big of a head about it, but it's really rewarding.”
Anyone in the Tampa Bay area an also visit Betsy for a massage, facial, mani/pedi at The SKINStitue Med Spa by calling 813-510-3000 and ask for Betsy aka "Mighty Mouse"!