Every month, Vicars School of Massage Therapy donates one day’s gross proceeds from the public massage clinics offered by supervised students-in-training and held at the school’s Edmonton and Calgary campuses. We’re pleased to announce that May’s recipient charities are a pair of women’s emergency shelters in Edmonton and Calgary who do amazing work.

On May 13th, the day after Mother’s Day, when many of us are thinking of the women and children in our lives, Vicars’ donations will go to WIN House in Edmonton and Awo Taan Healing Lodge in Calgary. Both groups provide essential, life-saving services and support for women and children flee domestic violence.

Click here to book your appointment for May 13th while there are still spots available!

WIN: Five Decades of Life-Saving Care in Edmonton

WIN (Women In Need) House was founded in 1970 by a group of Edmontonians concerned for the safety of young girls and women, particularly young indigenous girls and women who were arriving alone to the city with no place to stay. Five decades later, WIN house operates two emergency shelters and a transitional housing shelter offering safety to single women, women with children, and non-binary and transgender individuals.

WIN House accommodates up to 70 women and children at a time for 21-day stays with wrap-around services including meals, clothes, nurses, crisis intervention support, child support, pet care, and valuable links to housing, legal, employment and educational services and numerous post-shelter goods and services. In 2023, WIN House gave essential support and shelter to more than 500 adults and children, and the need is increasing. While WIN House staff took almost 2800 calls to their crisis lines last year, they had to turn away close to 1800 people because of lack of space or capacity in their shelters.

WIN House has several partners in the Edmonton community. One partnership with Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society provides on-site indigenous cultural teachings and experiences. Another partnership with Goodwill ensures that donations made to Goodwill, explicitly on behalf of WIN House, are tracked and gift cards issued for WIN House residents.

“Community involvement is vital as it not only brings much-needed awareness to the challenges faced by women and children in vulnerable situations but also fuels our ability to provide them with essential support,” says Britni Brady, WIN House director of development. “Every contribution, big or small, directly impacts lives and fosters a safer, more supportive environment for our residents.”

WIN House operates with funding from government and other grants, fundraising, and individual donations from members of the public. In addition to donations made to Goodwill on behalf of WIN House, monetary donations to WIN House can be made using this link or through CanadaHelps.Org. WIN House also welcomes those interested in volunteering.

Awo Taan: Culturally Informed Healing in Calgary

Indigenous women are three times more likely than non-indigenous women to be victims of violence. Calgary’s Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society Women’s Emergency Shelter is the only women’s shelter in Alberta specifically for indigenous women and children. Founded in 1986 by Ruth Scalp Lock and other leaders, the vision was to create a shelter where women and children could be sheltered in a uniquely indigenous environment. A dedicated committee of people from the indigenous community, the Alberta government, the school system, the police service, and the private sector established the facility and raised the funds necessary for Awo Taan to open its doors.

Guided by cultural practices and traditional teachings such as those of the Medicine Wheel, smudging, and healing circles, Awo Taan—the name means shield in Blackfoot language—offers shelter and services to vulnerable and at-risk women and families. The 32 bed, full-service shelter is open 24-7 with counsellors available at all times. Awo Taan provides comprehensive services to support women’s mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual healing. Women and children can stay up to three weeks, and Awo Taan ensures that they are accommodated after that time through stay extensions and referrals to other agencies.

One hundred percent of Awo Taan Healing Lodge’s budget comes from fundraising, which includes support from corporations, multi-year funding agreements, public organization, and individual donations.

To support Awo Taan directly, visit this link, or call 403-531-1970, Ext 200.

Vicars welcomes clients of all different health backgrounds to our Edmonton and Calgary public clinics. You must book online to experience a massage at our clinics. A session lasts 75 minutes, including 15 minutes for assessment, and costs $35.00.

The Edmonton Public Clinic is located at 2824A Calgary Trail Northwest, Edmonton. The Calgary Public Clinic is located at 200 Country Hills Landing NW, Calgary.

Mat Cardinal’s a bit obsessed with second chances. After all, he’s had two of his own: a second chance at a good career and a second chance at life itself.

We talked to Mat in April 2024 just before he and his hit country music band The Prairie States held a benefit concert, called Second Chance Songs, to help the University of Alberta Transplant Program give other Canadians second chances of their own.

Love good music and a good cause? Pick up your tickets to Second Chance Songs!

Mat Cardinal was near the end of his massage therapy education at Vicars School of Massage Therapy when Covid hit. The class of 2020 graduated a bit later than planned. Most went on to establish their careers as massage therapists. For Mat, though, the path was more challenging.

By the time Mat was 10, he had developed kidney disease, something he shared with his older brother Eli. To cope, the brothers focused on songwriting and making music together. But the disease worsened for both of them. Mat was in his early 20s in 2012 when his kidneys failed, and he spent a year on dialysis.

Mat’s father Robert turned out to be a match for Mat for a living kidney donor transplant through the University of Alberta’s Transplant Program. While Mat got his second chance, Eli, who had developed severe anemia after years of chemo to treat his kidney disease, passed away in 2014. After Eli’s death, Mat vowed to keep writing and playing music. In 2017, he formed a band with some good friends called The Prairie States.

Because Mat has to take immunosuppression medications for the rest of his life, during the pandemic he was under strict orders from his medical team to not leave his house.

“I was very happy about graduating from Vicars, but I wasn’t able to continue being a massage therapist because of my kidney transplant,” says Mat. “I couldn’t risk getting Covid.”

Music became even more important in Mat’s life while he was housebound, and the band’s recognition grew. Mat got vaccinated as soon as he could and, as the pandemic was winding down, the band’s fortunes took off. They were signed to a label and a new path opened up for Mat.

The band’s name, The Prairie States comes from a Walt Whitman poem about bringing the old country into the new, something Mat is praised for in his songwriting and singing. Mat has been honoured by the Edmonton Arts Council, and the band has won 11 Country Music Alberta awards, including 2023 top group/duo. If you listen to country, you’ll already know them from their songs “Waiting On You,” which hit #28 on Canadian country radio, or their breakout single “Rebel Phase.”

“Last year, we went to Nashville for a song-writing workshop with top names in the business which led to our fourth album, ‘Trouble Is,’ released this year,” Mat explains.

The Prairie States’ success, along with the kidney transplant that made it all possible, is the inspiration for the fundraiser when the band played at Edmonton’s Cook County Saloon. Cook County’s owners are big supporters of the band. Popular Edmonton brewery Sea Change had created a special “Second Chance” lager for the event. All proceeds from the evening will go to the University of Alberta Transplant Program.

“For such a long time, when I was a kid, I was just in survival mode,” says Mat. “I wasn’t really living because there were so many hospital visits, and I was going from being sick to not being sick to being sick again.”

“Thanks to my mom Tracy, my dad Robert, and the Transplant Program at the University of Alberta, I have a new life,” says Mat. “The surgical team is fantastic, and I have nothing but respect for the nurses who have been caring for and supporting me for a long time.”

“My message to anyone who is going through what I went through is don’t give up. It’s hard but I’m living proof that there’s a second chance,” says Mat. “And for those who are considering donating a kidney, it’s such a gift to give. You’re giving life to someone else so that they can continue theirs.”

Vicars School donated one day’s massage fees from the Edmonton and Calgary supervised student massage clinics to the program. At Vicars student massage clinics, students offer massages to the public as part of their practicum. The day’s clinics were fully booked and the money raised was donated to the University of Alberta Hospital Foundation in the name of Mat’s benefit.

The University of Alberta Hospital offers the most comprehensive organ and tissue transplant program in Canada, and provides life-saving care to Canadians in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, BC, Nunavut, Yukon, and NWT.

“I’m so appreciative of what Vicars is doing,” says Mat. “It’s just amazing for Vicars to use its platform to support the transplant community.”

If you’re looking for a high-quality massage in Edmonton or Calgary at a bargain price, look no further than the student clinics at Vicars School of Massage Therapy.

But don’t just take our word for it!

I’ve been a massage therapist for 21 years and I have to say that the students at Vicars give very good and professional massages. They are knowledgeable, have a firm/confident pressure; the draping is done correctly. I’m always impressed and feel more relaxed when I leave there. I also highly recommend this school if you’re considering a career in massage therapy!

Annette C, Vicars School of Massage Therapy Edmonton Student Clinic Client

 

This is my favourite massage school. The students are consistently well-trained to deliver excellent service. I have always, without fail, received fabulous massages. The clinics are well-organized and the atmosphere is professional and pleasant.

Victoria L, Vicars School of Massage Therapy Calgary Student Clinic Client

An effective massage for you, and hands-on education for your therapist

As a clinic, our goal is to provide you with an effective and enjoyable massage that’s specifically tailored to your needs. (And a bargain, to boot: each $35 appointment includes an assessment, a one-hour massage, and a short home-care consultation).

As a school, our goal is to provide our students with a thorough and practical massage therapy education.

Our clinics get rave reviews from clients, and our students are in high demand from employers. (The hands-on training they get in clinic is one of the biggest reasons why).

So how have we managed to find that perfect balance between your needs and those of your therapist?

It’s simple: by making it all about you! Well, sort of! Our number one priority as a school is—and always has been—making sure that we are preparing our students for successful real-world careers. And being a successful RMT is all about having the skills and knowledge to give your clients the highest-quality care. We teach our students to measure their success by how much they can help you. And that’s the attitude that they bring to each student clinic appointment.

“Our clients value our public clinic because it’s a place where they can come and to be heard and to receive a really thorough and really attentive treatment from our student therapists,” explains Alyssa Collins, Calgary clinic coordinator.

“At public clinic, our students get to see and treat all kinds of different people. This is an opportunity to work on many different bodies and to practice what they’ve been learning in class,” adds Janine Borger.

Janine is one of our longest-serving faculty members and has taught students and supervised clinics in both Edmonton and Calgary. “But it’s also a chance for them to hone their skills of interaction—the soft skills, the people skills—that are so important for a successful massage career. They can’t learn that just by working on other students, or even friends and family.”

How is a student massage different?

Vicars School is absolutely awesome to go to for massages. I have been going there for over a year and feel so grateful that this school allows for affordable massage. I feel very confident with the services, as an instructor always checks in during my appointment to make sure there are no questions from the therapist or myself. I have had quite a few massages in my life and can honestly say that some of the best have been through this school!

Wendy M, Vicars School of Massage Therapy Edmonton Student Clinic Client

We get remarks like Wendy’s all the time. We’ve gotten used to comments like “this was the best massage I’ve ever had!” or “I can’t believe a student was able to give a massage that good,” but we’ll never get tired of hearing it.

“Our clients consistently tell me how much they value these appointments,” says Alyssa. some of them drive all the way across the city just to come see us, because of the level of professionalism, dedication, and care that our students show.”

As talented as our therapists are, though, they’re still students. That means that the experience you’ll get at a Vicars clinic will be a bit different than what you’ll get elsewhere.

The most important thing to understand when you book an appointment with us is that your massage therapist will be working within what’s called their “scope of practice.” They’re still a student, so they’re still practicing their hands-on skills and are still learning how to treat certain conditions.

Of course, every therapist at our clinic has to meet a certain skill level before they begin seeing clients. Students don’t start working at the clinic until they are able to give a full relaxation massage treatment and know the steps of assessment and treatment planning. But each student massage will be a little bit different, depending on where your student therapist is in the program.

This is also where the clinic supervisors come in!

Superhero supervisors

All of my experiences with the students have been top notch. They are friendly, caring and professional. They review any limitations or injuries you may be having prior to treatment. They also regularly check in to see if there is any discomfort. They will also verbalize where they will focus treatment on. If they are unsure of anything they will check with their instructor or ask when the instructor comes along to see how things are going. At the end of the treatment they recommend exercises to help yourself to overcome any injuries or tightness. I have never had anything but positive experiences with Vicars School of Massage.

Nola S, Vicars School of Massage Therapy Calgary Student Clinic Client

The supervisor plays a dual role.

They’re there for you, the client, making sure your massage treatment and overall clinic experience is safe, effective, and positive. If at any point in your clinic visit you have any questions or concerns, you can ask either your therapist or the supervisor.

They’re also there for your student therapist. They will answer questions and offer feedback and support during or after the appointment.

“Our supervisors aren’t just massage therapists, which is great in its own right,” explains Alyssa. “They’re  also specifically trained to facilitate student learning in the clinical environment. So it’s not just about massage therapy, it’s also about education and ongoing support for the students.”

Want to know what all the fuss is about? Click here to book an appointment at our Edmonton or Calgary massage therapy clinics. And if you’ve never had a massage before, click here to read our guide to what you need to know before your first massage appointment!

massage therapy for office employees

The high cost of sitting down on the job

One of the great things about working at MH Vicars School is getting free massages at our student practicum clinics. But it’s much more than just a nice perk, like free beer after your shift at the brewpub. It’s a health benefit.

Our admin staff (and even our faculty) spend a lot of time at their desks. And sitting is hazardous work!

If you’re reading this blog post from your desk chair, you’re probably familiar with the physical strain on the areas of your body that are most affected by long periods of sitting and inactivity. When we sit, our upper back, neck, and shoulders are under constant strain. This can lead to headaches, back pain, back spasms, jaw tension, and other forms of discomfort that follow you home from work and into the rest of your life.

Even if you’re very careful with your posture and get up to take quick breaks throughout the day, it may not be enough to ward off chronic tension—especially when you factor in the time you spend sitting during your commute and during your leisure time. Human beings simply weren’t meant to sit all day.

If I’m just sitting all day, why does my body feel so tired?

When your mind is busy answering the millionth email of the day, your body is working nearly as hard trying to cope with sitting still in a chair (and let’s be honest, probably hunched over at the keyboard).

When we sit in the same way for a long time, our body activates more muscles to compensate for the muscles that are getting fatigued. When one muscle or joint is out of whack, they all are. It’s a bit like how your hip starts to ache when you walk with a painful knee. Your body is always compensating for weakness. When one bodily system overdoes it, the rest of the systems will step in to try to ease the load.

You may also notice that you start to feel unwell after a long bout of desk work. That’s because poor posture and long periods of inactivity can not only cause chronic pain, but it can also put additional strain on your internal organs.

Pandemic-forced work from home has made things worse for many of us. Many workplaces pay attention to ergonomics for sitting employees: office chairs are designed to encourage good alignment for bodies of different heights; standing desks and exercise balls are available alternatives; monitor heights can be easily adjusted.

At home, we are slumped on the couch, bent over our iPad or laptop. Or we are at the kitchen table on a straight-backed chair, peering at a screen that is too high or too low.

Over time, you can expect this to lead to poor alignment and tense muscles. You may even experience sciatic pain, which feels like a lightning bolt shooting down the leg from the buttocks.

Another common side effect of long periods of sitting is slowed circulation, or blood flow, around your body. This is a big reason why it’s easy to become fatigued.

But don’t despair—massage can help!

Regular appointments with a well-trained registered massage therapist are an effective (and enjoyable!) way to combat the physical impacts of your desk job.

A good massage relieves muscle tension, help realign your body, and improve circulation. This improved blood flow and circulation helps your body get rid of metabolic waste and bring in nutrients and oxygen to tight muscles more effectively, helping you recover and thrive.

Let’s not forget about the positive mental effects that massage brings too! Massage is an excellent way to increase endorphins and reduce stress. After a long week in the office, what could be better for your body and your mind than spending an hour on the massage table, with nothing to focus on but taking care of yourself?

And the benefits of your massage extend long after you’ve left the clinic. A good RMT will work with you to determine your body’s needs and create a personalized treatment plan that includes homecare advice to prolong the benefits of your massage. They may even recommend easy stretches and strengthening exercises to help keep you feeling strong between appointments.

Get a high-quality massage at an affordable price

Getting a massage every week or every two weeks does wonders for your mental and physical health, but for many people the biggest barrier is price (even if they do have health benefits).

That’s why the public massage clinics at MH Vicars School are so popular. At only $35 for a one-hour appointment, our student massages make regular massage therapy treatments accessible to all. Our students treat clients of all ages, professions, and lifestyles. Our “regulars” range from people who had never had a massage before their first visit to Vicars, all the way to people who’ve been getting massages for decades and come to our students in between appointments with their fully trained (and full price) RMT.

Whether you’re a massage newbie or looking to supplement the treatments you get through your benefit plan, regular massages from at our clinic will make a huge difference in your well-being.

If you’re not feeling 100%, you can book 60-minute massages at MH Vicars. At our Edmonton and Calgary public clinics, you’ll receive massage therapy treatments from our focused and professional students at a sharply reduced rate. Your appointment includes a comprehensive assessment consultation, a full one-hour massage, and a home care consultation, all for only $35.

A review from one of our many happy clients:

“This is my favourite massage school. I have been for many massages for the last number of years. The students are consistently well trained… I have always, without fail, received fabulous massages. The clinics are well organized, and the atmosphere is professional and pleasant.”

Victoria L

If this would be your first massage, take a look at some frequently asked questions about what to expect from your first massage.

You can easily book online for student clinics at either our Calgary or Edmonton campus. Please note our updated Covid-19 regulations to keep the public, our student therapists, instructors, and supervisors safe. We look forward to seeing you there!

Our student massage therapy clinics remain temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic as a safety precaution to protect our students—and you.

Treating clients in our practicum clinics is a vital part of our students’ education, and we are both proud and grateful to be a part of your health care team. So keeping our doors closed to the public has been painful for us. However, we believe that it is the best choice for our students and our clients right now.

The Alberta government loosened COVID-19 restrictions again on February 8. Meanwhile, there’s been an increase in the number of infections from new variants of the virus, which may behave differently than the original strain. Together, this means that there’s a lot of uncertainty about what the next few weeks will look like.

Because of the nature of our public clinics, we always need to plan well in advance. Frequently reopening and closing our clinic is more disruptive to our students’ experience—and worse for our clients—than a delayed but more sustainable reopening.

Reducing the number of people that our students come into close contact with while the risk of community spread is so high also means that we’re less likely to have to interrupt on-campus classes for our students.

In the meantime, we have been working hard to ensure that our students can continue to benefit from dynamic and interactive hands-on practicum experiences without increasing their risk of being exposed to the virus.

Regular massage clinics are open in Alberta, and we encourage you to visit a Vicars grad practicing in your community.

When we’re ready to open our doors again, we’ll announce it by email and post on our website and social media accounts. Thank you for your understanding and your patience.

Stay well,

MH Vicars School

After too many months of empty classrooms, we’re overjoyed to have all our students back on campus this month. And that means the moment everyone’s been waiting for is almost here: the return of student clinics!

Our student massage clinics will reopen in a few weeks.

In both Edmonton and Calgary, we will begin with some daytime clinics in late September or early October, which will be booked by email as usual. Regular clinic availability will resume in October. The exact opening dates and availability will vary by campus. We will send email updates to everyone on our contact lists, and make announcements on our website and social media.

We’ve been working hard to keep our students safe and supported as they return to the classroom. Likewise, we are making sure that when you come for a massage at our student clinics this year, you’ll experience the same effective, professional, and safe treatment that you’ve come to expect from our student therapists.

To achieve this, we’ve made a few changes to our clinic compared to previous years. Normally, we offer a very limited number of massage appointments over the summer, and return to full capacity at the beginning of September. This year, though, we’re delaying the start of clinic until later in the fall. This allows our students to readjust to in-person training and to get used to working in a clinic environment once again. And of course, we have updated our already stringent hygiene protocols, and introduced new COVID-specific processes.

We can’t wait to see you again. Many of you have reached out to us over the past few months to say how much our students and clinics mean to you. The feeling is mutual. We feel very privileged to be a part of your lives, and we truly appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate these challenging times together.

UPDATE June 10, 2020:

Phase 2 of Alberta’s “relaunch” strategy will begin on June 12, and many massage therapy clinics will be open for business.

We’re sorry to say that MH Vicars School Public Clinic will not be one of them (yet).

We will be closed throughout the summer. We don’t yet know when it will be safe and practical for us to re-open, but we expect it will be later in the fall at the earliest. We will keep you updated as we know more.

Thank you for your patience.

Original post published May 6, 2020:

Everyone at MH Vicars is here because we love massage therapy, and have first-hand knowledge of the benefits that regular treatments from a well-trained massage therapist can bring. And nothing compares to the satisfaction of treating a client who’s sore, stressed, or in pain and seeing them walk out of your clinic with a smile on their face. Though the satisfaction of teaching someone the skills to do that comes pretty close!

So it goes without saying that we’re counting down the days until we can reopen our public clinics and see you again.

But we won’t do so until we’re confident that we can ensure everyone’s safety, and also support our students’ educational goals. This means that we cannot guarantee when our clinics will reopen.

We cannot guarantee when our clinics will reopen.

We have been carefully following the updates and announcements by Alberta’s public health officials, and were pleased to see that the government has included massage therapy in its multi-stage relaunch strategy. Massage therapists will be able to begin seeing clients, with some restrictions, in stage 2 of the plan.

We don’t yet know when stage 2 will begin. The first stage could begin as early as May 14, and further changes will depend on how that goes. We don’t expect that massage therapy clinics will be able to open for another month at the earliest.

Despite that uncertainty, massage therapists across the province are already making plans for how to safely reopen their practices.

Even for small clinics and single-therapist practices, reopening safely is going to be a huge undertaking. The professional associations have begun to publish the health and safety protocols for their members. Almost all aspects of running a practice will be affected, from your therapist’s personal protective equipment to how they disinfect common areas to how they coordinate the movement of clients and staff in and out of the clinic.

When you next see your massage therapist, you can rest assured that they will be doing everything that they can to reduce your risk of being exposed to the coronavirus. And that includes the next time that you come for a student massage at Vicars in Calgary and Edmonton. But as much planning and preparation that will need to go into re-opening a regular massage clinic (and it’s a lot!) it pales in comparison to the work that will have to go into safely opening our public clinics.

The most obvious challenge is the sheer size of our clinics. We are a large school and our public clinics regularly have over a dozen student therapists treating clients at a time. That means a lot of shared spaces, and shared surfaces. We will need to review our (already robust) cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and may need to adjust our clinic schedules. We will also need to have a reliable supply of personal protective equipment. All of this needs to be coordinated around our students’ educations, as well. Classes have continued online since we closed our campuses in March, and some students will have exams in June.

We appreciate your understanding. We also ask you to show the same patience and compassion to other therapists in your community, who may choose to delay opening their practices. All therapists and business owners will have different factors to consider in deciding when and how to reopen.

We will continue to share updates, and will let you know when we are ready to accept bookings again. Until then, stay safe and well.

In response to the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily close our campuses.

Both the Edmonton and Calgary campuses will be closed from Monday, March 16 until further notice. All on-campus activities including classes, clinics, and study halls will be cancelled.

We are making this decision as a precautionary measure. Post-secondary schools in Alberta have not yet been required to shut down operations. However, the best way for people to slow the spread of this virus is to reduce the risk of exposure. So we are choosing to pause our in-person interactions for a few weeks.

And because our program is delivered through blended learning, we are better prepared for this type of situation than some other schools.

We are communicating directly with students with updates on how this will impact their studies.

Upcoming events and in-person appointments for prospective students will be rescheduled or switched to a virtual platform. If you have an appointment booked with any of us, we’ll contact you to confirm the details.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.