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Why aren't there any massage practices in Rosemount?

Published By: Jeff Mores, Rosemount TownPages

Has a doctor ever recommended you see a massage therapist? Or have you ever decided to seek out a massage practice on your own? If so, you’ve probably noticed something: There aren’t any massage practices in Rosemount. That’s not to say there aren’t any licensed massage therapists living in Rosemount. There are actually several some of whom have been in the profession for several years and others who are just completing their training. But when it comes time to start practicing massage, they chose to work outside Rosemount’s borders.

Why?It is largely due to an ordinance the city of Rosemount, as well as a number of other communities in the Twin Cities, drew up several years ago. That ordinance is currently being reviewed by Rosemount city staff and the Rosemount City Council and is expected to surface again sometime in July. At that point, language in the ordinance could be amended or the old ordinance could be scrapped altogether and a new one drawn up.

During the 1960s and 1970s, communities in the Twin Cities metro area and across the country drew up ordinances as a way to regulate saunas and massage parlors. At the time, the licensing and training process was not as rigorous to become a massage therapist and several businesses opened as a front for prostitution. That gave massage therapy a bad image it is still trying to overcome in many communities.

In recent years, however, massage therapy has gained momentum.
National organizations have formed to govern massage therapists and their training. Countless schools have opened to train aspiring massage therapists. Massage therapy is no longer considered “alternative,” as many doctors refer patients to therapists for services. As a result, many communities have changed their ordinances regarding massage therapy practices. “So much has changed over the years and massage therapy has come so far,” said Rosemount resident Lynette Stauffer, a certified massage and bodywork practitioner. “There are laws in place that to protect people now. Massage therapy is legitimate. We’re professionals and other communities are realizing that.”

Other communities
Burnsville is one community that lightened restrictions on massage therapists and massage practices. There are currently 10 massage therapy practices in Burnsville and another four in Apple Valley. For the most part, communities in the Twin Cities metro area have revisited and amended their ordinances. Now, Rosemount is doing the same and Stauffer hopes to see a significant change.

Considering change
The city of Rosemount requires massage therapy practices to pay an annual licensing fee of $2,500, in addition to other fees, tests and regulations. Some other communities in the area have lowered such fees to $50-100.
The ordinance came before the Rosemount City Council earlier this month at the request of an individual who was interested in starting a practice locally. That individual has since moved to western Wisconsin and started a practice, but when the ordinance came up for review, Stauffer took notice.

In 2000, the council amended the ordinance to allow massage therapy in a medical clinic without paying a business fee. At its June 3 meeting, the council was considering a change that would expand that privilege to health clubs, providing the massage business does not account for more than 10 percent of the club’s income. The club would also have to meet other criteria, such as an investment of at least $20,000 in exercise equipment.

Doing it right
“I heard what was being talked about at that first meeting and I said, ‘Wait a minute. Don’t put a band-aid on this,’” said Stauffer, who has spent the past three years earning certification in the field and is very interested in opening a practice in Rosemount.” I was happy to hear the council was looking at it, but let’s really take a look at this and do what’s right and what makes sense.”
At the city council meeting on June 17, mayor Bill Droste informed Stauffer council had instructed city staff to research the issue and that more changes could indeed be made.

Local professionals
Stauffer says she is ready to open her own practice and would like to do so in Rosemount. While she is happy to see the Rosemount City Council seriously considering a change, Stauffer said the city is still behind where other communities are at this point.
The regulations in place were drawn up at a time when massage therapy was in its infancy in the United States and others took advantage of it as a front for illegal operations. Massage therapists have nothing to do with such activity, Stauffer said. “People who give massage therapy are caregivers,” Stauffer said. “For us to be labeled as prostitutes hurts. All we want to do is make people feel better.”
Rosemount resident Karen Gillespie knows quite a bit about massage therapy as well. She began working toward her certification in the field more than 20 years ago and now works for Sister Janine Rajkowski’s Circle of Life, a non-profit wellness corporation in West St. Paul. There, Gillespie serves as a massage and polarity therapist, where there are a variety of services available to clients. The practice does therapeutic, deep tissue mobilization, lymphatic and acupressure and a number of other massages. Clients range in age from children to senior citizens and are treated for arthritis and other pains. Some clients simply visit the center to keep their bodies in tune.
“Massage can give people self-confidence,” Gillespie said. “It has a lot to do with body awareness. It’s good for your circulatory system, immune system, lymphatic system.... It’s not just for someone who’s feeling pain.” Gillespie, 59, got into massage therapy in the early 1980s and says it changed her life.

“Knowing you are an instrument of help is something very special,” Gillespie said. “Massage wasn’t as accepted when I got into it but it’s exciting to see that changing. It’s thrilling to see it evolve and opportunities open up for others.” Stauffer agreed.
“I feel the same way,” Stauffer said. “That’s why I’d like to start up my own business and I want it to be in my own community. Normally, I like to be in the background and be a supporter when an issue like this comes up, but no one was taking the lead in Rosemount. I took the lead with this issue because I feel like it’s time for a change.”