Founded in 1977, Bellevue Massage School was the first massage school to open on the Eastside and one of the first three in Western Washington.
Original owner Ronaye Cameron, who held classes in her Lake Hills area home and created a curriculum that emphasized both relaxation massage and the benefits of a holistic approach to optimal health, soon opened Washington’s first student massage clinic. It was in the late 1980s that this clinic, which became an integral part of Bellevue Massage School’s educational program, was moved to the Pace Building in the Crossroads area of Bellevue.
In June of 1996, Kathy and James Schmidt—who had been teaching the “Touch for Health” program and an introductory course in reflexology at five Western Washington community colleges—became the new owners of Bellevue Massage School and moved the entire program to the Pace Building. There they continued to expand the school’s holistic body-mind-spirit approach to massage and its importance to complementary and alternative health care. They also embraced the school’s emphasis on smaller classes for optimized learning and making the massage clinic a focal point where students can integrate their knowledge and develop their individual massage expressions.
In 1998, Pat Huggins joined Bellevue Massage School as a student advisor and counselor and took on the responsibility of enhancing the school’s training in communication. Her experience as a former professor at the University of Washington, as an author of six books in education that were utilized by the local school districts, and as a counselor made her the ideal person to advise students and staff in these important areas.
Then, in late 2001, James Schmidt became the sole owner/director of Bellevue Massage School. His belief that the quality of the school’s instructors was key to the school’s outstanding massage therapy program over the years led him to focus on consistently offering talented and experienced instructors who have graduated from various massage schools and bring with them a wealth of knowledge. This practice has enabled the school to consistently provide, as part of its curriculum, a wide variety of introductory modality classes that exposes students to both Eastern and Western approaches to bodywork. Thai massage, shiatsu, Esalen massage, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi, Touch for Health, Reflexology, Bowen work, Trager and Ayurvedic massage are just some of the classes that have been offered.
In recent years, Bellevue Massage School’s program has been expanded to provide students with training in pregnancy massage, sports massage, hydrotherapy, treatment/medical massage, and the patent-pending, breakthrough therapy developed by BMS instructor Arik Gohl, LMP, called “Manual Ligament Therapy.” And recently, a six-month, in-house teacher skill enhancement course for instructors, teaching assistants and clinic supervisors also has been added.
Since its inception, Bellevue Massage School has been committed to offering high-quality education in massage therapy. It is a testament to its owners, teachers and staff, that the school’s students have consistently maintained one of the highest first-time pass rates of all massage schools in the state since Washington instituted a state board exam for massage therapists in 1988.