Entourage Institute in Lenexa launches Johnson County’s only massage therapy program

Entourage Institute, a beauty school in Lenexa, has launched a new massage therapy program this fall, believed to be one of only two such training programs in the Kansas City metro. “I was proud to be able to launch something that will make a difference for people,” said Michelle Cruickshank, who designed the new program. Photo courtesy Michelle Cruickshank.

A new massage therapy program has launched in Lenexa.

Housed at Entourage Institute of Beauty and Esthetics near Oak Park Mall, the new massage therapy program is one of only a few in the Kansas City metro area. The program is designed to churn out new students who will be able to work anywhere in the U.S. after graduation.

Michelle Cruickshank, massage therapist program director, as well as several other massage therapy business owners in Johnson County, also hope to see graduates of the program fill the shortage of massage therapists in the Kansas City metro.

“I was proud to be able to launch something that will make a difference for people,” Cruickshank said. “Because I know why I became a massage therapist: to overcome issues that I had personally, it was something that helped heal me on a level that was so profound, that I wanted to be able to do that for others.

The massage therapy program could hopefully fill the gap in vacant massage therapist positions in the Kansas City metro area. Photo courtesy Michelle Cruickshank.

“And for me to be able to create this program and be able to launch it with the support of other massage therapists, massage therapy businesses and this particular school and establishment just means the world to me.”

Only massage therapy training program in JoCo

The program launched in August.

Following that, the Lenexa City Council earlier this month unanimously agreed to change city code to allow students to perform massage therapy in Lenexa while under certain parameters.

During that meeting, a handful of business owners spoke in favor of the program, saying it will help them fill the gap of unfilled positions.

Part of the shortage of massage therapy students is caused by a lack of local training programs.

Cruickshank said at least half a dozen programs existed in the Kansas City area 15 years ago. Now, there’s only one other program besides hers: WellSpring in Kansas City, Mo.

Cruickshank said the Entourage Institute’s 840-hour program encompasses a more therapeutic and medical standpoint of massage but will also incorporate spa elements.

With the expansion of offerings at Entourage Institute, she hopes the program can also serve clients who are mentally or physically stressed out.

“When it comes to massage itself, we’re there to help with the mental balance, the mental stability aspect from balancing out the body,” she said. “So when you add in a mix such as COVID, which is the likes of nothing anybody has ever had to deal with until just recently, you see an uptick in stress disorders, you see an uptick in suicide prevention needs, you see an uptick in people with really bad body mechanics because they’re sitting at home instead of working in the office. So you have to help those individuals that are in pain, that are in stress.”

Since the pandemic hit Johnson County in March 2020, Cruickshank said she has seen an uptick in stress-related issues, including in folks who are working remotely and who struggle with work-life balance.

“If we can get more massage therapists out there, we can make it more readily available for those people to take that break that they need in the middle of the day or at the end of their day to come in, rebalance their body, help with the neck and shoulder pain, the lower back pain from sitting hunched, help with the mental stress of the day, having to deal with conference call after conference call after conference call… and just give them the opportunity to unplug,” she said.