By Don Bolding

Killeen Daily Herald

The course requirements are enough to discourage those seeking easy credentials, but Ted Kennett's pilot class in massage therapy at A New Beginning School of Massage has nearly filled the small space, and some students have at least a two-hour commute.

The 500-hour class prepares students not only for the state examination for licensed massage therapists but for standing with either of two national certification groups. Kennett's school and these organizations are trying to get rid of the terms "masseur" and "masseuse" because of the image of skilled amateurs they bring up.

The new massage therapists are health care professionals, and the students are looking for new careers.

They include Katrina Cannon, a licensed vocational nurse from Troy, north of Temple, who said she had seen the benefits of therapeutic massage in her work with children and wants to start her own practice.

German native Annette Kouns has been working as a server in a restaurant and wants to get started in "a real career."

Rolando Santamaria, with a background in ranching, makes the two-hour drive from Mullin in Mills County three times a week because he wants a new career.

"I like to help people," he said. "I know how it feels when I feel bad, and I want a career to help people feel better."

Kennett and his two colleagues, Jan Shipp and Larry J. Overly, are licensed massage therapists and state-licensed massage therapy instructors. They also provide continuing education for practicing therapists.

Kennett has a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. Overly, who holds a master's degree in business administration, from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, has owned a school with the same name as the Killeen school in Austin for 14 years, although Kennett is owner and director of the Killeen school.

Kennett's wife, Debbie, assistant director and office manager, is also a licensed vocational nurse and elementary school nurse. All have long resumes in private and institutional work. They started establishing the school here last year because Killeen looked like new territory for their line of work.

The school also has a store for supplies and a library. The three licensed massage therapists take appointments for massages from the public.

The class of 10 women and four men is in its early phases of classroom work that began Feb. 15 in classes that meet several hours three times a week. They sit with pens and paper at tables in a space made for conversion to curtained cubicles for practical phases of training.

The last phase is a 50-hour internship with clients from the general public that will end Oct. 22 after coursework in technique, anatomy and physiology, health and hygiene, business practices, professional ethics, hydrotherapy, kinesiology and pathology.

Kennett tells the class the purpose of massage is to "bring the body back to normal." He said he hates it when someone is told, "'For your age, that's normal.' I once saw an 80-year-old woman on water skis. That is really normal."

He teaches how therapeutic massage can heal, or help to heal, "repetitive stress injuries" that cause a body to slump or otherwise distort itself by long misuse, often occupational. He tells of a female dentist who had to give up her practice in her 30s and go on total disability because of the carpal tunnel syndrome that comes from tightly gripping small instruments all day, every day.

Encouraged by capacity enrollment in the current class, Kennett is already planning a daytime class to begin June 9 and another night class to start in September. The school, in a strip shopping center at 1900 E. Elms Road, can be reached at (254) 616-2255. Its Web site is

Contact Don Bolding at or (254) 501-7557.

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