Massage school opens on San Juan Island

There is now a massage school located on San Juan Island. Classes began Sept. 5 and will last through April 13. Those still interested are in luck.

“I am currently looking for more students,” said Richard Davenport, teacher of the school and owner of Lavendara Spa. He explained that only two students have registered so far. To encourage potential students on Orcas, Lopez or Shaw, he said the transportation is free. The class itself costs $9,000, which includes books and other fees.

Meeting every weekday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the class entails 625 hours of instruction in several types of massage; Swedish, deep tissue and shiatsu just to list a few.

Deep tissue is exactly as it sounds, almost strictly working with deep muscle tissue, Davenport explained. Swedish massage, on the other hand, is a gentler massage, and uses a combination of strokes, like friction and pressure. Shiatsu is a Japanese style of massage, in which the client is generally fully clothed, and the focus is on finger, or elbow pressure.

Washington state law requires at a minimum, that each applicant complete 500 hours of training divided between anatomy, physiology and kinesiology, with a minimum 40 of those hours specifically devoted to kinesiology; 50 hours of pathology; 265 hours of massage theory and practice of massage; and 55 hours of business practice, which include proper hygiene, human behavior, proper ethics, and record keeping, as per the Washington State Department of Health website. The 500 hours minimum is key, and at over 600 hours, Davenport’s massage school meets all these requirements and clearly exceeds the minimum required hours. Once students satisfactorily complete his course, they will receive a diploma, and will then be able to work as a massage therapist, with supervision.

His first class focused on ethics. Especially in a small town, Davenport said, it is important to know proper etiquette of the client relationship. If for example, a masseuse sees a client at the grocery store, follow the client’s lead, do not bring up massage unless they do, he cautioned.

“You are licensed by the board of health, and you need to follow those standards,” said Davenport, adding that client confidentiality rules apply.

He is working on financial aid for the class, but due to certification rules, financial assistance programs will not be available until next year. Davenport had the idea for opening the school because he realized how difficult is was for islanders to be trained on island as masseuses. The nearest school is in Port Townsend, so commuting for islanders would be difficult.

“This will give people who have graduated here a different skill,” he said, much like the marine tech classes and similar trade schools that the San Juan Economic Development Council have been creating, in an attempt to give working people better opportunities and jobs.

For anyone considering becoming a masseuse, Davenport recommends following that dream. Easing people’s tension and pain, he explained has been an extremely fulfilling career.

“I really enjoy doing it, it’s very fun and rewarding,” he said.

For information, call 378-3637 or visit and the Facebook page, Friday Harbor School of Massage.