‘It isn’t what we do’
Recent massage parlor bust offends Westside therapy school leaders
There are massage parlors, and there is massage therapy.
The former has been linked to vice crimes - as in the El Paso County Sheriff's bust last November at the former Kyoto Massage on West Colorado Avenue in which two prostitution charges were filed - while the latter works with area health, sports and civic entities and has a goal of alleviating pain.
The Westside is the home of the Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy (CIMT), one of only seven in the country additionally offering students certification in neuromuscular therapy (which addresses acute and chronic pain). With an average enrollment of about 65 students, CIMT is located in the Kissing Camels Office Park, 1490 W. Fillmore St., just east of Coronado High School.
In a recent interview, business owners Roger and Shannon Patrizio, along with admissions directors Dana Allen and Dan Vallejo, expressed pride in their careers and supported more consistent licensing requirements for massage practitioners.
The Kyoto bust, in which human trafficking had been suspected (but no charges were filed in that regard, according to the Sheriff's Office), illustrates the difference between those who say they offer massages and those who have seriously trained in the field.
“We have a tough, comprehensive program,” said Allen, adding that the school started the separate Touching the World foundation four years ago so as to focus on the plight of human trafficking (a kind of multinational slavery that has been uncovered in some illicit massage parlors). “That's why, when you hear about things like that bust, you feel offended because it isn't what we do.”
Started in 1985 by a woman named Togi Kinnaman (it was then called the Stress Massage Institute), CIMT's 15 instructors lead a one-year certification program that calls for 1,150 hours of study. This consists of a variety of classes and training, as well as going into the community and donating massages at activities such as the Pikes Peak Marathon, the Walk for Diabetes or the Women's Fair at the Eighth Street Wal-Mart Saturday, Jan. 12.
The 1,150 hours exceed Colorado Springs' requirement of 1,000 hours for a massage therapy license (it's 500 in Manitou Springs). The “busted” Westside massage parlor was in the unincorporated portion of the avenue between Manitou and Colorado Springs. This put the location under the jurisdiction of El Paso County, which has no hours requirement - a shortfall that CIMT leaders would like to see changed, Allen said.
Commissioner/Westsider Sallie Clark, in an interview this week, suggested the county should establish a standard of at least 500 hours. However, she pointed out that because the county is not home rule, it is now using a state statute that does not distinguish between massage parlors and massage therapy. “So we've got some work to do,” she said.
CIMT moved from Manitou to the east side (off St. Vrain Street and Platte Avenue) in 1994. After taking ownership of CIMT, the Patrizios moved it to a Kissing Camels Office Park building they had bought and retrofitted for the school about seven years ago.
The exact number of locally practicing CIMT graduates is not known, but Allen said that they represent “a lot” of the roughly 950 registered therapists in the city. She herself graduated from CIMT a year ago, as did Vallejo.
Roger Patrizio, the school's director, who graduated from CIMT in the late '80s, describes his massage therapy beliefs in the school's catalog: “What a blessing it is for us to be trusted by those in physical or emotional pain and trauma… CIMT is dedicated to continuing the standards of excellence which have given our program recognition by the medical community.”
Westside Pioneer article