Jhonalyn’s interest in massage therapy started back in 2007 under unfortunate circumstances. “My grandfather had a stroke and I was trying to help him move his arms and hands, and help him feel good again,” says the Filipino native. “He asked me why I didn’t train in massage therapy, so that got me thinking that maybe I should actually look into it.”
Jhonalyn started looking at programs in the Philippines. “I decided to take reflexology and Swedish massage in 2008 so I could begin to understand everything that happens in the body,” she says. After taking those two programs, she began offering massages to clients in their homes. “In the Philippines about 90% of massage therapy clients are stroke survivors because they can’t afford physiotherapy. So I would go to their house and massage them to help relieve their symptoms and help them gain some movement back.”
In 2009 Jhonalyn decided to move to Hong Kong to be a domestic helper. “I did that for five years, but it didn’t change my desire to do massage therapy. I found I was always carrying around my sheets and massage oil and I would offer massages to the other domestic helpers on the side.”
Jhonalyn then came to Calgary to work as a nanny, as well as doing massage therapy on the side. “I was fortunate enough to work for supportive employers who helped me stay in Calgary and support my dream of becoming a massage therapist,” she says.
Shortly after coming to Canada Jhonalyn was injured with lumbar problems and disc distortion. “That was a very upsetting time,” she admits. “I was always very active before my injury. I went biking regularly and lifted weights, but after being injured I felt depressed. I decided I didn’t want to sit and wait for nothing, so I started researching massage therapy schools and MaKami was highly recommended, so I took a tour and learned about the Advanced Clinical Massage Therapy program. As soon as I was in the school my spirits felt lifted. I knew I was in the right place to follow my passion and start my new life.”
Once enrolled, Jhonalyn recalls how the program helped her learn about her own body as well. “I remember standing in class, because I would have to stand frequently as sitting for too long would hurt. I remember our instructor Arturas going through a lecture and it clicked – I was able to understand better what was happening to my body, and the therapies I can utilize to help me walk and to work.” After two-and-a-half years, Jhonalyn visited her surgeon who confirmed she was 95% healed through the treatments she implemented from what she learned in school.
“MaKami is a big help,” she says. “The instructors always help us with learning all aspects of being a massage therapist, from set up to technique and knowledge. They always help everyone and you can always ask the teachers questions, they are very supportive and it is very good training.”
Jhonalyn graduated from MaKami’s massage therapy program in September 2018. Today she runs her own successful clinic, Pinoy Hilot by Jhona, out of her home on the weekends, and works at Massage Heights during the week.
“I’m so happy now,” she says. “My home-based business is very busy and I’m thinking about expanding it in the future. And working at massage heights is excellent – I have been promoted during my two years there to an elevated therapist based on my education, experience and positive feedback from my clients. That success feels so great, and it feels great to be helping others every day doing what I love. The positive feedback and results of my work are my reward.”