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Excellence in Education: The Massage Envy Award

When you love the work you do, it feels strange when someone gives you an award for it – the equivalent of having your cake and eating it too!  The latest occurrence of this happened recently when Massage Envy Spa awarded its Excellence in Education to all seven campuses of the National Holistic Institute.


NHI is always humbled and appreciative when people within the massage profession recognize our work.  Massage Envy Spa operates around 900 franchised locations nationwide, employing over 20,000 massage therapists.  Because they hire therapists from practically every massage school in the country, they are uniquely positioned to know which massage schools consistently perform better than others.  The criteria they considered:

  • Educational program and curriculum
  • Level of student and graduate support
  • Involvement with the industry, regionally and nationally
  • Performance metrics such as completion numbers, placement numbers and graduate feedback/satisfaction
  • Other outstanding achievements and/or recognition from accrediting agencies, industry associations, etc.

This was the first year Massage Envy Spa presented this award, making it even more special.  Joe Bob Smith, Strategic Development Manager, accepted the award on NHI’s behalf in a ceremony with the five other honorees at the Massage Envy Spa 2013 Annual Franchise Conference in Scottsdale, AZ.  At least one NHI graduate and several of the California franchisees with whom we work attended the AFC as well.

NHI has numerous graduates employed by Massage Envy Spas throughout California.  We share this award with them as they are the ones who truly represent excellence in the work they do every day!


June 11, 2013   1 Comment

National Holistic Institute Staff Day 2013: NHI Believes In…

The guy in the tie stood out. He cautiously peered through the Berkeley fog at the hundred or so people surrounding him. Unsure of the rules, but willing to play, he gamely followed their every choreographed move.

Embrace tiger. Combine heaven and earth. Give from your center. Gather what you need.


As Marianna gently voiced each command, the crowd echoed in unison with the appropriate movement. These words, these motions have been repeated again and again throughout the classrooms of National Holistic Institute since tai chi master Al Huang gifted them so many years ago. And, as the man in the tie discovered, every Staff Day begins with them.

Dr. Scott Fitzgibbon has worked in almost all aspects of vocational education. He now shares his wisdom as a noted speaker with schools across the country. But even with many miles and schools behind him, this was the first time he had found himself in the midst of an entire staff performing tai chi all together. They welcomed this somewhat overdressed stranger as one of their own.


Starting the day in a different way turned out to fit Dr. Fitzgibbon’s presentation perfectly. As part of a larger conversation, he talked about how people, to achieve what they truly want, must change their habits, get out of the routine, and look at life differently. Just as Dr. Fitzgibbon pushed us to re-evaluate how we did things, we surely shook him out of his patterns a bit too.

A related topic revolved around defining our own beliefs. This topic particularly hit home with the crowd because, for the last year beginning with Staff Day 2012, the staff of NHI has engaged in various exercises to define what exactly NHI believes. This day would reveal the results of the quest for those beliefs.

To arrive at this destination, all staff submitted what they believed NHI stood for. Working as both individuals and teams, the list of potential beliefs grew to the hundreds. Then, given time of reflection and process of elimination, the staff helped whittle those beliefs down to their core. With much pride and honor, here they are:

NHI Believes In…

• Positive Energy Flowing
• Building Confidence, Creating Opportunity
• Empty Cups and Full Journeys
• Telling the Truth with Compassion
• Providing Safe Space
• Teamwork Making the Dream Work
• Sustainability Through Kaizen
• Creativity and Consistency
• Every body Having a Story
• Embracing Tiger

As these beliefs began to define themselves, the question arose, “What exactly do we do with them?” Much as the beliefs themselves came from the staff, so did suggestions for their display. Ultimately, our curriculum coordinator Sharlene Philip had the winning concept. She incorporated the beliefs into the “fingers” of the NHI logo. Now these beliefs can hang at all seven NHI campuses as a daily reminder of who we are and what we stand for.


All Staff Day is a tradition that convenes every employee of all seven NHI campuses together in Northern California for two days of business, self development, connection, and celebration – mostly lots of happy tears and joyous laughter!

Stay tuned for more Staff Day inspirations in our next posts…

April 5, 2013   3 Comments

National Holistic Institute Named Massage School of the Year

National Holistic Institute was named Massage School of the Year last night during the Industry Awards Ceremony at the 2012 World Massage Festival in Las Vegas.  Joe Bob Smith, NHI’s Strategic Development Manager, accepted on behalf of the numerous staff, students, and graduates who have worked for 33 years to make NHI what it is today.  The award was presented by noted international massage teacher James Waslaski.

Massage School of the Year Award

Brian Halterman, NHI alumnus, holds the Association of the Year award on behalf of ABMP while Joe Bob Smith displays NHI’s Massage School of the Year award.

Other industry awards handed out included the Association of the Year which went to ABMP.  Brian Halterman, a graduate of NHI and ABMP’s Education Program Coordinator, accepted.  Longtime friend and supporter of NHI, Lynda Solien-Wolfe of Biofreeze received the first Bonnie Prudden Meritorious Award for her volunteering and service to the massage profession.

Lynda told Joe Bob that it was actually an encounter with James Charlesworth, NHI graduate and former staff member, in the mid-90’s that led her on a path of volunteering.  Coincidentally, James Charlesworth was posthumously inducted into the Massage Hall of Fame at a World Massage Festival ceremony held Sunday night.  Jim was most known for creating the Massage Emergency Response Team (MERT).  During the aftermath of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, Jim desperately wanted to help.  So, he did what he knew best – massage.  Jim and many of the students and staff of NHI worked tirelessly to massage relief workers and victims of the earthquake.  Jim’s legacy has lived on at NHI where, for over 20 years, students and staff continue to offer help in times of need.

But Jim had an even bigger vision and took MERT to the American Massage Therapy Association where it became a national program.  Cynthia Ribeiro, NHI’s curriculum supervisor and AMTA President, became teary-eyed when recalling Jim’s sense of giving.  Cynthia volunteered with Jim at the AMTA several years before she joined NHI.  She’s proud that both AMTA and NHI have continued to fulfill Jim’s dream.

James Charlesworth Hall of Fame Award

James Charlesworth’s posthumous induction into the Massage Hall of Fame is received by Joe Bob Smith on behalf of NHI from Judi Calvert, massage historian and founder of Massage Magazine.

While at the World Massage Festival, Joe Bob was honored to participate in an industry panel for aspiring massage therapists.  Panelist shared personal stories of how they came to be where they are in the profession and included Angie Patrick of Massage Warehouse, AMTA-Nevada President David Otto, WMF Educator of the Year Michael McGillicuddy, massage blogger Laura Allen, Lynda Solien-Wolfe, James Waslaski,’s Ryam Hoyme, author Cherie Sohnen-Moe, nationally known instructor David Kent, and American Massage Conference founder Scott Dartnall.

Massage Industry Panel

Massage Industry Panel participants Angie Patrick, David Otto, Michael McGillicuddy, NHI Strategic Development Manager Joe Bob Smith, Laura Allen, Lynda Solien-Wolfe, James Waslaski, Ryan Hoyme, Cherie Sohnen-Moe, David Kent and Scott Dartnall.


August 21, 2012   11 Comments

NHI Graduate Named One of Massage Envy’s Top Therapists | Providing Affordable, High Quality Massage to the Public

Recently, I was invited to the Massage Envy Annual Franchise Conference for a peek behind the ME curtain.  As a presenter on the massage industry expert panel, I met many franchisees and home office staff.  All were more than congenial and seemed to care tremendously about the work they were doing.

Even more impressionable was the time I spent with their Top 50 therapists from around the country.  Out of thousands of therapists, these are considered Massage Envy’s best.  They were a diverse group representing various ages and races, with anywhere from 2 to 20 years of massage experience.

Among this elite group was National Holistic Institute’s own Raymond Washington, a 2007 graduate of the Petaluma campus and one of many NHI grads who have worked for Massage Envy.  In talking with Raymond and the other therapists, they found Massage Envy as a place where they could thrive with their massage careers.  Some hoped to own their own franchises someday.  Others liked that they could just focus on massaging their clients while someone else took care of the business side of things.  All shared a common passion: they love what they do!

Joe Bob Smith, Raymond Washington (NHI Petaluma Grad, Massage Envy Regional Therapist of the Year), and CG Funk (Massage Envy VP of Industry Relations)

Massage Envy has little shortage of clients.  Consumers eager for more massage have helped drive the company’s growth.  While demand is relatively high, supply has proved a growth challenge – supply being the ability to hire so many quality therapists.

For the uninitiated, Massage Envy is the largest massage franchise chain in the country, employing more massage therapists (16,000!) than anyone in the world.  With nearly 700 locations in the U.S. and 200 more in the works, Massage Envy is readily fulfilling their mission of bringing affordable massages to the masses.

As demand for exceptional massage therapists grows, National Holistic Institute looks forward to continuing its work with Massage Envy and other massage employers to fill that need.  With 6 – soon to be 7 – California campuses, a nationally accredited 720-hour core program, a unique 400-hour Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy Program, and 32 years of “helping people have work they love,” NHI is fully prepared to educate the future of massage therapy.

-Joe Bob Smith


August 2, 2011   No Comments

Looking Back With a Smile at the Soaking Wet 2011 LA Marathon Sports Massage Tent

Now that our volunteers have dried out from the record rain fall, here’s a student’s first-hand account of this year’s L.A. Marathon

On March 20th, over 50 current and former NHI students braved the cold, wet, and windy conditions at the 2011 LA Marathon. As predicted, the weather bombarded runners and volunteers, who had to deal with the elements from mother earth.

For both new and veteran volunteers, we were in for one wild ride. The many surprises which we encountered did not deter us from ultimately giving the gift of massage to the thousands of participants who sweated out the 26.2 mile endeavor from Los Angeles to Santa Monica Pier. A number of runners tumbled towards our massage tent, hungry and tired, but mostly elated that they had finished and looked forward to a massage provided by us. We were positioned into teams of 2-3 massage therapists at each table, assisting runners in drying off and warming up. Many runners experienced hypothermia-like symptoms, but with the experience of the faculty who were present, led by Joe Bob Smith, Jan Takeshita, and Marianna Anderson, and the quick hands of the massage therapists, the runners were able to get back on their feet and into some dry clothes.

Although we were blasted with random gusts of wind blowing through the tent, a river of water that flowed ankle deep, and even a little bit of hail, the day turned out to be a huge success. Runners were extremely appreciative of the support provided by the massage volunteers, and we were happy to provide a little bit of warmth and care to each runner that passed through. Despite harsh conditions that started the day off as a challenge, we ended with plenty of smiles, laughter, and many memories. Here’s to another successful volunteer event at the LA Marathon. Until next year…

Because the record rainfall disrupted marathon operations, our volunteers this year didn’t receive the usual volunteer shirt or even lunch. To thank everyone for their hard work, NHI hosted a pizza and movie night on April 15 as a sign of gratitude. L.A. Marathon Coordinator, Steve Jackson, showed up with a stash of marathon shirts he had scored for everyone, thank you letters, and prizes commemorating marathons past. Everyone had a great time reminiscing about the rain, the runners, and the hypothermia!

May 2, 2011   No Comments

NHI Leads the Conversation on Career Placement, Massage Certification and Best Practices for Massage Therapy Education at the AMTA Schools Summit

What makes a massage school successful?  National Holistic Institute panelists shared many secrets for success at last week’s American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) School Summit.  San Jose Campus Manager Beth McNeil moderated a spirited discussion among audience members and Vice-President of Education Linda Rikli, Petaluma Campus Manager Tiahna Skye, Vice-President of Admissions Jennifer Jhanda, Admissions Manager Raquel Rodriguez, and Dean of Students Ron Peat.  NHI President Tim Veitzer cheered on from the audience.  Hot topics included student retention methods, admissions policies for special circumstances, faculty training, and maintaining consistency across multiple campuses.

Left to Right: Beth McNeill, Linda Rikli, Tiahna Skye, Jen Jhanda, Raquel Rodriguez and Ron Peat. AMTA Schools Summit NHI Panel

Several audience members expressed difficulties trying to place graduates while dealing with often slow state licensing processes.  NHI representative and California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) Board Member Joe Bob Smith explained how this wasn’t a problem in California since [Read more →]

February 24, 2011   2 Comments

Getting Involved! Take Advantage of These Massage Therapy Opportunities: Professional Massage Associations, Continuing Massage Therapy Education, and Local Massage Events

Being a massage therapist can look like a solitary profession at first glance – one therapist, often her own boss, working with one client at a time.  But look again and you see vast networks linking therapist to therapist, creating the rich tapestry we call our profession.

Nathan Luczynski, Ahmos Netanel and Lynda Solien-Wolfe at the NHI Studio City Expert Panel

Nathan Luczynski, Ahmos Netanel and Lynda Solien-Wolfe at the NHI Studio City Expert Panel

What’s wrong with simply working alone?  Isn’t that what being your own boss means?  [Read more →]

January 19, 2011   No Comments

Scholarship Awarded to NHI Student

Scholarship winner Asad Khan with his sister and NHI staff Joe Bob Smith & Jan Takeshita.

Scholarship winner Asad Khan with his sister and NHI staff Joe Bob Smith & Jan Takeshita.

Asad Khan, a National Holistic Institute student who began his journey with us at the Petaluma Campus before moving to the Encino Campus, has won the 2010 JoyLife Chair Massage Ambassador Scholarship.  Way to go, Asad!  His winning essay is featured below.

Each individual is a world onto themselves, and massage therapy has the power to bring vitality and harmony within each person. Massage therapists are able to reach into a person’s microcosm and create abundance by sharing touch. Whatever a person feels inside reflects to the macrocosm, the world we all coexist and function together in. The more people that receive therapeutic touch, [Read more →]

September 28, 2010   1 Comment

NHI Gets ‘Spa-llywood’ Treatment

Placement Coordinator Jan Takeshita & Teaching Assistant Suzanne Bose outside Bliss Spa.

Placement Coordinator Jan Takeshita & Teaching Assistant Suzanne Bose outside Bliss Spa.

A fortunate group of National Holistic Institute graduates and students got an exclusive VIP tour of Hollywood’s hottest new spa during a recent career night.

Since opening in January, Bliss Spa at the new W Hotel Hollywood has quickly become the go-to destination for the rich and famous looking to be pampered like a rock star.  In addition to the long list of celebrity clientele frequenting its legendary Hollywood & Vine location, Bliss has brought its unique “Spa-llywood” touches to over 40 high-profile events in just 6 months – awards shows, magazine fêtes, and movie premieres like [Read more →]

July 8, 2010   No Comments

Food Bank Gives NHI VIP Treatment

Melanie Burns & Joe Bob Smith (2nd & 3rd from left) join the Food Bank's Michael Flood, Flori Schutzer & Jeanna Kindle.

Melanie Burns & Joe Bob Smith (2nd & 3rd from left) join the Food Bank's Michael Flood, Flori Schutzer & Jeanna Kindle.

During the Thanksgiving and Christmas Seasons, several National Holistic Institute campuses run food drives, offering discounted massages for donated food.  It thrills us to see the number of people coming in for massages, dropping off bags of food to help those in need.  But, once it gets picked up, we never knew exactly what happened to all that food…until now.

This past year, the Encino Campus doubled its previous donation by turning in over 1,200 pounds of food!  As a thank you, we were invited to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank headquarters to see where all the contributions actually go. 

On a recent spring day, campus manager Joe Bob Smith and teacher Melanie Burns trekked just south of downtown Los Angeles to Food Bank central.  Upon entering the building, we [Read more →]

April 22, 2010   No Comments

Current TV Visits NHI

Dan Magro of Current TV’s Dan About Town recently visited the National Holistic Institute Encino Campus to find out what it takes to become a massage therapist.

After getting basic chair massage tips from yours truly, Dan joined a class where he received muscular realignment work from student Amber Mathieu and instructor Jan Takeshita.  By the end of his stay, Dan began to realize just how much training goes into making a professional massage treatment so therapeutic.

November 4, 2009   No Comments

Best Wishes and Happy New Year!

As with most families, at NHI the holidays are a time to gather and enjoy each other’s company…

Share laughs and memories of times past…

And wish everyone a joyous, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

December 23, 2008   No Comments

Massage Pumpkin Carving Contest

In 5th Place with a combined 8%…the disparate team of Liat & Jenelle…

Enough voters mistook Leisha & Craig’s pumpkin for an Obama look-alike giving them 4th Place with 10%…

The talents of John & Jen overcame the subject matter (yes, that’s my face on a pumpkin) to achieve 18% and 3rd Place

Jan & pinch-hitter Joe Bob drove Nancy’s idea home with 30% and a very close 2nd Place

And in 1st Place…

(drum roll, please…)

With the help of props…

(drum roll, continues…)

And electric lighting…

(drum roll, a little more intense…)

Denise and Vanessa claim a 1st Place victory with 33%!!


Congratulations to everyone!!

October 31, 2008   No Comments

Melissa Wheeler at the AMTA National Convention

Here are Melissa Wheeler’s impressions of the AMTA Convention in Phoenix last week.

Joe Bob Smith (Encino Campus Manager), Alicia Ramos (San Jose Campus Manager) and I all met up at the AMTA National Convention in Phoenix on behalf of National Holistic InstituteNHI chooses to participate in such conferences both to learn what’s current in the larger massage community and to give our students and alumni a voice in those happenings.  This one was so big it required three of us to go!

Author Ruth Werner, NHI Grad John Lambert, & Melissa

Author Ruth Werner, NHI Grad John Lambert, & Melissa

In addition to taking classes like Integral Anatomy, Balancing the Art & Science in Massage, and Massage Therapy on Trial, we met up with teachers, NHI graduates, textbook authors, and massage therapists from all over the country.  It was so inspiring!

Just to show the variety of our experiences, I met 2 Japanese publishers who promised to send me a Japanese-language copy of the textbook we use, Trail Guide to the Body

Books of Discovery reception

Books of Discovery reception

Joe Bob found the red, white & blue table he’d always wanted from Oakworks.

Alicia won a basket full of creams and massage lotions at the Massage Envy gathering.

Massage Envy reception

Massage Envy reception

We all had a wonderful time at the Massage Therapy Foundation reception, hanging out with the Trail Guide publishers and Ruth Werner who is not only the author of the beloved book Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology, but the leader of the MTF’s Education Committee.  What does all that mean?  Read about the MTF and their brand new e-journal that they have just launched online – propelling our industry forward.  This massage research is available free to all at the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.

September 26, 2008   No Comments