Catherine Hayward has been involved in the alternative wellness industry for over 30 years. She was born in Vancouver but grew up in Japan where she says massage, shiatsu, and other forms of bodywork are very common.

“So too, is an acute awareness of body-mind connections and deep spiritual meaning to life and actions,” Catherine said. This upbringing made her “very open to the notion of natural healthcare and philosophies that did not really conform to Western Medicine and the culture around that.  Seeking a personal path of wellness has always been very important to me!”

Catherine received her certification as a massage therapist in California where she ran a successful private practice and also obtained her Reiki Master level over 15 years ago. However, upon returning to Canada in 2006, she found herself working in the busy corporate world, which prevented her to continuing her bodywork practice.

After being laid off from her last corporate job, Catherine took the opportunity to spark up her long-time passion for alternative healthcare and renew her spa therapy credentials at the Vancouver School of Bodywork and Massage.

“The faculty at VSBM is outstanding. It is rare to be in a program where every single instructor is so proficient in the subject matter and dedicated to each and every student’s learning and success. I have taken a lot of courses over the years and never had such a wonderful experience from each and every instructor.”

Catherine graduated from the Spa Therapy Program in January 2017, and says her favourite treatment to give is a mix of modalities including Swedish massage, aromatherapy and foot reflexology. With her Reiki background, she also leans towards incorporating energy work into her massage, depending on the client’s needs.

“I have been very impressed with the curriculum at VSBM. Frankly, it is challenging. Not only does it cover many modalities and subjects, the students are held to a high standard of attendance, participation, and proficiency.  It makes me proud to be a part of a very serious and comprehensive program that is disciplined but at the same time rewarding and fun.”

As well as the physical aspects of massage therapy, there are classes that address ethics, body-mind connection, holistic awareness and self-care.

“Due to the atmosphere of respect, caring, and love that is fostered here, our whole class has become very close-knit! I have met some wonderful colleagues and know that I have made some life-long friends in both the teaching staff and fellow students.”

Catherine says there are numerous opportunities for work both in spas and private practice. “Some of my colleagues have already been hired and will be working very soon,” she said. Now she has graduated, Catherine plans to secure work in the spa industry while spending time doing her many hobbies and volunteering at hospices and the Gateway of Hope, a homeless shelter in Langley. “Then, maybe one day I will find myself in Maui with a massage clinic of my own!” she said.

“VSBM has greatly surpassed all of my expectations,” Catherine said. “ I cannot say enough about the wonderful experience I have had! I highly recommend this school and I am very proud to have been a part of the Spa Therapy Program at VSBM.”