/Massage therapist celebrates 25 years in Minden
Alana Coty a rehabilitative manual therapist fourth year student of manual Osteopathy and medical illustrator seen here with a watercolour she created joins the Of Sound Body space in May. /SUE TIFFIN Staff

Massage therapist celebrates 25 years in Minden

By Sue Tiffin
Ziorjen sits by the window in her massage therapy clinic, looking out
onto Bobcaygeon Road in Minden while sun streams through the glass onto
her smiling face. 
year marks 25 years – a quarter century – since she opened Of Sound
Body Massage Clinic and Wellness Centre, in 1994, and while discussing
her career she sometimes takes pause to marvel at that anniversary.
very proud of my accomplishment, particularly being in a small town and
particularly because of the profession that it is,” she says. “But how
I’ve seen our profession morph, in the acceptance of it over these 25
years is something that I just really want to celebrate with every other
RMT that’s around here, it’s about all of us.”
was working as a pharmacy technician at a Minden drug store when her
regular massage therapist – who she would later see as a mentor – left
the area. Ziorjen had been suffering from headaches, and after seeing
another massage therapist who was trained but not licensed, an idea
popped into her head.
away from her that day, I thought, I think this town needs a registered
massage therapist,” she said. “That would have been December 1991,
because by September 1992, I was registered into the RMT program. It
just happened.”
registered in the two-year program at the Canadian College of Massage
and Hydrotherapy in Sutton, “the birthplace of massage therapy education
in Canada,” according to the school’s website. She commuted every day,
sometimes staying at a relative’s house in Kirkfield to cram so that she
could be that much closer to school, and oftentimes crying during the
drive due to stress. At the same time, she had a two-year-old daughter.
would cook meals preparing for the week, and do the stuff you do,” she
said. “The time that I would drive would be the time that I would
transition from mother-wife-student and vice versa. It was a challenging
number of years.”
the challenges: the expense of school, the responsibilities at home,
the intensity of the program, studying physiology and anatomy, Ziorjen
has happy memories.
get to school, and before an exam, I would sit in my car and put on
‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light,’ and I would sit in my car and [rock
out],” she said. “And then I’d go into class, and this wasn’t me at all,
I had a friend give me a deck of angel cards [cards of inspiration],
and I was so not there, but I thought, cool, angel cards. So I would do
my Meatloaf thing, go into the class, and I would pick an angel card, an
d it got so that the whole class, it just became our tradition that
everyone came and picked an angel card before class.”
already had a health science background, but said at times RMT
training, which included the study of nutrition and the  use of hot tubs
and saunas in hydrotherapy, was “mind-boggling.”
schooling, you learn the name of every notch and line on every bone
that every muscle attaches to,” she said. “To me … I use the analogy
of a big Mousetrap game. The most intricate, sophisticated piece of
machinery. And you just think, who is at that drafting table, because it
is mind-boggling that this does that which trips this and then that and
then this happens. I found it fascinating … just a couple of months
into it there was no doubt in my mind.”
graduating, Ziorjen opened the clinic at 114 Bobcaygeon Road alongside a
physiotherapist, planning the interior decorating with her dad, whose
paintings still hang on the walls of the bright space. And then, she
terms of referrals, there weren’t referrals then,” she said. “I sat
here and waited for the phone to ring. You came in every day and waited
for the phone to ring.”
said she had no business background at the time, and credits Mary
Coneybeare, then-bank manager at TD Bank, for helping her get started.
was, you have to think of the period of time this was, she was so
pro-women in business,” said Ziorjen. “She was so supportive of women in
business and I thank my lucky stars that she was there for me to help
provide the financial banking. I had to pick a number out of the air and
say this is how much I’m going to make this year, and you know what, I
made it.”
For a short time, Ziorjen said she was the only registered massage therapist between Coboconk and Gooderham. 
kind of had to dispel the myth of that whole mentality of backroom
massage parlour thinking,” she said. “So I had to educate people. Any
sort of opportunity that I could go to present or talk to people, any
challenge that came my way, I took it. I took my table everywhere.” 
She said she’ll never forget the day she got a referral from Dr. Heyes.
was big, because I didn’t get referrals from doctors then,” she said.
“And he referred me to see a client who was at home, terminal with
cancer. As a result of medications and because of the cancer she was
suffering from edema in her legs and it made her uncomfortable. He said,
is there anything you can do? Well, did I learn specifically what to
do, no, but I’m going to apply the principles of what I learned,
swelling technique, and away I went. I think I saw her maybe three or
four times before she died, but the doctor called me to tell me what a
difference it made. And I was like, wow. That was cool.”
year six, Ziorjen began getting referrals from insurance companies for
people who had been in motor vehicle accidents, and that was the
mainstay of her business for years. 
she began her practice, she has worked on a dog, children as young as
two, and has a 91-year-old bi-monthly client who Ziorjen says, “she
wants to be like when she grows up.” She has worked on clients while
they were in labour, and also while they were in the very end stages of
life. She has had what she calls “soulful conversations,” from a
cross-section of clients. 
conversations that I have, what I learn about people, and there aren’t
always conversations that go on, that is what feeds my soul,” she said.
“It sounds hokey, corny, but it just really, really, does. I’ve felt
some of the greatest connections with people. I’ve had people have
conversations in that room that they’ve never had with anyone else,
because they trust.”
said the changes since the beginning of her career in the public’s
understanding of massage therapy and the respect of the profession have
been incredible.
changes in the profession, even just up here, it’s gone from having to
educate the client to clients calling and saying, are you an RMT? So
that’s been huge,” she said.
While reminiscing about her career, at one point, Ziorjen’s eyes fill with tears, remembering a career she calls “colourful.”
would not change it for a minute,” she said. “It’s just been … it has
been so fulfilling … This part of my life is very peaceful. I still
to this day never get up thinking I don’t want to go to work. I never
don’t want to come to work.”  
celebrating the 25th year of business, Ziorjen was excited to announce
last week that business is growing, with two practitioners – Tara
O’Sullivan, an RMT, and Alana Coty, a rehabilitative manual therapist
(Osteopathy) – sharing space at Of Sound Body beginning in May. Howie
Owens, a naturopath, and Al Kwan, an acupuncturist, also see clients at
the clinic. 
“We’re growing and it’s just evolved into the next chapter,” said Ziorjen. 
Sound Body is open from Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 114
Bobcaygeon Road. For more information, call 705-286-1123 or visit the Of
Sound Body Facebook page.