Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Community Spotlight: SSMT Grads Love their Life

Jan 01, 2015 07:39PM

We recently caught up with several successful local massage therapists to ask them about their careers. What we discovered is that the therapists we talked to all have several things in common. All are graduates of Sarasota School of Massage Therapy (SSMT), all love their careers, and all have great things to say about SSMT.


Nathalie Cecilia practices Bamboo Fusion Massage, a type of bodywork that she created. Her pioneering efforts have garnered for her a place in the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame.


Cecilia, a native of France, attended SSMT on a student visa and graduated 10 years ago. She still likes to give credit to her alma mater. “Sarasota School of Massage Therapy was an incredible place. I am so grateful I got my start there.”


Bamboo Fusion is an innovative way of performing Swedish or deep tissue massage using warm bamboo of different shapes and sizes in the hand. Cecilia practices Bamboo Fusion in St. Petersburg and Nokomis, and teaches continuing education to massage therapists in the U.S. and Canada.


Apparently SSMT draws a fair number of international students. Carol Carter is a Sarasota Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) hailing from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is also an SSMT grad, and speaks glowingly of her experience at the school. “I love being a massage therapist. It was a dream of mine, and SSMT was the best place imaginable to help me realize my dream.”


Carter started her career as an LMT at SSMT’s professional graduate clinic and has built her clientele at her own treatment space. She also does massage therapy part time at Hornback Chiropractic and Wellness. She loves helping people manage and overcome their pain.


Christian Pfabe got his job with Gulfcoast Physical Therapy on University Parkway in Sarasota less than a month after graduating from SSMT, and was immediately pleased with everything about it. Pfabe specializes in post-accident/injury and in alternatives to surgery, and he finds helping people with these injuries incredibly rewarding. “I often use the knowledge I gained at SSMT to help problem solve with other therapists,” he explains.


He is also happy to be making a very good living. “Shortly after I started at Gulfcoast, I bought myself and my wife a new car.” Pfabe enjoyed his SSMT experience so much, he decided to go back to teaching the art and skill of massage.


Sarah Baar earned a Bachelor’s Degree before she heeded the call of the healing arts and became a massage therapist at SSMT. She left her corporate gig in New York City and hasn’t looked back since.


Baar owns her own downtown Sarasota massage therapy practice and applies a combination of modalities, including craniosacral therapy and Thai massage to cater to each client depending on their specific needs. She says SSMT provided her the skills and best practice tools necessary to take her passion for helping others to a new level. SSMT reawakened her curiosity and thirst for learning, and she realizes that studying bodywork in this supportive environment was the right path to take. 


Katie Alcazar works for herself as a mobile LMT, and also at Massage Envy. She says, “To this day I am proud of the education I received. They taught me more than just how to massage, they taught me about myself. I am more aware of myself, and in so many ways this helps me help others. If you want to be a proud, confident, professional LMT, then I would highly recommend this school.” Alcazar wants to “change the world through touch, one muscle at a time.”


Nicole Coviello was nominated for Favorite Massage Therapist in Natural Awakenings just one year after she graduated from SSMT. She works at Twin Palms Chiropractic Health Center in Venice, where she specializes in therapeutic massage that incorporates a variety of modalities that often include neuromuscular therapy, stretching, and aromatherapy.


Like many of the grads, Coviello “loves the flexibility that being a therapist has given me. Now I make a good living and am more available to my family that needs me too! It was worth the challenges of going back to school at age 42 with a family and job. The support that is so willingly given is such a breath of fresh air, and is not commonly found in any other school.”


Lizz Pugh graduated from SSMT in 2003. She had the career goals of helping people while making a living and still being home in time to meet her daughter at the bus stop. She is the owner of Lakewood Ranch Medical Massage, where she helps people with serious pain. Pugh says, “Having a career where I help people on a deep level AND get to be a mom is amazing, and I realize how blessed I am. SSMT is the best massage therapy school, period. Their program really prepared me for a great career as an LMT.”


Local LMTs clearly love their careers, both because they get to help people and have flexibility in the career itself. Sarasota School of Massage Therapy has prepared many of the most successful LMTs in the area.


Location: 5899 Whitfield Ave. in the Palm Aire Shopping Center. For more information, visit

Natural Awakenings of Sarasota April 2020 Digital Edition