Simeon Christophe with a client. (Picture by Christoff Griffith.)
Simeon Christophe is good with his hands. And those hands are helping others feel better and improve their lives.
So how did Simeon, 39, with a bachelor degree in quantity survey and a postgrad in project management become a certified masseuse?
His journey started in St Lucia, where he was born, living with a single mum and younger sister.
Simeon loves the outdoors and recollects he was always involved in sports and any extracurricular activities he could join.
“I lived in the countryside in Castries. Initially I really wanted to pursue a career in sports. When I got to third form in high school, it was decision making time – focus seriously on athletics or academics. I recognised that what mum needed was help with the household and I saw that the choice was academics so I could provide for my family and myself.”
Simeon did a mix of business, technical and social sciences. He pursued an associate degree in building technician studies, drafting a plan to become an architect. At Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, he got more exposure to subjects that made him aware he could change his career goals.
In his second year, he fell in love with the modules quantity surveying and civil engineering.
“I applied to do construction engineering at the University of Technology (UTech) in Jamaica. I could not raise the funds to go, so I deferred for a year. In that year, I did some more additional learning such as a diploma in building and civil engineering and reapplied to Utech to do quantity surveying.”
That latter subject was because he was at the time working with the Ministry of Health as a building officer in the planning department and saw that there was a need for surveyors based on the structure of the department.
Simeon quit his job with the Ministry of Health and in 2002 went to Jamaica to complete a BSc in quantity surveying.
He worked part-time, sending money back home to his family and did school full-time, gaining experience.
Simeon couldn’t wait for his degree to be completed, to return home to share his knowledge. But the best laid plans have a way of becoming unhinged.
In his third year in the programme, he had to do an internship and the ideal place was Barbados, where he had a uncle living for the past 30 years.
Six companies wanted him as an intern, but he picked Tower Bucknor Austin (TBA). After finishing his degree, he went back home to St Lucia to his previous job. But the firm in Barbados wanted him to work with them.
“When I came here the construction industry was doing really well. It was 2007 and I was busy, busy, busy.”
He left TBA after two and a half years to work for another company. When TBA broke up, he was offered a job with one of the former partners who had formed a new company. He worked there for five years.
In 2013, Simeon was in the gym training and started to have unusual pains in his upper body, which became increasingly worse over time. He started having dizzy spells and sought help.
Tests after tests could not find the problem and he had to seek specialised help, which alleviated the pain for a while.
From herbalist to chiropractor he found that his spine was out of alignment. He got some relief, but the pain would not go away and started to get more unbearable.
And it was becoming expensive. He went to Chalice Jordan, a kinesiologist who finally diagnosed him with having muscular skeletal issues and he was put on a regime to correct the issues.
Major life changes came about: “I had to change my bed, the chair I sat in at work, height of computer, and adjust the car seat. I had to do therapy to adjust posture and strengthen smaller muscles in my back and lose some weight.”
So for a year Simeon went from chronic pain to little pain, but when he got comfortable again the pains returned.
He became frustrated and started to do his own research. He found out afterwards that the pains had manifested in 2013 from an injury he had received in 1992.
“I started to understand the body and how different organs and systems relate to each other. I was getting massages which were helping big time and I said maybe I can do this as a side job.”
Simeon did a three-month course in massage at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and then enrolled in the Personal Body Health Care (PBHC) School of Holistic Therapy in St Thomas.
In August 2015 while doing his postgrad, he was pursuing certification in holistic massage, doing the ITEC diploma and CVQ in holistic massage in 2015.
“By 2014 I wasn’t happy with my work. I went on vacation and returned in 2015 to no job. The industry was at an all time low. So by this time I had my certification so I said might as well utilise it.”
Massage Works was launched in November 2015.
At Agro Fest 2016 he gave out business cards and flyers, introducing himself, and with interest peaking, he got immediate bookings.
He wasn’t satisfied to just offer massages, so he went and got more advanced certification, this time in sports massage therapy and personal training.
“The idea was I have a sports background and I could help those with sports-related injuries. I wanted to help prevent and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
Massage Works is mobile for now, and Simeon has been steadily building clientele. He works with other masseuses and at the Bassa Bassa gym. He has worked with cancer survivors, partly because his dad died from the disease and he saw the pain the chemotherapy placed on him
Simeon builds his massages based on client’s individual needs.
His personal training routines follow along the same lines.
Simeon says he is now looking for a home-base for his business. He wants to establish a network within the health and wellness industry with chiropractors, dieticians, nutritionists, personal trainers and more.
Simeon hasn’t left out his first love of working in the surveying field as he still offers his services.
“My aim is to balance both. Right now the industry is at an all time low, so I have more time for my second love of health and wellness. In five years time I would love to see both booming and doing well.”
Simeon is thinking of going back to school with his tunnel vision focused on helping and healing. (NS)