Craig Bennett was faced with the decision to take early retirement or return to study as a Mature Student. Looking for a way that he could give back to his community Craig decided to enrol onto the 1 year NZ Diploma in Wellness and Relaxation Massage at Wellpark College and six months into the programme he has come to realise that rather than retire he now has the opportunity and skills to take his life in a totally new direction and help people on their journey towards wellness and better health.
Craig you came to study at Wellpark College as a mature student, what prompted your decision to learn a new set of skills at this stage of your life?
I had just hit 60 and had taken redundancy from my last position as a National General Manager of a large service company, I thought I would try out consulting and a staged early retirement.
But I found I had too much energy to retire and on reflection though I had been bored with the industry and roles I had been doing, doing something that helped people on a singular level to living a better life had real appeal.
I was also looking to do something that was working for myself, flexible hours and commitment levels, that helped people and that left time room for a good number of overseas adventures and travel when I chose to.
What attracted you to learn more about Massage Therapy?
I had led an active life of marathon running, cycling, Yoga and 20 years of Karate and had used massage as a pro-active way of looking after my body. Also, as I took on higher executive positions, I used it as a wellness tool to keep my stress levels down to a sustainable level. I had experienced the benefits of massage over many years, so to be able to give other people the benefits of massage as a therapist seemed right.
What would you like to do with your qualification upon graduation?
I see myself gaining experience on various fields of massage before settling in one or more areas, relaxation massage in clinics, corporate massage on site and have an interest in the future of adding oncology massage with further courses. I drive for the cancer society once a week to help cancer patients keep their appointments with the least stress possible, massage would also support them through their treatments and battle with cancer.
As well as lots of hands-on practice the NZ Diploma in Wellness and Relaxation Massage covers a lot theory, how have you found being a mature student and back in a class room setting after years of a corporate career.
Anatomy and Physiology was a shock!!
I had not done anything with thought to cell structure and body systems since school, my degrees and post grade diploma were in Politics and Business administration so biology took some getting my head around again. But as you got into it you could see the building blocks developing that helped you as a massage therapist, Neuro muscular anatomy was also challenging but rewarding in giving you the muscles origins and insertions to enable effective massage strokes especially for deeper tissue massage techniques.
Why did you choose to study at Wellpark College?
Many years ago, I had done a massage course at the NZ College of Massage, they had stopped doing courses, I did a weekend massage course at Wellpark and saw their tutors were by in large ex Massage of New Zealand tutors and was impressed by their knowledge and passion for the profession.
How have you enjoyed working with the Wellpark tutors, have you received a good level of support?
It has been quite a difficult time when three weeks into the course we went into lockdown, the tutors and ourselves as students had to adapt and learn on line (zoom was our friend) in a way it allowed a focus on working specifically on the theory aspect of the papers, once lock down was over we did 2 lots of makeup blocks on practical, that in itself was challenging with intense periods of giving and receiving massages. The tutors though are all experts in massage, they are passionate and supportive and engaging and very experienced , no question is ignored and a real positive can do approach is demonstrated at all times.
You are half way through your 1 year Diploma Programme, what have you enjoyed the most so far and what are you looking forward to covering in Semester 2?
The things I have enjoyed so far is seeing real massage therapists experts in action , myself and the other students have gained so much from watching and working with the tutors and have supported each other also in some trying times with Covid.
I have just started doing Prema -Clinic one day a week with outside clients, putting what we have learnt so far into practice and developing further as therapists, great!!
But also learning ongoing further l types of massage treatments from Chair, Sports, Aromatherapy, and many more areas helps develop and widen your knowledge base.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of changing careers and going back to study as a Mature Student?
As I have progressed through the course, I realised I had made the right decision, a profession that looks to help bring its clients back to wellness in its widest sense felt right for me. I thought I had earnt the time to give back and help people, if it feels right follow your heart and go for it! Don’t listen to people that get in the way of doing what you feel passionate about.
Quick fire questions
1. Favourite style of Massage?
Still Swedish with influences from many other massage styles
2. Favourite essential massage oil/ balms
A mixture of Apricot oil and Tui Relaxation wax for a good glide and strong feel as you massage
3. Favourite study snack
Kombucha for hydration and Fogg’s all Nut butter on a thin slice of black sesame bread, Yum😊
Craig Bennett – Wellpark College Student 2022.