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Jodi Shields

Jodi Shields of Libra Vitae Restorative Bodywork opened her business in Napa three years ago. She says her goal is to help clients with chronic pain and stress relief and to help them live a better, healthier life without pain.

J.L. Sousa, Register

Jodi Shields, the owner of Libra Vitae Restorative Bodywork, said she was inspired to become a massage therapist after working for 20 years in the transportation industry.

“I was in a career rut and looking for a change,” she said.

After seeing a commercial for a local massage school, “I thought, ‘I can totally do that!’”

“Best decision ever,” she said.

1. What’s a common question you get as a massage therapist?

Do my hands get sore?

My answer is I trained myself to use more of my body weight for the pressure I need rather than just my hands.

2. What is the biggest challenge your industry has faced?

Although more and more people are experiencing the health benefits from receiving regular bodywork, many remain skeptical.

Massage is still commonly linked with prostitution, and regardless of the policies and procedures that have been put in place for licensing there are still establishments using massage as a guise for illegal activity.

3. If you could change one thing about the massage therapy industry, what would it be?

I’m lucky enough to have built a successful practice here in Napa (and I have my clients to thank) but for many therapists that work in the spa industry it’s tough to make a living.

There are few “full time” opportunities, so health care and other benefits are not available.

There is no standard wage and the expectations can be hard to live up to. Being a (good) therapist is hard work. If you’re not in a positive environment you could burn out—physically and emotionally—pretty quickly.

4. What’s your advice to someone who wants to get into the massage therapy industry?

I would suggest getting a spa job and working a couple different places to see what you like and dislike about how the businesses are run. You can determine what kind of environment you want to work in.

5. What’s new at your business?

I moved from a one-room suite into a two-room suite. I now have a waiting area and a retail area and a treatment room. I’m really excited about that.

We’re adding a therapist: Amber McKinney. She’s offering skin care and massage.

6. What’s your favorite thing about being a small business owner?

The rapport I get to have with my clients. And flexibility.

7. What’s on your to-do list?

Yoga teacher training (preferably in Thailand).

8. What job would you like to try/not try?

Try: Writer.

Not try: Doctor.

9. What was your childhood ambition?

Move to Los Angeles to study film making.

10. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?

Travel – specifically to Armenia and Italy.

Shields can be reached at 707-235-9765.

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.