Anna’s Story

Change your life!

Anna took Massage Therapy through ACMT and recently graduated the Manual Osteopathic Therapy Program at MOCC. Anna has a unique perspective – she is an alumna of both programs and now works on the administrative side of the colleges as well. Anna shares her story below:Anna Steen

Are you ready to start a journey that is going to change your life forever? I asked myself this very same question almost 5 years ago while working a job that I loved but that also caused me a lot of stress. Was I ready? Was I smart enough? Did I have enough time? These were all questions that I am sure are running through your head as you prepare to make this life changing decision. I wanted to share my experience with you in the hope that it puts your mind at ease and clears up any doubts that you might have. You might have doubts about your ability to go back to school, about committing to an 18-month program, about having enough time to study… let’s get it all out there and into the open!

Let’s talk about doubt for a second, because that was something that I had a lot of when deciding to go back to school. Going back to school as a mature student can be downright terrifying, but also the greatest opportunity. As a mature student, you have life experience, you have patience with others and with yourself, and you understand your abilities as well as your limits. You understand the value of the time, energy, and money. I didn’t ace high school; in fact, I failed Grade 10 Biology because I was too busy writing notes to friends and didn’t think I would need to use that information anyways. I didn’t think I was smart enough to ever go to college.

I did know that I always wanted to help make people feel better and that I loved hosting spa days for my family, and I used to love doing “back massage chains” before bed with my mom and 3 siblings. The thought of being a Massage Therapist always appealed to me, but being young and impressionable, I let people talk me out of it every time somebody asked what I wanted to do. “Well what do you want to do after that?” “You know you’ll only be able to do that for 5-10 years max!” “It’s so hard on your body!” were all common responses that I heard when I shared my goal of becoming an RMT.

Anna Assessing a ClientI let people talk me out of my goal for almost 10 years. Then finally, at 27, I realized that time was going to pass by no matter what and I was still not making any progress towards my goal. I managed a gym at the time, and loved getting people started on their fitness journey, hoping to find classes and trainers that would make people fall in love with fitness. It was rewarding, it paid well, and I enjoyed the people I worked with, but it wasn’t my passion. One day the owner of the company was hosting a motivational talk and one thing I remember him saying clearly was:

“Do what you have to do, until you can do what you want to do.”

-David Patchell Evans

I went home that day and started looking up Colleges for Massage Therapy. Not realizing how many choices I had, I requested information at all the ones I found online. I was expecting to be mailed something, maybe get some information, I wasn’t really sure what to expect to be honest. I woke up the next morning to a text from student services at ACMT, guiding me toward an application form and asking if I had any questions. This thing that seemed so scary, and like such a process was actually relatively simple. Within that week, I was enrolled for the September class….it was April at the time. I remember going into work with a different outlook, I knew my whole life was about to change but I didn’t know just how much at the time.

I resigned as General Manager at the end of the summer but stayed on as a group fitness instructor and got a serving job because I knew that was going to be flexible while I was studying and starting a practicum somewhere.

When I started first year, I was a bit nervous because it all felt so real all of a sudden. Then Dawn came into the classroom with her big warm smile and I instantly felt at home. This was what I was always meant to do. Even learning about cell anatomy felt exciting this time around, and there was no urge to sit in the back and write notes, I can assure you. I fully understood the time and money that I had just committed, and I was in it to win it. The girl that barely scraped by in high school finished year one and year two with honours, I practically had to pinch myself because I didn’t think it was real.Massage Therapy Modalities

I practiced for a year after graduating and absolutely loved it, I knew this is where I was supposed to be and built a busy practice quickly. I was doing what I had wanted to for so long and was loving going to work every single day. Once you start learning what you’re passionate about, though, you never want the journey to end, and I quickly found myself wanting to learn more.

I kept noticing my clients had structural imbalances. One hip was higher than the other, or one shoulder more anteriorly rotated, it was frustrating to me at the time because I was able to ease tension in the muscles surrounding the area but wasn’t able to correct what I knew was causing the muscles to be tight in the first place. I worked with two Manual Osteopathic therapists at the time, and after receiving a correction for my hip, I knew I was about to embark on another journey. I realized just how much structure impacted function, and I knew that I wanted to be able to help my clients with both.

Let’s fast forward 13 months, because I just graduated from the Manual Osteopathic College of Canada and am feeling pretty proud about that. The girl who didn’t think she was smart enough to go to College just finished an advanced level of Education and didn’t scrape by – she passed with flying colours and is now equipped to help so many people get back to doing what they love.

Manual Osteopathic TherapyThis was worth the time, the energy, the money, the sacrifice of some temporary things. This was worth it all because this is the bigger picture. This is having a career that you wake up excited for every day, this is having a new zest for life, this is giving back to the community. My one piece of advice? If this is something you have been thinking about for months or years and not taken action on, don’t wait another day! The days will keep passing you by, and you owe it to yourself to follow your dreams.


“Courage is nothing more than taking one step more than you think you can.”

– Holly Lisle