It takes a lot of hard work to become a Registered Massage Therapist. No one knows this better than Ilona Valitskaya, a Russian native who was pregnant while taking classes in her third language at CCMH! Ilona recently graduated, and we spoke about her rhythmic gymnastics career, her journey to Canada, and the obstacles she overcame at CCMH Toronto.
Every student’s journey is unique. Some, however, are much more circuitous than others. Ilona was a professional rhythmic gymnast in Russia until she was invited to compete for Israel when she was 17. She left Israel for Canada two years later, moving across the Atlantic, even though she only spoke Russian and Hebrew at the time. She got married, became a permanent resident, and started to learn English and build a life in her new country.
A chance encounter would set her on the path towards Massage Therapy. Ilona was working as a gymnastics coach when she noticed a group of Therapists treating some of the athletes during a competition.
“Out of curiosity, I spoke to one guy. He treated me for 20 minutes and he was so knowledgeable,” said Ilona. “I asked him a few questions and he said he went to CCMH.”
From there, Ilona knew exactly what she wanted to do for the next chapter in her career. “I always had passion in health, always knew that I had to treat people and see how people are healing with my hands,” said Ilona. “I started to look into programs and saw CCMH as a good opportunity to start something I would like.”
She soon enrolled at CCMH and began taking classes, working to overcome the language barrier – and stay active while pregnant – in addition to the usual obstacles faced by other students. Ilona says that research was difficult for someone who speaks English as a second let alone third language, and also admits that the first three months of her pregnancy were particularly challenging.
“I was always sleeping and couldn’t focus,” said Ilona. “I took extra study time to cover all the materials.”
Fortunately, Ilona persevered and graduated with the rest of her class on in May 2018. Her OSCE certification exams are up next, and she is proud to be able to reflect on everything she accomplished in her two years as a student.
“When I came to this program, I had no idea it could be so helpful and so beneficial,” said Ilona. “I really learned a lot about science and how Massage Therapy affects the body.”
“It’s not just relaxation,” she continued. “We learned anatomy, pathology… I learned how a touch can help all different types of conditions.”
Once her certification exams are complete, Ilona hopes to open a new business where she will be able to use her newfound knowledge to assist the elderly, pregnant women, and people with disabilities. Until then, she remains open to any opportunity.
“I want to try everything to see what’s a good fit for me!”
Interested in pursuing a career as a Massage Therapist? It’s easier than you think! Learn about our other students who found their path at CCMH by checking out our blog.