Five years ago, Erin Poovey was faced with a choice: to continue working as a sought-after massage therapist in her cousin’s successful Texan massage business, or to attempt something a little radical that would challenge and grow her. She chose the latter and ran the idea of leaving Austin, Texas—along with everything she knew—past her husband. Having already visited Colorado Springs once before, they liked it enough to make it their new home. So they moved. Five years later, not only is Erin’s massage business Camino Massage Therapy doing well, but she is using it as a means to support several other businesses and organizations in the community.
“I want to make things better, whether it’s people’s bodies, or their mood, or a space for my therapists to do the work they love,” she reflected. “But then there is also the community and the causes we choose to support. I have a gift and want to act accordingly. I want to give in as many ways as I can.”
It was a series of transformational events that led Erin to believe massage therapy could play an important part in giving back to the community. At a run of regional retreats called SoulCare, she watched female nonprofit leaders, exposed to horrific human experiences, arrive exhausted and leave 3 days later buoyed again to re-enter the fray of tackling issues such as poverty and abuse. Like the other organizers, Erin simply offered her time and expertise, but collectively they freely gave enough to restore a gathering of beautiful souls that came to them fractured. Since then, Erin has involved Camino in as many charitable events as possible.
“Last year, we donated the equivalent of $12,000 in massage time,” she said. “We have done massages at the Bringing Hope Run organized by Yobel International, which benefits many nonprofits in the Pikes Peak region. I heard about Yobel right after I opened Camino (almost 2½ years ago now) and didn’t know much about them then, but I loved all the beautiful things they sold and that the products were Fair Trade.” Erin saw they were promoting a race on social media, and she asked if they needed someone to do massages. They said “yes”. “We were thrilled to be there,” added Erin. “We have massaged at the race ever since.”
Erin has also offered her time and expertise at a celebrity golf tournament benefiting the Colorado Children’s Hospital and a golf tournament benefiting the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a charity for the Hispanic population of America that provides college scholarships, among other benefits.
“We give massages at the Barr Trail Mountain Race in Manitou Springs, the proceeds of which go to different nonprofits or volunteer organizations,” she added. “We have also massaged the speakers at TEDx Colorado Springs this year, and we frequently team up with businesses in the Colorado Springs area to help promote who they are and to give them exposure.”
Erin also partners with businesses like Made With A Mission—a Colorado Springs candle company that began as an uncommercialized enterprise with a sole aim of giving back to Colorado Springs Rescue Mission. “I’m always trying to find new nonprofits or think about how we can help or what merchandise we can stock,” Erin said. “I just connected with Made With A Mission. Laura Cameron, the co-founder, makes soy candles at the Springs Rescue Mission. She then sells the candles, and a percentage goes back to the rescue mission.”
Camino’s shelves are stocked with a hand-chosen range of eclectic, handmade merchandise—blankets, jewellery, candles, and clothes—products of community businesses for which Erin is passionate about and excited to endorse and advocate. Available, but not on display, are gift certificates, donated in years past to silent auctions for charities such as Restore Innocence, a Springs-based nonprofit that aids victims of human trafficking.
“I love being able to support local businesses and organizations,” Erin said earnestly. “I also love having businesses I really believe in retailing at Camino. I think of our involvement with each one as a win all around. We get to support them, and our clients get to learn about something good they’ve never heard about. Hopefully, they will be inspired by them as much as we are.”
Moving to Colorado Springs evidently provided Erin with the challenge and growth she once sought. A lot has changed for the better, both in the freedom she has to deeply immerse herself in the community and in the way she approaches her clients.
“When I first started massage, it was very injury specific,” she said. “I worked with a lot of athletes on injury-specific stuff. I thought I was doing super great work, because I could get in there and get rid of their complaints. It was all about what I was able to do as a therapist. When I moved here, I had to slow down my technique. I became more connected with my clients. Now, I tell long-term clients that when they walk into Camino, they are like family. But it’s not just them: Every client who walks through our doors immediately feels like they are home. I am very proud of that.”
It has taken hard work and a measure of self-confidence to build Camino into the highly-regarded business it is today. In addition to boasting a charming atmosphere, Camino also offers incredible techniques—such as Ashiatsu, a 20-year-old modality based on a 3000-year-old method, commonly perceived as one person walking on the back of another. “It’s kind of walking on someone’s back, but really a stroke,” Erin clarified. “Still like a massage stroke, but with your foot.”
In her precise approach to ironing out clients, Erin has nearly 15 years of education and expertise. It’s a combination of good schooling and engaging that inner guiding rudder. Integrating both takes a measure of self-trust. “You can know everything as far as textbooks,” she reflected. “But what’s the body telling you, and what’s your client asking for without asking? It takes trusting yourself to listen to what that person needs.”
When asked about the past 5 years and the journey so far, Erin’s eyes glistened. “It’s been exciting and really fulfilling and beautiful and hard,” she said. “I’ve loved the way I’ve grown since opening Camino and the people I’ve gotten to meet, to touch, to hear their stories and connect with. I love that. It’s been everything to me and has completely changed me.”
Regarding the future, Erin’s plans for Camino were admirably simple: to grow Camino and to give as much as she can. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” said Theodore Roosevelt long ago, and it’s a quote that Erin loves. It most appropriately sums up the way she lives her life and runs her massage business. “I would like to do more in our community,” she concluded. “I will help any chance I get. I want to do more, give more; I want to give in as many ways as I can.”
1045 Garden of the Gods Road West, Suite O,
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Phone: (719) 299-0820
Camino Massage Therapy Website: www.caminomassage.com