CHELSEA — A full-body massage doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.
At the New York College of Health Professions' Chelsea clinic, New Yorkers can get a 50-minute massage for just $25 — as long as they're willing to be treated by a student.
"I love getting massages, but I can't afford them," said Sybil Washington, 68, as she had massage therapy student Elizabeth Goodrum work on her sore shoulder on Wednesday. "I was paying 60 bucks before, and I get the same result with this."
Since Washington is a senior citizen, she gets her massage for only $15. College students with valid identification get the same discount.
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The clinic allows students to test the skills they learn in New York College's intensive Massage Therapy program, where students get about 1,200 hours of training before they take the state's licensing exam.
The nonprofit holistic health care school first began offering an accredited massage therapy program at its Syosset, New York campus 32 years ago, but opened the Chelsea clinic in 2011 to satisfy demand from New York City-based students. Now, about 400 students hone their practices each year in the school's Chelsea clinic, along with two others in Morningside Heights and on the Bowery.
"Our students love the varied kinds of patients," said Barbara Carver, the college's senior vice president. "And patients can come back and tell them what worked."
Patients at the five-room clinic at 134 W. 26th St. can choose either a Swedish massage, which uses oil and long, flowing rubs, or an Asian-style massage, which targets the body's pressure points.
Each session is supervised by a teacher, who will check in and occasionally assist students throughout the 50 minutes.
The hands-on experience gives the students the confidence to practice their craft, teaching them what to do when they're on the job, Carver said. But it can also teach them what to do if a patient asks for something they shouldn't.
"Patients sometimes want things that are inappropriate, and that has happened here," Carver said. "We tell them to leave the room right away. It's something that they learn."
The vast majority of patients, Carver said, have no issues, and the program has become immensely popular.
"We have more demand than we have treatments," she said.
For Goodrum, a student who will graduate at the end of the month, the clinic has been a place to gain valuable experience.
"You get a chance to work with different body types, age groups, walks of life, you see them and they come back," she said.
Goodrum, who worked in the wardrobe department of Broadway productions before coming to the school, said she has a single goal for after she gets her massage therapy license.
"I plan to work on as many people as possible," she said.
To book an appointment at the New York College of Health Professions' Chelsea clinic, call 212-924-3706. The clinic is open from Monday to Friday between noon and 8 p.m., and on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.