Anna Belanger is an inspiring woman on a mission. A registered massage therapist for over 14 years, she is now running three massage therapy clinic and two offices across greater Ottawa.
She did not see this future coming when she was a single mom with two kids and no high school diploma. She knew she wanted to build herself a career while creating a home filled with love and learning with her children and to be a role model for them.
She considered nursing but after a stint volunteering in the burn unit, she discovered it wasn’t for her. But, she wanted to help people. Her then-boyfriend/now-husband encouraged her to take up the call to become a massage therapist. That was over 20 years ago and she has loved every moment of it.
In 2008 Anna and her family moved from Vancouver to Ottawa. In Vancouver Anna’s practice was focused on women’s health, particularly pregnancy. In order to separate herself from the many massage therapy clinics here in Ottawa, she decided to focus on the niche she had in Vancouver.
When an opportunity to rent space in the Glebe arose, she took it. She started with 12 clients. Then, over the next nine months – the regular human gestation period – her client list grew to over 100 pregnant women. It was clear she needed a bigger clinic and in 2010 she moved to a larger space in Old Ottawa South. In 2013, she then opened a family clinic in Barrhaven.
She did a bit of market research on her base of clients at the Old Ottawa South location and she realized that many of them were from Orléans. In 2016, she opened her clinic here. It saved her clients a drive downtown and made her service offerings available to so many more people in the area.
So, with 20 massage therapists working at her clinics, does she still have time to serve clientele herself? She replies, “Absolutely! The thing about it is that you have the greatest gift another person can give you – one that is in short supply: their time and attention. There are so many distractions, so much technology. But in the massage room, clients turn off their phones. They trust you. Which is extraordinarily important because it is such an intimate setting. I love my job.”
Anna loves to give back to the community. This year, she is donating 60 one-hour massages to CHEO, she will volunteer her time to cook at women’s shelters, and she just signed a three-year agreement with United Way as a Community Campaign Sponsor. “It’s so crucial to me that we give back to our community. Because community is everything. We need to support each other. I’ve had such great support over the years that I feel compelled to give back.”
Her children are now in their teens and late twenties. She is a grandmother of two. She shows no signs of slowing down in her mission. But it seems clear: her mission to be a role for her children – and many others – has been more than fulfilled.