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Meet Jill Kristin Berkana of Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy in Prospect New Town

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jill Kristin Berkana.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jill. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started my massage therapy practice in 1990 while attending the Boulder College of Massage Therapy. From there I had a phenomenal private practice until 2005 providing over 20,000 massages. While in practice I had the unusual opportunity to work at a resort deep in the rainforest of Belize where I developed a holistic spa program for guests based on the use of medicinal herbs and plants from the jungle. When I returned to Colorado to put my son through school, I continued to practice with a wide variety of clients ranging from serious athletes, A-list Celebrities to hospice patients and so many others across a broad spectrum of lifestyles and needs.

In 1995 I sustained a traumatic brain injury when I was rear-ended on the highway by a semi tanker in Alabama. While in two years of intensive recovery I explored corporate roles such as travel coordinator, office manager, executive assistant and ultimately became a project manager for a pharmaceutical research company. I also owned and operated a martial arts school with my then partner. Through these random endeavors, I gained a great deal of experience and skill managing large projects which supported my greatest entrepreneurial effort, to found and run Massage Therapy Schools which I have been doing for the past 15 years.

The traumatic brain injury changed my cognitive abilities in a dramatic way which enabled me to be able to accomplish large amounts of work in a very short amount of time as well as helped me visualize and execute large complex projects with ease.

My love for the tropical rainforest inspired my first massage school project which was on a beach in Costa Rica where I developed a program and large campus on a pig farm about two blocks from a pristine beach. This project was a residential destination massage therapy school which attracted and educated students from around the globe. I lived in Costa Rica and ran my program from 2005 to 2011 and produced 187 graduates who I still mentor.

I returned to Colorado in 2011 to found the Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy which is the culmination of my life’s work and my ongoing dream realized. The Berkana Institute is a one of a kind elite, excellent and accelerated holistic massage therapy licensure preparatory program. The program boasts a 100% success rate on the national licensure exam whereas the national average success rate is 71%.

The Institute was first located in Capital Hill, then in Lodo. We have now settled at a beautiful campus in Prospect New Town on the Southside of Longmont on the corner of Ionosphere Street and Tenacity. The program runs 2 – 5 month intensive licensure preparatory programs and one part-time night program per year. We offer an ongoing affordable student clinic experience for the public to participate in seasonally.

In addition to my entry-level program, I also offer a 250 hour training in the Berkana Method of Mindful Expressionism®, my original approach to deep holistic bodywork. I will be taking training Scandanavian Massage Therapists in this method this March and June in Oslo.

I have served on the US National Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork as a Board Director and Board Liaison to the Standards and Ethics Committee, participate as an expert on panels representing the profession, offer consultation for spas and resorts, have acted as Judge at the World Massage Championship, and am currently developing a textbook. I am developing an expansion plan for the Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy to meet the growing need of the profession for highly effective holistic massage therapists.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Absolutely not. There have been many dark nights of the soul where I did not think I would be able to go on and have my school survive. I left Costa Rica due to a large ethical gap between myself and my then partner which was devastating, as that was the project I had devoted everything I could possibly give to.

My second campus on Capital Hill, in a 6500 square foot mansion, flooded due to a failed boiler in the basement four years after establishing the school. Then two years after moving from Capital Hill to Lodo, due to the flood, had the homeless population moving onto the immediate block which made the area less than attractive or safe for prospective students and clients. I moved to the Longmont location in 2017.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy story. Tell us more about your practice.
The Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy is internationally known for excellence. The program boasts a 662-hour original curriculum which produces a 100% success rate on the National Board Exams. The national average success rate is 71%. The program is holistic and we are training our therapists to be entrepreneurs who can enter the field at the top with a broad skill set which focuses on the ability to support the resolution of many different types of trauma. Our therapists are prepared to succeed in their own private practice, or work as independent contractors or employees in every type of environment where massage therapy is provided. We focus largely on a mindful approach to massage therapy and bodywork, with a commitment to high standards of professionalism and ethics while balancing the art and science in our approach.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I have good luck because I keep my eyes peeled for opportunity and take calculated risks.


  • Our Student Clinic offers hour long student massages for only $40 per hour
  • Our 600 Hour Massage Therapy Certification Program Tuition is $12,000.00 plus fees

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