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History and Mission


Thank you for your interest in the San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork (SFSM). One of the oldest and most respected massage schools in the country, SFSM has been training highly skilled massage therapists and bodywork professionals since 1969. We take pride in the efficacy of our massage program, which is designed to meet the demands of the ever emerging field of massage therapy. Our myriad of continuing education workshops and our highly competitive tuition rates further enhances our position as one of the top massage and bodywork schools in the country. SFSM provides a variety of flexible, non-credit based tuition payment options and also offers financial aid assistance depending on your needs and preferences. We offer a vastly qualified and diverse teaching staff, many of whom are graduates of the school. All of our instructors are professional and certified massage therapists and are dedicated to providing exceptional curricula that satisfies the criteria for the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx), and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).

SFSM’s location in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District on the bustling Valencia street corridor gives students an opportunity to experience the excitement of San Francisco, steps away from national landmarks, historical districts, amazing shopping and great food, all while achieving their training goals. The school is ideally situated in one of the warmest and sunniest parts of the city, just one block from the 16th Street BART station and proximal to multiple SF MUNI train and bus stops. 

Whether you are pursuing massage therapy as a career or for personal fulfillment, it is an exciting time to be entering the field. Massage and bodywork is increasingly recognized as an integral part of holistic and complementary health care. Massage professionals are employed in a wide variety of settings including sports clinics, chiropractic offices, hospitals, hospices as well as the more traditional health clubs, resorts, spas, and yoga studios. In addition, many bodywork professionals enjoy self-employment with flexible schedules and vast earning potential. Whatever path you choose, SFSM pledges to support your growth and make learning fun! 

We invite you to contact us to take a personal tour of the school, learn more about our massage therapy program, schedules and tuition, and to take a free class when available. Please call 415-474-4600 or visit our website, www.sfsm.edu for more information. We look forward to hearing from you!


~ Gary Witt, Owner / School Director


History and Mission

The San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork (SFSM) first opened its doors in October of 1969 – making it one of the oldest massage schools in the United States. SFSM was founded through the hard work and vision of its founder, Dr. Uli Brix, who believed in the positive and healthful benefits of therapeutic massage. Frustrated with conventional medicine’s “hands off” approach, he opened the SF School of Massage on the Van Ness corridor of San Francisco. The school blossomed and remained under his direction and guidance until the early 1980s.

During the 1980s, massage therapy was in demand and was gaining considerable respectability as a viable health alternative. It was about this time that Paulette Bergess began working at the school as an instructor and administrator. After several years as a faculty member, Paulette and her husband Richard, purchased the school in 1986 and led its programs to their greatest growth. Paulette and Richard ran the school for 24 years, moving the campus from the Van Ness Corridor of San Francisco to the bustling Marina District in 2000. Even to this day SFSM retains the warm, open, and familial spirit that the Bergess’ introduced and has long since been recognized as one of the top massage schools in California. 

In January of 2010, SFSM experienced another change in ownership, only the third such transition in its 50+ year history, when Gary and Jennifer Witt took over the reins. Gary was previously a faculty member at SFSM and is the founder and owner of MassageLab; his wife Jennifer Witt, DPT, is a licensed physical therapist. With Gary as the acting School Director and Jennifer as a member of the school’s Advisory Committee, they have vowed to continue the legacy of the San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork and prepare students to excel in the current professional massage and bodywork industry. In January 2011, SFSM moved to its current location in San Francisco’s vibrant Mission District along the Valencia Corridor. 

Our Mission at the San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork is to provide quality training and affordable education in the art and science of massage therapy and bodywork modalities. SFSM continually strives to offer balanced and challenging curricula and is committed to graduating highly trained practitioners who are expertly qualified and well prepared to gain immediate employment in the field of therapeutic massage and bodywork.

San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork

School Campus
475 Valencia Street – 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Student Clinic
– Located at the 16th Street Campus
2973 16th St., Ste 100 – Ground Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103