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New owner brings caregiving experience to Longboat Massage

After two car accidents, Maritza Rocha learned about the healing power of touch.

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After experiencing two car accidents, Maritza Rocha felt what the power of touch can do for the body.

“I was rear-ended both times but the second time seemed to be more of a powerful one,” said Rocha. “I went to a chiropractor and a massage therapist. That's when I really felt the power of touch heal me. They were doing manual therapy. It helped manage my stress, my anxiety, and pain management.”

Maritza Rocha
Courtesy image

Rocha is the new licensed massage therapist for Longboat Massage (595 Bay Isles Road, Suite 120-E) following Liz Yerkes' recent retirement. Rocha is excited to become a part of the Longboat community and help Longboaters feel better in their own skin with massage therapy.

Rocha first became a caregiver nine years ago. She said that she had tried other jobs before, and she didn’t feel as passionate about them as caregiving. 

“I just always love helping people in any way I can,” said Rocha. “That is my biggest passion is to help people feel better and do things that they can’t do by themselves.”

She worked for different caregiving agencies and nursing homes throughout the years, cultivating this passion and her skills as a caregiver. In 2018, she started working for herself.

As she grew as a caregiver, some of Rocha’s clients were interested in massage therapy. Rocha was inspired by her two car accidents and the needs of her clients to learn more about massage therapy.

Rocha went to the Sarasota School of Massage Therapy and graduated in 2022. Now, as she closes the chapter on caregiving, she is leaning more into healing people through the art of massage with Longboat Massage.

Debby Debile, who is Yerkes’ roommate, also attended the Sarasota School for Massage Therapy and helped Yerkes put a post on the alumni Facebook page. Yerkes asked if anyone was interested in buying her business, Longboat Massage, as she headed into retirement. Rocha responded to the post, and the rest is history.

“We are both just so alike,” said Yerkes. “It was like magic when we met because I just saw so much of myself in her. We are both level-headed and calm. We are both caregivers, which is important for this business. There were other people I was supposed to interview, but I just stopped after we talked because I was confident in her taking over.”

As a mother of two daughters, Rocha shared that it felt perfect how everything fell into place. 

“It was a golden opportunity because everything was being done for me,” said Rocha. “It was just passed down. I didn't have to create a website. I didn't have to do all this work. It was just like, ‘It's already all done for you. You're just gonna go and take over.’ So it's a lot easier than trying to start a business from scratch. That was definitely a plus for me as a busy mom and (with) my busy schedule. The business just fits like a glove.”

Rocha started working with Yerkes’ office to start a slow transition in May. She took over officially in September. 

Rocha offers Swedish massage, myofascial release, reflexology massage and pain management. Rocha also plans to continue different educational courses to expand her skills in massage, according to her clients needs.

“Being a massage therapist is like working on a puzzle,” said Rocha.”The body all fits like puzzle pieces. I always feel very happy to see my clients so relaxed with their stress levels down. It's amazing to see them come in feeling one way and see them leaving a whole other way.”



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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