Woman says she was refused massage because of her size

Posted on: 9:07 pm, February 14, 2013, by , updated on: 08:47am, February 20, 2013

DENVER — We’ve heard about weight restrictions for airline seats and some amusement park rides. But an Aurora woman says she got turned away from having a massage because of her size.

Laura Smith trains along the Cherry Creek Trail with a running group for the Colfax half-marathon in May.

But she couldn’t run away fast enough from a painful situation last month.

“I planned it especially for the day after my marathon. I knew I’d be hurting,” said Smith about a massage she’d scheduled at Natural Healing Center in Aurora at 13751 E. Yale Ave.

She’d just completed a half-marathon in Arizona Jan. 20 and couldn’t wait for a deep rub down Jan. 21.

“She, the doctor, came out and said, ‘I’m sorry. But you are too fat for our table. You’ll probably break it and you’ll have to pay for it.’ I was like in shock. I’m hearing this?” said Smith.

She left the business in tears.

She couldn’t understand. She’s 6 feet 3 inches tall and had massages even before she’d lost 47 lbs. to drop to about 250 lbs.

“I’m not tiny. I know that. But I’m working on it. Doing things to make myself healthier and feeling better,” she says.

Kambeitz Chiropractic Health and Wellness, which is located within 10 miles of the clinic where Smith was denied service, has been in business for 15 years. Dr. Jim Kambeitz said a client’s weight has never been an issue at his clinic.

“There’s static weight, which most benches hold up to 2,000 pounds. Then, there’s working weight, which is up to about 500 pounds for the patient. Then, you take into account pressure, the client rolling over, things like that,” Kambeitz said.

“We work on a lot of athletes. Some people are 6 feet 7 inches — 6 feet 8 inches. We work on everyone from Avs and Mammoth players, to some pretty big guys. Really we’ve never had a problem with that,” he said.

Hoping to get her side of the story, we sought out Penny Wells, the owner of Natural Healing, where Smith was refused service.

Wells wouldn’t talk on camera, but Wells said she called Smith “large” not “fat.”

Wells said she worried a table might collapse because one had recently broken under a 165 pound man.

“I don’t know about this facility,” Kambeitz said upon hearing that information. “Maybe they need to re-look at their benches.”

He said massage centers have to maintain and repair their tables.  When they start to creak, it’s probably time to start thinking about replacing them.

He also says there’s the element of human error in assembling massage tables.

“I expected some kind of phone call or something from them. Just to say ‘Wow, we are really sorry we did not know it came across that way.’ Nothing,” says Smith.

Smith’s friends say they can’t support a place that’s supposed to make you feel better — not worse.

“Her spirit was broken a little. But all the support on Facebook really helped her,” says Smith’s running coach, Kristen Schuldt.

Smith said she’s still waiting to get that massage.

“I don’t think I want a massage from there now,” she chuckled.