I received my education through Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, in Tempe, AZ, on December 2005. I completed their 750 hours of classroom/hands-on education, within their Student clinic.
I then went on to work for two Spa/Therapeutic massage businesses over a period of three yrs. As of 2009, I stepped out on my own to pursue and build my own Home-based business. Since that time, I have personally completed over 2,165 hours of bodywork with private clients.
Starting out working for others, I found myself working 25-35hrs a week to make it, if I was fortunate enough to be busy. There were days of endless sitting and waiting. I chose to change my trajectory.
I stepped out to pursue my Solo business, which started out slow in the beginning. Quickly discovering that building a solid, committed client base was more important than just working on anyone and everyone, it started to grow.
KC Miller, owner of SWIHA, always said, “You will be led to who are intended to work on”. I believe that wholeheartedly. My client base quickly became the aging population, those seeking other alternatives to traditional medicine.
As you’re well aware of, it takes longer for men, in this industry, to build a good credibility for our work. In my experience, I had to work twice as hard, market myself twice as much. I am the face of my business, it is just myself and my success depends on me.
I chose not work more than 25 hrs a week and I do not work on Saturdays. In my humble opinion, if you work anymore than that, you suffer the risk of burnout. Sure, in the beginning you cannot charge as much for your sessions, unless you have the skills to command it. Once you build up your toolbox, your raise your fees. Clients visualize price with quality but you must deliver and deliver consistency.
I knew going into this field that the market was saturated so I knew I needed to specialize. Performing simple massage is good and can be powerful, but I there must be more within your toolbox of techniques. Clients come in with issues that command treatment and they want results.
Sure, I was taught the basic techniques of Deep Tissue, Clinical Trigger point and Reflexology but Medical massage and PNF stretching were game changers. I am a visual learner, so watching videos of Erik Dalton has elevated me as a Body worker. I now have my sights set on MyoSkeletal Alignment, which I know will really help my clients.
I had been working at Circle K, here in the Phoenix area, for roughly 12.5yrs. I started at 22 and finally made it out at 34. I loved my job there the majority of my tenor, due to needing a job and I loved people. But I was quickly getting burned out and oh the stories I could tell. Friends tell me I should write a book!
My mother always told me I had strong hands and should go into massage but I had not discovered yet, that that was what I was meant to do. So, while still employed with Circle K, I was attending SWIHA, Southwest Institute of Healing Arts and did so for the next year and half. I knew I had to do something and I was good at massage, I was intuitive and had a knack for great touch. I was tired of the crazy hours, working holidays and missing family functions and the danger of being robbed.
Stepping out of my Comfort Zone, the only thing I had ever known, into something with no secured income, was scary and frightening. But the benefits outweighed the fear. I wanted more time to enjoy life and travel with my partner and do something that I was beginning to feel passionate about. I am thankful especially to my partner who assured me that I would make it, I could do this, I was smart enough and I was going to be successful. I have never looked back and I continue to get better at my craft.
Not having a secured income was my top concern. Where do I work? How much will I be getting paid? How many hours will I have to work to make it? Do I want to work for someone or work for myself? How do I find an accountant? How do I pay the taxes working for myself? These were all very daunting questions and concerns. Will I learn the massage techniques correctly, within class? Will I graduate from the class? Crazy how we just freak ourselves out about menial details of life.
My specialty is Medical massage, which encompasses many unique techniques. Most taught in class and some techniques that I have added to complement those. Hustle, Creativity and positivity are the three factors that come to my mind right away, what I contribute to my success in this business. Surround yourself with those smarter than you and learn all that you can!
What I like about my specialty is that it gives me options for creativity. You have to be creative and intuitive when it comes to issues your clients are dealing with, one size doesn’t fit all. This career allows me a real sense of freedom. I work when I want to work but on the other hand, I do not get paid if I do not work.
The least enjoyable thing about my profession is those moments when clients come with ulterior motives. It is creepy and insulting.
I wish our industry, within every state required the same amount of educational hours. This way, if you move to another state, you would not have to pursue further training to meet their requirements. All states have the same hour requirements. Currently, requirements are like a bad hair day.
I wish that our industry, in every state, would create a temporary license to practice, for roughly 30-days. By doing so, it allows us Massage practitioners to travel, to our clients who have moved away, to provide them massage and still remain legal. I have clients who have moved to various states, who want me to travel to them to provide massage.
National Certification is a joke. There is no logical reason to pursue it, especially with the cost and CEU training $$, with the way it is currently set up. No state in the country recognizes National Certification, as authority, which in turn trumps current state required training. If one is Nationally Certified, a state ought to know, you know what you’re doing. No further training required to practice within that state.
Currently, I love what I am doing and I hope to practice until I am no longer breathing. Currently, Massage and Bodywork is what I do full-time.
If you are not happy within your current job/spa/Massage facility, leave. Others do not want to be around negative energy. Go find your happiness if you are unhappy and lacking passion for massage and bodywork. This is not a “get rich” industry. You can however do very well but it depends on your hustle and creative ability to think outside the box. It takes time to build a client base. To command the fees, some of these schools tempt you with, upon graduation, is inflated. It takes a little time and honing your craft to command those prices.
I recommend anyone who is interested in pursuing massage, to avoid schools, which push that you can be out and practicing in less than a year. There is too much to learn about Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology, to be out in less than a year. You will not be a great practitioner with only 500 training hrs under your belt.
Look for schools that have a deep passion for the Healing Arts, like Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, in Tempe, AZ. Ask lots of questions. How them about how the curriculum is set up. Is there a base curriculum and then you are allowed to add to it? Or are you just taught what they have pre-arranged? It is whatever fits your learning style.
Having issues trying to pay for school. Pursue Federal help and look into banking institutions such as Wells Fargo Financial. Interest is higher with these financial offices unlike with just a bank. All depends too on your credit. Know your credit score with the three credit agencies. Work on improving your credit by paying on time. Some schools will allow you to pay as you go.
My three pieces of advice for aspiring Massage Practitioners…
- Have a heart felt passion for the work. Clients will figure you out right away.
- Treat your passion as a business not a hobby. You are here to make money not give it away. You will have enough time to share your gift after you have grounded yourself.
- Take some time to think about your passions and interests. This will help you decide as to what sort of massage you want to pursue.
Do not enter this industry for the money. If you do, you will be quickly disappointed.
I see Massage and Bodywork becoming more and more viable within the Medical community, now that clients are demanding it. It should have always been that way, since massage has been around centuries. But Western medicine cannot make money off curing an ailment. It makes money off treating it. Take great SOAP notes on all clients. This PROTECTS YOU.
My passions outside of massage are…
- Traveling with my partner of 10yrs
- Time at home with my dogs and partner
- Social dinners with friends
- Great food and Espresso