1. Tell us a bit more about you and your practice as it is today? i.e. are you a solo practitioner or a business owner? If solo, what kind of an establishment do you work for, how large is it, what is the clientele like, what is the specialty offered? If it is a business that you own, kindly include the same time of relevant information that will give the reader a good idea about your establishment/ practice. Please also include where you live and work?
My name is Karen Wright and I am the owner and sole employee of Elite Energetics Massage Therapy. I have been in business in Boyne City, MI for over three years.
Previous to owning my own practice, I worked at the top spa’s in Orlando, FL for over seven years. My current practice offers a combination of modalities that I learned over the twelve years I’ve been a massage therapist. I combine Ashiatsu, Nuromuscular, Deep Tissue, Craniosacral Therapy, Lomi Lomi and Energy Work to deliver a custom massage for each client.
I am open Monday – Friday. I enjoy weekends and holidays off. My clientele ranges from athletes, weekend warriors, desk jockeys, and a variety of people with different challenges. I have a solid clientele that keeps me busy all year.
2. Tell us why you chose to go into massage and at what point in your life did you decide to do so? What were you doing at the time? Where did you ﬁrst hear about the massage career? What factors inﬂuenced your decision? What were you looking to get out of this decision?
I was a high paid information technology manager for a top consulting ﬁrm. I had a team of programmers that worked throughout Fortune 500 companies. I was very good at what I did but I knew in my heart I was meant to do more. I started searching my soul, researching career options, and praying.
One morning I woke up and massage therapy was in my head and heart. I was a 32 year old, recently divorced, woman living in Cincinnati, OH. It was time for a change. I researched and visited Massage Therapy Schools. I wanted to go to the best school in order to be the best massage therapist I could be. This change was going to be my new life. I was looking for the ability to challenge myself and help others with their health.
3. What were some of your questions and concerns before further pursuing your massage therapy goals? Talk about concerns with school and the profession itself.
My concerns about my decision was that I was leaving a very good paying job, taking my savings and moving many states away to go to school for a profession that I had no idea how much money I was going to make. Would I be able to support myself? Then I
realized that this was my passion.
I was meant to do massage. I decided that if I could help at least one person it would all be worth it. Trust me, my leap of faith has been worth it. I knew I had to go to a school that offered the highest number of graduating credit hours that any state would require, then I would have the ﬂexibility and education to go anywhere I needed to go to make a living.
4. What is your specialty and what are the top three contributing factors to your success today?
My specialty for many years was my therapeutic/treatment/deep tissue work. I would say that my specialty currently is my ability to combine my years of experience into a custom massage. I can look at a client and decide what speciﬁcally they need that day by truly listening to them and observing them.
My top three factors to my success are:
1. My ability to create client relationships
2. My knowledge of the body
3. The variety of modalities that I offer.
5. What do you like about your specialty? What do you like about what you do in general as a career? Why?
I like the ability to draw from a vast array of techniques to meet a variety of challenges my clients face. It is imperative to have a variety of modalities to draw from to help the client. That is why I like my career, I can help so many people with such a variety of issues.
I can assist in the healing of the body as well as the education of the client as to what might be happening. I also love the fact that there is so much to learn in this ﬁeld. Every therapist can customize their offering with the modalities they love. By combining Swedish, deep tissue, neuromuscular, craniosacral, energy work, aromatherapy, crystals, Ashiatsu, etc. , whatever we care to practice, we can create a career that we truly love.
6. What do you not like about what you do? Why?
Nothing. I love what I do. After spending years working for Corporate America, I feel blessed to be able to do what I love to do and make a sustainable living at it.
7. If there were three things you could change about your work or the industry as a whole what would they be? Why would you change them? What would you change them to?
I would change the following three things about the massage industry:
1. Licensing should be consistent so therapists have the ability to relocate. This enables therapists the freedom to grow in their profession and move to obtain work. Each state should require a minimum of 750 hours.
2. The image and reputation of the industry needs a face-lift. Although massage is becoming mainstream, the variety of quality of massage therapist and establishments leave much to be be desired from the clientele.
3. I would like to see some of the money that the AMTA, ABMP, etc. collect go towards educating people on the powerful beneﬁts of massage. If more people knew how much massage could help them, we would hopefully get more clients knocking on the door.
8. How long do you plan to practice and what do you plan to do after?
I plan on practicing massage until the good Lord takes my hands away from me and they are no longer able to do massage. After that I will ﬁnd another way to help my clients and fellow therapists in the pursuit of natural healing.
9. Do you currently have another job or business whether full time or part time? Tell us a bit more about it and how you are able to juggle that with your massage career?
No, I currently practice massage full time. I don’t have the time for another job.
10.What are some mistakes you made in your career pursuit that you’d like to warn other students about so they can learn from your experience and avoid it?
I was made to believe that the spa I worked at was the best and only place to work. Never feel “stuck” anywhere. If you are passionate and good at massage therapy, you can make a happy life doing it.
11.What would you advice someone who is looking at massage therapy schools?
What do you recommend they look for and how? How do you recommend they determine whether the school is the right one for them?
When looking at massage schools KNOW ALL THE FACTS:
- How many hours does the state require that you live in or might want to move to?
- How many hours does the school offer? Do they offer a graduate program?
- What is the school’s reputation?
- What is their curriculum?
- Does it interest you?
- Does it cover the modalities you want to learn?
- What is their alumni doing?
- What type of alumni program do they offer?
- Interview the school and the teachers. Do they have one teacher teaching all of the classes or do they have multiple teacher that teach classes they are trained to teach?
- Do the teachers practice in the industry? Where do they work? Where did they get trained?
- Does the school have connections for jobs upon graduation? If so, what are they? Is it something you might be interested in?
12. What do you recommend for someone who wants to go to massage school but cannot afford it?
If you really want to go to massage school you can ﬁnd a way. There are governmental loan programs, you can go to school part time and work to pay for your education, or you can work full time until you save up enough money to go to school full time.
I would recommend getting a part time or full time job where you ultimately want to do massage. Most companies hire within the company ﬁrst.
13.What are your three biggest points of advice for an aspiring massage therapist today? What should they do/not do? What should they think about and consider?
1. Talk to therapists that have been practicing massage for a few years. Make sure this is the profession you want to do because it is physically demanding and you will work hard if you want to make a living at it.
2. Learn, learn, lean. The more you know about the body, mind, and spirit, the more you will be able to help your client.
3. Learn to interact with each client to create loyalty and trust. Repeat clientele and word of mouth marketing from the clients are the best way to grow your business.
14.Any open thoughts / comments – anything else that you’d like to share about yourself, the massage industry, profession, future, etc? If nothing, make one prediction for the future of massage?
Massage is a thoroughly rewarding career IF you are good at it and can help and communicate clearly with your client. I believe that the industry will grow with therapists that are good. I suggest you know enough to talk intelligently to doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and other health care practitioners.
I have been doing massage for over twelve years. The eight years I worked in the spa industry almost burned me out. Learn to pace yourself, respect your body by getting regular body work, and keep your passion alive by exploring the various avenues available in the industry.
15.What is your passion outside of massage? What are your hobbies and interests which you pursue when you are not working? Tell us why you enjoy what you enjoy.
Outside of massage I enjoy reclaiming my energy by being outdoors. I snow bike and snow shoe in the Winter and mountain bike, boat, and hike in the summer. I am also constantly reading and expanding my knowledge and abilities.
Karen Wright, an NBTMB Instructor and Therapist, ABMP member and CCA (Certified Clinical Aromatherapist) is the owner of Elite Energetics Massage Therapy. She can be reached on her website here.