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?
I own my own practice called Rapha Massage. I rent a room at a wellness center called Your Wellness Connection in Shawnee, KS.
I work with many other wellness practitioners from chiropractors to mental health counselors. There are about 20 practitioners all together. We serve a wide range of clientele but have a lot of clients who are looking to improve their overall health and are willing to make the investment into themselves.
I am a deep tissue therapeutic massage practitioner. Working with chiropractors for over a decade, I specialize in neck, shoulder and back issues. My favorite clients are the ones who really “get it” and make massage a regular part of their wellness routine.
I love that I can work with them over time and they see how valuable massage therapy is to their overall health. When I began my practice 17 yrs ago, massage was still looked at a lot as just a luxury. I LOVE that people realize the health benefits of massage now.
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 tried junior college and had decided that it was far too much fun partying all night than to actually get up and go to class. (not a wise decision but none the less the one I made) I was turning 21 and decided to go visit my step brother in Austin, TX.
His mom’s best friend was a massage therapist. I thought I would treat myself to a massage for my birthday, little did I know it would change the course of my life. After the massage, I knew what I was supposed to do with my life. I came back to KC and within 3 mo I started massage therapy school.
I fell in love with alternative and natural medicine. I then decided I wanted to become a naturopathic physician. At the time, I thought massage would get me through college to become a doctor.
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.
I am not one who thinks ahead too much (especially when I was in my early twenties). Therefore, I didn’t ask too many questions, I just jumped in head (or should I say hands) first. Reflecting back, I should have done a bit more research on schools, laws concerning massage, etc.
I think this may have influenced my decision of where to go to massage school. I may have traveled out of state. The options here in the Midwest were limited compared to some other states. I think it has improved over the years.
4. What is your specialty and what are the top three contributing factors to your success today?
Deep Tissue, Therapeutic massage.
a) Location – The wellness center I work in is successful and has been around for over 20 yrs. The owner is connected deeply in the greater Kansas city area. She has a database of 10,000 people and the center has a lot of traffic. This is a built in referral source.
b) Experience – I have worked on a lot of bodies and have learned a LOT along the way. I also have experienced back and body pain and through that, have learned a lot of techniques and trigger point locations to use on my clients.
c) Flexibility – I try and accommodate my clients as best as I can. I have two young boys so my schedule is limited because being a mommy is my top priority. However, when necessary, I will work outside of my schedule to accommodate a regular client’s schedule.
I also try and listen to the client and adjust my massage to their needs (pressure, where I work-upper body only or full body, and technique) I recognize everyone is different and what works for one person will not work for another. Everyone has different levels of dealing with pain or pressure.
I know I am most effective in someone’s “hurt so good zone” and that zone is different for everyone so I keep communication open with my clients to make sure I am not too deep but also being in deep enough so that we are addressing the issues.
5. What do you like about your specialty? What do you like about what you do in general as a career? Why?
I like to help people feel better. I love to get into the muscles and release trigger points or break up adhesion in the fascia. I love having people get off my table and feel release in their muscles.
I love helping people. People today don’t take enough time to take care of themselves. I love that I get to be a big part of helping people take care of themselves.
I love the flexibility that I have with my schedule. I get to work my schedule around my family and be the involved mama I have always wanted to be.
I love my clients. I have clients that I have seen for over 8yrs. When you see someone for that long regularly, a relationship is built that goes deeper than just “a client”.
I have seen my clients go through many life changes as they have with me. I have a couple I see that I started seeing them 3 wks before their first grandson was born. Now they have a 3rd one on the way and their oldest is 8y.
6. What do you not like about what you do? Why?
Massage therapy, especially deep tissue, is hard on the body.
There is a limit to how much I can do in a day, week etc. Therefore, it can be limiting on how much money I can make.
I don’t like that there is still a “stigma’ about massage. It is FAR LESS then when I started but some people still don’t realize massage is therapeutic and a huge part of wellness.
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?
a) NO MORE shady massage establishments — these get me on so many levels. The biggest one being most of them are human trafficking and that breaks my heart!
b) There would be more general awareness and education on the therapeutic benefits of massage.
c) Regulations and laws-I would make massage recognized as a therapeutic or medical service and not “entertainment” therefore, the laws and regulations would be the same across the board in all states. That way a massage therapist could get a license to practice wherever instead of having to get one for every city they want to practice in. (Kansas)
8. How long do you plan to practice and what do you plan to do after?
I am not sure. I always thought massage would be a bridge to “bigger” things. It has been where I have stayed and I love it. Eventually, I would like to be in work full time in a not for profit helping broken lives be put back together. I hope that happens in the next 5 years but I don’t know and will do massage until the opportunity arises to take my next step.
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 tried to do a direct marketing business but have put it on hold. Right now my main focus is my family so I don’t have a lot of extra time for anything else.
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?
Be more diligent in your studies. I didn’t take my studies as seriously as I should have. Massage is a lot “intuitive” but the education helps a lot. I saw massage as a bridge and not my career. If I would have seen it as a career, I would have done more continuing education and maybe pursued some more techniques like Rolfing or applied kinesiology.
The techniques that I am drawn to require a lot of time and money and most are not offered here in KC so, I am not in a position to pursue them. Had I been a bit more serious when I was single or without children, I would have had the freedom to travel and spend that money and time learning those other techniques.
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?
Get familiar with the laws in the state you are wanting to practice in and make sure the school offers enough to fulfill the requirements. When I was in school, they only offered part time programs so we would go to school evenings and weekends. While this was nice to accommodate a full time job, it wasn’t great for repetition.
It required a lot of self-discipline for home study (not good for me at the time) I have now seen programs that are set up daily. The program is also set up that if you are studying the anatomy of the head and neck in anatomy class, you will focus on that area as well in your technique classes. This helps with repetition and reinforcement. I think this is an effective way to learn and help embed the information in your brain.
If the school allows, I would see if you can sit in on a day or class to see if you like the set up and the teachers and students.
12. What do you recommend for someone who wants to go to massage school but cannot afford it?
Student loans or grants. I believe most schools today have someone you can meet with that can help you with that.
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?
Reach out to a massage therapist that is practicing and spend some time with them talking about the industry and getting into it. Ask as many questions as you can think about.
Working at a spa, (not a club type place where you only make $15/hr) is a good way to start out. You will work like a crazy but you get a lot of experience with many different types of bodies. Ot gives you an opportunity to see what type of massage you want to do. A lot of places, like the wellness center I work at, will only hire therapists with experience. This gives you experience while making decent money.
Don’t do it to make a lot of money. I have seen advertisements for massage schools that tell you that you can make $60-70/hr. That is just not true. If you charge that great but you have to remember that for every hour you do a massage, you actually do 90 minutes of work. (laundry, changing your room over, getting your client on/off the table, payment, re booking, etc). Very few, if any, massage therapists can do 40hrs of massage a week. If you do you would be working a 60hr week and would not be able to do it for very long at all!!
Analyze your motivation and discuss with a veteran massage therapist. If you love the body and want to help people learn how to take care of it and use your gift to return the body to homeostasis, you should definitely pursue a career.
Massage has a LOT to do with a gift. You either have it or you don’t. The most important factor in success is your touch and your heart. Unfortunately, these are not things that can be taught or learned.
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 will continue to grow and be recognized for the therapeutic benefits and eventually our laws will all reflect that!
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.
My passion outside of massage is my family! I have two boys (11 and 5) who keep me busy, on my toes and laughing all the time. As I write this my 5 yr old is wrestling with the dog and is VERY LOUD!!!
I LOVE helping others especially those who are in desperate need and down on their luck. I take a team every year to a place called the Los Angeles Dream Center. There we feed the homeless on skid row and love on kids in the projects.
Locally, I love going downtown and feeding the homeless. I believe if people who have lost all hope and have given up on life and themselves, can feel love maybe they can find hope again to fight against their circumstances and rise out of them.
You can find Katie Jones at her website here.