The profession of massage therapists is growing rapidly. The numbers of schools for massage therapy are growing rapidly, and so is the enrollment for these schools. One thing that may or may not be surprising to learn is that this profession is largely dominated by females.
There are males in this profession, but the ratio to females is quite small. Males who wish to get into this profession face several challenges and have to overcome other things, such as the perceptions surrounding male massage therapists. The following discussion goes over these things and how to overcome them.
Perception of Male Clients
It would seem that there is no doubt about the biggest challenge faced by prospective male massage therapist is fear, sexuality, and masculinity. For many men, having a male massage therapist work on them in any capacity, much less working on their buttocks area for example, is unthinkable.
There seems to be quite a lot of homophobia in this regard. The thought of having another man rub their body makes many men cringe with fear and disgust. These men are afraid that should anyone find out that they were worked on by another man, they will be perceived as gay when they’re not.
On the other side of it, male clients may have a tendency to be afraid that a male massage therapist himself is gay, even if he isn’t. While this could be true in some cases, the sexual orientation of the massage therapist should not be an issue. Aside from the courses one takes in massage school as it relates to anatomy, physiology, and application of massage techniques, students in these schools are also required to take courses on ethics and professionalism.
This is an integral part of any valid curriculum. Thus, even if a male massage therapist is gay, male clients shouldn’t be afraid to be treated by another male, as the therapist is trained to remain professional at all times, and his only desire is to perform the art for which he has been trained in order to help people.
Male clients who are willing to be worked on by male therapists still may experience some discomfort because usually the clothing is removed although private areas are covered. These clients may still agree to be worked on, but may not be comfortable removing their clothing.
While it is entirely up to the client how much clothing is removed, skin to skin contact is the optimal situation in order to receive the most benefit from massage therapy. While society has evolved in many ways in recent years, these perceptions in the massage industry still have a strong resonance.
Perception of Female Clients
The perception of a male massage therapist in the mind of female clients is somewhat similar, but just in reverse. Many women feel uncomfortable being worked on by a male therapist due to fear of being raped, fondled, etc.
Women with this perception tend to view male massage therapists as perverts who only entered the profession to rub women’s bodies and attain some sexual gratification or arousal from performing bodywork. In other words, they don’t fear that their massage therapist is gay, but rather fear that he isn’t.
Should a male massage therapist be gay, women are a little more comfortable, having the assurance that their body, be it attractive or not, will not have the effect of sexual arousal in the therapist.
Again, the sexual orientation of the male massage therapist shouldn’t affect their ability to gain male or female clients. As long as the therapist works with an air of professionalism, gender should not be an issue.
How to Overcome People’s Perception
Although difficult, it’s not impossible to overcome this obstacle. The male therapist needs to operate with pure professionalism, doing any advertising or marketing that places them in the light of a business owner, not just a massage therapist. Another thing that would greatly help is getting those therapists out of business who give other males a bad reputation.
How to Make Your Mark
Advertising not only helps a business, but the business owner or operator in this case. The male therapist should present himself in such a way to let prospective clients know he’s a person, a business owner, and a professional.
Informing clients who come in or via advertising that he helps provide relief to people with pain or other communications that state the services and benefits provided rather than just stating the title of his profession also helps.
This may take some time, but it can be done. If the therapist is able to have testimonials by clients of both genders, this will greatly better the male therapist’s reputation and put people at ease.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Male Massage Therapist
There are advantages and disadvantages to being a male massage therapist. The most obvious disadvantage is people’s perceptions of males in this industry. This will take time to overcome, but it is not impossible with determination and the right marketing strategy. Over time, the therapist will be seen as a professional who is serious about his profession and his goal of helping people.
One advantage that the male therapist has is that males are largely taken more seriously as business owners than females. Although gender doesn’t indicate skill as a therapist or business owner, this is still an advantage for the male therapist.
Another advantage is strength. Some massages require greater strength, and males are by and large physically stronger than females. Males can use this strength to provide deep tissue massages to a degree which may be needed by the client but a female therapist may be unable to do.
The Percentage Breakdown of Female Vs. Male Massage Therapists
Women obviously outnumber men in the massage industry, there’s no doubt of that. Currently, males make up only about 12% of practicing massage therapists. The exact percentage of male students currently in massage therapy schools is unknown, but roughly the same. The reason for this is again perceptions of males in this industry.
It would be erroneous to say males face minimal difficulties in this particular line of work, but the passionate and dedicated male will endure and build a solid career as a massage therapist.