“If You Have a Body, You’re an Athlete” : Brian Keene Helps Bodyworkers Help Their Clients

Brian Keene

1)  Tell us a bit more about you and your practice. 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 your clientele like? What is the specialty offered? If it is a business that you own, kindly include the same kind of relevant information that will give the reader a good idea about your establishment/practice. Please also include where you live and work?

I live in Denver, Colorado. Our services incorporate business development, marketing, and scheduling for independent practitioners across the United States.
I am the primary business owner, delegating job duties and responsibilities to our small staff. We work with all types of clients that need massage therapy and true bodywork services.

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? 

Through our partnership with National Sports M.A.P.®, LLC, we are able to support massage bodyworkers, offering paid work experiences on-site at sports tournaments and events. SMART Bodywork™, LLC, offers marketing services, including first business cards and free access to an online scheduling component. We pay very good rates for the industry and support our practitioners through out their career.

I thought about massage therapy after seeing commercials on the TV during my after work nap. The fact that the school was letting me make my own decision and there was no pressure are two big influences. Also, I enjoyed the idea of independence in the career, a freedom of modality and location.

3) What were some of your questions and concerns before further pursuing your massage therapy goals?

Talking about concerns with the school and the profession itself. How do you do business as a massage therapist? During the program, I was thinking to myself, “I don’t have a business degree. How do I become a real business?” That was the most frustrating part of the process. I knew I could be a great therapist, but can I also be a great business owner.

4) What is your specialty and what are the top three contributing factors to your success today?

• Sports Massage
• Medical Bodywork
• Cranial Sacral

Top three factors contributing to my success today were the books and mentors I have attained. I have read everything from Sports Center blogs and the Wall Street journal to books like Winning by Jack Welch and The Power of Consistency by Weldon Long. The amount of effort I put into learning business is the same amount of effort I receive in business, therefore making it a career.

5) What do you like about your specialty? What do you like about what you do in general as a career? Why?

I am able to help many different clients recover from sport injury or car accident the same way. We work with a comprehensive care approach that allows practitioners to communicate and learn and work with and among each other.

As Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike once said, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” We want all practitioners to promote this type of living. One that includes health, wellness, and hopefully, to a road of happiness.

We help practitioners identify their specialties, therefore cultivating a drive and determination to succeed that becomes inevitable with time and commitment. We believe every practitioner can succeed if that is the choice they make for themselves.

6) What do you not like about what you do? Why?

The dedication many practitioners make to their craft is consistent. Unfortunately, we have to educate society about the true value of bodywork. Our goal is to help our communities understand that massage therapy, aka bodywork, is necessary in every day life to succeed at what ever your career path is.

7) If there were three things you could change about your work or the industry as a whole what would they be?

Creating a fluid system for the independent practitioner to become successful in their career by rewarding dedication, determination, and choice. Massage therapy has so many directions and not enough practitioners focus on a scope of expertise.

8)  How long do you plan to practice and what do you plan to do after?

I plan to have lifelong involvement in the bodywork and wellness industry. Massage therapy and sports recovery are what I like to do the most.

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?

Have a part-time marketing job. I work the daily requirements within my regular client schedule.

My part-time jobs allow me to have a regular schedule weekly, giving me valuable cash for bills and acquire scheduled blocks of time for me to commit to marketing and massage business work.

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?

Taking on an unnecessary overhead when you have yet to build your clientele. It takes a great period of time to get a client base that you will help consistently. At SMART Bodywork™, LLC, we help practitioners get off the ground working, removing the overhead most practitioners take on in their immediate start-up.

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? 

Take in all of the information. But remember that you make the choice of how you work is yours. Be smart, pay attention to your instinct. If you are working in a space with bad energy, try to find a new fit for yourself into a positive energy office.

Look to build relationships. You must identify the relationship based on what it is: family, friend, business contact, or acquaintances. Each person brings a different perspective to your massage business. Take each and design your inner most passionate business strategy.

If you are looking for a massage career, my advice is to identify the school that focuses on massage and the healing aspects to many modalities. They should be focused in their teaching methods and classroom setting. Cookie cutter bodywork schools are growing because of tax benefits they receive including financial aid. Be wary of these schools and make sure they have proper credentials to get you to the next level in your career.

12) What do you recommend for someone who wants to go to massage school but cannot afford it?

They should look at going to an associates program for Fire Fighter/EMT, Exercise and Science, Human Anatomy, or some other relevant field. They could also take free or inexpensive business classes (community college, community centers, libraries) to learn what they will need to do for the government as an independent business.

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?

Learn from every practitioner you meet. Find a mentor in the massage field you are passionate about. Be professional in your appearance, your management of time, and communication with clients.

Do: Share knowledge that can change the client’s lifestyle & health

Don’t: Stop striving for a healthy lifestyle due to working too much.


Family and Friend relationships are great for practice. It is best to not make everyone a client. Some relationships are best as is. Find your specialty as soon as you can. Being diverse is great, but without focus and commitment to a top 3 services, you will limited in your true direct marketing capability. Everyone has a specialty!

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?

SMART Bodywork™, LLC, will be the leader in bodywork support for Americans and tourists across the United States.

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.

I enjoy playing sports such as basketball, soccer, Gaelic football, Australian Rules Football, and playing and coaching lacrosse. I take great responsibility in coaching. Teaching youth athletes the benefits of conditioning, nutrition, focus, strategy, stretching, responsibility, communication and commitment and being a part of a team, regardless of business or sport, is an amazing role to play, offering assists to the very foundation of the future of our communities.

Brian Keene, CSMT can be reached on his website here.


Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

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