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 have my fingers in many pots. I work for myself – I have an office I borrow from a chiropractor friend. I do about 10 massages a month in Wayne, NJ. I work for a local “Elements”, Montclair, NJ a couple of times a month. I work full-time as a massage instructor for Fortis Institute in Wayne, NJ. I also travel to do massage parties around once a month in homes and corporate locations.
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?
It seemed like a natural fit. I was a trained personal trainer in corporate for a while. I decided after my first child to become a bit flexible and left NYC Corp. I was a marketing director there, which is a publishing firm. I was a personal trainer for a long time after college and when I went Corporate in NYC everyone seemed to know about spas. I wanted flexibility, the flexibility to have time to raise my daughter. Also, it’s my backup career for when I couldn’t find a corporate job.
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.
Was I too old. I was 38 at the time. I wanted to find an accredited program.
4. What is your specialty and what are the top three contributing factors to your success today?
My specialty is medical massage. I’m good at what I do, because of my background in fitness and extensive knowledge of the human anatomy and physiology, and I’m kinda tenacious when it comes to a client’s needs.
5. What do you like about your specialty? What do you like about what you do in general as a career? Why?
I like helping people, and I get to do that in massage.
6. What do you not like about what you do? Why?
Some schools don’t thoroughly teach. They in fact teach bad body mechanics, routines that don’t work in the real world. As a lead massage therapist in the past I have had to reteach many a massage therapist.
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 wished there were better standards for massage instructors and programs. Body mechanics, intuitive thinking as well as technique need to be emphasized. Give students the techniques and teach them to adapt to the client’s needs.
8. How long do you plan to practice and what do you plan to do after?
Till I can’t massage any more – so when I’m dead 🙂
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?
Everything I currently do is about massage. I would like to develop a class or two and offer them as CE’s – one would be better body mechanics and the other being draping techniques.
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 wish I would have started younger and healthier. I would be traveling the world teaching massage CE’s. But – it’s never too late to start.
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?
Do your research. Seriously, get a massage at the student clinic. Check accreditations status. Use the internet and possibly talk to students. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
12. What do you recommend for someone who wants to go to massage school but cannot afford it?
Heck crowd fund it. Get loans. Find a Title IV school and apply for financial aid. Find a way. Here’s the thing – you can work minimum wage or you can spend 6 to 10 months in school and make at least twice that plus tips.
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?
I tell my students to learn your anatomy; the difference between a good massage and a great massage is thoroughness.
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?
There are tremendous opportunities for massage, with or without travel and with further education or not. Massage is freedom. It’s definitely hard work but it involves helping people. I’ve had students who start in massage and move to to get houses and cars and more specialized professions like Chiropractors and Accupunturists.
It’s a great beginning or stepping stone for many. Massage will only get bigger. Will it gain the respect it has in other countries like in Canada where it is recognized as “Original Medicine”? Maybe or maybe not. But if we keep our focus on a quality education system, we will continue to produce professionals who will continue to gain respect out there.
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 am a historical re-enactor, medieval and renaissance. I love to cook, ballroom dance and am currently immersed in Indian culture food, religion, movies. In the past I immersed myself in Japanese and Chinese culture. My major in college was philosophy and Asian studies. All these things I share with an extended family who are my real passion. I enjoy learning and then sharing with those around me . All this includes massage of course where I’m currently learning Chinese cupping.
Donna Amato-Salvacion has been a Licencsed Massage Therapist for 15 years. She can be reached on her Facebook page here.