Ashiatsu (Barefoot) Massage Specialist Ivy Hultquist Says It’s a Great Modality for Her Clients

Ivy Hultquist1) 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 always been a solo practitioner. For nearly 13 years, I worked in my dad’s chiropractic clinic in my hometown. I could not have asked for a better place to have my business. I was around people that I knew my whole life and were interested in massage.

My dad retired recently and after a lot of thought, I moved my office into my home (something I said I would never ever do). It has been a great change and gone better than I hoped it would. I currently work 2 half days a week. Most of my clients I still see are the same ones that have been with me since I opened 13 years ago.

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?

After completing my pre-chiropractic credits at a local community college, I went to massage school because my parents suggested massage might be a way to keep my student loans down while going through chiropractic school. It seemed like a good idea to me.

There was a great massage school located in the country near where I was living (Carlson College of Massage Therapy). Massage was going to be a temporary career. I went to school and loved it. I decided there was no need to go on.

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 really did not have any questions or concerns since my massage stint was going to be temporary.

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

I have practiced ashiatsu (barefoot) massage for a majority of my career. It has been a great modality for my clients and myself.

Factors to my success:

1. A good foundation in massage therapy and ethics (Thanks Carlson!).
3. I had a great place to open my business (Thanks Dad!).
4. I had a desire to serve others.
5. I found my niche and a modality I love.
5. A desire to never stop learning more about massage.

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

As far as ashiatsu, it was an instant hit with most of my clients. When I informed my clients about my office move, the most common concern was about if I had bars installed at my house. Ashiatsu just feels natural for my body. I rarely have any of the aches and pains other massage therapists frequently experience, especially after being in practice this long.

I love my career in massage therapy because of the positive effects I see it make in peoples’ lives every day. I also love the flexibility my massage career has given me, especially as a mom to young children.

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

When I was working full time, before I had children, I was too busy. My schedule was full and I hated turning down people who needed/wanted to get in quickly. I hated saying “no” and being strict about this, but I knew my body would suffer if I saw every person that wanted a massage that day.

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 toI?

Massage therapy is going through some big changes as an industry and I know there are more ahead. All these changes seem to cause conflict within the massage community. Conflict is something I generally like to avoid.

In the meantime, my goal is to be the best massage therapist I can be here in my community. I have no plans to stop learning about massage. I will continue help those around me and teach my community about the positive effects of massage therapy one person at a time. My hope is that there is some sort of ripple effect with that.

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

I knew I wanted to leave my old office at the end of 2013. If I was going to quit, that would have been the time. But, I love massage too much. At this time, I have no plans to give it up. My schedule is pretty light, which leaves time for my family and other interests.

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?

Yes, I have a website to help massage therapists prepare for their massage licensing exam, Massage Exam Academy. I really enjoy helping others with this last step before officially having their license and starting their massage career.

My other site, Advanced Massage Techniques, focuses on helping people obtain and renew their Florida massage license.
These two sites keep me busy and connected to my colleagues.

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 young, and did not give my massage career much thought. Zero research. I have seen a lot of others do the same thing, but with different results. They either never end up practicing, or only end up practicing a few months/years. I really got lucky by finding something that was right for me.

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?

Tour the school, meet the instructors, and talk to as many of their graduates as possible.

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

Taking on student loan debt is something else I see too many people take too lightly. Try to avoid it, if possible.

Many schools have part-time programs. This allows students to work other jobs part-time. A few also have student aid or scholarship opportunities.

I think this is a good time to remind people concerned about tuition costs not choose a massage school based on price alone.

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 successful massage therapists. Find out where they went to school and if they would recommend it. Ask them why they think they have been successful.
2. Go get a massage. Enjoy it and remember you will be on the opposite end of this relationship soon.
3. Give this decision the attention, time, and research it deserves.

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?

I am certain the massage field is in for quite a few changes in the next five to ten years. So much has changed in the past ten years. Since I have been licensed, the number of states licensing/regulating massage has more than doubled. I predict now there will be an increase in the standards of education within massage schools. Curriculum will include more research and science-based topics.  Better schools and education is going to do a lot for our field.

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.

Spending time with my family is my favorite thing to do. I get to do a lot of it too. My husband works at home and we home school our two girls. My massage career has given me so much flexibility to do the things I want and be with the people I love. I also love reading about adoption and traveling.

Ivy Hultquist, L.M.T. can be reached on her 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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