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?
My name is Jennica Klemann and I am a Medical Massage Therapist, CKTP (Certified Kinesio Tape Practitioner), and owner of Spa Daze in Tucson Arizona. I employ 3 other Massage Therapists who all have their own specialties to create a diverse menu without over staffing.
We offer treatment for pain management, stress relief and athletic therapy. Our menu ranges from traditional therapeutic massage, to Shiatsu, Thai, Ashiatsu (barefoot massage), Fascia Abrasion Therapy, Neuromuscular and muscle energy technique, to stress relief treatments that induce sleep or lucid awareness.
We want to take body work to another level, and establish ourselves above and beyond main stream massage facilities. Our ideal demographic are those individuals who are discerning about their self-care lifestyle, they seek quality services from educated, passionate practitioners for long term maintenance.
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?
Oddly enough, my desire to be a Massage Therapist started when I was a child when I occasionally earned extra money working on my dad’s neck and shoulders or my aunt’s feet. I just didn’t know it was an actual profession (or a legitimate one) at the time, but I knew I it would be awesome to make people feel good for a living.
It wasn’t until I was working at a Chiropractors office in 1996 that I realized that Massage Therapy was a career choice. We had Therapists coming in to network with the Dr. and patients were asking for referrals, so I decided to visit the local Massage Therapy School to get more information.
As it turned out, we had one of the best schools in the country right here in Tucson! I applied at the Desert Institute of the Healing Arts and things happened to fall into place at the right time when I needed it to…next thing I knew, I found myself in school! The very first day of class was my very first massage experience, and I was terrified.
I knew nothing about it, it just seemed like a good idea because it allowed for so many options and opportunities. I knew that this career would allow me the flexibility to work around having a family someday, I could work for myself eventually if I wanted to, I could travel and work anywhere if I wanted to, and my potential was endless!
I originally thought that I would continue working with my Chiropractor after I graduated, but as I got closer to graduation, the impression I was getting from what the Dr. made me feel like we had different ideas on how I would fit into his practice. It was clear I needed to reconsider my vision.
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.
My initial concerns in becoming a Massage Therapist, having never received a massage and knowing absolutely nothing about it, was having to touch people and what that would mean, and what I would do if a client was inappropriate. Wondering what it would be like to experience a stranger’s body, without having learned acceptance and non-judgment yet. To be honest, I had touch issues.
I wasn’t a “touchy feely” kind of person, I was constantly aware of my personal space and my family thought I was crazy for wanting to do this for a living. But I knew in my heart that this was an opportunity to learn “safe touch” and to come from a place of compassion and empathy towards other people who were uncomfortable being touched, I could use my weakness as a strength with the proper education.
4. What is your specialty and what are the top three contributing factors to your success today?
I specialize in Medical Massage, Kinesio Taping and pain management techniques. I would say that the top 3 factors that contributed to my success is recognizing and accepting the effectiveness of my natural abilities, choosing continuing education that supports that direction, and my training gave me confidence in directing my clients in a way that is in their best interest.
5. What do you like about your specialty? What do you like about what you do in general as a career? Why?
What I love most about my specialty is the results. Whether they are instant or long standing, my work improves the quality of someone’s life. This career has given me the tools needed to give people the opportunity to do the things they enjoy. It’s one of the few (pain inducing) professions where people actually look forward to seeing you and they can’t wait to come back!
6. What do you not like about what you do? Why?
My work is like putting a puzzle together. You can sit and look at each piece for hours trying to figure out which piece is going to fit, and when you finally find it…it seemed so obvious. Sometimes it’s easy to over think someone’s issue, and it feels like you have wasted all this time and energy on something that could have been easily solved if you just let go and listened to what their body was telling you all along. So I would say that fine tuning that intuition is a challenge, when your mind gets in the way of your work.
With that said….”High maintenance” clients is another story for another day. (Kidding)
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?
Number one, I wish we could change the stereotypes and stigmas about professional Massage Therapy…male Massage Therapists deserve equal opportunity 100% of the time, legitimate Massage Therapy is not sensual, and we need to be recognized as form of THERAPY because we effect people on a physical, emotional and cellular level.
Number two, which I think would resolve my first issue, is I wish there was continuity across the country for our profession. There are so many different requirements and regulations that is difficult for us to progress in a uniform way. What distinguishes health care providers from “lotion applicators” is proper education and certification.
I wonder if having a “degree” in Massage Therapy would make a difference. Number 3, I want to rid the world of mass discount marketing (Groupon, Living Social, and the like…if you can name names). These organizations are single handedly destroying businesses, private practices, and the legitimacy of our profession by offering half price offers, of which the business only gets paid half, of which the business has to pay staff and overhead.
We are worth MORE than that. Spa owners and Therapists have to band together and refuse to resort to these types of marketing. Our profession is expensive and this type of pricing “dumbs down” negates our overall progress.
8. How long do you plan to practice and what do you plan to do after?
I plan on practicing as long as I can, but as a business owner, I need to be realistic and consider cutting back my personal practice and focus more time and energy on building my staffs practices. My current plans are to work on certification and accreditation that will allow me to become an instructor and consultant.
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?
I own a business and currently employ 3 Massage Therapists and looking to bring in 2 or 3 more. My client hours are set from 10 am to 2 pm, and I have desk coverage during that time. Once I’m done with clients, I take over the front desk until closing.
I feel the division in my schedule allows me to be effective as a Massage Therapist when I can be attentive to my clients, and then engage with my staffs’ clients, be available to my staff, and get admin responsibilities done in the afternoon.
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 would advise students and new graduates to keep an open mind, see each experience as an opportunity, and always be humble with your gift. Sometimes opportunities cross your path that you may think you aren’t qualified for, they may turn out to make the biggest difference in your professional growth. You can’t have an ego, ever. Professional confidence is not the same as entitlement.
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?
I would recommend looking for a MASSAGE SCHOOL over a vocational school that offers a massage program. When you attend a massage school, you’re immersed and surrounded by like-minded people. Get a Massage at a different place until you find a Therapist that you like.
Ask them where they went and which classes they would recommend and fine tune the curriculum you’re looking for before committing. They could think about where they would like to work, and find out the hiring requirements.
I would recommend a school or program with the most amount of hours as possible, if they are looking for easy training, they are going to limit themselves…and quality opportunities might not be available to them. If they are limited in the schools they can choose from, look beyond graduation at continuing education and how to make up for what the school is lacking.
12. What do you recommend for someone who wants to go to massage school but cannot afford it?
If their dream is to be a massage therapist, leave no stone un-turned. Look into grants, loans, or ask the school if they have financial programs available to low income individuals…but DON’T give up! There are many variables as to how and why someone thinks they can’t make it, but if they set their intention on what they want, their potential is limitless. They say the Universe provides, so it can’t hurt to believe in that..but you still have to do the work.
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?
Entitlement is my biggest issue. It’s an epidemic in the students I extern and the new grads I interview. They want to most amount of pay for the least amount of work. They think that having their own business is easy and they’re doing me (the employer) a favor by filling a shift until they can go out on their own and take all their clients with them. This is poor character and not a great way to start out.
They should appreciate opportunity as a learning experience, they should respect their employer, and they should value their coworkers as resources to learn from.
You don’t learn everything you will ever need to know from massage school. Being a massage therapist is hard and it’s expensive, having your own practice bares even more responsibility and effort. Appreciate that. I always recommend to new graduates that they work for a resort first for at least a year.
It’s like boot camp. You have to deal with a lot of different types of clients and coworkers (in less than ideal conditions), you get paid training, and you learn how to treat people. It’s corporate, and it sucks (pardon)…but it’s invaluable when you consider the big picture.
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 may be solo on this, but I hope it gets harder to become a Massage Therapist instead of easier. We need to set a value on our profession and set the bar higher. But I also hope that Massage Therapy becomes more accessible to clients and client education becomes more mainstream.
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 what I have the least amount of time for, as a busy Therapist and business owner. I have a passion for TIME. Time spent with my family, friends, and doing things that I would be able to do if I wasn’t so consumed by work.
I appreciate non-work related things more, reading a non-business related book, going to events with my family and friends. Doing nothing, taking naps, watching a movie without multitasking. I have a passion for the little things because they remind me that there is life beyond what I do on a daily basis and it keeps me in touch with gratitude. Gratitude is everything. Gratitude refuels the Therapist.
Jennica Klemann, MMT, CKTP is a Medical Massage Therapist, Certified Kinesio Tape Practitioner & Owner of Spa Daze. She has 25 years of customer service experience, 15 years hospitality experience, and almost 17 years practicing massage. She graduated from the Desert Institute of the Healing Arts in December of 1998 with a 1,000 hour certification (the current State requirement is 750 hours) and has been providing Massage and Spa treatments since January of 1999. She maintained her State license with a variety of continuing ed courses including, Infant Massage in 1999, Medical Massage Therapy in September of 2008, & became a Certified Kinesio Tape Practitioner in 2013. This advanced training enables her to provide detailed care for individuals suffering from chronic pain, disorders & syndromes. She started her own business in 2011 and currently staffs other Massage Therapists, as well as offering an externship at her Spa to mentor new graduates. You can reach Jennica on her website here.