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 currently live in Clearwater, Fl. and subcontract out of a massage studio in Safety harbor, Fl. What that means, is I work on their clients for a percentage so I am not an “employee”. I also I have the option to work on my clients there and I pay the owner a percentage of whatever my fee is per client, so it’s like renting.
I don’t have to pay a lump some per month which is really nice. There are four other therapists, one being the owner. Everyone there, myself included has been doing massage for over a decade yet we are different so the practice has a lot to offer. Our focus is therapeutic work although some just want to come in for a relaxation massage. There are three large massages rooms, one bathroom and good size lobby.
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?
When I was a senior in high school my grandmother had a stroke. It had affected the left side of her body. She was put into a rehab facility but they weren’t do anything to rehab her, no physical therapy or massage. I would go after school to visit and started massaging her hand and arm and noticed her strength coming back.
I thought that was pretty cool so I looked into massage school. After high school I started community college and was unhappy after the first semester so I decided to give massage therapy school a try. Massage therapy was the only career that grabbed my attention. I wanted the opportunity to help people, like my grandmother.
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.
It was my first career choice so I was concerned about making a living and which route to go once licensed. Did I want to be independent or work for someone? Did I want to hour long sessions or clinical work?
4. What is your specialty and what are the top three contributing factors to your success today?
My specialty is Therapeutic Massage. The top three contributors to my success today… Number one is patience. It takes time to build a clientele. Living a healthy life.. I think it’s important to live a healthy life if you are try to promote health.
Staying fit, exercising and eating clean has helped me be a good example to to my clients. Continuing education, as Massage Therapists we are always learning. They are many different approaches to all of the many modalities.
5. What do you like about your specialty? What do you like about what you do in general as a career? Why?
Massage Therapy is very rewarding. Keeping my clients happy and injury free is my number one goal. I love that I’m always learning. I learn from other therapist as well as my clients because every body is different.
6. What do you not like about what you do? Why?
Sheets. I am responsible for providing my own sheets. After a long day of massaging the last thing I want to do is wash, fold and dry sheets. Some offices provide linens but when you are independent you are responsible for your own.
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?
1. PIP laws in Florida. Massage Therapy is not covered anymore in my state and that has hurt the industry and people aren’t given the option for alternative care.
2. Massage therapists should be recognized as healthcare professionals. We are given training to help and heal and we are regulated by the Department of Health.
3. Get rid of the parlors. They are disgusting and give massage therapists and legit massage businesses a bad name.
8. How long do you plan to practice and what do you plan to do after?
I plan to do massage for as long as I can. I don’t want to do anything else. I figure as long as I stay healthy and take care of myself I can do it. Chiropractic care and massage help for maintenance.
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?
No, I only do massage at my studio and I love it. I make my own hours and schedule my clients accordingly. I have my clients and the studios clients that keep me busy. I actually cut back last year and have been working 3 days a week. Those 3 days are filled most of the time. What we do is physical so have learned to put a limit to the days I work. Some days are much longer than others though.
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 don’t think I made any mistakes only experiences. Doing too much massage puts stress on your body. You can get burnt out if you do too much. Don’t be afraid to say no, like me. Set a limit to how much you do if you are able to.
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?
Practice makes perfect so choose a school that has lots clinicals. The school I went to had me give 100 massages to classmates and receive 100 massages from other classmates all outside of class. I also had to complete 40 hours on interning in a clinic at the school that was open to the public and the clients critiqued the massages.
12. What do you recommend for someone who wants to go to massage school but cannot afford it?
Find out if you qualify for financial aid, including grants or scholarships. There are student loan companies out there like Sally Mae.
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?
Do yourself a favor and go to massage school. It was one of the best decision I ever made. I am so happy with what I do and what I do for people. Like I said earlier you have to have patience. It takes time to get a steady clientele.
I’ve worked with chiropractors, doctors and wellness centers. Those were all stepping stones to where I am at today. I learned the clinical side and now I am in my studio. If you can find a nice little studio with a good clientele. That way you can do what you do and love. There is more freedom.
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 therapists that can get very caddy, male or female. Egos can get high, not sure if it’s a territorial thing but it can be very intimidating. Let it go, before you enter your massage room remember to breathe. It’s their time so think about them and just let it go.
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 husband and I love the outdoors. We love the beach, kayaking, paddle boarding, bike riding, you name it. We live in an area that’s great for all those things. I think it’s the disconnect we like so much. We love spending time together and we’re not on our phones or tablets, although I do carry my camera with me most adventures!
You can reach Julie Laico, LMT on her website here.