Doctors are Turning to Massage Therapists to Help Cure Their Patients Says Kristina Aponte

Kristina AponteAn interview with Kristina Aponte, LMT

I am currently the Lead Massage Therapist at Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa Carrollwood located in Tampa Florida. We are an individually owned and operated franchise. Our signature service is our Hot Stone massage.

We offer Swedish, deep tissue, sports, prenatal, facials, microdermabrasions and waxing. We service a wide variety of clientele including teenage-adults. The majority of our clients enjoy the benefits of our signature hot stone massage.

The first time I was introduced to massage as a potential career, I was working as an administrative assistant for a large insurance company when a co-worker of mine dropped off a piece of paper with the words how to massage PMS away. I started reading the document and it had a few different massage techniques including, Ayurvedic, aromatherapy and relaxation. I thought to myself wow this is awesome!

I had always wanted a career helping people feel better and this as a sign to look into this further and so I started looking into massage careers and schools that same day. 2 weeks later I was enrolled in massage school. It was a huge decision to quit my job and focus in school living only on the savings I had at the time. I knew It would be hard work but I was hooked the moment I learned my first few massage strokes. I wanted to massage everyone! Becoming a massage therapist was the best decision I have ever made so far in my life.

My main concern was finding a school that would give me that kind of education I knew I wanted. I needed a school that took pride in its massage program, had a high graduation rate and also a high pass rate on the state exam. I went online researched some schools and emailed them. The first school that responded was the first one I went to and was very impressed. They were a cosmetology, skincare, nail and massage school.

It had 2 building one for the main cosmetology part and the other was a full service spa for massage and skincare. It was a serene oasis not a school! I loved it and signed up right away. My other concern was pay and the need for massage therapists in the area. Would I be making just as much as I am now? Will I be able to find a job? What about healthcare, vacation, sick day, do massage therapists get all those benefits like an insurance company could provide? Would I work for myself or someone else?

I told myself just trust what the future has in store. I went through a few rough months my first couples of jobs out of school. I found a great high end spa paying 40% I provided lotion they provided everything else. It was great for a week or so, they had plenty of clients then it slowed down to the point I was on-call everyday. Not a good way to pay bills, this happened again at another spa which paid me 50% but provided everything! Again no clients. So I went on the job hunt again and found Hand and Stone and I absolutely could not be happier.

My current specialty is the Hot Stone. I love using the warm stones to soothe clients aches away. I’m about to perform a much more effective deep tissue with the use of stones and the clients love the results. My teachers definitely have definitely been a part of my success, their enthusiasm for the massage therapy field made me that much more passionate. Another contributing factor to my success was my determination to learn everyday of my massage career.

I am constantly reading articles in massage field and watching videos, practicing is huge. Once you learn something find someone to practice on!! The more you practice your craft the more confident you become. Which leads me to my last contributing factor, confidence! There were times when I didn’t feel my massage was as good or effective as other Therapists. It can be intimidating as a new graduate going into the workplace with other therapists that have been doing it for years. Remember everyone starts new and as you continue to nurture and hone your skills and techniques your confidence will in turn grow.

I love that I can use the warmth and natural energy from the stones to help soothe and release muscle tension. It’s a very comforting and relaxing type of massage yet at the same time very therapeutic. I love that the hour or so my client spends with me will most likely be the best hour of their day. So many people live with stress and if I can help relieve that stress then I know I’ve done my job. Massage is more than just taking out “knots” its about making someone feel balanced again.

Being a massage therapist can be very physically demanding. Yes we all learn proper body mechanics but when having to do 15-20 massages a week it can be hard. Along with the physical demands its also mostly a commission based pay and that can make anyone nervous when you come in to work and not see your books as full as you would like. Learn to save both your hands and money!

The first thing I would change is the perception the public has about massage therapy and the medical industry. Massage is not always looked at as being therapeutic or not seen as something necessary. More medical research in the future will help in proving all the wonderful benefits of massage.

I would also like for the pay grade to be changed more like a physical therapist where they are salary or hourly not just commission. Along with that comes more schooling and education hours. In order for our field to be taken more seriously in the medical field our education requirements should maybe be a 2 or 4 year degree just like that of nurses, PT’s and OT’s.

I plan on continuing massage for many years. My goals right now are to build my clientele and pursue my certification in sports massage and from there work with athletes to help them achieve the results they want.

I’m currently only doing massage. I had a side jewelry business but have since let that go due to my massage career taking off.

I don’t really feel I have make any mistakes per say. I did underestimate how challenging this profession is. I would definitely say I didn’t take as much advantage of gaining knowledge from my teachers. So be aggressive with your education, ask question, practice hands on as much as you can and continue to learn.

I would say aside from graduation statistics and state exam pass rate. I would definitely tour the facility, attend an orientation or open house, talk with an admissions advisor and always go with you gut instinct. If it feels right go for it! Also check out multiple schools.

Always fill out the FAFSA. You can qualify for free money that you dont have to pay back based on your income. Also grants and scholarships are awarded through the massage associations such as AMTA, FSMTA which is here in Florida. My school awarded me a $500 scholarship in exchange for volunteer work.

I definitely have to say to write a list of your wants and needs. How many hours you would like to work, how much money you would need to make to pay bills and other things, what type of pay, commission based? Split, as if so how much 30/70, 40/60. What types of specialty should you get in to? Where is the need, is it sports massage, prenatal, lymphatic drainage?

Ask yourself these questions as you approach graduation so you already know what to look for in a potential employer. This will definitely help you to know where you want to go in your career. Also be open ti new modalities and ways of doing things. Definitely be flexible especially when working with fellow therapists and having to deal with clients. Have patience!

I predict that in the future massage will get the recognition it deserves and that massage therapists all over will be seen in a higher regard than today. I see it happening more and more during my career doctors are turning to massage therapists to help cure their patients. We know massage has been proven to be highly effective in allowing the body to return to homeostasis. Massage Therapy will have more respect in the medical community. Touch is what heals people and that is Massage.

My passion other than massage is gardening and growing my own food. I live in an apartment with a small patio. I get awesome sunlight for all my veggies! I believe eating the most natural organic foods helps me to stay balanced and healthy in order to continue helping my clients heal themselves.

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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