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 am a multi-passionate certified holistic wellness coach, stress reduction specialist, licensed massage therapist, yogi, wife, mom, and friend. I am here to empower exhausted and burnt out 40 something women to love themselves by showing them how to create meaningful daily self-care practices so they can have the energy and clarity to achieve their dreams without the guilt.
My practice is moving into a 7000 sq ft yoga center where I will have a nice space to offer wellness coaching, massage therapy and private therapeutic yoga sessions. I will also be teaching yoga classes there. It’s a brand new center so there is still a lot of renovation to be done. Currently the majority of my massage therapy clientele are men and women ages 40 and above that value health and fitness and taking care of themselves. They are usually local business owners in the holistic health industry.
I expect that when the new yoga center opens more of my new clientele will be yoga students and teachers. My specialty is aromatherapy, lomi lomi style massage and a combination of various modalities to customize the massage to my clients’ particular needs. I live in northeast Ohio and I work in Canton, OH.
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?
I chose to go into massage because I love helping people feel good. Before massage, I was a birth doula, infant massage instructor and postpartum doula and I was studying to be a midwife. Being on call for births proved to be too stressful on my first marriage and so I chose a career where I could still help others feel great but work around the needs of my family.
So at age 39 after a divorce and remarriage I decided to go back to school to get my certificate in massage therapy. I probably first heard about massage as a career in the doula groups I belonged to. I needed a career that would allow me to set my own hours and work around the needs of my family. It also had to be something that I loved to do. What I was looking for was a way to help others with their stress and health and make a good living doing it.
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 was concerned about how I was going to pay for my education. Also what the school’s passing rate was for the state boards and how to obtain a license to practice massage therapy, etc. I loved the profession and I had no real concerns about it except that I wanted to make sure I knew what I needed to do to ensure a long career and stay injury free.
4. What is your specialty and what are the top three contributing factors to your success today?
My specialty for massage would be my ability to utilize all the various modalities I’ve learned over the years and make them flow into a customized session that is perfect for my clients’ needs.
5. What do you like about your specialty? What do you like about what you do in general as a career? Why?
What I like about my specialty is that I have a large tool box of modalities to draw from. What I love about what I do in general as a career is wellness coaching because it educates my clients on the importance of self care and empowers them to live happier and healthier lives and achieve their dreams.
6. What do you not like about what you do? Why?
I am passionate about what I do. If I had to pick something I didn’t like it would be working with clients who don’t value self-care-so I just don’t take them on as clients. You can’t help people who don’t want to be helped, they have to come to that decision on their 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?
- Massage Therapists would support each other
- That the licenses would be reciprocal across states
- Hands on skills would be part of licensing exams
Massage Therapists need to support each other and work collaboratively with other health care professionals and be a part of a patient’s/client’s team. I have a group for massage a therapist that is supportive and provides a safe place for them to talk about the industry and the challenges they encounter on a daily basis. I make sure to meet the new therapists in the area and learn what they do in case I encounter a client in need of what they do and I trade services with them so we are all able to take care of ourselves as well.
It is crazy that in one state an LMT only needs 750 hours and CEs are not required to get their license and in another state an LMT needs 1000 hours and CEs. I would change this to make it easier for those in our profession that like to travel and want to work in different states, etc. I’m not sure how I would change this I think 1000 hours is too excessive and 500 hours not enough.
Hands on skills will make or break you as a massage therapist. You may have a great and vast knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the body but if your touch doesn’t feel good and your hands on skills are lacking that does no one any good. I cannot tell you how many poor massages I’ve received over the years because the therapists just lacked confidence and the ability to touch in a soothing and effective way.
8. How long do you plan to practice and what do you plan to do after?
I am transitioning my practice to wellness coaching and teaching yoga only and I will only be providing massage sessions for my wellness coaching clients. I am currently learning Thai Massage which works nicely with yoga and I plan to offer that to my yoga students. I plan on practicing a long time.
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 am a Wellness Advocate for doTERRA which is a company that sells essential oils and other natural solutions to health and wellness challenges. I work my doTERRA business part time and it fits in nicely with my business. I think it’s a good idea for new massage therapists to have some form of residual income coming in so they don’t have to worry about not being able to pay their rent if they are injured or not able to perform massages for a period of time. I had a repetitive stress injury that was misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel and I was unable to give massages for a month. I didn’t have to worry as I took time off to heal because I had plenty of money coming in from my doTERRA business.
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?
Giving away too much of myself. It’s ok to offer free massages but only if you want to and can afford it. It’s far better to charge what you need to make a living and then be able to offer discounted or free sessions to those truly in need.
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 think you really want to find out about the instructors and their experience. Are they only teaching massage or do they also have their own practice? Stay away from massage schools that promise you’ll make a lot of money doing this business. You can if you get out there and market yourself, etc, but most new therapists think they will get their license and business card and clients will just come to them.
That isn’t normally how it works and it takes time to build up a clientele. I think it’s important to know the massage therapy school’s passing rate for whatever exam is needed for licensure. Talk to the current students about the program and if possible graduates who are now working as massage therapists. I suppose knowing if financial aid is available, payment plan options, and where the school is in relation to where you live and work if you plan on working while going to school.
12. What do you recommend for someone who wants to go to massage school but cannot afford it?
Maybe take out a personal loan from a family member, work and save up for it, find a massage therapist you like and ask them to mentor you as you save up to go to school. If you really want to go to massage school the money will appear.
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?
- Research your education options for your state
- Take care of yourself (get massages regularly yourself) and your body to stay strong and healthy and injury free
- Network and market yourself in your community
Do not expect their clients to get massage regularly if they don’t get them regularly themselves. Make a point to meet other massage therapists and learn from them and trade services with them. Think about who they want to work with as clients and not try to be the massage therapist for everyone.
Would they be happiest working as an employee for someone else or as a solo practitioner or own their own business? Invest in themselves: personal development, massage training, business skills, etc-anything to enable them to be a better massage therapist for their clients.
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 think it is just going to continue to become more and more popular and 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 yoga. Yoga helped save my massage career. Yoga keeps me strong as a therapist and it helps create space in my mind, body and spirit much like a good massage session. When I’m not working, I enjoy writing and spending time with my family and getting a massage, of course!
Lara Rininger, CHHC, AADP, LMT can be reached on her website here.