An Interesting Trip to Peru for Yoga & Meditation Led Michael Ketcham to Pursue a Massage Career

Michael Ketcham1) First, tell us about yourself, for example: your background, what you were doing before you pursued massage, etc.

I was born in Shreveport, Louisiana February 25th 1985. I only lived there for a short while because my dad moved to western New York for a CEO position at Brooks Memorial Hospital which is located in Dunkirk, New York.

My mom is a registered nurse and I have two sisters. One is a neurologist and the other works for Dartmouth College in the International Student Relations department.

I went to Fredonia High School and while there, I participated in sports such as snowboarding, wrestling, baseball, soccer, cross country, and golf, with snowboarding and golfing being my favorites. I was selected by the Rotary Youth Exchange program as an exchange student and traveled for a year to Austria after I graduated in 2003.

Upon my return, I moved out west to be a snowboard instructor. I taught snowboarding for nine years. A modeling career brought me to New York City for three years and now I’m in Buffalo, NY attending the New York Institute of Massage. The only social media I use is Facebook and have an account on a modeling website called ModelMayhem.

I have always enjoyed working outside and being in nature and I am very eco-friendly. While I was in New York City, I was selling renewable energy in wind and solar power. During the summers, while I was living out west and unable to teach snowboarding, I did door-to-door sales in a variety of services. I have always been one of the top producers and have always had a very strong work ethic.

The number one thing that I’ve learned about sales is that you have to sell yourself first before anything else. If people do not like you, even if they want the product, they will not buy it from you. Massage therapy to me is like that as well. You really have to put yourself out there in order to build a clientele list. If a client is not comfortable being around you, they will not return for multiple massages. I have always enjoyed helping people in the service industry so this is something I really know that I can succeed in.

2) Tell us about an event, situation or circumstance that had a profound impact on you in how you view the massage profession.

I believe my interest in the massage therapy field has been 10 years in the making and I guess it could be called Fate, but at the end of August 2015, unfulfilled with my present job, I left and for a month moved in with my parents. During that following month, some family friends needed help with a lot of lawn care and while we worked in the gardens, we talked a lot about massage therapy and how I have always wanted to go to school for it.

Ironically, this couple were both massage therapists and she had graduated in 1998 from the same school I was interested in attending, New York Institute of Massage. She was the one who really got me excited to go to school. In November, I also took a planned trip to Peru for a yoga/meditation retreat.

During this time, I was able to focus and come to the conclusion that indeed I wanted to follow my passion to help people and become a licensed massage therapist. Those 2 months would be my event or situation that had the biggest profound effect on me!

3) What changed in you for the better?

Traditional education didn’t appeal to me much but since I’ve been at massage therapy school, I’ve never been so happy going to school! I really love learning about the body and how it works. Since this is something I’m interested in, it has been a lot easier to stay focused. I have always led a healthy lifestyle in diet and exercise so understanding the human body at its most elemental fascinates me.

Since New York State has very extensive massage therapy schooling guidelines, The New York Institute of Massage has a full 1,124 hour course which gets very in-depth. The first term which ends April 6th, I will have just finished anatomy and physiology where I have learned so much. My next course is myology, something that will focus on all of the muscles which is of course what we as massage therapist will mostly be working with.

4) What changed in you for the worse?

Unfortunately, I would have to say the worst part would be my financial situations. Over the many years before I started massage therapy school, I have gotten into many business ventures that had unfortunately failed. I would end up working with a business partner who would either turn out to be very dishonest or I ended up doing all the work myself. This has left me with severe financial deficits that unfortunately have left me without any kind of savings.

I guess that if there is a silver lining to this situation, it’s that I’ve learned a lot of lessons. My parents have been able to help me in the past however circumstances have changed. They are now helping my grandparents with expenses because my grandmother is in a dementia unit at a nearby assisted living facility. This leaves me to not want to ask them for more than I already have.

I’m hoping that after school I will have a steady income where I will not have to rely on anyone except for myself. Being a recipient of your scholarship will help me immensely since I am going to school full time, working full time and paying 100% of the tuition out of pocket.

5) Why couldn’t you realize the better changes before the event happened?

Previously I was too focused on making money and doing things I didn’t enjoy as much. Since my main focus was making money, it never gave me a mental space to consider a job that I would be happiest in. I have also developed an interest in modalities such as meditation and yoga among other relaxation strategies which has helped me learn to ground and center myself. Now I’ve come to realize that not only is money not everything, I also have realized that if I put my full focus into something and be creative as possible success will come naturally.

7) Why did an event have to happen in order for you to see the profession a little differently?

I guess that’s how life is. Events and situations are put before you for you to choose. What you choose will determine your life path. Without the events of me quitting my job and not having any idea what I was going to do for work, when one window closed another one had opened. This helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am very excited for the future!

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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