Spa Style Massage Add-Ons & Continuing Education

Just a quick post to let you guys know I just put a new NCBTMB approved CE course up on my site

If you need CE hours, cool! They’re super affordable. 

If you don’t need CE hours but you’d like a little add-on inspiration, please feel free to download the course at absolutely no charge and without obligation. 

Thanks for hanging out with us for another year! Here’s to a productive and fulfilling 2016!

Holiday Party? It’s Not Too Late!

I’ve made it my goal to host a monthly event at my office. It’s good for the community, it’s a pretty solid marketing effort, and it keeps me out of trouble. 

In November I hosted a holiday shopping themed event. I offered free hand scrub/hand massage treatments…and I made four dozen sugar cookies and over $300 in sales! (This number may sound paltry to those of you operating out of a large, multi-service-provider business, but for this lone wolf it was a big deal.)

Most importantly, I got to spend time with people who mean a lot to me and it was fun

I managed to fit a treatment area, retail display and cookie station in my little hobbit hole of an office. Yay!

I managed to fit a treatment area, retail display and cookie station into my little hobbit hole of an office. Yay!

Here are some tips I’ve collected regarding successful office events:

  • Spend your event budget wisely. Events can be cookies and laughs. It doesn’t make sense to spend more money on hosting an event each month than what the event brings in.
  • Invest in visually interesting games, food, products for sale, decorations, etc. You can Instagram the hell out of these things!
  • Push yourself to come up with event ideas that match up well with your existing clients’ expectations. Will they respond best to a monthly event that’s pretty much the same each time, or an off-the-wall themed event that’s different each month? Somewhere in my idea queue there’s a Pajama Cereal Party that’s just waiting to become reality!
  • Post the event on your website and in your newsletter, flyer local businesses and bulletin boards, make a Facebook event and invite people to it, etc. Remind people about the event using these tools, too. 
  • Remember that an event isn’t a failure if you don’t sell anything during the actual shindig. People who enjoyed your event will likely purchase things and schedule services at a later date. 
  • If the idea of hosting events sounds like a dreaded chore, find a way to do it on your terms and make it fun. If you can’t do this, don’t host an event. 

I already have my Annual Holiday Brie Feast planned for December 14th! If you’ll be in Vegas then, stop by and let me fill your belly in a manner not unlike that of a Sicilian grandma. 

The Technologically Challenged Massage Therapist

Face it; most of us are not technical. Most of us know how to use Facebook, and basic Microsoft Word, but that’s about it – and that’s ok. When I started teaching massage in 2001, all I knew was Microsoft Word. In 2005, I had to up my skills, and I started to learn more about technology. The first thing I delved into was video, and in 2006 I started learning about how to make a website. I started to learn Photoshop in 2009, and that is my main photo-editing program. In the past year, I’ve been using www.canva.com to incorporate some quick designs into my photos, and I use FCPX for video editing.

Technology can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Right now YouTube is the second largest search engine, and Google is #1. Most people search how to perform something on YouTube, and it’s full of educational videos. I’ve never taken a computer or video editing class. It definitely showed when I first got started, but it drove me to be all I can be.

FaceBookHere are some basics to get you started with Photos, Videos, and Websites:

Photo Sizes: 800px (Great for web), 1500px (Great for web, some print materials, and is ok for cropping), and 4000px+ (Great for editing and print, but you would need to resize them for web).

Resizing Photos: If you want a free photo-editing tool, try Canva. It’s pretty easy and doesn’t cost you anything if you use your own photos (Some designs you will still have to pay if they are more complex).

Photos: I have over 10,000 massage photos for sale on www.RyanHoyme.com, or here is a service I use for other types of photos (Subscription). There are tons of sites that offer 

Video: 1280×720 is HD (Great for viewing on your computer, and smartphones), and 1920×1080 is larger HD (Great for viewing on your TV).

Shooting video with your phone: Only shoot in a landscape format (Sideways) and portrait (Tall) for photos (Photos can be shot in landscape, too.

Shooting Video: I use my DSLR to shoot video, and when I started I used Flip Video. You can also use your phone, but I highly recommend to use a Microphone, or Bluetooth Mic. Most audio on DSLR’s and smartphones are not the greatest.

Editing Videos: There are many basic apps on your phone or some free ones for your computer. I started with Windows Movie Maker, and when I switched to a Mac, I started using iMovie – I upgraded to FCPX about four years ago, because I wanted more options.

Editing Photos: Use Photoshop, if you want to spend days (even months) learning a new program. There are tons of free ones online: Canva, Fotor, Pixlr, and others.

Audio in Videos: I use AudioBlocks.com for most of my music in my videos (Subscription). It’s royalty free, and they have 1,000’s of songs. Here is a free one.

Social Media Sizes: Here is a link to know what sizes work for Social Media.

Websites: There are a lot of free programs out there that you can use to start a website (even AMTA and ABMP have free ones), but you really need to eventually have your own. A lot of websites are now using WordPress, and many web hosting companies have WordPress built into it. You can pay under $6 a month to have a company host your website. I now use Host Gator, but there are tons out there. I use Dreamweaver for MassageNerd.com and WordPress for some of my smaller ones.

Email: MailChimp is a popular email service. It’s free up to 2,000 emails, and after that, there is a fee. There are others you can research, too.

If you are a Massage Therapist, most of your clients are using technology, so it just makes sense for you to get your skills up to date, to reach potential customers. If technology really frustrates you, consider hiring someone to manage your website, newsletters, and social media accounts – it’s called outsourcing, and tons of companies go that route.

Ryan Hoyme is the owner of MassageNerd.com and RyanHoyme.com

Why You Should Listen to Amanda Palmer

Don’t get upset when she tells you early on that she performed unlicensed massage therapy as a college student. 

Keep listening. 

In the final chapter she’ll tell you about an intense moment she shared with a (licensed) massage therapist years later.  

Those, dear friends, are the two obviously massage-related tidbits contained within Amanda Palmer’s masterpiece, The Art of Asking. Everything else in the book is about art, passion, humility, bravery, honesty, communication, life, death, illness, depression, and navigating uncharted territory. It’s about success, trust, and being human. It made me cry more than once. 

More specifically, Amanda (an accomplished musician who happens to be married to Neil Gaiman) talks openly about her hugely successful crowdfunding adventure, the process of building a relationship with her audience, and what it’s like to build a future with someone who’s very different from yet very similar to herself. There isn’t a person out there who could listen to this audiobook without learning something. My opinion? This thing has got the potential to be life-changing. You should have it a go. 

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My sister gave me the hardcover version for Christmas last year, but I’ve taken to listening to Audible during my morning walks so I downloaded it there, too. Amanda not only narrates her own work, but this version is crammed full of Amanda’s music (newer tunes as well as stuff from the Dresden Dolls days). The Audible version is definitely the way absorb this for maximum enjoyment (and Audible even gives new members a free audiobook with zero obligation). 

I don’t usually review books on The Young Thumbs, but this one is too important to ignore. Have you read/listened to it? What did you think?

Popping The Bubble

Cliques. Tribes. The Matrix, even.

If we gaze at the masses long enough we realize it’s a ubiquitous scenario: People doing things, building things and marketing things while being surrounded by their own people. Bubble People. 

Bubble People are a fine people. Most of them are very nice and we have things in common with them. This is exactly why we spend so much time interacting with Bubble People. Bubble People got our backs. 

But what happens when we want to do, build or market something that could benefit from (or depend on) connecting with people from beyond The Bubble? Should we remain safely surrounded by Bubble People in a spherically-shaped fortress that cannot expand without breaking? Or do we deliberately destroy this bubbly barrier, leaving ourselves vulnerable, opening ourselves up to outside influence, ideas and opinions?

We must decide, because we cannot do both. 

Bubble People are typically easy. They don’t care that we haven’t showered or put pants on by 4 PM on a Wednesday. “Go for it!”, they cheer. “Best idea ever! Keep doing what you’re doing! Don’t ever change it! It’s perfect!”

You’re perfect.

But maybe — just maybe — perfect is something we were never meant to be. 

A bubble for your thoughts?

Practice Promoting Parties

The other evening I hosted a Halloween gathering at my office so I could roll out my new product line while having fun with friends (both new and old). I supplied yummy treats from Target and Costco, handed out those ridiculous plastic vampire teeth that glow in the dark, and offered free mini facials using products from the new line. Oh, and I brought my theremin for everyone to play with! Here’s a video…

The Halloween event went so well I’m thinking I’ll host a monthly themed fun thing. Next month’s shindig will probably feature free hand massages using the line’s hand cream. Attendees will be able to choose their scent from a variety of testers, and tubes will be available for purchase. If I’m feeling super adventurous I may even supply warm paraffin wax, plastic gloves, and doughnuts. 

I’ve hosted office events in the past and I’m always amazed by how well they turn out. For the first 30 minutes I worry that I’ve bought way too much food and that nobody will show up to eat it, but 30 minutes after that guests show up in droves and the party is in full swing!

Aside from the obvious fun to be had, here are some other things I like about hosting a party at the office that’s open to the public. Many of my fabulous guests have:

  • met other guests (laughter and networking ensue)
  • asked questions about services and products
  • purchased retail items and gift certificates
  • booked appointments
  • tried new things without feeling obligated (mini facials!)
  • given valuable feedback on products, services and party ideas
  • checked in and posted about the party on social media
  • explored the office and building, sometimes for the first time
  • signed up to receive a monthly email newsletter
  • told their friends how much fun they had at the silly little spa in that silly old building

Have you ever hosted an office party? What was the occasion? What worked best? What would you change the next time (if there is a next time)?

Massage Gadget Boneyard

We all have them: The vestiges of ideas we’ve had, equipment we’ve invested in, or the things we should be using right now but — oh wait! There’s something shiny and new and what was I doing again?

Yeah, that. 

I should be writing this from my iJoy massaging recliner upstairs, but instead I’m in my living room, lounging in a non-electrified chair, watching some nice ladies peddle leather handbags on HSN. I managed to extract myself from the velour-covered cushions long enough to dig through my closet, locating 78% of the massage stuff currently gathering dust in my abode. 

The Sharper Image neck massager, foot massagers, and Conair vibrating massage wand thingy

The Sharper Image neck massager, foot massager, and Conair vibrating massage wand thingy

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Here we’ve got some wooden trigger point tools, a wooden foot massager that my sister gave me for Christmas years ago, and a Panasonic rolling massager wand, all nestled in this bubbling foot spa!

But wait! There’s more!

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facial steamer

And finally, the piece de resistance from my archaeological excavation…

A partially-disassembled electric massage table!

A partially-disassembled electric massage table!

What the hell am I doing over here? And why did I just order a personal TENS unit from Amazon last night?

Tell me I’m not alone in this. Which massage goodies have you been collecting over the years? And (if you’re at liberty to share) how do they fit into your plan for world domination? 

Massaging A Wardrobe

Constructed of black sweatshirt fleece, it was as if a robe and a hoodie had made a baby. 

The shame factor hadn’t quite achieved “Snuggy”, but was definitely higher on the spectrum than “Old Navy Peacoat”. 

$39.99 plus tax later, it was all mine. 

High fashion in the H&M fitting room.

High fashion in the H&M fitting room.

This hot little number will keep me cozy as I walk from the parking garage to my office and back this autumn. It goes with most everything else I wear, and if I accidentally get some foot balm on it, a little Tide and a trip through the “normal” cycle will take care of my mess. 

My hoodie-robe shopping trip got me thinking: How do we decide which uniforms will work best for us? How many of us still don massage school khakis and polo shirts years after we graduate? How many of us opt for scrubs? And how do we determine if we should wear solid purple or kitty cat print?

No kitty cats here.

No kitty cats here.

One huge perk of running my own business is that I can get away with wearing whatever I want. (Well, within reason. The cosmetology board has a *few* rules.) From the day I opened my office I’ve consistently worn black (or a rare gray item) as my uniform. It’s easy on the eyes, easy to shop for, and if you wear the same type of thing every day you’ll help to build your brand just by wearing clothes.

Long skirts from Target were my jam this summer. Too long skirts from Target were jamming up my stool casters this spring before I wised up.

Long skirts from Target were my jam this summer. Too long skirts from Target were jamming up my stool casters this spring before I wised up.

A while back I wore custom made black tees with my logo screen printed on them. I loved them so much I wore them out. Price-wise they ran a smidge over $10 each. I should order more when I’m not so busy blogging about textiles and discount department stores.

Here's me during my video podcast heyday. Note the shirt.

Here’s me during my video podcast heyday. Note the shirt.

I’m super curious: What do you take into consideration when you’re choosing a uniform? What’s a priority feature in a uniform? Is the fact that I’m using the word “uniform” making you throw up in your mouth a little bit? If so, why?

Not my proudest moment on many levels. Silky pants from Target, Bettie Page thrift store shirt purchased for 99 cents, office restroom toilet.

Not my proudest moment on many levels. Silky pants from Target, Bettie Page thrift store shirt purchased for 99 cents, office restroom toilet.

Come on up to the runway and sashay, shantay! :)

Think Before You Speak

I remember being chastised as a kid for asking my aunt if she was “racist” during a family dinner party. We were at the kitchen table at my parents’ house, and she said something about Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg dating. If memory serves, it was along the lines of “why can’t she find a black man so a white woman can date him?”. I can only assume the technical answer to this question had something to do with Ted Danson’s impressive chin anatomy, but my kid brain didn’t care about that. It only cared that it was taught not to judge people based on their appearances, and an adult’s comment in my parents’ house didn’t match up with that world view. A kid, a comment, a question, a curse. Maybe that’s when I learned to fear my own thoughts.

I redeemed myself in future years, catching loved ones in the act and pointing out that saying “that’s so gay” (intended meaning: “that’s so bad/ugly/uncool”) sounds ignorant and ridiculous. These weren’t ignorant bigots saying this, and this was not a Danson/Goldberg/kitchen table moment. This was nonsensical verbiage projectile vomited into the Millennial Collective Consciousness, and we were better than this. 

Taking offense is a personal thing, although overheard mouth caca need not be personal in nature to be offensive. Sometimes the things we say or gestures we make almost daily have the potential to offend, turn off, cause unease or make us look less intelligent and professional than we really are.

As massage therapists it is our calling to comfort, but this can be challenging when we’re oblivious to what we’re communicating. Do any of the following examples sound familiar?

Retarded – Saying that someone or something is “retarded” is bound to offend sooner rather than later, even if you’re just talking about yourself. Think twice before uttering “this table warmer is being retarded”. Also worth noting in this category are words like “idiot”, “dumb”, and “lame”, as these words have historically referred to people with different mental and physical traits that deviate from the norm, and are now used in a negative context. 

Gyp – Let’s lump this one in with all racially-derived digs on a person’s character. It turns out the Roma people (“gypsies”) don’t appreciate being associated with cheating and scams. Saying “I don’t want to gyp you out of your time” can make your very kind sentiment sound icky and ignorant. (Same goes for “jewing down”, “Indian giver”, and any similar utterance.)

Perv – A term often used in our field to reference a table grinder or happy ending enthusiast. “That perv just threw a $20 bill on the table and undraped his package.” Just keep in mind: It wasn’t that long ago that many common bedroom practices and expressions of sexual and gender identity were classified as pathological in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Many of us would’ve been labeled as “pervs” in years past, even though we’re good-natured people who wouldn’t hurt a fly (unless he asked for it). I prefer to use “creeper”.

Suicide References – Unless you truly feel like you may be suicidal, please stop threatening (thereby trivializing) self harm. Saying “if the Cowboys lose one more game I’m going to kill myself” is insensitive to people who have attempted, succeeded, considered, or lost someone to suicide. Also, I don’t care if you’re a hip hop artist or a comedian: unless you truly feel like you may want to put a gun to your head and pull the trigger, do not bend your fingers into a gun shape and point your index finger at your temple. I know someone who did this with a real gun and now they’re gone, and you’re just an asshat who’s still here. 

Oversimplified Statements on Complex Issues Verbalized Using a Judgmental Tone – “Abortion is terrible”, “suicide is selfish”, “Mega-Mart moving in down the street is great for everybody everywhere”, and “your deceased pet was just a tarantula and mine was a teacup poodle, therefore your grieving couldn’t be comparable to mine” are examples of statements that are usually best left unsaid. Maybe that client tended to his tarantula at a time when he desperately needed someone or something to care for, and maybe he obtained just as much emotional support through his relationship with his spider as you did with your puppy. Maybe that associate’s mom lost her job at the local hardware store because the Mega-Mart cut into the indie shop’s market share. Maybe an abortion saved an employee’s life. You know a lot of things, but you don’t know more. 

I too am guilty of saying things out of ignorance. Twelve years ago I answered the phone at the print shop where I worked. The woman on the other end described a messed up print job she had obtained from another facility in town. I offered a sympathetic “that’s crazy”, and was promptly lectured by this caller (who had spent a significant amount of time being treated for mental health issues) on the offensive nature of the word “crazy”. Twelve years later I’m still not exactly sure how I feel about the word, but I do consider this woman’s standpoint regularly. 

What do you wish people would take a moment to think about before they speak?

(Want to read more about overheard mouth caca? Check out this nifty article.)

From a Negative to a Positive

One-day back in 1999 (my first year of owning my massage business), in walked an elderly gentleman. He didn’t look happy to be getting a massage. The first words out of his mouth were “My wife scheduled me for this massage, and I don’t want to be here.” He never received a massage before, and he seemed uncomfortable. I tried to change the subject, and asked him to fill out a health form. I then proceeded to ask him if he had any hobbies (People usually light-up when they talk about their passions). He said woodworking, of which I knew nothing about.

Portrait of aged teacher looking at camera with blackboard on background

After he’s done filling out the form, I looked it over and started asking him some questions. His wife booked him the massage appointment, because she was sick of him complaining about his back pain. I asked him about his arthritis, and he stated “I don’t have it much anymore in my fingers. I broke my fingers to take away the pain, and it helped.” As you are imagining, I had a shocked look on my face! He complained that a few months ago, his doctor put him on rat poison (That is what he called his blood thinners).

I explained to him what the massage process. He immediately stopped me when I told him he could undress to his comfort level. He said, “Why do you need my clothes off, when I only have lower back pain?” I let him know that sometimes the gluteal region can refer pain to the lower back, but he only took off his shirt (I was ok with that).

He did not speak at all during the treatment, and luckily it was only ½ an hour. I was emotionally drained after the massage. I wished that he would not book another appointment, and he didn’t.

A few weeks have passed, and I get a call from his wife. She wanted to book another massage for her husband. She said, he didn’t complain much about his back pain, after he saw me. I had mixed emotions. Should I deal with the negativity, again?

After a few days, he came in for his massage appointment. Now that I knew his personality, I tried some humor. I asked him is he still on his rat poison? He actually laughed! During the massage treatment he started to open up. I didn’t feel like he was sucking up my energy.

This is what I learned from this gentleman:

  • I learned a hard lesson not to take things so personally. I also incorporated more humor (when necessary), into conversations.
  • Every single client is going to have good days, and bad ones.
  • Always look at the brighter side, and not to feed into their emotions.
  • The more scenarios you run into, the easier it will be in the future to deal with them.
  • In massage school, you only learn a part of what you need in the real world. It’s a good start; so stay awake during your ethics course.
  • If a client doesn’t like you, or you couldn’t help them, they won’t come back. Just don’t take it personally
    .

So, the next time you have a negative client come in, just remember it’s probably not you!

Ryan Hoyme is the owner of MassageNerd.com and RyanHoyme.com