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!

#AndreasBeautySchoolAdventures

This wasn’t how I expected my six month stint in nail school to end. Today was a surreal, jacked up day for a lot of people, and I feel a little bit guilty about being the luckiest girl in the world.

 

***

 

8:00 am: Ms. Lorraine, my nail technology instructor, sat on the metal steps outside the entrance to Destination Academy, a lit cigarette held with the assuredness of a military veteran turned hairstylist with a combined 40 years in the trenches.

“I’m glad you came to school today.”

“Ummm, why?” I asked suspiciously.

“It’s your last day. They’re closing down the school. You’re going to be the last graduate.”

“Oh shit.”

What followed was a chaotic morning of classmates (hair, skin and nails) arriving at school to be met with a frazzled “Pack up your stuff and hurry! The constable is here and he’s going to lock the doors. Your hours will be forwarded to the state board. Take everything with you. Quickly!” Teachers and office employees wore the same shocked expression as students. Panicked tears fell and tempers flared.

Some students had pre-paid their tuition in full (anywhere from $4,000 – $20,000), and still had several months remaining before they were scheduled to graduate. Teachers began planning their day’s trek to the unemployment office. The ethical office employees took responsibility for locating and rescuing everyone’s paperwork that proved their attendance. Countless boxes, cases and computers were shuffled out of the building into waiting vehicles.

Destination Academy is (was?) located above Destination Manhattan, a day spa and salon owned by the same person. Upon emerging from the second floor, it became obvious that the shitstorm that had enveloped Destination Academy was relatively mild in comparison to the bedlam laying waste at ground level. Here, dozens of employees and chair renters scurried to remove their belongings – including large items, like furniture and stationary massage tables – from the building before the ever-present yet even-tempered constable had the locksmith change the locks.

Over the course of the next 90 minutes, moving trucks pulled up one after the other while fuming beauty professionals directed the movers on where to haul cabinets, bins, and gigantic hair dryers. Cell phone use was ubiquitous, as friends and family members were summoned to listen, calm, and ultimately show up in pickup trucks. Appointment cancellation calls to clients came next, and without warning. Not surprisingly, Gary, the hairstylist turned salon and beauty school owner — who apparently hadn’t been paying the rent for who knows how long – was nowhere to be found during this entire debacle.

I could tell you that this turn of events came as a complete surprise, but that would be a lie. I attended Destination Academy in 2008 to be educated in the science of skincare, and rumors of school closure ran rampant back then, too. Just last year, a handful of trusted sources informed me of bounced checks (both payroll and payment to vendors) and declined company credit cards. Kits and textbooks for newly enrolled students were on “backorder” for months, and basic items (gloves, hair color, facial products, etc.) necessary to perform basic services (hair coloring, facials, etc.) would run out, never to be replaced. But we tend to get lulled into a state of complacency when at the 11th hour we manage to make do with what we have. I mean, the lights were still on in the damn building as recently as 7 o’clock tonight, and rumors are just rumors, right?

As for how this affects your humble narrator, I just really hope it doesn’t. Thanks to my lovely teachers (and for everything it’s worth, I consider you ladies friends to whom I am eternally grateful), I was able to sign off on my attendance sheets proving 600 hours of instruction before I went home today. Hopefully the Nevada State Board of Cosmetology accepts my paperwork without incident, at which point I can schedule my written exam, and after that my practical exam (where I have my way with a fake plastic hand while state employees observe with a critical eye). If I can maintain any semblance of luck at all, I will be set up to do natural nail manicures and pedicures at Feetish Spa Parlor sometime this spring.

And that’s pretty much it for #AndreasBeautySchoolAdventures. I had begun working on a rather boring and uninspired blog post last week in anticipation of my red carpet-walking, certificate-receiving graduation extravaganza, but apparently life detests a dull blog post even more than I do. As a reminder, you can hit up #AndreasBeautySchoolAdventures on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to take a gander at how I’ve spent five long hours per day, five long days per week, over the last six long months. Hopefully the 202 morsels of hashtagged wonder that pop up prove that it hasn’t all been bad, or all for nothing.

 

finaldestination

What a day.

 

***

Andrea Lipomi is a licensed massage therapist and esthetician who lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also peddles massage therapy ebooks and NCBTMB-approved continuing education courses at ConfidentMassage.com, will travel hundreds of miles for a fantastic spa experience, and craves dark chocolate and Depeche Mode’s upcoming tour dates on an almost daily basis.

Massaging Reality

 

I hope you’ll read this

with an open mind

because love for the skeptic

can be hard to find

 

It’s exceedingly common

to be met with suspicion

when you question “are bodyworkers

really mutant magicians?”

 

Upending secret blockages

releasing them in turn

trumpeting mystical special powers

only initiates can learn

 

Bought skills in aural palpation

in tweaking magnetic fields

full-body cosmic detoxification

and increased psychic yields

 

An ego tripper’s tour bus

on untransmutable lead wheels

a sucker born every minute

breeds bandits poised to steal

 

Past SOAP note notoriety

or “this muscle tissue’s tense”

it’s real world paper dollars

for imaginary sense

 

**************

Andrea Lipomi is a licensed massage therapist and esthetician who lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also peddles massage therapy ebooks and NCBTMB-approved continuing education courses at ConfidentMassage.com, will travel hundreds of miles for a fantastic spa experience, and craves dark chocolate and Depeche Mode’s upcoming tour dates on an almost daily basis.

 

Playing Telephone

Did you ever play Telephone as a kid? The game where you sit in a circle or line, and one person whispers a phrase to be passed along, neighbor to neighbor, until the end of the line is reached? The person at the very end repeats the phrase as he or she has heard it, and everyone giggles at the way the phrase has transformed along the line. Whispering is not the best means of communication, and we all interpret things in our own way when we can’t hear accurately, passing phrases along to be interpreted anew. Hilarity ensues.

DSC_0226_Iván_Melenchón_Serrano_MorgueFile

As massage therapists, we play telephone quite a bit. It’s not usually funny, but sometimes it is great fun. Other times, it can get a little messy.

Let’s start with the fun: Hands on! We learn techniques in school, and then we get out into the world and find our groove. Formerly differentiated petrissage techniques merge into one another, effleurage swoops into new and more graceful curves, sometimes friction moves in a shape that is neither strictly cross-fiber nor exactly circular. The moves we were taught become our own, and new ones grow from them, and we fall into flow. Or we take our own weary selves for massage and steal the therapists’ best moves  feel things that are new and different and work them into our own sessions. Sometimes, we’re not sure what the technique looked like or how it was accomplished, so we interpret and approximate as best we can, usually with subtle changes. Maybe we even use our new technique when giving a massage to a fellow therapist to be absorbed and re-interpreted all over again. At the end of the telephone line, we have many massage therapists practicing personal, unique massage, and I think that’s a beautiful thing.

Less beautiful is when we play Telephone when we talk about massage. We learn so much in school about anatomy, neurology, and pathology. If we don’t peruse our notes from time to time or find other ways to brush up on information, it can get muddled. We are only human, and we may drop key pieces over time, filling in the blanks with our own explanations, and we might even misspeak from time to time. Have you ever had a conversation with a client about a particular muscle or pathology where you found yourself floundering? I have. It’s not pretty. Luckily, there’s something we can do about this.

There is one more rule in the simple game of telephone. When you are the one receiving the message, about to pass it on, you can call “Operator” and have the phrase repeated. When you’re playing Telephone with children, the rules vary on the number of times you’re allowed to ask for clarification. In life, you can ask as many times as you want, however frequently you desire. When you take a continuing ed classes to review techniques, refine body mechanics, or add new skills to your repertoire, you are calling the Operator. When you review information that’s become hazy over time or keep an eye out for new research, that’s calling the Operator, too, and can keep you from sounding hazy yourself.

Playing Telephone keeps massage therapy vibrant and diverse and personal. Calling the operator from time to time can keep us all fresh and engaging. Lately, my Operator has come in the form of PubMed, old handbooks from massage school (thrown over in favor of the internet for years, but books have felt more direct for me lately), hand scrawled notes from continuing ed classes, and The Massage Therapy Foundation website. Who’s your go-to Operator these days?

 

Megan Spence is a Licensed Massage Therapist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She is continually astonished by just how much she loves her work. You can read more about Megan’s adventures in massage and various other things body-related at Bodywork Brooklyn.

On Ignorance

When I was really little, I believed Canadians didn’t attend church. I knew that my family didn’t go to church because of my father, and my father was different from other people’s fathers because he was Canadian. Furthermore, I had met quite a few Canadians, and none of them attended church either.

The fact that my grandmother’s house in Montreal was right next to a Catholic church didn’t phase to me. (Also, not only did I eventually figure out that my extended family was not representative of Canada as a whole, but I also learned what “Jewish” meant. Look how far I’ve come!)

Sure she’s cute, but can she drive a stick shift?

The truth of the matter is, we all start out ignorant. While the fact that I confused nationality and religion in Kindergarten certainly caused some laughs, nobody got angry at me for what I should have known. Our tolerance for ignorance usually decreases with age: it’s okay for an 11-year-old not to know how to balance a checkbook, but we get annoyed if they still don’t know by 22. While the opposite is sometimes true when talking about new technology, most of us set age-based standards for wisdom.

You should use the toilet by 3. Learn to read by 6. Do algebra by 15. Understand the electoral college by … probably never. 

Unfortunately, these assumptions on our part can hurt not only our businesses, but our community.

When I was 26, I read LMT on a business card and had no idea what it meant. I got annoyed with the person. What the heck were they trying to convey, the fact that they knew the alphabet? Why wouldn’t they just tell me what they did? I wasn’t stupid, but someone assumed that I would see that their business was a spa, make a list of possible spa occupations in my head, somehow match one of them up with the letters I’d been given, and decide they were the person for me.

They lost my business.

When we assume that very young massage therapists can’t do a great job because we were ignorant at that age, everyone loses out on what might have been a great professional relationship.

When we assume that just because a massage therapist has years of experience and a well-known practice, they must also have a firm grasp on ethics and professionalism, we can get ourselves into sticky situations.

When we’re furious that someone doesn’t realize there’s a difference between a massage therapist and a prostitute, we effectively stop that person from ever coming to us with a back injury.

When we get angry at new massage therapists straight out of school who’ve been taught that massage flushes lactic acid from their muscles, we lose a chance to educate and to foster the growth of a potential advocate for scientific literacy.

There are lots of blameworthy characteristics in the world: dishonesty, untrustworthiness, egotism, greed. We do what we can to avoid dealing with people who show those qualities, because there’s not much good that can come from it.

But ignorance? Ignorance is a shockingly easy fix. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have schools, we wouldn’t have newspapers, we wouldn’t have blogs or libraries or advertising, for that matter.

So take a minute for the ignorant. Explain your techniques to a client. Explain why your decision was the ethical one. Write out “Licensed Massage Therapist” instead of leaving your business card a wash of alphabet soup.

Just because we’re bodyworkers doesn’t mean we can’t be knowledge-workers as well, so get rid of your “shoulds”share what you’ve got. Potential clients, students, colleagues, (and possibly the occasional churchgoing Canadian) will thank you for it.

Kat Mayerovitch is a licensed massage therapist practicing in a nonprofit chronic pain management center in Cleveland, Ohio. She also works as a copywriter, volunteers like mad in local community development, and plays the ukulele. If you liked this, Kat writes more good stuff at LMT or Bust.

photo credit: ` TheDreamSky via photopin cc

Get A Loyal Client – Tell Me About Yourself

a word on Selling:

Any good salesperson will tell you: “it’s not about what you say…it’s HOW you say it.”  That is truly the point of this assault on what most of us believe is our truer sense to heal the world, one body at a time, as massage practitioners.

There is a time in the practice of our profession when a transaction becomes part of what we do when we get someone on our massage table.  Whether it is for a monetary transaction, an emotional transaction, or a karmic sale that we complete, the sale of a massage therapy session takes place.

I recently had the pleasure of re-joining my alma mater’s faculty and am again doing what I love: teaching.  Specifically, teaching professional development curricula to budding massage therapist students, and I see the value in what I do as assisting clients that I will never see, never meet, and never touch.

One of the most important things that a massage therapy professional can achieve is not to “be professional”, be a good business person, or even be a “good” massage therapist.  I believe it is to accurately and compassionately convey the value of massage therapy based on their own beliefs.  When a practitioner can do that successfully, the sale of a massage therapy session is a matter of fact.

Educate the Client…

The word ‘education’ is a pretty soft word.  There is an understanding that information may or may not be transferred efficiently, effectively, or at all…or be accepted likewise.  There is a responsibility in the delivery, content, and testing of the educator…just as with sales: the introduction, listing the benefits/values of the product/service, and the close/delivery/follow-up.

When I refer to what a professional does, it is not so much as “represents” or “professes” the nature or benefits of massage, but more succinctly: what the massage therapist believes.  Of course, what a practitioner believes is not always what they are told are the benefits of massage…or should be.  Testing, trying, and being aware of benefits outside of the massage therapy session can become the crux of how massage therapy clients are educated.

When educating our clients, again, it is not just about the physical, emotional, or spiritual benefits of manipulation of their tissues – it can include (which is often overlooked) the VALUE of massage therapy.  But how do practitioners create value in massage therapy?

When it comes to running a massage business or practicing massage, it is a common misnomer and not-as-effective-choice to FIRST put a monetary value on the transaction.  “Am I charging too much? How can I get more clients…with a “special”?  Should I have a sliding scale?  Can I pass out business cards at this volunteer massage event?” are just a few of the questions that may come up where monetary value is concerned.  All valid questions, but at what point is the education of the client based on getting them on the table?

Is the transaction put at risk (in the long term) if the basis of the education is established FIRST in the monetary value of the massage session?  My answer is:  Yes.  The interest of a client who does not innately see an intrinsic value in the massage therapy session – based on the massage professional’s affinity for massage – will likely peter off into disinterest.

How do we get and keep the interest and the investment of the client in our practice?  How do we drive the client to see the value in massage therapy, beyond the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits?  I believe it is to educate them about our own beliefs and hopes for and to illustrate the functional unit of therapeutic massage:

  1. Stay up on the latest massage therapy information in your community (scientific and anecdotal),
  2. Keep informed about the most recent, global massage therapy theories, research, and practices,
  3. Immerse ourselves in our passion, our focus, and our profession – through our own continuing education, associations, and speaking our Vision for our practices, amongst ourselves and anyone who will listen – without promise of remuneration.

Educate our clients about all of these things, on a regular basis, about how WE see massage and value it – SHOW our motivation, CREATE some excitement.  People are attracted to passion, enthusiasm, and general happiness.  It is what they desire…to replace any degree of pain, disappointment, and lack of touch therapy somewhere in their own lives or histories.

…Sell the Service

If you have it to give, give it.  If you have it to sell to them in a recognized, trustworthy format – like on a menu of services – for goodness sake: do not undermine your client-education efforts by relegating the “sales” of massage to some disdainful, disgusting act that only applies to people who purvey automobiles.  Sell with pride – realize that they will accept either the blue pill or the red pill, and it is the “pill” that is the vehicle by which they will receive the value of your service.

I am soooooo excited to see student practitioners’ whose light bulbs go on: when they realize that what they are selling is not massage, but themselves.  I, too, need to revisit this thought process from time to time, and also realize:  we enliven each other’s practices by finding new ways to create value for massage therapy.  I find value in their enthusiasm and their stories of “why massage is important to me.”  When they can educate their client about “why massage is important to me,” then the light bulb of getting a client on the table AND “making a sale” turns on…and they gain a loyal client and a customer!

Dr. Pimple and Mrs. Glide (A Narrative on Dual-Licensure)

Back in 2006 and early 2007, when the Las Vegas housing market was near its manic peak and Bentleys with blacked out windows shat hundred dollar bills from their tailpipes whilst cruising down nondescript suburban streets, the Las Vegas spa industry reached a corresponding crescendo.

Caesars Palace upgraded their outdated spa to the 55,000 square foot, 51 treatment room Qua, complete with a mineral water infinity pool with integrated light therapy, and an Arctic Ice room that shed faux snow precipitate from a ceiling vent. The wheels were already in motion for the opening of the Canyon Ranch Spa Club expansion at Palazzo, the opulent spa at Steve Wynn’s Encore, diamond-infused massages at Trump, and the Mandarin Oriental’s 5-star spa facility at City Center when 2008’s economic outlook knocked the wind out of Vegas’ sails. As new properties rolled out on The Strip, a to-die-for spa was a non-negotiable amenity for any high-end resort with a desire to compete for precious tourist dollars.

I was working as a full-time massage therapist at an unofficially 3-star, off-Strip Las Vegas resort spa in 2008. Economic times were tough across the country, and especially tough in the Las Vegas valley, where unemployment exploded and still hovers between 11% and 13% to this day. Construction, sales, real estate, and tourism folk were feeling the pinch as homes sank underwater, homeowners gasped for air, and visitors to the land of sun and sin clutched at their wallets with death’s grip. I went from $400 and $500 days of doing 5, 6, and 7 massages per work day in early 2007, to $50 and $150 days of doing 1, 2, and sometimes no massages per work day throughout the following year. I was lucky to have maintained full-time employee status with health care benefits, as many massage therapists at different properties were downgraded to part-time and on-call status during this time. Believe it or not, it was a stressful time to be a spa employee.

With nothing but time on my hands, and in light of Qua’s reputation for hiring massage therapists who were also licensed estheticians (skin care professionals), I decided to pursue an education in skin care, so that I too could become “dual-licensed”.

I continued to work full-time at the resort spa while I attended esti class in a beauty school facility that also trained hairstylists and nail technicians. Thanks to the intelligence of my instructor, and the mature yet fun personalities of my classmates, I really enjoyed myself. I almost didn’t mind dragging my ass through 10-hour days of all things spa, 7 days per week, for 8 months straight.

After I graduated and passed my licensing exam, one of the fabulous estheticians at work took me under her wing and gave me some much appreciated on-the-job training. With the support of my management team, I was now performing facials, waxing, makeup applications, and body treatments, in addition to our full repertoire of massage services. I was making extra money selling skin care products to our guests, and the added service variety was giving my anatomical massage tools a well deserved break. This was fun!

What? Do I have something on my face?

Time warp with me…through 2009, when I went to work at a brand new 4-star resort spa as a massage therapist, but kept my dual-licensed position at the original spa…through 2010, when I worked two jobs like a mad woman, but saved enough to put some cash toward buying a house…through 2011, when the tourist dollars started to come back to Vegas and a damn shoulder injury forced me to scale back, allowing me to publish my first ebook as it sadly relegated my esti career to the back burner…through 2012, when I dedicated myself to working on continuing education projects, creative outlets, and the birth of a new dream involving my beauty school license, hope, and a funky business plan unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s way too soon to predict how 2013 will play out, but I’m always almost irritatingly optimistic for the future.

 

Have you ever considered adding esthetics training to your massage therapy toolbox?

 

Let me start by stating that everyone’s dual-licensed experience will be entirely unique.

As far as training goes, it’s up to you to measure the ROI on dedicating 6 to 12 months of your life, and between $8,000 and $12,000 on a second license (not to mention recurring licensing fees and any applicable continuing education.)

Finding spa employment as an esti, at least in Las Vegas, is generally tougher than finding massage employment. When money is tight, I’ve found that people are usually more likely to splurge on a massage over a facial or body treatment. That being said, there are waxing boutiques here that specialize in bikini and Brazilian waxing, and they seem to be doing really well for themselves. Waxing clients tend to be very loyal once they find someone who gives them just what they’re looking for. Research your local market before you commit.

If you work for someone else as an esti, you usually can’t pick and choose the services you’re down with performing. You’ll likely be expected to do facials and different kinds of waxing, and sometimes body treatments and makeup applications, regardless of whether you enjoy doing them or not. Again, do your research locally.

A few of the single-licensed estis (and a handful of massage therapists) that I’ve worked with over the years appear to harbor a certain level of resentment toward dual-licensed individuals. Maybe these single-licensed spa personnel fear that dual-licensed therapists are threatening their usefulness, or are making them appear to be less motivated, or are taking appointments that should (in their eyes) belong to them. I’m not sure, but haters, look: I’m really not that special. If I can go to school for two different things and maintain two different licenses, so can you. That being said, some spa management folk prefer to avoid rocking the boat, and forbid departmental crossover. You shouldn’t assume that getting hired as a massage therapist necessarily means you’ll be able to whip out your wax sticks just because you’re dual-licensed. If you have a dream spa job in mind, it can’t hurt to book a service there and politely interview your service provider about these things as a preemptive strike.

If you’re working on your own and you’re interested in becoming dual-licensed, I’d recommend pursuing it. It’s likely to give you more flexibility in the services and packages you can provide. You’ll also enrich your knowledge base with skin care skills and product ingredient prowess, and your focus on facial massage techniques will no doubt lead to marriage proposals and gifts of delicious pastry.

If you’re a guy and you don’t think this applies to you, think again! Male estis are the minority, but becoming an esti and rocking the Y chromosome is not unheard of. (FYI: It also doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gay. And you’re probably already a male massage therapist, so you should be used to any and all client assumptions regarding your every waking moment.)

In addition to variety and cash, one of the best things that my esti license has given me has been a sense of freedom. I’m less worried that I’ll suffer a career-ending injury, and I’m less concerned that antiquated local massage establishment laws (that still associate therapeutic massage with sex work) will keep me from opening a business of my own if I choose to do so.

According to many financial planning gurus of our time, diversification is an important concept to bear in mind when planning for the future. In a similar fashion, it’s not unwise to keep learning and adding skills to our massage therapy portfolios if we plan on making a living doing what we do for years to come.

 

Andrea Lipomi is a licensed massage therapist and esthetician who lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also peddles massage therapy ebooks and NCBTMB-approved continuing education courses at ConfidentMassage.com, will travel hundreds of miles for a fantastic spa experience, and craves dark chocolate and Depeche Mode’s upcoming tour dates on an almost daily basis.

Massage Conference Super-Secret Packing List!

I’m leaving tomorrow (or tonight, if my husband Jef has his way, he likes to drive at night) for the AMTA National Convention. Last year was my first year attending, and I loved almost every minute of it. I learned a ton. Not just about massage therapy, either. I learned a fair bit about attending conferences in general. And one of the most important things I learned was what to pack.

What do I bring with me, anyway?

If you’re curious about the basics, there are lots of great guides to packing for professional conferences, and I highly recommend looking a few of them up if you’re a fellow procrastinator and haven’t put your own list together yet. “Business casual” clothes, your various and sundry mobile devices, business cards, all that kind of stuff. But there are also things that never seem to appear on these lists, even though they can improve your conference experience dramatically. Why people are keeping these things a secret is beyond me, but here are some of the items I won’t show up without.

Super-Secret Packing List!

  1. A pair of jeans. Yes, yes, professionalism and all that. But you’re not going to be in workshops (or meetings, hi delegates!) all day. Eventually you’re going to want to hang out. And if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t quite feel like a human being in dress slacks, don’t torture yourself by attempting to chill out in the evening in fancy shoes.
  2. A tote bag. This seems counterintuitive, since you know perfectly well you’re going to get a bag when you arrive. But if you’re going to want to buy things from vendors, (or if you’re an instructor stocking up on freebies), one cheapo backpack is not going to cut it. A tote can be thrown into your other bag and take up very little room until you need it.
  3. Your appointment book. No, most of the people you meet will not be local, and have no interest on jumping on your massage table once you get home. But what if you want to set up a phone appointment with your newly-discovered mentor or BFF? If you’re one of those pen-and-paper folks, keep that book handy. Digital people, I know you couldn’t be surgically separated from your schedule if your life depended on it, so feel free to ignore this advice.
  4. A shawl. Ladies, it’s true that you’ll warm up at the dinner dance once you’re getting your boogie on. But do you want to freeze until then? A nice shawl doubles as a scarf during evening outings, so it’s totally multipurpose and well worth the few extra inches of suitcase space.
  5. Snacks. This is a conference, not seventh grade. If you find your blood sugar tanking during a lecture, just eat something! Nuts and raisins are great if you’re trying to be a good example. Dark chocolate peanut M&Ms are good if you either don’t care about being an example or would like to share with me. If you’re a tea drinker, bring your own bags. The tea at most hotels is rubbish.
  6. Water bottle. For washing down the above. Bottled water is such a racket.
  7. Nail clippers. This is the sort of thing people who write about conferences in general (as opposed to massage therapy conferences) never mention, but the last thing you want is to realize four days into your week off from work that you’ve grown talons and have nothing to trim them with!
  8. A good book. By Saturday of last year’s convention, I was seriously overloaded on social interaction, and desperately in need of some introvert recharge time. So I curled up on the sofa with a young adult novel and didn’t speak to anyone for a couple of hours. It was exactly what I needed.
  9. An old-school notebook and pen. It’s just handy, especially when you end up working in a group, whether it’s formally or on your own time. “Does anybody have paper?” gets asked all the time. “Does anybody have an iPad?” just … doesn’t.
  10. Questions. This is your one shot to ask all sorts of people who know all sorts of stuff all of the questions that have been nagging you this entire year. So, naturally, you will forget them all as soon as you’ve arrived. Write them down! Carry them in your pocket. And when you run into that special somebody, ask away.

Have you been to a massage conference before? If you made some unconventional packing decisions, dish! What was a waste of space? What wouldn’t you be caught without?

Kat Mayerovitch is a licensed massage therapist practicing in a nonprofit chronic pain management center in Cleveland, Ohio. She also works as a copywriter, volunteers like mad in local community development, and plays the ukulele. If you liked this, Kat writes more good stuff at LMT or Bust.

photo credit: Highways Agency via photopin cc

Evolving Roles

When I first decided to become a massage therapist, I didn’t think about what kinds of roles I wanted to play in the massage world. I was going to give kick-butt massages, and maybe write about it on the side. Wasn’t that basically what everyone in massage school planned to do?

But the more time I spend as a part of the massage community, the more aware I become of the huge variety of roles massage therapists play:

  • business owner
  • community health educator
  • teacher
  • author
  • researcher
  • volunteer
  • mentor
  • retailer
  • organizer

Superhero belongs on this list too.

These are only the very beginning, and yet we rarely talk massage therapists about the many paths of service that are open to them. Why?

Of the roles I’ve taken on since becoming a part of the massage therapy community, the one that took me most by surprise is student advocate. It occurred as a side effect of blogging while still in massage school; I felt obligated to stand up for myself and my fellow students, to remind the world that we were no less an important part of the massage world than those who had long since left their school days behind. Whether we like it or not, today’s students are the future of the profession. In my role as their staunch supporter, I feel that I owe it to us all to make sure that they enter the professional world with the very best we have to offer.

Part of this means helping students to move forward through their educations with open eyes, knowing what kinds of roles they might take on in their careers, and what shoes they might someday have to fill. This knowledge can affect not only their educational choices, but their aspirations and level of connection to the field.

The next time someone asks you about your experience as a massage therapist, take just a minute to step beyond the clients and the daily laundry, and outline the other roles that you and those around you have taken on over the years.

You might be surprised and find that you’re more than you think you are. Open up the doors and show people the wider vistas of what a massage therapist can truly accomplish in this world. It’s a beautiful view. Why not let everyone know?

 

Kat Mayerovitch is a licensed massage therapist practicing in a nonprofit chronic pain management center in Cleveland, Ohio. She also works as a copywriter, volunteers like mad in local community development, and plays the ukulele. If you liked this, Kat writes more good stuff at LMT or Bust.

 

photo credit: gorickjones via photo pin cc