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Massage Today
May, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 05

Lots of Stuff

By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB

Lots to talk about, not enough time to write it or space to print it all. What's an editor to do? It may prove difficult, but in this editorial I'd like to cover my thoughts on a possible way to expand your practice, the benefits of working in a spa setting, and follow-up thoughts on happenings at the NCBTMB that I wrote about in the February issue ("Trust and Expectations," www.massagetoday.com/archives/2005/02/09.html).

None of these are earthshaking (or related!), but I feel a need to express them. I hope you'll not only read, but provide me comment and feedback, as well.

I'm not sure why, but in just the past month or so I've been exposed to more massage therapists reflecting on why their practices weren't robust enough to support them than I have in the past several years - some of them from my own clinic. Being a typical "guy," when someone presents a problem, I tend to offer a solution rather than just lend a friendly ear.

But as most of us know, there are few easy solutions to practice building, and what works just fine for me might not work as well for you and vice versa. So, over the past few weeks I've been searching for some additional methods to pass on to the newer practitioners in the office who are looking to ramp up their businesses.

Trying not to overlook the obvious, I "Googled" lots of massage terms with "practice building" and then perused the results. One jumped out at me, and I just have to share it because it is so all-encompassing and involves a piece of equipment most of us already own or have access to - a massage chair.

I found a Web site (www.bodyworkbiz.com/conference.php) outlining an International Chair Massage Conference that appears to demonstrate how to profitably and effectively use chair massage in support of a growing massage practice. I have absolutely nothing to do with the conference nor do I have any real knowledge of it other than what I read on the Web site, and I will not, in principle, endorse or support any private commercial venture in Massage Today. I do like the conference schedule as outlined, however, and this appears to be the very type of educational information that might have kept the therapists who left my clinic with enough revenue to have remained. If I end up attending, I'll report my findings here! I used to utilize my massage chair a lot in my practice, and it was always set up in my treatment room near my table. It was a very non-threatening way for teens who thought undressing was "weird" to get massage, and many seniors seemed to feel more at ease when their feet were firmly planted on the floor. Maybe I'll be taking it out of its case once again!

Next item - SPAS! I am always surprised to find the dichotomy of emotion in the massage world that surrounds spas. Our clients love them, and survey after survey indicates that the majority of first timers receive their initial massage at a spa. Many massage therapists though express great disdain at working in a spa environment. Most of the "charged" expressions of disdain, some to the point of red-faced stammering, involve a perceived misuse of the poor overworked, underpaid massage therapist. C'mon, it's just another place to work, people! I just returned from a vacation at a resort and spa in Jamaica. (Yes, I know, the New England snow finally got to me!) Being a chatty and inquisitive kind of guy (some would even say nosey!), I asked lots of questions of the massage therapist assigned to work with me - and yes, I was on a table under the palms on the beach - sigh.

She was quite good, demonstrated multiple skill sets, had trained for about a year and a half in massage school, and received regular continuing education. She loved her job at the spa, and it showed. She particularly enjoyed just having to "show up" at work and not needing to invest in equipment and supplies. She also said that she wasn't one to enjoy actively marketing her abilities, and the spa allowed her to have ready access to clients without her feeling that she was pushing herself on the populace. While I didn't specifically ask her about her satisfaction with the compensation she received, neither did she say that it would be a better job if it paid more, and this was at a resort with a no tipping policy!

Last fall I was fortunate enough to spend a few days at the Green Valley Spa in St. George, Utah. It may well be the best spa in the country (I haven't been to lots of others) but it was so good to me that I now use it as the yardstick upon which I compare others. The massage therapists there expressed similar stories to my therapist in Jamaica. These therapists were delighted to continue learning new things and enjoyed the ready stream of clients (tipping clients here!). None appeared to be burnt out or bored, and they had a large menu of services they provided, from Lomi Lomi to Watsu.

I'm not suggesting that all spa therapists are delighted at their lots in life! I have known several who were treated badly, scheduled poorly and paid less than their peers. I have known others suffering the same fates at chiropractors' offices and massage clinics, too. Worse still, I have known many more who worked for themselves, set their own prices, arranged their own schedules, and couldn't keep enough people on their tables to stay in business. If you have ideas or suggestions on how to make spa work more desirable for the "average" massage therapist, I'd love to hear them!

Last item - NCBTMB! I really didn't want to feel a need to write this, but just can't see why this isn't the big deal issue in massage therapy today. In February, I wrote about a reported elections process fiasco at the NCBTMB. Concurrent with that editorial, the NCBTMB adjusted its election procedures to ensure not only fairness but also the appearance of fairness, which included appointing a new Nomination Committee (NC), implementing revised election criteria, and subsequently reopening the application process.

Based on that, I wrote the following: "Scandal is a terrible thing for everyone, and this one certainly gets in the way of much of the good that the NCBTMB has done for the profession. If the NCBTMB satisfactorily exorcises this demon, I feel it deserves our support in fulfilling its ideals. If it chooses not to or fails to do so for other reasons, it will have not regained our trust and will likely wither and die." I felt confident that our support would soon be in order.

In the time between that occurrence and now, the NCBTMB has taken other actions. To fill vacancies that occurred when a portion of its own Board Executive Committee resigned their directorships, the board voted in as chair-elect the very individual central and subject to the election irregularities. Thus, the new chair-elect, who was otherwise ineligible to even be considered by the 80,000-plus certificants to run for re-election (her original complaint), bypassed the nomination process, bypassed the election process via certificant votes, and is assured an additional year on the board with the subsequent elevation of position to chair. This is not, in my opinion, the way for the NCBTMB to exorcise its demons! Is it me, or is the NCBTMB going out of its way to ensure that the steps to redemption are ridiculously steep?

Thanks for listening, and please tell me what you think!


Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters related to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue or online. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or by regular mail to:

Massage Today
P.O. Box 4139
Huntington Beach, CA 92605


Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.

 

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