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Massage Today
October, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 10

The Universal Language of Massage

By Cary Bayer

Vacationing recently at the Caribbean resort of La Samanna in the French part of the beautiful island of St. Martins, I opted for a massage at the spa in my luxury hotel. Little did I know when I booked the session, the therapist who would be treating me that day would be French, as in "not speaking a word of English" French.

Having learned Spanish in high school and college, I was unable to comprends my masseuse.

However, she could communicate with me. And it's not because she studied English in college. It's because she studied massage after college. Massage, I would soon realize on her table, is a universal language. Pascale, my French therapist, spoke it fluently. While I settled into a more relaxed state of consciousness as she worked my feet, it dawned on me that this Gallic masseuse also demonstrated a transportability of talent; a gift that she could take wherever she chooses to go on planet Earth. Wherever Pascale is, so are her hands. And that can carry her further in life than her feet ever will.

That day, she demonstrated a powerful reality that so few massage therapists who work on others' muscles and bones, really know in their own bones. And that is, that they're highly employable and can go to work in the cities of their choices. This is an important fact that could give you, if you're a massage therapist, far greater freedom than you probably have ever realized.

View of a Caribbean beach. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Are you doing Thai massage at an office in Ohio, but secretly are hankering for hot stone at a clinic in California? Then go west. Are you doing deep tissue at a chiropractic office in Michigan, but really sweet on a spa in Arizona? Go for it. Are you busy doing sports massage in Minnesota, but would rather do craniosacral in Florida? You have a portable set of skills; take them wherever you'd like. This capacity to move and work how and where you'd like, applies beyond the borders of your state as well. I've taught continuing education classes at a couple of Florida State Massage Therapy Association conventions and nearly 10 different chapter meetings. I've also privately coached dozens of therapists from Key West to Pensacola, so many of whom talk about the summer as their slow season. (That concept warrants its own column so tune in at a later date for that.) If it's slow where you are and you have the freedom of movement, then go where it isn't slow. Sure, if you have a family and kids in school, it's not easy to pack up your gear and go elsewhere. But many therapists are single and do have that freedom. Few, however, have a visceral realization that they speak a universal tongue that's heard and desired everywhere. And that, more than any other reason, is what keeps most therapists here during the "slow season" instead of in more populated locations of summer in more delightful climes.

Choosing to work in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina, the Catskill or Adirondack Mountains of New York, the shores of southern New Jersey or the cape in Massachusetts means that you've gotten the message that massage is portable. You already take your table into your car for outcalls that might require drives of 12 miles. So why can't you pack it into your car for a drive of 1,200 miles?

Speaking your universal language in cooler climes enables you to choose an appealing lifestyle, something I personally relate to. When I first came to Florida in the winter of 1997, it was for one cold February. As I discovered that my work, too, was portable, I expanded snowbird getaways to three months. Within two years, I'd bought (what I thought was) a winter home in South Florida. It didn't take long to see that the delightful weather was quickly transforming me from a snowbird that spends four months per year in the Sunshine State, into a summer refugee, who leaves the humid summers for the mountain breezes of legendary Woodstock, New York, for five months. Whenever I tell people of my two homes (seven months in Florida and five in New York), I invariably hear the expression, "best of both worlds." Well, guess what; depending on your personal situation, you might be able to have the very same, even if your northern home is a rental.

When you recognize that you speak a universal language, you also understand that virtually everybody wants what you offer. It's important that you speak it daily, many times every day. Doing that every day might even bring so many new clients onto your table that, while other therapists complain of their slow season, you're busy massaging in July as if it were January. And you won't need to think about going anywhere else to find clients. This means that you, along with every massage therapist you know, will have broken through the limited thinking of how hard it is to find new clients. The deeper truth isn't how you can get new clients, but rather who is going to become your next client today. This one shift in consciousness is so powerful that it can literally transform your entire massage business.

Who will become your next client? Is it the lawyer standing by the chips and dip at the party whose stiff neck is crying out desperately for deep tissue work? Perhaps it's the single mom of three on the mat next to yours in your yoga class who is bending and stretching to relax her harried nerves. Or maybe it's your tennis partner or opponent who needs to soothe an aching tennis elbow or tight hamstring?

In cities like New York, Los Angeles or our own Miami, which have high concentrations of Latin American citizens, you'll frequently run across stores that have signs in the windows that read, "Se habla Espanol." In other words, "Spanish is spoken here." It's time that you put an analogous sign on your forehead that reads, "Universal Language of Massage Spoken Here." Those Spanish signs help those merchants succeed; your sign can help you, too.

Click here for previous articles by Cary Bayer.


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