Who Is the Massage Nerd?

By Gloria Coppola , LMBT

Who Is the Massage Nerd?

By Gloria Coppola , LMBT

Think of a modern day version of Jolly ole St. Nick and imagine he lives in Rochester, Minnesota. A jolly ole soul with a heart of gold who gives to others freely and yes, a contagious giggle that makes him shake like a bowl full of jelly. The Massage Nerd is none other than Ryan Hoyme, massage therapist and instructor at the Minnesota School of Business (MSB). He is the creator of MassageNerd.com, a popular massage therapy Web site complete with live shows, articles, videos, educational resources and anything else you can think of for the massage therapist.

Ryan and I met through social networking on Facebook less than two years ago. Soon he was swooping me off to Minnesota to teach a Lomi Lomi class at MSB. It did not take long before we became friends.

In this short period of time the Massage Nerd has become near and dear to my heart. He is one of the most dedicated individuals to the massage profession and he is always willing to help his colleagues and students. In my most recent visit to Rochester, he helped me produce my very first Lomi Lomi video, purely from the goodness of his heart.

Who is this man? And why is he so dedicated to massage? Let's find out about the inner workings of this beautiful being.

Why did you decide to be a massage therapist?

My mom has fibromyalgia and she was seeing a massage therapist. One of the biggest benefits from receiving regular massages was that she was finally able to sleep. I was really impacted by this. She told me I should become a massage therapist. You have to listen to your mom every now and then.

Where did you go to massage school?

Sister Rosalind's School of Professional Massage-- and Globe University-Associates in Applied Science (Massage Therapy).

What did you do before massage?

Residential counselor, certified nursing assistant, trained medication aide, chemical dependency counselor and mental health worker.

You seem to be drawn to professions that focus on improving people's lives. Would you say that this draw also inspired you to become the creator of MassageNerd.com?

Yes, I've always been in the helping field in one way or another and once I started MassageNerd.com, then I was able to help 1,000s of people a day!

How did MassageNerd.com come to be?

I started teaching 10 years ago. I often got frustrated when my students called in sick and they expected me to still show them everything that I taught the other students that day. So, I started videotaping all my styles and I took pictures of all the techniques and then I made those pictures into e-books.

I first launched MassageNerd.com back in January 2006. I was so happy when I got to an average of 20 visits a day a few months later. Now, I average around 2,500 different viewers each day and I'm totally blown away! It has become my obsession ever since that launch date to keep growing my Web site!

Why do you give everything on your site away for FREE?

I remember back in the day when I went to massage school and there wasn't too much out there for massage. All the videos were way out of my price range when I was going to school. I really wanted to make a search engine for massage to help students and that is how MassageNerd.com began.

People ask me on a regular basis how I can afford to give everything away for free and my explanation is look at Facebook, they're free! They run their company with ads on their site. That is kind of my model too. I could honestly make a lot more money if I charged for everything. My main profession is teaching massage full-time. I look at MassageNerd.com as a hobby and not many people can make money off their hobbies...but I can.

What does MassageNerd.com offer?

Free videos, free pictures, free educational materials and about anything else massage related.

How many followers do you have now?

13,000+ YouTube, 2,600+ Facebook profile, 1,900+ Facebook fan page, 600+ Facebook show fan page, 4,000+ online classes and 1,700 on Twitter.

What are some of the most popular YouTube video clip topics?

The ones where I'm showing massage techniques are by far the most viewed. I've kind of retired from making full-length massage videos, because I've done most of the major styles out there and now I'm focusing on doing videos for other people.

What are some of the most common reasons someone contacts you?

Currently, people are contacting me to make mini-commercials for them. They also contact me to say that I've helped them so much during their time in massage school with the information on my Web site. My core audience is people interested in massage, massage students and new therapists.

What do your children think of the Massage Nerd?

All my kids have to say about MassageNerd.com is this: Are you on your computer again dad?

Do you have a favorite instructor; someone who has inspired you?

I have a mentor, Mary Jo Battey Otis, and she was my instructor when I went to massage school. I kept getting yelled at by some other instructors when I kept making up my own massage techniques. My mentor was impressed and she didn't want me to conform to everyone else and lose my creativity.

If you could tell your students three important things about massage school, what would it be?

Practice, practice and more practice! There honestly isn't enough practicing in some massage schools and the students have to look at it as homework too. We started a mentorship program this year at the college I teach. We pair up the more advanced students with the students just starting up. We're having them meet for an hour or so twice a month and their mentorship usually entails giving each other massages; it's a win-win situation.

Tell us about your live shows?

The main reason I started doing my weekly shows was because I wanted to help other therapists. The best way to do that is to interview them, so we can learn from them. I love meeting new people and I still get a little nervous talking to some of the more well-known therapists out there (especially the ones I read about in massage school). Another reason I started the live shows was because the people at www.MassageTherapyRadio.com have been doing phone interviews for years and I really loved their interviews. I learned so much from them, that I wanted to spread more education to the masses!

Just a few of the people who have been on my weekly show include: Angie Patrick, Eric Brown, Meagan Holob, David Palmer (Father of Chair Massage) and many others! I will have these people on (the show) in the near future: Whitney Lowe, Ruth Werner, Laura Allen, Ann Catlin, Diana Thompson, Karen Kowal and more!

Where do you see Massage Nerd in the next two years?

Going to all the major massage conferences and shooting free videos for everyone. I want to help everyone grow their own businesses.

Where do you see the future of massage headed?

I see a lot of massage instruction going online. There are a lot of CEs people can get online right now, but I believe this is where everything is headed. Look at Facebook, everyone is spending more time in front of their computers chatting with their virtual friends instead of spending time in the real flesh with their friends. Now, I'm just waiting for a virtual massage. :)

What are some things you are most proud of?

My wife and my two daughters. I still can't believe she is married to me, because I put so much time into my business and teaching full-time.

Being a teacher for the past 10 years and I still love it.

Being ranked in the top 300 for most famous Internet celebrities for the past year on www.istardom.com

Thirty full-length massage DVDs; I sell them on Amazon.

Being a partner on YouTube. I have over 2,100 video clips on my YouTube channel.

Connecting with awesome massage therapists every day! And being able to help people on a regular basis and most of the time I don't even realize it, because it's mostly done virtually.

What else would you like the audience to know about you and Massage Nerd?

I know this might come as a shock to some people, but I don't sleep much. I actually have a mental illness and it's called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I honestly like it in a way (with everything bad, there has to be some good in it), because the more busy I am, the less obsessions I have.

OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce anxiety, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety, or by a combination of such thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). I noticed symptoms back when I was in elementary school. Do you remember that game where you are not supposed to step on a crack or a line? Well, I took that game literally and was constantly looking for cracks and lines.

Ever since I was in high school, it evolved to a different form of OCD and that is one of counting. I have to count most things up to 21 and if I can't, then I find a way until I do. If I forget, I have to start it all over again and that routine continues until I find something else to count. I have to quote my favorite TV show "Monk", to sum everything up: "It's a gift... and a curse."

I think many of us night owls have a bit of it. LOL. Here is a link that will show you some of the many well-known people with OCD: www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/famous-ocd.shtml.

Also, I'd like to say that one of my main regrets is that I can't answer all the e-mails I get on a regular basis (I get hundreds a day).

Where do you see the future of massage headed?

I see a lot of massage instruction going online. There are a lot of CEs people can get online right now, but I believe this is where everything is headed. Look at Facebook, everyone is spending more time in front of their computers chatting with  their virtual friends instead of spending time in the real flesh with their friends. Now, I'm just waiting for a virtual massage. :)

In the process of collecting information for this interview, I contacted some Ryan's colleagues. Here is what they said about him:

"Ryan Hoyme is the unsung hero of the massage profession," said Laura Allen, LMT and author. "He is the most giving person ... his Web site is just the tip of the iceberg. He's one of the most generous people I've ever met."

"I just have to say that Ryan is an inspiration to us all, colleagues and students. And personally I wouldn't be where I am now without his guidance." Stevie Ersland, former student and instructor at MSB.

Mike Hinkle, founder of the World Massage Festival likes Ryan so much because of his wholehearted laughter. "It's infectious!"

Angie Patrick, of Massage Warehouse and creator of the philanthropic Sanctuary, said: "I am honored to call Ryan Hoyme a personal friend. He has given so much to his profession, his family, and all of his friends. Ryan is definitely a one-of-a-kind, and those fortunate enough to meet him are better for having that experience. Besides, how can you NOT smile when you hear his wonderful laugh!"

Ryan thank you for all your contributions to the massage world! Thank you for being a nerd and sharing your loving family with me and for being a part of all of our lives!