10 Must-Do’s in a Massage Therapist’s Week

10 Must-Do’s in a Massage Therapist’s Week

Massage Snacks10 Must Do’s in a Massage Therapists’ week:

  1. Eat Breakfast!  We use approximately 200-600 calories per massage!
  2. Eat snacks in-between massages
  3. Use good body Mechanics…this is not a myth, it will make or break you
  4. Get plenty of rest
  5. Deep breathe during and between massages
  6. Stretch: your neck, forearms, back and legs
  7. Learn to protect yourself spiritually with prayer or other (watch for my upcoming blog on Massage Energy Zaps)
  8. Keep clear time-boundaries with clients
  9. Maintain a clean, organized workspace.  In my opinion, keep your massage table made with clean sheets and ready for your next client
  10. Stay strong: exercise regularly, 3x/week, focusing on hands, arms, back, legs and core

Is there anything I missed?  What do you find most beneficial as a Massage Therapist to keep you going?

Top 4 Troubles for Self-Employed Massage Therapists and How to Avoid Them

Take care of your hands as a massage therapist

Take care of your hands as a massage therapist

Most Massage Therapists are good at the art of giving a massage, even spectacular.  Rarely is the problem, when Massage Therapists decide to leave this career, that the therapist is bad at massage.  Sometimes this is the case, but even a mediocre massage can be improved with practice & study.

Another reason often mentioned for leaving the massage therapist career is the strength Massage Therapy requires is more than someone can handle for more than a few years.  True, sometimes, depending on the modality the massage therapist chooses to use.

Honestly though, the top reasons therapists leave this business, which is similar to why people leave many Entrepreneurial professions:  a lack of business savvy.  I think this is why being an employee or sub-contractor is easier in the long run for those people who are good at massage, or which ever business you are in, but not so good at the business end of the business.


Top 4 Troubles for self-employed Massage Therapists:   (And How to Avoid Them)

  1. Not enough clients or income or both
  2. Feeling stuck or frozen about lack of clients
  3. Paperwork overwhelm
  4. Fatigue, in the hands, neck, back, forearms, feet


First of all, THERE IS HOPE!!  So don’t give up or stop trying because of fear.  If you are doing what you love, like massage therapy or personal training or yoga, etc, I have some ideas for your success (and a reminder for my own continued success).  My suggestion is just to be realistic, patient and persistent.  Lets look at why these pit-falls show up in the first place:

The first problems start with UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS….that:

  • clients are easy to find & easy to keep
  • money will show up often “just because”
  • expenses are low, almost nonexistent
  • paperwork takes care of itself
  • taxes are for other careers
  • your body is strong and you don’t need extra maintenance
  • self-care, hydration, rest, stretching, physical fitness is what we Preach, not what we Do. Hee, hee.
  • assuming that this is the perfect career path for you, without looking at hard facts

The second problem is a lack of knowing your CLEAR PATH:

  • List your reasons for doing massage (or personal training, yoga, etc)
  • Why do you love doing massage, so much that you’ve done many for free?  Remember those reasons.
  • What are your Goals? (answer these questions…in writing)
    • What types of massage do you want to do/not do…be VERY SPECIFIC
      • example: instead of saying: I want to work on athletes.
        •  I want to work on female Mom athletes, between the ages of 35-55 who are college educated and willing to do their physical homework in order to get better.
      • example: instead of saying: I don’t want to work on Mean people.
        • I will pre-charge for first time clients, and I won’t reschedule them if they are disrespectful.
    • Start with a simple plan
    • Know your NUMBERS!
      • How many appointments do you need per week/month to pay your “nut” or minimum bills?
      • How many people do you need to talk to in order to make 10 appointments?
      • What is your rate of return? (how many new clients return?)
      • How much money are you putting into retirement from each massage? (often forgotten about)
      • Do you pay your taxes monthly or quarterly? (and put it aside immediately…untouchable!)
      • From Where are people finding you?  (where should you spend your advertising dollar?)
    • In ANY profession…60 min of daily exercise, plenty of water, plenty sleep… for starters (do what i suggest and not what i do… :))))
    • Find Balance: easier said… but still essential
    • When your hands are hurting…let them rest

Don’t give up.  A career you love—-getting paid doing what you love is really possible.  Find a MENTOR!  Message me if you have questions.  Don’t give up yet…

Core Synchronism with Robert Stevens

Robert Stevens, Core Synchronism

Robert Stevens, Core Synchronism

I highly, highly recommend Core Synchronism with Robert Stevens for any massage therapist, chiropractor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or neurologist.  I had the pleasure of taking Core Synchronism with it’s creator, Robert Stevens.

If you have the chance, come to Albuquerque and learn “Core” from Robert. He is incredible.  You will learn about the brain like you never have before.  Robert is inspiring, leading me and most of his students to crave more learning.  After his classes, I always find myself reading, exploring, searching and being curious more than I did before his classes.

A brilliant scholar & masterful communicator, Robert is able to explain how to palpate and learn Core Synchronism so it becomes natural in your practice.  This is subtle work; it’s easy on your hands and body, yet it’s effective on your toughest clients.  I use Core on my tough athletes and softer clients alike. 🙂 And, I use it on my ADHD husband when he has trouble being still.  Out of all modalities, my husband requests Core the most. So do my kids, btw.

The Class had about 20 students and 3 assistants.  Each assistant was incredibly helpful, patient and kind.  The class I took, Core 4, was 5 days long, 1:30-5:30, M-F, in the main classroom in The New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics where Robert Stevens in the director.  There are 7 weeks possible, Core 1-7, each class is a one-week class except for Core 7 which is 3 days and for which registration is full for about a year in advance (FYI).  Each class is a pre-requisite for the next. Many people take the first 3 at one time (I did too, years ago).  I would not recommend taking all 7 at one time.  It’s better to use Core for a year or two and understand the basics and then add to it from there.

After practicing Core 1, 2 & 3 since 1996, I was ready to move on to Core 4.  I do wish I had the childcare in order to take Core 4, 5 & 6 this year, but I’ll need to wait until next year.

Don’t get discouraged if you can’t palpate the rhythms at first.  It’s like riding a bike.  It seems impossible at first for some students, but once they feel the movement the first time, everything changes for them.

The classroom was large with plenty of tables and chairs.  The restrooms are in the classroom and there is filtered water available and a fridge for lunches/snacks.  Each student sat with a different partner each day and we traded as we learned from Robert, who worked on one of the assistants-unless the class is an odd number, in which case, he works on a student.

I would recommend arriving early each day and settling in.  There is oodles of info and it’s non-stop and very cerebral work, not physical, so being centered, well-rested and caught up with what happened the day before is helpful.  Also, bring a good snack.  You will have 1-3 breaks, but only one of them is long enough to enjoy your snack.

Core Synchronism is a great “tool” in your toolbox.  You won’t regret trying it, trust me. 🙂

Add a Few Minutes to Your Massage Time

One of the best ways to keep clients is to add a few minutes to their massage hour.

Add 1-2 minutes for your clients

Add 1-2 minutes for your clients

They are paying you per minute, for you time.  If you add just 1-4 minutes, it’s great for their neck, hands or feet, and they will love it.  Sometimes you could even let them know, “Are you in a rush today? I was going to add a few minutes so I can focus a bit more on your neck, or would you rather I end on your hand?”

Schedule 15 minutes at least in between each client to allow for time to change sheets, take payments, reschedule and let the next client get ready.  The only time clients can be scheduled back to back is when you only have 2. This way, if you start your next client a few minutes late, which you will, then you can go over a few minutes and not create a traffic jam of waiting clients.

Don’t short your clients!  This is the worst business practice in our profession.  Have integrity about your time.  If you have to short them at some point, let them know that you are aware of stopping early and offer to give them more time for their next massage.  If it’s a new client, then discount the massage. Keep the practice that “the client is always right”.

When you “take the hit” of a client discount and/or less money for a short massage, or a treatment you were late to, too tired/hungry to do your best, etc, a few dollars less is worth their loyalty.  They will appreciate the gesture, and in most cases will tip you more, or if not a tip, at least will remember your integrity. Respect their time & money.

A few minutes of your time given as a gift will return to you much more abundance than a few minutes of time.

Hiring a New Massage Therapist..The Challenges for Both Sides

Find Matching Goals & Agendas for new Employees

Find Matching Goals & Agendas for new Employees

We are in the process of looking for, interviewing & hiring a new massage therapist to join our team.  This process is so much easier said than done.  After interviewing and determining a possible fit, then there are several layers of requirements before they are permanently hired.

The interesting thing about creating a career for another human being, is how specific each career is and how different each human being is.  Each of us is trying to determine whether the other is a good fit.  This is not always quickly established.  That’s why there needs to be clear expectations and “probationary” periods where either side can jump ship without much loss to either party.

Communication is key. But  just because one side feels they have communicated clearly doesn’t always mean that the other side heard/understood what was said.  Each side has their own agenda.  How can one create a way to have those agendas match?

What are the best ways to first determine a person’s integrity, honesty, teamwork & respect for others?  I think these qualities are often assumed to exist in others, or at least HOPED to exist in others. I have learned NOT to assume this after several massage therapists have NOT been honest or respectful or professional.

Unfortunately, this complaint is common with employers of most career types, and they end up having a hard time trusting incoming employees.  So much so that the employees are EXPECTED to lie or cheat, look out only for themselves, do the minimum required of them, etc, etc.  Instead of expecting honesty, the employers prepare for dishonesty.

This is so sad.

One can’t blame the employers.  They are basing their judgements on past experiences.  I am too.  It’s hard to have trust for new employees when others before them have been so dishonest.

On the other hand, the employee could have a pre-conceived idea of how bad an employer will treat them:  The employers will use them, not appreciate them, make oodles of money and not pay them enough for their efforts, etc, etc. So the employee could come into the relationship expecting poor treatment, thus starting out in a resentful, feeling-like-they-need-to-be-sneaky-about their-real-intentions manner leaving each side already unhappy before any work is ever done.

So, how does this dilemma go away?

By finding matching agendas & goals, which can take time.

Employees will be hired and they will do great work, under the scrutiny of a watchful employer.  And eventually the trust is earned.  This is how the dilemma goes away.  With time.

But there will also be those employees who create the bad taste in employer’s mouthes.

I sure wish those type would go away. You make it hard for everyone.  Because of you there are cameras, paper trails, uncertainty, mistrust.  Because of you there are “No Compete Clauses”. Because of you, national chains in many businesses have a running list of employees willing to take 1/3 of the pay because the chain can then afford to be lied to or cheated.

In the end, I trust.  I take another chance that they are telling the truth. I try to state clear expectations.  I try to listen between the lines of what their agenda really is.

In the end, I’m very happy to have an office manager who does this all for me! 🙂

Part 3: Adding Massage Employees

There were few headaches when I worked all alone: no one was answering my phone, I set all my own appointments, took all my own checks to the bank, did all my own bookkeeping, washed and folded all my own sheets.  It was the profitable, simple life and that was all about to change.  I spent time massaging…what I loved to do.  Now, my time was about to be splintered into 1,000 directions.

The first ideas I had about help went terribly wrong.  I had an abundance of clients.  I was wishing to create a win-win-win for me, my clients and the therapists I was hiring, renting to, referring to, etc.  There was always something wrong:  either my clients were unhappy and would come complaining to me, the therapists were wanting too much payment or both.  Some rented a room from me, some I just asked for a “referral fee” for each client.

It was hard for me to imagine massage therapists could not find their own clients.  Surely they were just lazy or just didn’t want to do this profession.  It’s easy, I thought.  Not only did I need help with my growing client load–which was built solely on personal referrals–but I was running out of time to do the laundry, answer the phones and do the bookkeeping.

All I needed was someone to take the phone calls while I was in treatment.  But this was 8+ hours every day.  I couldn’t afford to pay someone, I thought, to just answer the phones 8+ hours every day.  Finally, I hired someone to pick-up, wash/dry, fold and deliver my sheets.  WOW!  That was a relief!  And such a great man, Leo Maynes!  He helped me for a decade!


How do I interview for massage therapists?  This seemed simple: get a massage from them.  So I did.  And they were all good.  So I hired them all.

The most “punch-me-in-the-face” reality check…just because someone gives a good massage does not mean other good things about them.

People who give good massages can steal and lie and complain and start terrible rumors with my clients, etc, etc, etc…

I was in such dis-belief! I would defend these therapists I had hired, perfectly CONVINCED that they wouldn’t take a client’s watch, or stop 10 minutes early but say they did an entire hour.  Nor did I believe that any of these therapists would take client information in order to start their own massage or colonic business.  I was very wrong.

I assumed everyone was nice and trustworthy.

One of the main problems was the people who were calling for appointments were referred to me, not to the other people I was suggesting they go to.  I would talk and talk, trying to make the client feel at ease and eventually, had enough clients trust me and see other therapists if I was busy.  This seemed ok.

But, no one was happy and I was still growing.  Growing out of my little space, until finally I needed to find a bigger space.

My next building was much bigger!  It was perfect!  I had 7 treatment rooms, a colonic room, a space for an office, great parking, a space for an acupuncturist, a great neighborhood, and the best part was the “classroom” I built with mirrored walls and wooden floors.  It was beautiful!

I had started a summer camp the summer before for kids I was teaching at a Montessori School.  The year before I ran the camp out of my car.  It was so much fun!  We went to the mountains, on picnics, swimming, to the park, to dollar movies, golfing, to archery, and horseback riding.  It was a blast!

This new classroom made it so much better.  Plus, I was teaching massage classes, and this room was perfect for any massage class.

I put $10,000 into this building…within a few months of moving in….not listening to my family or friends to wait.  I was renting, with the option to buy.  Yes, I was stubborn.  You guessed it…this does not turn out very well.

Part 2: The Next Level

When the first cell phones came out, (remember those huge bricks???) I was the first one in line!  What freedom it brought me!  I sat in my office for hundreds of hours and it was worth every single penny to be free to roam about the city, run errands, eat lunch out with friends, do laundry, etc.  I was happy to pay for it.

After several months, I was still only working on 10-15 clients per week and I was hungry for more.  Several massage therapist buddies of mine were tired after 3 massages a day, but I was young and strong, and I was still ready for more after 6 massage hours each day.  I wanted to see how long I could go, how many massages I could do in one day.

My friend and school mate from The New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics, Kael Balizer, suggested that I go to a class…mostly to honor her boyfriend, soon to be husband, Aaron Hendon.  This class was called The Landmark Forum.  No Problem, $300 bucks, 30 CEUs–which I needed–and I really trusted Kael to steer me in the right direction.

Well, I liked the class.  It was interesting…asked us to think about what we really wanted in life which wasn’t happening.  I decided to focus my weekend on getting 40 clients per week.    I was exhausted by the end of the 3 day class and went on to live life as usual.  Guess what??  Within 4 weeks, I was doing 40 clients per week!!  It was awesome.  Later, I’ll map out exactly how I increased my client load.

The first week I had 40 clients I thought it was a fluke.  The next week was slower, so I was sure it was a one time thing.  But, soon, I had consistent 40 client weeks, then 45, then 50, then 55.  Finally, I wanted to see how many I could do in one week.  Remember, these are 1 hour appointments each!  I was single, no family…just my dog, Rigs.

The challenge to myself topped out at 60 clients in one week.  This was too much for one person, in my opinion, and it was time to find some help. At this point I was making plenty of money and had purchased a nice small house, a nice car, and I was visiting my family in California ever 6 weeks.  I was having a great time!  I loved massage!  I loved my clients!  It was great.

In the mean time, some of the massage therapist friends around me were failing and quitting.  Few of them, after only two years out of school, were still practicing.  Some of them were such good therapists, I was shocked.  Surely they just found something they loved more.  But, what else could be so fulfilling, so rewarding, so beneficial to our society as spreading the power of healing touch to others.

There is a statistic that I’m trying to find, that I read right at this time in my career:  Only 5% of Licensed Massage Therapists are still working full time as a massage therapist 2 years after they start… I was shocked, and was watching this statistic in action with my own class of very talented massage therapist alumni.

Some of my massage school classmates were “moving on” to other professions, like grocery bagging, working at Dillard’s, saying they just couldn’t make enough money with massage.  WHAT??  How much money do you need?? Are you physically hurt or unable to do massage anymore?  What really is the problem? I just couldn’t understand it.  My youth and naivety were showing.

It seemed to be a miracle that I had so much work.  An overflow of work.  Wasn’t this normal?  “How many clients have you done in a week?” I would gleefully ask my classmates with pride, excited to hear their version of 40-60.  But, that was not at all the response.  Instead it was, “I would love to do massage as a career!  I would love to do 15 massages in a week.  25 would be my maximum!  That would be perfect!  Then, I could pay all my bills and have health insurance. But, instead, I’m working as a waiter now.”  “I didn’t know how to pay taxes”, or “I just didn’t know where to find the people to work on.”

Something had to be done!  These great therapists could help so many people!  They need to be saved!  They are too good at massage to be working at Wild Oats!  All they need is some clients…I have an abundance of clients!  I can save them!  I can provide them all with plenty of clients.  It will be beautiful!  They come in and just work!  They won’t have to do any of the things they don’t like! I will do it ALL!

And for the next 10 years I did.

I “saved” 100+ employees and lost my health and made almost nomoney while many therapists made thousands.  Finally, I learned not to “save” others…especially when they weren’t asking for help.