When The Massage Room Door Closes
This blog is about new massage therapists (a couple) starting a new massage business in Jackson Hole, Wyoming…
Here it is again, and I don’t mind repeating it…I AM A NEW MASSAGE THERAPIST. In fact it’s sometimes embarrassing that I don’t have much to offer about myself when it comes down to describing my experience in the ‘about’ page on our web site. But, hey, I’m 57 years old. Circumstances have led me to the point of starting over and I’m doing my best. So far, in addition to 100 hours of Swedish massage instruction, what I have to offer my massage clients and the massage business, is ‘life’ experience – which means experience of people on a broad spectrum. It means I can empathize, listen, understand, be free of judgments or pre-conceived notions. It is also handy that since my teens I have considered myself to be an athlete – sometimes reaching into the realms of ‘endurance’. Working-out regularly has become a necessity and, with that, comes an understanding of the human physique and what it can tolerate…and what it can’t.
We are fortunate to be able to work as massage contractors at a few spas in the Jackson Hole area – this brings us in valued cash and experience as we plug away at starting our new business. The guests are in their robes in the reception area while the therapists ready the rooms. Water or tea is given, and intake forms are reviewed with the guests. Most times there’s small talk about the vacation so far, I always ask about how long they have been at this altitude (Jackson Hole is at 6,200 ft.), and I also ask about what they have been doing here so far. (People often overdo it – even whilst on vacation. Even though I disguise it as chit-chat, I get an idea if they’re golfers, tennis players, climbers; carry small kids about, what they do for a living (computer work?), and if they’re generally stressed or not. 85% of the time people are needing a massage because of upper back, neck and shoulders pain and stiffness – and that mostly derived from computer work or at least desk-sitting all day. At this juncture I am truly tempted to suggest that they change their lifestyles – but of course I have to hold back and simply do the best for them in the hour that they are with me.
Resort guests can create an interesting dilemma because, mostly, the massage therapist only sees them ONCE. So what can you do? In normal massage practice when a massage therapist will see clients regularly – it’s wise to use the first session or two just to get to know the client and their body type, their ‘condition’ and how they receive massage. It gives the massage therapist a chance to go in gently – exploratively, and then make a game plan for future massage sessions.
In the one-time-only massage business it’s a different story. The client usually wants one of three things – relaxation, soothing of specific aches and stiffness, or a combination of both. Often this is accompanied by a request for ‘deep tissue’ work. It is important to listen to the client’s wishes and, for the sake of a good tip, register that you will pay attention to those specific areas. However, I feel that it is also important to pay attention to the whole story – that the primary thing you can probably do for this guest is provide relaxation (without that – what’s the point?) – and the last thing I ever want to do to a one-time only guest is to hurt them – cause them to recoil, stiffen.
The guest has been heard – led to the treatment room, asked to disrobe (while I step out) and asked to (usually) lie face-down on the table…”And I’ll give a knock before I come back in…” I step outside, take some breaths. I replay what I have heard from the guest and void my mind of all else, preparing to do nothing other than give that guest the best of my attention, based on the information gleaned over just a few minutes of preamble, for the next sixty minutes.
I knock, get permission to enter, walk in, dim the lights even further, and the door closes behind me…
Hamish & Rochelle