Gaining Confidence as a (Male) Massage Therapist

As mentioned in previous posts, it is important for new massage therapists, and new massage therapy businesses to keep the momentum going. From the business perspective, all I have mentioned before is necessary – the advertising, the business identity and vision, the branding and so much more.

However, the momentum of continuing to perform massage work is just as important and it is especially valuable if, while setting up your new business, you don’t have to do unrelatedwork – that just takes you away from your skills and denies you the possibility of adding to your relevant experience. Also, in the highly seasonal resort of Jackson Hole, you have to make hay while the sun shines because the off-seasons can be challenging indeed.

Having such experience and work in spas, while the business develops, has been particularly important and beneficial to me – especially as a male massage therapist. In fact my confidence has been boosted so much by the favorable reviews I have had from my massage clients that, even in my newness, I feel that I am every bit as good as my experienced female counterparts.

Now, I have to be careful what I say here. There are many ‘intricate’ and specific deep tissue and sports massage functions and manipulations that I am not trained to perform. But if we’re talking about a good and relaxing Swedish massage with varying amounts of pressure – I can deliver. The accolades I receive are quite remarkable: “Perfect”, “Can I take you home with me?”, and “The best massage I’ve ever had.” These are just some of the nice things I have had said to me – and in fact I’ve had none that were even slightly in the negative.

Male massage therapists face a certain amount of homophobia. There are three incidences of this:

1) Guys who don’t like guys touching them and would rather have a female. Hey – I’m the same myself – but this isn’t about sex – it’s about massage – and if I’m hurting and needing a good deep massage I will often ask for a male. (Not to say that females can’t give a good deep massage.)

2) Women who don’t like guys touching (or seeing) them. Again, there’s an unawareness here about what good professional massage is all about. There’s also probably an amount of long-standing shyness or even prudishness. I am fortunate to have had male requests from females for quite a few massages now and that builds tremendous confidence.

3) Guys who don’t want their girlfriend or wife being touched (or seen) by another guy. Control freaks are everywhere.

I had one experience recently where I had been booked to provide a massage to a man who had requested a female massage therapist. Mistakes are made and it was late in the day with no female massage therapist available. Besides – I wanted the work. I went out there and told him the situation and he said he was OK with receiving a massage from me. Well, this guy was in pain. A typical Jackson Hole visiting golfer of about 70 years old with stiffness in the shoulders, hips, sore legs – uncomfortable all over with a golf game in the morning.

Long story short – he fell asleep on the table and afterwards he told me with a big smile…you did good. And I received the largest tip for a one-hour massage I have had so far.

Such confidence builds and works wonders for your massage performance because you KNOW you are good. You don’t hold back and can really get into the massages you are giving without holding back. But don’t let it get to your head – and remember to always deliver what the customer has requested on the intake form.

Be well.

Hamish Tear

Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole.