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  • What is the best type of bodywork?


    Recently I read a rant on Facebook posted by a woman who worked for Massage Envy about people getting off Massage Envy and stopping the hate.  The rant was interesting to me.  In 2013 I have been teaching in different parts of our country and met all kinds of therapists.

    We teach quite a bit in states that require CE’s because we have the highest enrollment in these states.  Depending on where we are, the students attitudes toward the continuing education they have taken is very different.

    When we are in Seattle, WA, for instance, we get a higher percentage of students who are in class simply to meet their requirements.  I ask how long they have been practicing and what their go-to modalities are.  This information helps me to teach to everyone.  The modality I teach, Spontaneous Muscle Release Technique or SMRT, can be integrated into every type of bodywork.  To effectively teach each student, I have to know what they like to do.

    In Seattle, I have therapists tell me that they have been working for 20 years and their go-to modalities are Swedish and deep tissue.  However, when we are teaching in Winter Park, FL, students proudly tell me that they have been practicing for only three years and do NMT and orthopedic massage.  And these students begin the course with more interest in the modality, not just a need for CE’s.

    Yet, at the end of each course, both in Seattle and in Winter Park, the majority of the students are excited about the technique and how easily each feels they will be able to integrate SMRT into what they have spent time and money learning.

    I find the level of work that the therapists are doing to be equal, whether they stick to Swedish and deep tissue or avoid Swedish massage and full body massage all together.  The other experience we had in 2013 was working various massage conventions to let people know Spontaneous Muscle Release Technique exists, what it is, and what it can do.

    The last convention we worked was the AMTA American Massage Convention in San Diego in mid-September.  The people who put this convention together are trying to bring together therapeutic massage, spa (including bodywork, skin treatments, etc.), and chiropractic.  The people I worked on ranged from bodywork students, some attending therapeutic schools, others attending schools with a spa massage curriculum, to therapists practicing at massage envy, to therapists with decades of experience working for themselves.

    Each one told me proudly about their type of bodywork, and some told me how much they did not like places like Massage Envy.  Massage Envy, in their opinion, is ruining the industry.  Massage Envy therapists – some who hate their jobs, others who love their jobs – told me how judged they felt by other therapists.

    When I owned my school, which was also named Full Circle, I taught everything at different times of the year.  I would rotate with my other teachers, sometimes teaching Swedish or deep tissue, and teaching most of the SMRT courses.  I always found benefit to full body Swedish massage.

    My own opinion is this:  full body Swedish massage stimulates the lymphatic system beautifully, it provides touch to people who rarely get touched, and places like massage envy allow people to figure out what bodywork is.

    I rarely do a full body Swedish massage, and I never do deep tissue straight.  I always integrate my deep tissue with SMRT, cranial sacral therapy, MLD, etc.  But I do go and get a full body Swedish once in a while with a phenomenal bodyworker, and it is a wonderful way to relax and flush out some toxins.

    There is room for every type of bodywork, and every bodyworker.  If your preference is to do more therapeutic work, there are clients for what you do.  If your preference is to do Watsu, Shiatsu, or Tui Na, there are clients for what you do.  If your preference is to do full body Swedish with a little deep tissue thrown in, there are clients for what you do.

    Some would say that places like Massage Envy, hiring from the cookie cutter schools popping up around the country, give people the wrong idea about bodywork.  But, as with every other profession in the world, there are great bodyworkers and absolutely lousy bodyworkers.  Not all of the lousy ones work for places like Massage Envy, and I believe that they have sent their share of people running away from bodywork.

    I have heard so many stories from clients and students.  A student once told a story about a massage therapist, who worked for herself, eating a tuna sandwich while doing her massage.  Another told a story about being 15 and getting a massage before prom.  The male therapist abruptly undraped her to the waist while she was in a supine position.  She was scared to death of bodywork for years.  There is the therapist I knew when I had my school who would not work with anyone who did not want to sign an agreement for 10 sessions and pay up front.

    There are just as many stories about people who came to know the joys and benefits of bodywork from getting their first full body Swedish.  So, I would say to everyone, don’t hate, we all have our place in this fantastic, vast world of bodywork.