Feb 23, 2017

Posted by in Featured, School of Massage Therapy | 0 Comments

It Begins! I am a Student of Massage Therapy

If you asked me six months ago where I would be today, I would have just shrugged and said the same place I always was. I never would have expected that the boat that was my current career and life would be rocked so hard almost four months ago, that I would have quit my current job and applied to school to become a massage therapist. Yet here I am, having done just that.

The Decision

To be completely frank, it was an easy decision to make for me. I had discussed massage therapy and being a massage therapist with friends off and on over the years. Due to the amount of debt I was already in due to higher education costs, I never pursued it. I was afraid to go back to school, because what if I incurred even more astronomical debt and once again wasn’t able to work in the career field I trained in to pay it off (along with my current debt)? Not an easy idea to overcome, so when I say that it was an easy decision, it should give you an idea as to where I was with my current job. Don’t get me wrong though, I didn’t work for the devil. It’s just that after six years with the company, I came to the conclusion I needed change. I had a fantastic boss, fantastic coworkers, and the environment wasn’t terrible. The company was just making changes as those in charge saw fit, and I was realizing more and more that the lifestyle I wanted to lead and that particular career were not going to mesh. I was also unhappy with the amount of stress that came with the job (and project management can be high-stress when it comes to deadlines), which meant that I needed to do something else. When I made the decision to leave, I had already been considering it for two years. The timing was just finally right, and I reached a stress point that pushed me over the edge to actually take the step to make the change. So, with the blessing of friends and family, I said goodbye to the career I had been building for six years and all the familiar faces that went with it to dive into the unknown. To make the plunge toward a job that truly can help people, which was something I had yearned for all along.

The School

I am lucky in that there’s a great school relatively close by to me that specializes in massage therapy. It is the Center for Natural Wellness School of Massage Therapy (there’s a mouthful for you). This is important, because NY state has the strictest licensing guidelines for massage therapists, and practicing massage therapy without a license holds some pretty heavy repercussions.  They have a very high pass-rate for the NYS boards that one has to take to become an officially licensed massage therapist, and they typically have small class sizes which is to the students’ benefit. For me, there was no other choice. I applied to this school, and it was the only school I was willing to go to. Partially because of the good statistics, and partially because I could complete the schooling in under a year (about 9 months). I’m the kind of person that if I’m going to do something, I need to just do it. I have no desire to go back to school for two or three years to become something. I want to do it, and do it now. So having the ability to complete the training in less than a year is ideal to me. The fact that it costs less than the car I bought isn’t hard to take either.

First Impressions

As of this particular blog entry, I have just completed my first three days of classes (also known as my first week). All we did this week was work on the Fundamentals of Massage (FOM), because these are our building blocks for everything else to stand on. It also means we can get immersed very quickly into the program, which I appreciate a lot. I’m in a class of fifteen (including myself), so it’s small enough to get plenty of time to ask the questions we need to ask, but big enough to get some variety in people. We’re an unusual class though, in that it’s almost 50% male; typically this is a field dominated by women and so 75%+ of the students are usually female. It’s to our benefit though, because that’s more body types for us to each practice with.

The group that I’m with is a very fun group. I will forever know them by Bob Ross, because we’ve determined our FOM instructor’s voice has the same soothing qualities to it as Bob’s did. This was only made more amusing though in that our instructor really has no idea who Bob Ross is , or why we refer to any reference drawings he makes as “happy little” whatever it is he drew. It keeps us laughing though, and since we’re allowed to be silly in this manner, we are. The class as a whole has really good energy, and I can tell even in just these first few days that we’re going to have a lot of fun together.

Something else I really like about this class, or I suppose this instructor really, is that we’re encourage to get up and move around even if the lecture is still happening. We aren’t supposed to leave the room (unless you need to use the restroom or similar), so that we can still pay attention; but we’re not forced to sit through the whole thing if what we really need to do is sit and stretch a bit. It’s being drilled into us that our entire livelihood is about to depend on us having a healthy body, and part of that health comes from not sitting too much. This is mind-blowing to me, because how often is it that a professor doesn’t mind if you need to take five minutes during a lecture to go in the back of the room and work out the kinks?

Another thing that is taking getting used to, but is really a nice change of pace: we are being reprogrammed to be better versions of ourselves. It’s being taught to us how to listen to our instincts. We’re really being drilled into about asking questions, no matter how silly they may seem. It’s expected of us to feel things, like real emotions. If we have a complaint, we’re allowed to voice it. Feedback is something we have to give each other, and we’re being taught how to do it properly. All wonderful things.

The Education

Number one thing that has stuck out to me as far as this education goes, is how much emphasis is being placed on consent and safe touch. Now that we’ve gone over it, it makes a lot of sense that these are things to be really mindful of in this field, but at first I just figured that people going to get a massage know they’re going to be touched, thus implying consent. A terrible mindset originally, I know, but it just made sense before we started to get to the meat and potatoes of it all. So consent is really big. We even have to give it to each other in class, and we’re all there because we want to learn this stuff. Every day we practice with each other, and every day we have to start with asking if the person is ready to be touched, and announce where we will place our hands. We’re also being taught how to respect boundaries, and how to skillfully understand what they are without having to make the situation awkward.

The concept of safe touch is a bit new to me, but once explained it also makes sense. In the United States, most times we interpret touch as being sexual in nature, or a sensual side of sexual. I’m not talking about holding hands or hugging, either. Remember that to receive a standard massage on a table, you usually have to remove some or all of your clothing. The person receiving a massage is essentially in a very vulnerable state. Safe touch is a touch that is exactly what it sounds like, safe. We, as massage therapists, are not going to be touching any client with the goal of being sexual. Completely the opposite, actually. Our intentions are always to be helpful and/or healing in nature. There is nothing sexual about our touch. It is safe touch. And this touch will never be in a place that someone doesn’t want.

What’s really wonderful about the learning, is that we’re doing all of it from people who are already licensed massage therapists (LMT’s). We’re not being taught by people who have no real idea what’s going on in the field, and who don’t really understand the business. So if we have questions, someone in the building should have an answer. Makes it much easier to learn.

Right out of the gate though the education takes a lot from you. We dived right into getting physical with this, and starting to learn and practice the absolute basics. We’re taking it a bit slow, naturally, as all our muscles warm up to the new way they’re being used, but we are right into it. Every night we go home, and the general consensus the next day is how exhausted we were after the previous day’s hard work. All of us are feeling the muscle fatigue that you get from working out in some form or another, too. I find it to be very rewarding of a feeling though, and I am sure my classmates feel similarly. I’m sore, but it’s worth it.

This also feels like a very seamless process. In the last three days I’ve learned new terminology (distal, proximal, centripetal, myology, effreulage, petrissage, etc), I’ve learned a new mnemonic (Confidently Every Perfect Fool Vaults Rightously Toward Nirvana) to memorize the standard order of strokes, I’ve begun to memorize the names of important people in the history of the field, the body mechanics associated with properly giving massage so I don’t fatigue too quickly or injure myself, and so much more. So much has been crammed in my head already, and yet I feel like I’ve learned nothing at all; that it’s just knowledge that always was there. I mean, I still have the moments where it feels like it’s falling out of my ears and I don’t know how I’ll remember it all, but mostly I’m absorbing it nicely.


The first week was fantastic! I was so excited Monday night that I couldn’t sleep (we didn’t have class on Monday because it was Presidents’ Day), but I was awake all of Tuesday regardless of that since the excitement carried right through. Every night I come home energized and ready to do homework or tell my close friends and family all about what I did. Going to class each day, despite the commute, is something I look forward to. I’m overwhelmingly happy with being a student again. It’s also worth noting that the school uniform is the school t-shirt (or anything with their logo on it), and scrubs for pants. Scrub bottoms are, without a doubt, some of the most comfortable pants I’ve ever worn. They will easily be part of my daily wardrobe when I’m done with school and practicing on my own.

Next week we finally start the science classes, which is both daunting and exciting. I’ve been told Myology makes or breaks you, but I’m ready for the challenge. We’re being kept up-to-date on all the latest in science, too, so I should be learning some pretty neat stuff. I didn’t realize just how starved I was for education and to learn something new, until now. Can’t wait! I will try to keep updating frequently about how it’s going, so look for the “CNWSMT” or “Center for Natural Wellness School of Massage Therapy” tags for more of these posts if you’re interested. 😉

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