Friday, May 25, 2012

My massage story...

Some of you know that I am a massage therapist.  And some of you know the sorted story of my becoming a massage therapist.  I am going to retell it here.  :)

When I was in my third year of college at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, I took a spring break trip to Virginia Beach.  I was sort of dating a high school friend who was stationed at the Naval base there.  He took the week off, and I took a 26 hour greyhound bus ride to visit him.  Before my long bus trip, I read in Runner's World magazine that there was a marathon and fun run the day after I was supposed to get into town.  The Nissan Shamrock Marathon and 8K.  I signed up.  I did not plan for the bus to get me into town 8 hours late.  My friend picked me up at midnight.  We slept for about 3 hours and had to return the borrowed car.  Not a good start to a race day!  However, I ran the race and afterwards got my first ever "professional" massage.  There was a school set up to give the runners massages. 

As I said I had taken a 26 hour bus ride to get to Virginia. My low back was in knots.  I was also on the UWEC Track & Field team, so my back was tight anyway!  I waiting in the ever growing line, when it was my turn to get on the table the student said he was getting tired, the marathoners were just coming in, and we only had about 5 minutes for my session.  He asked what I needed and I said, "My low back is kind of hurting".  Not sure what he did exactly, but it was FABULOUS.  My low back felt great for WEEKS.  At that moment, I decided I wanted to be a massage therapist.  I thought, "WOW, if I can make even one person feel this good, it would be worth it!"

I spent the week with my friend, got to see the Ocean for the first time, and on Saturday of that week, got onto another Greyhound bus.  This time the trip took 36 hours!  I missed classes on Monday morning because of this crazy trip.  As soon as I got some sleep, I called my adviser and told her I want to learn massage.  She got me in touch with a therapist in town, who in turn got me information on the American Massage Therapy Association.  I found out that there where no massage schools in the Eau Claire area.  The closest school to me at that time was in Minneapolis, MN.  Knowing my parents would disown me if I quit college to go to massage school, I filed the massage information away "to save up money" and wait to finish college.

Fast forward to the fall of 1992, I was still in college and needed 24 credits yet to graduate.  My major was Corporate Exercise Management.  My minor was Sports Medicine.  I really wanted to be an Athletic Trainer for a professional sports team.  Of these 24 credits, 12 were class room credits and 12 were an internship.  I went to register for Spring term and found that only 6 of my remaining credits were available.  What was I going to do?  I needed to be a full time student to stay on my parents health insurance.  So, I dug out that file on massage and took the leap.  I was shocked after my interview that they still wanted me, because I was not going to drop out of college to attend.

I started massage school in Minneapolis, MN in January of 1993.  I drove to MN twice a week for massage school.  I took classes at UWEC 4 days a week.  I worked 3 jobs to pay for my massage school loan and rent.  I had to make time to practice my massage lessons on my friends and family.  On February 6, 1994 I attended the graduation ceremony for my massage school.  Oh the memories of that time...

In January of 1994, I started an internship that went bad in March/April of that year.  My adviser pulled me out and I finished up on campus with the Recreation Department.  I did a little work in their Nautalis Center.  I also helped them with their new massage program.  In January of that year, the University had hired 2 therapists in town to offer massage at a discounted rate to the students, faculty and staff.  As a new therapist, who was scared to start her own business, this was a gold mine!  The University did everything, supplied everything, PERFECT!!!!  By the semesters end, the other 2 therapist decided it was not worth it to come to campus.  Over the summer, I helped the Rec Department create brochures and posters to let the incoming students know about our service.  I worked for them for almost 3 years.

In February of 1997, I moved to the Madison area.  I started dating my now husband who lived in Milwaukee.  This move was closer to him.  While I lived in Madison, I didn't do much if any massage.  I took a job with a new salon/day spa but was really limited in my availability, so didn't get many clients.

In September 1998, I moved to the Milwaukee, WI area.  I started to do massage at the Jewish Community Center.  I had an easy time there.  I worked 3 days a week, got a schedule full of regulars, and did well.  I was independent contracted, so there were not many benefits.  When we got pregnant with SwimChick, they were great with my maternity needs and time off.  Same goes for 2003 when ChessMaster arrived.  In 2006, we got pregnant with Dancing Princess.  I would now have to pay for 3 kids in child care.  Being at the JCC was going to be tough, financially.  I would be paying $4.60/hour for day care.  What if I didn't get clients?  I was still responsible for paying for care.  I needed to find something else. 

That's when I found the Wisconsin Athletic Club.  I interviewed with them in September 2006.  The day after the interview, my doc said I had to stop working.  I called the manager and she said it was fine, that I should call them after the baby comes.  Dancing Princess was about 5 weeks old and I made that call.  I have been with them for the past 5 years.  They are a great place to work for.  I get FREE day care when I am working.  I get FREE use of the club and discounted fees on classes.  I have built up a great line of clients. 

I can only assume that I have met my initial goal in helping one person.  Who knew that I would still be a therapist, loving what I do after 18 years?  Thank you to all those that supported me along the way.  Here is to another 18 years...

Off N Running,
AnnMarie