Work Hard, Play Hard

Finding Balance with Nate Butryn

By Karrie Osborn
[ABMP Member Profile]

When Nate Butryn talks about the importance of self-care for MTs, he means more than just getting regular bodywork. “I think it’s also about lifestyle. If you’re happy in general, that will carry over to your clients. That means don’t become a slave to the profession.”

For this 39-year-old from Boulder, Colorado, that translates into hiking his state’s 14ers (mountains exceeding 14,000 feet) with his dog Forbin, following the band Phish across the country for more than 21 years, or traveling where the road takes him next. “Self-care is the most vital component to professional success. I take a lot of vacations to see music, see friends, sit on a beach … When I come back, I’m ready to go.” And his clients know it. “They would make fun of me that I was traveling to see a band, but they knew it made a difference in my work. That’s my passion; it’s what refuels me.”
Calling himself “a simple guy from western New York,” Butryn has been in private practice since 1998 (“I was so excited, I signed my office lease in my fourth quarter of school.”) and taught massage at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy from 1999 to 2013. His experience as a collegiate runner is what brought him to the profession. “I went to college for athletic training. As a runner, I was frequently injured. I would use heat, ice, and Advil for several years. It got to a point where I wanted something more manual … athletic training felt like a Band-Aid.” Butryn’s mom suggested massage school, and he hasn’t looked back since.
In fact, Butryn continues to refine his discipline as he works alongside physical therapists in his private practice. It was his work with Olympic runners from 2000–2010 that helped give him the tools to work on performers from Cirque du Soleil whenever they are in town. “They are spectacular … I’m overwhelmed by their athleticism. Their balance of strength and flexibility is amazing to me.”  
Butryn describes the pre-performance work with Cirque athletes: “It’s fun when you’re working on them. They are so appreciative of the work. They crave it. The first couple hours of the shift are pretty quiet; halfway through, the energy changes. You hear the band warming up. As you get closer to performance time, you can feel the buzz in the building. I like to watch the shows multiple times to study the performers. It helps me understand what’s going on with their bodies when I see them later on the table.”
Between hiking mountains, following his favorite band, and working on elite athletes, Butryn says it’s important for him to leave room to get continuing education. “You’re never too old to learn,” he says, admitting his bias as an educator. “Continuing education is something that’s critically important for all MTs to be successful.” It’s what keeps you passionate about the work you do. Creating balance between personal and professional is what keeps that passion burning.

Find more about Nate Butryn’s massage practice and Ortho-Muscular Approach continuing education seminars at