Helping the Achievers Achieve

By Karrie Osborn
[ABMP Member Profile]

From weekend warriors to Olympic medalists, Geoffrey Bishop sees a variety of athletes in his practice, Stay Tuned Therapeutics, based in Flagstaff, Arizona. Endurance athletes—cyclists, divers, long-distance runners, swimmers—make up the majority of the elite athletes he sees, especially since so many Olympic hopefuls come to the Flagstaff area for high-altitude training. But the rest of his athletic clients come from all across the spectrum.

“I love helping people achieve,” says Bishop, a father of three who works alongside his wife in their therapeutic sports clinic. “And that’s with athletes at all levels—the weekend warriors, house moms, retired folks, and blue collar workers who double as athletes.”
Bishop says in addition to helping clients succeed in their athletic performance with his advanced myoskeletal techniques, he also appreciates being able to work in a multidisciplinary environment. “I get to work with coaches, trainers, and athletes, and I like the conversations. I love standing around talking shop with the science guys in the athletic arena. At times, I help them turn the corner on their understanding of the importance of massage and bodywork. Many know that massage is good, but when they come away knowing it is better than what they thought before, that’s where it’s at. They may have known it was important, but when they see the depth of what we can do, that’s the money.” Bishop notes one caveat: “With this crowd especially, we have to be able to talk about why it works, just as much as actually doing the work.”  
Bishop’s journey to this stage in his work was one not without some “bumps and bruises.” It was a December evening in 1996 when Bishop was walking home after a heart-wrenching breakup with his then girlfriend. “I remember saying to myself, ‘It can’t get any worse. I guess I could either get mugged or hit by a car—that might be worse.’ I waited patiently for the walk light at the crosswalk. I got the light to walk, crossed the first two lanes of traffic, and from nowhere a car came around the corner and took me out from behind. I never saw it coming, but I guess I asked for the answer—it could get worse.”
But it could also get better. As with so many in this profession, Bishop was intrigued and inspired by the therapists helping him during his postinjury rehabilitation. After inundating his therapists with questions about the work, one finally encouraged him to consider massage school and find the answers himself. And so he did.
With 20 years now under his professional belt, Bishop has this advice for new practitioners—diversify your practice. “Don’t be overly attached to one setting for your practice. I work with athletes, on-site corporate accounts, clients in my private practice; I set up my table in hotel rooms, on pool decks, in the woods at the races, at the lake, and so on.”
However, just because your diversified practice takes you to a variety of venues, he says it’s important not to undervalue the work you do. “Early in my career, I did free work at events—for about a year—to get the experience of working with athletes and event organizers.” And while outreach for worthy causes is certainly career-building and heart-fulfilling, therapists need to watch their boundaries. “Many race companies and event organizers are taking advantage of therapists at a local level, while they continue to up the rates to enter an event,” he says. “To do work for the same price they offered in 1981 is way beyond what we need to be doing. I say we get with the times.”             
Bishop says there is something special about working with the athletic client. “Working with athletes keeps us sharp in many ways, as the athletic client’s mind-set may be more in tune with their body and require us to stay up with our anatomy and physiology lessons. Athletes tend to do their research and expect us to do the same. We must stay on top of the current trends, be aware of the snake oil, and stick to the tried and true at times as well.”

Karrie Osborn is senior editor at ABMP.