Keep Your Feet Moving

By Les Sweeney

My boys and I were watching old home movies recently, including one of our young family ice skating, circa 1997. They laughed at my first feeble attempts at skating, since they’ve now been to dozens of my hockey games.

Make no mistake: I’ll never overshadow Sidney Crosby (or Dorothy Hamill) on skates. When you start a hobby at age 34, you have little chance of becoming a natural. But steady effort has made a big difference in my abilities.

In hockey, I am a grinder. Nothing fancy, no flashy skills. Anything earned is through sweat. When I was asked by our Massage & Bodywork editorial team to write a note for this practice-building issue, I jumped at the chance. Helping practitioners develop their businesses is my favorite part of this job. When I began writing, I thought immediately of playing hockey. Why? Because when I get in trouble playing hockey, I realize quickly that it’s likely I haven’t kept my feet moving. When you stand still in hockey, the game passes you by.

I see a similar scenario in the obstacles to developing a massage practice today. Many practitioners face challenges in getting more clients; this has been dramatically reinforced over the past year with the U.S. economic troubles. However, we also hear from members who are using these trying economic times to their advantage—with great success. How are they doing it?

The challenge all of us have as massage therapists is conveying the importance of the work to our clients. Our work can be the foundation to a healthier lifestyle. How do we best convey that message to our clients, or perhaps more importantly, our future clients? Remember, our clients also buy cars, potato chips, shampoo, and many more products and services. We as massage and bodywork businesspeople must create demand for our services through education and effective marketing. It’s up to us to help others understand the value and joy of regular bodywork.

I traded e-mails recently with a member as a follow-up to a webinar we presented on practice development. We were brainstorming a list of potential corporate clients for him. I said to him, “Do not restrict your creative thinking. Your challenge is to create a new paradigm for massage and bodywork. Help these businesses understand that it is in their best interest to incorporate massage into their culture.”

Building a massage and bodywork business requires sweat equity; your commitment, knowledge, and personality are the enduring assets of your business. You build it one client, one session, one day at a time. Keep your feet moving.


LEs Sweeney, NCTM, President

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals