As Body of Work Wellness celebrates its 2nd anniversary, I find myself reflecting on the journey that got us here and I’d like to share it with all of you! Thank you for bringing us your aches, pains, stresses and joys. It is an honor.
This is the last "all about Kristina's story" that I'll post because it's simply not about me. There are so many wonderful massage therapists and caring practitioners in our office. They are what makes Body of Work Wellness a special place. I just found the place and made it pretty.
Some of you may not know this, but I used to be a systems administrator. My last job in the IT world was demanding and stressful and I was on call a lot. I remember the searing ache across my upper back from sitting in a cubicle at a computer. I remember fantasizing about floating in a pool and the feeling of weightlessness that I felt like my body craved. Boy did I need massage in my life!
Eventually, I walked away from the IT career without a plan. I was pretty newly divorced and my daughter was 4 at the time. Being a massage therapist had floated through my mind when I was recovering from a back injury a few years earlier, so I revisited the thought by attending a career preview at Oregon School of Massage. I was immediately smitten. It was peaceful and quiet and smelled good and the idea of healing other people’s stress and pain seemed like the perfect thing for me because I needed to heal my own stress and pain. I graduated, convinced that I could thrive in this career by healing that searing ache and stress that so many of us feel on a daily basis.
Wax on, Wax off
My first job in massage was at a local spa. It was serene and beautiful and I was thrilled! I could only get 2-3 shifts a week and I had to sign a non-compete agreement that meant I couldn’t practice anywhere else within a few miles. In between massage clients, I was expected to fold laundry and clean the spa and I had a lot of downtime. I had another one of “those” moments when I was between clients and they had me steam-cleaning the wax off the floor of the waxing room….. This is not what I went to school for! This situation is all too common for massage therapists, but I’ve never been one to just accept the status quo.
If you build it, they might come.
The next week, I answered a Craigslist ad to share a massage room. Body of Work Massage was born. As anyone who has ever started their own business knows, you have to do more than open the door and wait. I was a single mom and had a household to support. So, I took another job at a massage franchise. On the upside, I got to do a lot of massage. On every other side, I was working a lot and very hard for very little money. I spent a lot of time after my daughter went to sleep at night learning about websites and marketing and anything else I could get my hands on to help me build my own business. At the same time, I still had my little room and I learned a lot from another LMT in the same office. She pointed me in the direction of orthopedic massage and billing insurance and set me on that path. If I thought massage was healthcare, then I had to treat medical conditions, bill health insurance and participate like every other healthcare provider! My practice built slowly, but surely. People started referring their coworkers and friends. I kept studying, trying new techniques and loving every moment of doing massage. I loved connecting with people and being the best part of their day. What a gift it was to be helping people feel better every day!
Moving on up
I heard about a chiropractor close to home that had a room available and was hoping for a massage therapist to rent it. We got to know each other a bit and decided moving my practice there would be a fit. It was the beginning of a great 4 years of growth and learning. Dr. Neil was a great officemate and we had a lot of fun. He allowed me to have Nicki in the office with us after-school and occasionally got roped into helping with her math homework. She measured her growth regularly on the scale in the office. At the end of busy days, I would sometimes lay down on my massage table. Nicki would climb up and lay on top of me and we would giggle and talk. My practice was thriving and it was so fulfilling. The dream of balancing work I love and motherhood was a reality.
A rolling stone
As anyone who knows me will attest, I don’t sit still in contentedness very long. I read a lot about my profession and I know how poor working conditions are for massage therapists at many places. The average career burnout is 2 years and many live below the poverty level. I was convinced that it didn't have to be that way. I believed a business could employ talented LMTs, pay them enough to make a decent living and the business could still make money. So I hired my first LMT and took on a 2nd room at Dr. Neil’s. Then I hired another. We were busy and I was figuring things out as I went. I’m so grateful for their willingness to roll with the changes and challenges of having a newbie for a boss!
One day, I was lamenting to my mother how cold it was in my office and how I didn’t have control over the thermostat. She said “Oh, you won’t be happy until your name is on the door and you know it.” Dang, I hate when she is right! I set out looking for office space. Maybe just 4 treatment rooms and a lobby. That would be nice!
The search took a long time. I’m not really sure that commercial brokers took me seriously, quite frankly, and I was
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