Explorations in the Theory and Practice
Male Massage Therapists
I’ll cut right to the point, being a male massage therapist is harder than being a female massage therapist. What I got in the habit of doing when I started practicing massage 5 years ago was taking it personal and that really hurt. I had issues to deal with also, when a attractive women received a massage from me, I felt nervous, mostly because the majority of my life I thought I wasn’t worthy enough of going out with attractive women, and now they are coming to me for a massage. The way I got over the fear was to give my massage instructor a massage with no draping and I was so nervous (not sexually), but it got a little easier near the end of the massage. Also, massage school really helped me deal with my own body issues (I was bulimic for a couple of years), it sounds weird for a guy to have issues with his body, but life is not equal. One of my friends told me to look at everybody as a carcass, it sounds weird, but it works.
How would you react if someone called for an appointment and only wanted a woman, well I’ve run into that quite a few times and it hurt a lot, in the past. I still have a little resentment for those clients that didn’t want a massage from me, but I’m getting over it. Worst of all, I live in Conservative Midwest. But, I choose to live here and I have to accept people’s issues with their own bodies. Even guys will call for an appointment and ask for a woman (Homophobic is the term I gave them in the past). Once I started specializing in Neuromuscular Therapy things got easier and I started to weed out the “Fluff & Buff” massages. I can give a damm good relaxing massage, but my practice hurt because I needed a specialty. Many therapists get stuck giving the same massage and they loose their creativity. Creativity is the spice of life (except when you are married). I started asking client’s if they wanted to try something different and they agreed, because they get use to the same massage, but the client can get bored over time with the same massage. Most of my regular female clients have had massages for many years and they stated to me that they prefer a male therapist, because males tend to give deeper pressure (but I’ve had some female therapists equal me in strength) and the majority of the strength comes from our legs and body weight. Now I have an idea how women are treated at most of the jobs out there. There are advantages and disadvantages to being a male therapist and if you dwell on the negative, it will consume you and your clients will pick up on it.
I can relate to women when they complain of male clients that are inappropriate, because a few times guys have hit on me and it really made me feel uncomfortable the first few times, but I’ve never had a women hit on me. I hear of nurses dealing with inappropriate patients from time to time, I guess it will always be around. Nothing in school can prepare you for an incident, until it happens to you on the job.
I have to be extra careful as a male instructor. What is really sad is something that happened a couple of months ago, I was aqused of having my students massage each others private areas, and what is really sad is that that statement came from an female instructor that never sat in on my class, she was fired soon after that comment (what I found out later is that she was really intimidated by how much I know and she was jealous). Massage seems to becoming more politically correct and it’s not leaving any room for mistakes. I also ran into a problem four months ago with three students refusing to have their stomach massaged and they complained to my director, but they got shot down right away because we have it in our rules that they have the right not to have their stomach massaged, but they will loose participation points if it is not done, they soon started to have their stomach massaged after that incident. I understand that people have issues with certain parts of their own body, but it’s going to eventually come to the point when we can only massage people with their clothes on and with a supervisor. We are one of the few professions that can touch people for a living, my dad is an elementary school teacher and all of his co-workers are told not to hug the students. At every graduation I hug my students, other programs give me a hard time for it, but it seems that my students appreciate it. I know of male therapists that refuse to massage female’s stomachs and glutes in their practice and that is not giving a full one-hour relaxation treatment to the client but they are scared of people making acquisitions about them and they play it safe. I even have students breakdown crying and I have to give them some emotional support and the massage field is one of the few fields that someone can’t say to you “just deal with it”. So much emotion can come up from receiving and also giving a massage, it’s like we should have to go get a degree in psychology to deal with our emotions and the client’s emotions.
I can tell that some of my massage students have a hard time giving and receiving massages from the other male students and even from me as an instructor, but we can’t change them, hopefully they will learn over time that being in a medical profession everybody starts to look the same and you try to treat everybody with the same respect. I explain to my male students before they register that they will have a harder time in some places of employment as a male therapist, I just wish someone would of explained it to me before I started massage school, because I had to find out the hard way.
Some times it’s a problem with the therapists personality, the majority of my clients were very similar to my personality and that’s what made giving massages so much fun. I try to get my students to critique their personality, because that is the main selling point. Someone told me that if you are an “O.K. therapist with a great personality” you would do better than a “great therapist with a O.K. personality.” Someone I know gets a massage from this lady and the client doesn’t like the fluff & buff massage she gives, but she loves the therapist personality and goes to her once a week, the client actually gets another massage from her daughter that is a massage student for a deep-tissue massage. It’s kind of the theory if you go to a restaurant and hate the food but you like the service, you will probably go back again.
I am so glad that I chose this profession, it has ups and downs like every other job, but my opinion is that the good days totally out way the bad. My dad told me that “if you like your job more than 50% of the time, it’s almost like not working at all.” Also if you can get up in the morning and look forward to going to work, the client will benefit from your attitude.
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