December 13, 2001

Had a strange massage class tonight. My subject was... the teacher.

It was a strange set of circumstances that lead to this occurrence. We have six students in the class. Two were not there. One was there, but was ill, yet was there, but it was best that she didn’t touch anyone. The last was scheduled to do a massage to fill in for a therapist that was not there. (The school has a section that they call ‘The Massage Factory’. One can come in and get a massage by a licensed therapist for $30. This is actually an outrageous price as the average price of a massage in Jacksonville is $60 - $65. The school is making it hard for therapists in the field to justify the prices they charge, as it makes it look like a massage is only worth that much. Now, I don’t pay that much when I get rubbed, which I need for health reasons. I pay $50. This is also what I was looking at charging once I got a license. The therapists at the school get $20 for that hour’s massage while the rest goes to the school. That is not a lot of money for an hour’s work especially when one works as hard as a therapist does. For the people working for the school, it is a good thing as it allows them to build a clientele, and gives them an office to work out of. In Florida, massage therapists are not allowed to work out of their homes, so they have to have an office or do out calls.)

The two of us remaining looked at each other figuring that we were it. Then our teacher walked in and said that we were each going to give her a massage. I thought oooook. Since the table was already set up for my classmate’s height, she was the one to go first.

I sat and watched as she did the school massage (as changed by our teacher) to the letter. She did every move exactly perfect. I started being concerned about what I was going to follow. I don’t do the ‘set’ routine. I do a mix of that and some of mine. I was thinking that maybe I was going to be judged on how closely I stuck to their routine.

As she got done, I finally said ‘screw it’. I decide that I was going to do it my way, and if I got knocked off on it then so be it.

As I worked, I followed a loose game plan as I always do, then, as was needed, I threw in moves that seemed to be just right. I found myself forgetting moves that I had intended to do, but that was ok too.

Now, my teacher had gotten completely undressed for her massage, which makes it easiest on the therapist and actually better for the subject. My fellow student was so totally upset at that. She was so perplexed and it freaked her out. I don’t know what she expects she will get when we get to clinicals and she has to work on people from the outside who could do the same thing.

I found that I change the order of my routine based on what the subject wears and does not. Of course, I change my routine based on what they need and what I feel I should be doing.

The purpose of this exercise was for the teacher to see how we were doing. One can see by watching, but one knows better by experiencing. She told me that I need to divide the time and the body the same way, half on the front, half on the back. I had mentioned forgetting steps and she told me that I should be feeling, and not worrying about missing moves. I explained that I do feel, and that I do try to do some moves as the basis of what I do. She understood this. I told her I don’t go by a check list. She then asked the other student if she went by a check list and her answer was ‘yes’. When they teach a massage routine, and don’t teach people to be creative, to feel and base movements on that, then what students will do is follow that routine to the letter, and run it as a check list. What can I say?

At any rate, it was an interesting class.