Massage & Bodywork

January/February 2011

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Page 17 of 132

I read Meagan Holub's article and will be buying her book for sure. Been practicing for three years and have a solid practice, but loved her article and am always looking to take my practice to the next level. I have to say, she is my new hero! JENNA HYATT OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS One thing that I love about being a member of ABMP is that the articles are geared toward independent contractor massage therapists. Any therapist in business for themselves knows how tough it is right now. Normally, I have serious doubts when I see headlines for classes or articles that state that their methods will teach a therapist how to make $100,000 a year, and I have taken continuing education courses that promised this and fell way short. However, I open-mindedly read the article by Meagan Holub. While I commend her drive and tenacity, I did take some issue with her tips to bring home this kind of living. First of all, one may be able to charge $125 per session where she practices, but in upstate New York, the average cost of a session is $65. Secondly, while insurance reimbursement is great, most massage therapists cannot survive strictly on its output. The third issue I have is that at least in New York state, giving kickbacks for referrals is unethical and illegal. Lastly, most massage therapists don't work in areas where high-end or VIP clientele are clamoring for massage. Many of us live in small towns where the average income is less than $75,000 a year. I have been a therapist for almost seven years and have a moderately successful practice, but doubt I will ever be able to bring in that amount of income, even though I carry a product line, bill insurance, work with other contractors, and dress for success. As a former massage therapy instructor and longtime practitioner, I have never met a single therapist who made $100,000 a year. I appreciate the positive thinking behind saying yes to yourself, and believing in your ability to have the business of your dreams; I just wish that there was a more realistic view of what kind of potential we have as a field and how to best achieve that. I would love to make that kind of a living, but dressing in expensive clothes and living in Hollywood is not an option for me. In a time of serious economic struggle, when therapists across the country are giving up their practices for steady income jobs, this article left me frustrated. Luckily, most of us would do massage no matter what the pay, and by setting realistic goals, we can all steadily become more successful. ERICA BUTTO GLENS FALLS, NEW YORK AUTHOR RESPONSE Dear Erica, I respect your comment and can see that you and I have at least one thing in common: we both care about our fellow massage therapists and the future of the profession. I would like to respond to some of your concerns. First, my massage career—and the practice of the massage therapists that I interviewed for The Magic Touch—has been located in Seattle, Washington (I am currently relocating to L.A.). Seattle's estimated cost of living for a single person was recently estimated to be more than $100,000 per year, yet our average executive salary is around $80,000. Massage therapists often say that asking more than $65 per hour is unreasonable here, as well. I believed it for the first seven years of my career and was flat broke and sick from the stress of not being able to pay my bills. The importance, I believe, is in massage therapists researching their local cost of living and demanding nothing less. We deserve to have comfortable lives with health care, vacations, and a savings account. Each massage therapist knows what this "magic" number is for them, but sadly, they are often encouraged to charge much less than what is required to meet that, rather than research niche markets in their area that expect a higher per-hour charge for massage. For example, $125 per-hour is the average travel massage rate in Seattle and the expected minimum rate to be charged to work within four-star hotels. In smaller communities such as yours, the going rate might be closer to $100 per hour, but that is still adequate to reach the $100,000 per year goal. It would require only four massages, five days per week at a rate of $100 per hour to reach this goal. There are typically a number of ways to reach this goal in any community, if one seeks them out. I aim to teach massage therapists how to do just that, rather than hold them within the belief that it is unattainable. My message is definitely not unrealistic. There are many massage therapists who earn more than $100,000 per year. Oprah's massage therapist makes $250,000 per year. The word unrealistic connotes ideas of impossibility. I know this to be possible, though I was told it never could be. I had to see it for myself before I believed it. Is it difficult? Perhaps. Does it require hard work and dedication? Absolutely. Being exceptional, or the exception to the rule, is never easy. That is why few achieve such goals. 15

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