On this episode of AIM In Practice, we sit down with a seasoned massage therapist to discuss the ins and outs of the job. Janine Gotzke explains how to actively listen to clients without taking on their problems, and how she sets boundaries to avoid emotionally engaging or providing therapy. We learn how success as a massage therapist differs from person to person and why mentorship may be the key to improving hands-on therapy. Our guest stresses the importance of meditation and inner drive to become a good practitioner and emphasizes the need to work on oneself to improve patient interactions. We also explore how being a massage therapist is a lifestyle, not just a job, and how emotional transference can impact patient treatment. Tune in for an enlightening conversation on the art of massage therapy.
Janine graduated from the Massage Therapy program at Mount Royal University in 2004. She practiced in a wide range of clinics in Canada and Costa Rica before settling into the idea of creating her own clinic in Calgary.
Janine is a member of the Massage Therapy association of Alberta. Based on the knowledge that she has gained from her work experience; Janine has created a clinic that is client focused as well as a learning environment for massage therapists.
She is passionate and active in the massage therapy field. She has taught at Mount Royal College, Makami College, Academy of Integrative Medicine and Seminars for Health. Janine has a keen interest in Pre and postnatal massage, as well as trauma informed care for this population. As a doula she has helped many new families through their pre pregnancy, pregnancy, labor and postpartum period.
She loves encouraging budding therapists and helping to craft their art. As a lifelong learner, Janine is currently studying Orthobionomy and Cranio Sacral techniques.
You welcome the aim in practice. Podcast. I'll be your host, Dr. Jess Reynolds. In this podcast, we talk about life as a practitioner, wellness in general, and what it means to practice. In today's conversation. I talk with my good friend Janine. Got ski. She's a practicing massage therapist with around 20 years of massage. She owns a clinic called Inhale Exhale Massage, and she teaches a lot of continuing education workshops, largely focused around prenatal and postnatal massage therapy. Our conversation was a lot of fun, and we covered a lot of ground, everything from her first job cleaning up bird poop, to meditation techniques, to what it takes to be a good and skillful practitioner. We even talk about how to handle emotional releases and how to make sure you leave work at work. So it's a really fun conversation, and I hope you enjoy. So welcome. Thanks for thanks for taking the time and chatting. So I guess to begin with, you could just very briefly or as long as you want, just tell me a little bit about what got you started in massage. I always find it interesting because right, it's it's kind of a weird industry that we're in. You know, when when people from the outside look into it, it's like you spend your days touching people, you're just rubbing oil on people, right. So I'm always curious what gets people into this. So what got you interested in massage? Like, way back at the beginning?
Way back in the beginning. I usually start the story mid story, but I'm going to start from the beginning. It's not a long story, so don't worry about it. But the truth of the matter is, I did train professionally to be a ballet dancer, and we used to have a massage therapist. This guy came in, and I was starting the company at that point. We're a really small company in Edmonton. I don't remember his name at all, but he was great. And so this would have been in maybe 1998. So to me, that's not a long time ago, but that's a long time ago. And I don't think massage was that big, but he would come in and for the company, he would give us treatments. And so I received one treatment because I didn't really know what massage was. But as dancers, what did we always do? We always made massage trains, and we would massage each other's backs because you're perpetually sore, your erectors sore, you're top athletes, to be honest with you, right? You're top athletes. You're pushing things all the time. So we always had soreness going on. And so we would do massage trains. And then once I was starting out with the company, the massage therapist would come in, and then he did do a class with all of us where he was like, well, let me teach you some general techniques on how to massage each other, what to do. And I loved it. Loved it. It was just so great. I don't know what I loved about it. I guess it was I was just working on a friend and just the feeling of it. I love the feeling, the feelings of the tissues, I guess, right? And also I'm working on top athletes, so that was awesome too, right? Because you get to really feel the rectors, you felt the muscles, you felt the difference. And I guess unbeknownst to me, just because I was just young and doing whatever, I was taking in a lot of information. Right. So I think that's where I got started. I did have an injury. I tore my perennial elongus muscle while I was dancing and of course continued to dance, because that's what you do. Actually, I do not know how I tore it. It must have been I was a jumper. I was a jumper when I was dancing. I'm such a good jumper. And we would do things where it's beat, so you would have to I don't remember what they're called, whatever, but you would have to do three beats and then come back down shankma. I think to change is what in English anyway. And there was triples and I think it was we were doing I can't remember what the ballet was called, but it was five of us doing it. I think it was five whatever. And mine was the whole end was beats. It was like 28 beats and then 28 beats to the next side. And I had to do it over and over and over and it counted down from 28 to 24. So for like three minutes I was just jumping and beating my legs. Not like this, but really nice. And I think that's where I tore it. And so we also had a right all for the art chest. All for the art. We had an on call Cairo on the time. So I went to see him and he was like, yeah, you tore that. So he taught me how to cross fiber, right? So then I was cross fibering it to help rehabilitate it. Yeah, it really hurt to do, but it was like, oh, this feels so good to do how all patients say that. It's like, this hurts so good. And that's exactly what it did. And it really did rehabilitate it. Well, I was 17 at the time, so I had age on my side as well. Right. So it gives me zero problems. Now. You think, how many years? I'm 42 now. That's like eons ago in some people's minds. I know, right? So it doesn't give me problems. But that was my intro to Massage. And then I remember I had an interview with the artistic director of the company and of the school I was at with my parents and my poor parents, because the artistic director is okay, what's your plan now? You're graduating from the program. What are you going to do? And I was like, I think I might become a massage therapist. My poor parents, I'm sure, were like, what? After the years of dance and driving me to dance and sending me off to schools in the summertime and the auditions and this and this and this, all of sudden, a this. Anyway, I ended up dancing with the company for a while, doing some traveling, doing some things, and then finally, when I was, like, 22, it was like, okay, you've done a lot of great stuff. You've done a lot of fun stuff, but it's time to refocus. What do you want to do? I don't know if you ever served, if you ever worked in a restaurant, but those who have know this term. Like, I was serving in a restaurant, and I was like, I don't want to be a lifer. I don't know if you guys remember saying that I can't be a lifer here, which there's nothing wrong with being a lifer in a restaurant. You know what? I have to say that is a golden job. And you learn a lot of skills in that job and a lot of times hiring therapists. I'm like, have you served before? Have you worked in a restaurant? No. All right. You're missing some key skills that I.
Know you isn't that interesting? As you say that, I'm thinking about the earlier jobs I have, and it's like, have you ever been in sales before? Have you ever done the trades before? Because in my mind, I'm like, if you've been in the trades, you got the skills I need, right? That's funny, because we all end up taking these skills we learn in our earlier jobs, and they're like our fundamental social skills somehow. And it's like, that's the skills I need to succeed. That's funny.
It's so true. It is the fundamental social skills, because it is like, so did you serve? And they're like, no. And you're like, you need to go get a serving job, then come back, man. Because it's just like being able to handle, like, crazy shit all the time. You got seven tables going, and you got food going. The memorized. I don't think we underestimate the power of those first jobs. My first job was, like, cleaning bird cages. I worked in an exotic bird store. Really? I worked in an exotic I worked at an exotic bird store, and it sold antiques. So it was an antiques, an exotic bird.
You're just spending your day around old antiques, cleaning up bird poo.
Sure did, Jess. And we had to clean the bird cages because the front was antiques, and then the middle was like, bird food and cages and all this stuff, and the back was all birds, and they would be, like, flying around free and doing all this stuff. And I had to clean the bird cages because I was, like, 14, and that was my first job. And I think I got $4 an hour, and I would actually have to go to Avery's, the average that were full of canaries or budgies or cockatoos and scrape the poo off the wall, or I would have to catch birds. That was my first job. And those skills, I can clean so good. And so I bet, right? And my reactions to things, I think it's because of the birds. It's so fast, because you're like, I want that budgie. And of course, some parent would bring in their kid and they're like, I want that blue budgie. And there's like 15 blue budgies, but they've got their eye on one. And so you're like, I got it. You're, like, zero in. You're like, anyway, I digress back to why I became a massage therapist. So in my twenty s twenty two or 24 or whatever, it was time to get serious about life a little bit. Didn't want to be a lifer. Where was I going? Blah, blah, blah. So I just kept asking myself the question, what do you want to do? What do you want to do? Over and over and over and over again. And one day, my little intuition, that little voice that guides you, just said massage therapy. And I didn't look back. So then I applied at Mount Royal and just went for it.
That's awesome. And I think what's really cool, too, is you've been practicing, like, what, 20 years now?
20 years in 2024? Yeah, I graduated 2004. I graduated from Mount Royal 2004. Okay.
Just shy of 20 years. That's a long time in this industry, right? I think we all know that unfortunately for massage therapist, the average career span is between three to five years or something like that.
Totally. Three to four years.
Yeah, it doesn't have a long, long career span. So the fact you've been doing it for 20 years, what do you think that is? What do you think kept you in this business for so long?
What kept me in it so long? I think for me it was definitely the right choice because it encapsulates everything. I like. I like being alone. I'm totally comfortable with that. I can go into the deep recesses of my mind and be there and not be overwhelmed by whatever is going on in my life. So that stuff doesn't scare me. So hanging out with a person for an hour is not scary for me. And being quiet for an hour or 90 minutes doesn't scare me. I think for me, it really is a quiet job, which is good for me. I don't even look at it as a job. It's just kind of like a way of life now for me. But one thing I remember that was always important to me, I read it in some book. I don't know which book, but it was good. I've kept with it. But basically it said, if you're going to sell your time, sell your time doing something that you love, because really, you're not going to get a return on your time, right? I can't be like, actually, I didn't like the last five years, so can I get a refund on that? So I always kind of kept that note in my mind. If I'm going to do something, something's going to be my work in life. We all have to have that work in life. I better find something that I really like doing. And the truth is, I really like people in small doses, maybe. I'd like, no, I really like people. I like the one on one connection. And with me, I do think because I grew up in a small town as well, getting to know people on a personal level is just second nature, I think, for me. And the people that I know are very important to me because they're a part of my community, right? And I think that's, like, I grew up, I graduated high school with the people I went to preschool with. So that's the 1213 year relationship. They are my community. Still talk sometimes because they're ground zero for me, right? They're the foundation. So I think that's why I kept in it as well, because you build a little community, and then with this career, you're always changing, you're always growing, you're learning something. So no massage for me is ever the same. I don't have a choreographed massage. Everything is based on what I'm feeling. So there's always a challenge in it. I'm always being challenged. For me, I never niched. I never did anything like that. So yesterday it was like, okay, I'm doing an MBA, and then I'm doing rotator cuff stuff, and then I'm doing a prenatal, and then I'm doing some crazy wellness treatment where we do some acutonics and, like, totally crazy stuff that I love. And then we're getting back on all science again and doing another MBA, and that's what I like, too. So it's never that's cool, right? You're always up like this, and then it also becomes an internal push, right? You are only as good as you allow yourself to be. As good as you push yourself to be. And I think that comes from my dance background, is that inner drive, that motivation. It's like, okay, maybe the teacher is picking you feel like the teacher is picking on you a lot, so you use that. Does that make sense? You want to get better, you want to improve all the time. How can I do this different? This worked good with this person. And it's that retaining knowledge and gathering knowledge so that you can just improve. And I don't think there's a lot of jobs out there or careers where you I guess you can a lot of therapists, I think why they leave this industry is because they feel they become stagnant. But for me, I don't feel that stagnation. I really feel an excitement for what I do, because every person that walks through my door is a new story. Right. It's a new journey. Who knows what's going to happen?
Totally. Yeah. I had a conversation the other day with someone, and we were talking about something very similar and saying it's creative, it's artistic, almost like every new client is like a fresh canvas. And I think that might be a big distinguishing factor between the people who do stick with this career and those who don't is the fact that when you interact with each person and I think for myself anyways and it sounds like for you when each person is this new experience, like brand new, fresh experience where you get to be creative and you get to build these relationships and you get to kind of just do something different every day, as opposed to I think those who do quit, they just see it as a job. Right. And how many people have you and I taught who we know within the first four months of school? This probably isn't for you. You can tell going into school, they're like, I heard an ad on the radio, I can make $80 to $100,000 a year. I don't think that's the right mindset. I don't think that's sustainable.
No, it's a lifestyle. This is just a part of well, it goes down to that same thing when people are like, oh, you meet someone new, and they're like, what do you do? And I always think to myself, well, actually, I had this exact conversation with my 14 year old daughter yesterday, and it's like, the things we do don't define us. Right? Like, just, I'm a massage therapist. Yes. But it's actually a way of life for me. It's just what I do, what I am, you know what I mean? It's a part of my day. And that was something I adopted early as well, where it was like, make this a part of your day. This isn't work, and then segment everything where I go to work, and then I could go to the I don't know where, to the restaurant, and then I do this. It was just like, this is just a part of my day. And that really changed the view of it for me as well, where it was like, this is my life rolling in front of me. Right. I was going to say something to with our industry, you were kind of talking about where people think, oh, this I'm going to make $80 to $100,000 a year. And yeah, you're right in what we're doing, and this is a janine opinion in what we're doing. I don't think it can be driven by a dollar value, and I think those that are the best at what they do, do it because it comes from that creative place of love. And not to sound too but it does have to come from that place opposed to a place of, oh, I've got five massages today, Chiching. I made $500. Awesome. You know what I mean? Don't get me wrong. I run a business, so every day I do my accounting, and I look at my numbers, and I think, oh, my God, where are we at? So don't get me wrong. There is importance in that.
But when I have to.
It'S life. Money is a part of it. But when the person's on the table, I'm not thinking, all right, yeah, I'll do this massage because that's an extra $100 for me today. No, I'm doing this massage because this person really needs help, and I have the energy and the skills to really help them, so why wouldn't I share that? Right. I think that's important for whatever reason.
Yeah. As you're kind of talking, I found myself curious about this identity thing. Right. Like, I've spent a lot of time with that. I haven't been in this industry as long as you, but I've been in over ten years, and it is my life, like, day in and day out, this is what I'm doing in all aspects of not only my business, but my life in treating my patients. I do a lot of wellness stuff. More than just massage. Right. I'm working with nutrition. I'm working with goal setting. And because of that, it is a big part of my identity. I'm not just focused on this practitioner stuff in the clinic. It's my entire existence. But that's kind of like, my reality and my interpretation of the practitioner that I am. Right. And I really appreciate how yours is quite different. It sounds like you do have this defined line of there's practitioner Jeanine, a massage therapist Janine, and then there's mom Jeanine and wife Janine and this delineation between the two. So within that, when you're practitioner Jeanine, when you're massage therapist Jeanine, we've already been over this a little bit, but maybe what are the characteristics that really mean to be a practitioner? What does it mean to be a massage therapist? What do you think makes a good massage therapist? We talked a little bit about it, but could you dig into that?
Yeah, totally. To me, what really makes a great massage therapist is the ability to connect with people on different levels and the ability to make people feel safe, heard, and to build trust instantly. And that sounds like a big order, but it's not hard to do. But I don't think all of us, it comes naturally. So it is that ability just to meet somebody new and not be awkward, not be like, I'm Jeanine, I'll be your therapist. It's just like, be confident in what you do and bring them in, welcome them in, sit down, make that eye contact, listen to them, listen to their story, whatever it is, and then translating that confidence, what they told you, your knowledge, and just throwing it into that massage and just going for it. And I think a lot of therapists. Well, I think for lots of things, we've kind of lost that ability to connect with people, to want to connect with people. It's almost like we're all a little shy. And I'm not going to lie, I'm older now, so I don't really give a shit anymore. You like me or you don't, and I'm okay with that because that's just how it is. But generally the people who I see as clients who come and see me, we hit it off right away because it is just that ability to really connect and really listen. I think making eye contact is really important and just like sitting and listening and just asking very direct, easy questions to answer that they can answer and gives you the information that you need. And then I had a new client yesterday. It was so great because I could tell she was nervous, shaky voice. I'm just watching all the nonverbal cues going, okay, yeah, I can already see why you're here. I understand why you booked, what you booked. I get what's happening. And so all I did was I just sat down on my steel, I pulled in and not too close to her, leaned in and I said, what's going on with you, man? And I'm pretty light. I don't think of myself as a heavy person. I'm pretty light. So if anything gets too heavy, I have that natural ability to bring a lightness to it as well, where it's like, no big deal, right? And so I think that's also very important. But just talking to her, we talked for, like, three minutes, and all of a sudden at the end, I said, okay, so this is what I hear we should do. This is what you book, but this is what I think we should do. And if you feel comfortable with it, let's just see what happens. And I'm going to bring in all these elements in, and I think this is why I want to, and I think all these things will help you for whatever reasons. And I said, So are you okay with just going with the flow and let's cruise and see what happens? And she was like, yes, absolutely. We built trust in three minutes. And she was like, yes, okay, that sounds good. And I think that's just so important. But also, I think to be a good practitioner, you have to have confidence. Like I understand. I remember when I was a new therapist, it's scary. All of a sudden, like, you graduate and they're like, okay, see you. Here's your little paper, and you're an RMT. And then you go to work in your first clinic, and you have your first client. And they're like, I have all this stuff. And all of a sudden, you're like, okay, I'm going to go into a room with you, and you're going to be undressed, and it's going to be dark, and we're going to have some weird music playing. And I apparently know what to do when I haven't ever and you know this, Jess, that is always my complaint. And people come on it's so strange, though. It's so strange. They don't have never felt ten and I just never felt like a strain or a sprain or seen anything crazy because you're working on each other. And I know by the end of the year or not the end of the year, the end of my training, we were all like noodles because we got like five massages a week. So you weren't feeling anything right in school. So that's my big concern. But you have to be confident in yourself. It's like fake it till you make it in this industry. And always taking in knowledge and that ability. I think also it goes back to what I was saying before. That inner drive, that inner motivation, that inner what? Curiosity. To always improve, to always do better, to take whatever you learned from that client. Be like, okay, that was a bit of a like, I don't know what just happened, but there are some nuggets in there that I need to take out and keep forever. Right?
Yeah. There's two interesting points about there. One of them was you were talking about confidence. Right. And what I think is interesting about this industry is we call ourselves practitioners, be it a practitioner of massage or whatever it might be. Right. But the fact is, our days are spent helping people heal their bodies and in some cases, helping them relax their bodies. But we spend all of this time in school, and of course, in Canada, our education is 2200 to 3000 hours. And yet people come out of that with this huge, ideally huge wealth of technical knowledge. And yet there's still a lack of that confidence of actually working on people. And I find that very unfortunate because there's so much time in particular, they are education programs that students should be doing more internship. I mean, you should come out of school having full confidence on treating a huge range of people, but the education systems just aren't really set up for that. And if that's not there, then I think another thing that's really unfortunate, and I think this is the case more for things like acupuncture is like, once you graduate, it would be so nice if there was legitimate internships or apprenticeships or something like that. I wish when I got out of school, I could have gone into a clinic and just watched somebody, even if it was for three months, just watched somebody in real life. I think those mentorships and internships are something that are unfortunately lacking and it'd be really cool if we saw more of them and there was more opportunity for that.
Oh, I totally agree. You know, that that's a big complaint of mine as well, is that I know they have like they've started kind of things now where they do work practicums, but they're expected to come into the clinic and they work at the clinic and you can supervise them. But it's almost like working at the clinic, at the school, the school clinic or whatever, and the teacher just kind of comes in and out as they can. There's a big difference. Can you imagine the impact of working with a massage therapist or an acupuncturist and like you said, shadowing them for three months and being able why did you choose to use that point? Why did you treat them in that position? Why did you do this? Why did you ask that question? Instead, there's no hands on you're taking knowledge in a different way. And I think that might be we may be finding out something here right now, but that might be the thing. The key that's missing is that we focus on, okay, this is the protocol. Someone has tendonitis, blah, blah, blah, XYZ, and this is how you do this. And you do this, but there's no real watching how it's done. Because I remember when I was teaching, this was a big thing, is that it was where do we draw the line between science and art with this? Because it is an art form. Massage is an art form. Acupuncture to me, is an art form. We're bringing all these elements in. There's a lot of freedom in what we're doing. We're working with a lot of different layers. And then we have the science background with it as well. Right? We do have that. But I do not think we can deny that there's an art to what we're doing because each one of us is doing it very differently. How we get to the end game, there is an individual process because we're individual therapists with individual perspectives, what we're dealing and how we deal with things, how we feel things. And I think a mentorship like that would just be absolutely amazing because then you could right? And can you imagine just watching somebody who has done this for so long and just picking up their little nuances, right? The things they don't even realize they do, but they just do that.
It's so different than when you're in a continuing education course as well. Love them. It's great. But I mean, both of us having taught, it's an interesting experience when you're teaching to a class, because again, it's just kind of dual mind. It's like on one hand, you're like, this is the theory behind it. But I don't know about you. In the back of my mind, I'm thinking this isn't actually how I do it in clinic. Because every time there's so much intuition, there's so much going with the flow, there's so much like, theoretically, this is the steps you take to perform this technique. And it kind of goes back to the very beginning of what you said is every single session is different. So it's. Really hard to teach that, like to sit down and pedantically explain here's how you perform massage. And I really think that's an important point, because that's what, to me emphasizes the fact that there is so much art to it that if you were to go to art school, it's like you can learn color theory and you can study other artists, but at the end of the day, it's just practicing. And having somebody who's experienced be like, what you did was good, but here's how you can improve.
I totally agree. For me what came up when you were speaking, because it was like when you graduate school as a massage therapist, and you get that RMT designation, and you get your number from your association, and all of a sudden you can direct bill and you can do all this stuff, and it's like what you have to remember is you're a baby. You're at day one that last year you did was like, I guess we have to teach the rules. We have to teach like, these are the rules. These are the rules. These are the protocols. And memorize those. If somebody comes in and I remember doing that, somebody comes in with this, you have to do one, two, three, and we have to have rules about that. But then what I think we're missing is that how do we grow from those rules, right? How do we become more and better honoring those foundations, but growing from them? And I don't think we're making that leap, right? And I think that's why we lose a lot of therapists, because.
Maybe that intuitive experience isn't taught as much. What I find interesting and it's not just this discussion with you, but it just keeps coming up over and over again, either in this period of life or whatever it is. But when I ask you what makes good massage therapist, you teach hands on techniques. Like, those are the continuing ed workshops you do. And as an instructor, you taught hands on techniques, and yet you said two things. One was build strong relationships, and two is build confidence. Like, what makes a good massage therapist? Techniques matter. But oddly enough, I really believe technique is lower on the list. Like, you can have this huge toolbox of all of these different things you could do. They're important, certainly. But really, I believe, and I agree with you, that first and foremost, what makes massage therapist successful are a bunch of other things that aren't related to your hands on techniques. It's your interpersonal skills, your ability to build relationships, your ability to persevere, right? Like, there's so many things that aren't hands on.
No, there are. Like, when I hire people, I've changed so much from hiring, because the big thing is, I always receive a massage from any therapist that I hire just to get an idea where they're at. Because the thing is, techniques can be improved, right? You can improve techniques. I can help you get better. We can break it down. I have broken it down for people where it's like, do this, just do this technique and this technique and you've already won, right? Like, you've already improved a whole bunch, right? It's that easy. Techniques can be improved and they also like I guess what I should also add to that is you have to want to improve, right? If you don't want to improve, you're.
Not going to improve.
Right. But the truth of the matter is most of us won't. As an instructor, you know this. I probably won't help you because I'll read that across the room that you don't want to improve. You're happy in your box.
You sit in that box and it will take you so far, right. But when you're ready to get onto a new one, let's do this, right? But techniques can be improved. But if you don't have those interpersonal skills, you don't have those other kind of things happening, it does really affect a little bit. Now, what that says, it doesn't mean I've seen therapists once they gain confidence and comfort in their surroundings, like they knew to the clinic or whatever it was, once they kind of just felt a little bit more comfortable, those other skills were able to develop and shine through. And watching senior therapists kind of do senior therapists, I don't know why that was funny. But anyway, more practice therapists how they are with people and then mimicking that, right. So it is, though, I always think techniques can be improved on we can improve techniques. But if you don't like being with people and I'll never forget this. When I was teaching, we had a great student, great student. I was teaching anatomy. She was so great and she was so clever and so great. And another reason, well, whatever, but when she came to me and she was like, you know what, I'm dropping out of the program after this semester because I just don't like being with people. It was just like, yeah, you need to also know what you like and don't like. You know what I mean? I think that's also really important as well. You got to know you got to know what you like and don't like what you're comfortable with as well. But yeah, you have to be super.
Honest with yourself in that regard, right. The sooner a person could be honest with that, the better. And I think for a few reasons is one, it might be a person who is such a case as you just described, is I don't like being with people and I don't like this job. Okay, good. Acknowledge that, move on. But another issue I see and I think it's really important for all forms of practitioners to understand is you don't have to do it, all right? Like you yourself, you're kind of a generalist, right? You'll do all sorts of things, but for some people, some people just really don't like working on X type of client, right. Like, whatever it might be, and really like this. And I think that's super important, too, is just find the type of client you really want to work with and start to gradually shift your practice in that direction.
Absolutely. And you don't have to I think that is so important. You don't have to treat everything. You don't have to know everything. You just have to be comfortable with that. And I think that's so hard in our industry, like what I've watched, because now we have social media, and there's Facebook pages and Instagram pages for massage therapists of every city. And I think it's just, unfortunately, with social media and with how things are, it's really easy to compare yourself to other therapists and be like, oh, well, I don't do that, and this person's doing that, and they sound all like, whatever, intelligent, smart, whatever. But I think we have to remember that that's not necessarily true. And if you're comfortable doing what you're doing and you're successful at it, whatever success looks like for you, then that's fine. And I see this all the time on these Facebook pages, too, is like, oh, are you busy right now? How busy are you guys? And some people are like, oh, yeah, it's only book, blah, blah, blah. But I always want to pose a question. I never do, because I don't like to go on social media. But what is busy to you? Because busy for me might be two massages a week. That might be what defines success for me. You know what, I have two clients every month, and I think we need to I do think we need to acknowledge that. So for me, success for me in the beginning was, what did I want? I think I wanted to do 40 massages a week, and then I felt successful, and then I surpassed that not a problem. And I just kept building and kept building, kept building. But also, I say that kind of laughing, because you got to remember, I've been in this for a really long time, so should I be able to yes, I should. I have worked on this daily for years. So yes. So if you've just started out and you're like, I can only get ten massages a month, great. Because I remember when I started my working from home, I remember a friend calling, and they're just like, how's it going? I was like, good. I was like, I got five massages this month. That was success, right? The success changes. We have to have to remember that. And I think in this industry, it's just really easy for massage therapists to compare each other, I think any industry, right? I think.
Kind of going into another one of those skills that aren't that taught, is that's all getting into business skills. It's like, you can't compare your business to another person's business, necessarily. You could compare your business to your business a week ago, but to another one, it doesn't really work that way because they are so different.
They are so different and what you bring to it. Right. And what I was going to say before is that we work alone. And what I see is a lot of therapists, like when I teach, I always feel for therapists because we do work alone. And so that you get into your room and then you can get all into your head and be like, am I treating this right? Am I doing this? What is so and so doing in another room over there? And they're busier right now, so clearly they're better than me, and blah, blah, blah. Right. And I think we got to be conscious of those things. I can't remember where I was going with that, Jess, but whatever. We're just rolling. But it's just kind of like our industry is just funny that way. And I think we have to just keep in check that. Are you meeting your goals? If your goal is to do four massages a week, and you're meeting that consistently, you're doing great. Are your clients happy after the massage? You're doing great. Those kinds of things, I don't know anyway.
And I think those goals must be kind of tracked as well as to why. I know for myself, having gone through different ways of my practice, there was one point in time when I was pretty regularly seeing five or six clients a day and five days a week, sometimes six. And I hated it. I hated it. I just couldn't keep up that pace sustainably. And I really felt like I couldn't give each one of my patients the care and time they desired. So now I've dropped it down to like, one a day, two a day, maybe. And that works so well for me, because now the time I spend with my clients, I get to do exactly what I want to do. I get to practice the way I want, and that works perfect for me. Right. But I think each person needs to figure out, what are those limitations? Mine wasn't necessarily physical because I was doing a lot more acupuncture and cognitive work. My limitation was the mental load and the emotional load. But for some people, it might be like, you really want to be treating 20 people a week, but your body says ten. That's what the box perfectly. Back off, do ten, and then do something else.
Yeah. And we don't tell people, that enough, I think. Right. It's such an individual thing. I remember when I was school, massages were $60, and I remember us sitting there at some point and being like, oh, if I do, like, six massages, doing the math, and I'm going to be freaking loaded, right. And then the reality comes out and you do like, four a month and you're giving 40% away. You know what I mean? Like, all those kinds of things. So I think that it is really funny, and we have to recognize that. And I think also we have to recognize, you know, what, we've been kind of talking about this the whole time is it is a way of life for me. I just integrate it into my day, right? Like, you you integrate your one to two clients in a day. It's like, oh, okay, now I do this and then next I'm going to do that. It doesn't become you. Right? And I think that's so important. And for me, I'm so lucky. I have my own clinic and I'm surrounded by things that I like that make me feel good. So it's like a home away from home for me, right? And so it doesn't feel like I'm going to work for the most part. Some days it does. It feels different. And some people, that is what they need to go to a chiroplinic or a spot, and that's their place. But I think we had to recognize that as well, is that it really has to become like, I may segment things a little bit, but I also am practicing what I'm preaching as well to my clients. Like, yes, I do my stretches and I do, like, yoga, and I do like, meditating, and I like self work.
Yeah, tell me more about that. Yeah, I'm really curious to hear because so many therapists practice what you preach, right? Like, we're always telling our clients, do this thing. You should be doing that. Right? So to hear the fact that you do actually practice these things, what do you do to maintain your ability to keep working? Right? It's a physically demanding job. It's a mentally demanding job. Right. You got to keep yourself fit to do this. So what do you do? What else do you practice?
I'm a meditator and a yoga person and a walker. I've got dogs. I got big dogs, so I do a lot of walk. But for me, I don't make meditation, like, a thing anymore where it's like, I'm going to sit down on my meditation pillow in my meditation room and meditate. There's nothing wrong with that because I've done that before, and it's awesome to have that space. But when I'm walking with my dog, it's a moving meditation for me. So what am I trying to do? I'm focusing on the activity that I'm on at this point because that, to me, is what meditation is. Meditation is not finding the silence for me. It's drowning out all the shit that likes to come in. You know what I mean? It's drowning out all the extras. So I think that's what's really important for me is that in what I do, I try to be present in everything that I do. I try to be focused on what I'm doing. So each massage. I'm not planning dinner. I'm focused, I'm fully committed into that massage. And therefore, for me, that becomes a meditation because I'm not letting any other thoughts come in, right. I'm not being harbored and then anything comes in, I can just push them out. Right. Because it's just like, no. Or I just say my thing is it's like, oh, hello, goodbye, thank you for that goodbye. Right. Because I think we both know how easy it is to something comes in and then you're a dog on a bone and you're like, all of a sudden you're like in a different dimension, living a whole different life just because something happened. And then you just wrote a whole story about that whole event that would never happen in any reality, but for whatever reason, you believe that it is going to happen, right? And so I think for me, that's the biggest thing I do. I try to make everything into a meditation. And of course, for me, I like yoga and I only do Snippets. I'm not a yogi at all. I just do Snippets of yoga, whatever feels good, listening to my body. And sometimes it's like I'm going to have days where I'm tired and I'm going to stay in bed and I'm going to read and I'm going to do those things. But also a big part is, and we talked about this before, is about watching and managing my bookings. Like, when I started, I went crazy. I took anybody and everybody. So if you wanted to book a massage at 07:00 on Sunday, heck yeah, I will book you in. I've got time for you right now. I don't do that now. These are the days I work. I work three and a half days a week. Sometimes I work two and a half and I go from there. Right. So it is managing that time as well. But it's really about being present in everything I do. Now, it's easy for me to say that there are some days I am not present in everything I do and it's a total sham and I'm a total chaotic mess and I just want to lose my mind. And that's life.
Yeah, no, I really do appreciate what you said about during the treatment is being present. And I found that that's actually one of the things that keeps me enjoying it so much is because every hour or hour and a half or however long I get to spend in a room with a client, I know it's been a really good session. When we both walk out of that room feeling like we just got a treatment, I'm walking out just so calm and so present. And like you said, just being in this exact moment. And I don't know how many other occupations insist that of a person, like, there's some really dangerous ones where it's like, you have to be present, otherwise you're going to lose a hand, I imagine. Rig workers, right? You're present, but you're present in a different way. You're present in like, I don't want to lose my hand kind of present, like an adrenaline fueled presence.
I was going to say you're in.
We're like chill and Zen. We can be present.
We get to choose that presence.
It is all about the choice. It really is. It's not a life or death situation. Now, don't get me wrong, though. I have clients that will talk the whole time through their massage and will I talk with them? For sure. But am I okay with that? Yeah. Because my focus is on them. Like, I'm still not thinking about dinner. I'm not thinking about whatever I have to do later. I'm focused on them. I'm giving my attention to them and their conversation and whatever it is. Right. So I think that is important. So it almost sounds like some levitating.
This is what I do.
Every single session, you walk into the room with Janine, and she's just like, all right, no talking. I need to meditate. So you got to zip it.
No, zip it or get out, because this is about me and my meditation right now.
But, you know, the thing is, we kind of joke, but honestly, I would say most of my sessions, I almost insist on silence. Because with what I do, is there's such a combination. I work with so many cases where they're coming to me for stress, for anxiety, for depression. Right. So when they start talking, part of my job and what I need to do is do everything I can to get them into the present. Because I think that's one of the things that makes a really good massage, right? Like a bad massage, when you're on the table, your mind is wandering and you're just kind of like, whatever. Right? Or you might be thinking like, dear God, let it end. But a really good massage, I think, or a treatment in general, is constantly calling the client's awareness back into the body. Right. Like, you're using the precise amount of pressure where it's not painful, but it draws their awareness. They can't help but be here. So it's this. In my opinion, a good session is an assisted meditation for your client as well. So, yes, I agree to get those clients that talk a lot, but without saying, like, shush, no talking. I do my very best to slowly, over the period of ten or 15 minutes, do what I can to guide them into this state where it's like, let's just maybe focus. How does that feel in your shoulder? Let's just tell me about that sensation in your hip. Let's focus on the body and not about your past. Right?
Yeah, no, it is so important to do that. Absolutely. But a good conversation is good, too. Not going to lie.
Sometimes talk therapy is where it's at.
And what another weird thing, too, right, is because we're obviously, clearly not counselors or therapists. That's a very weird thing. And I think regardless of where you are in North America, probably out through most of the world, I can't speak to that, so I'm going to take that back. In a lot of areas. I'm sure there's a very distinct line and code of ethics and regulatory bodies that are like, you are not a counselor. And I think part of the reason why manual therapy, regulatory bodies have to be precise about that is because of how often people treat us as their counselor or their therapist, right? So it's interesting because we get treated that way. We're not allowed to do it for a good reason, but at the end of the day, that's another skill that isn't necessarily taught. How do you deal with somebody who they just want to come in and they want to bitch for an hour? Or how do you deal with somebody who has an emotional release? And I don't know about you, but when I was in the massage portion of my education, it was mentioned like, hey, some people, they get emotional on the table. It's called an emotional release. Good luck, right? Like, what a skill that needs to be developed?
That's exactly how it was. It was kind of like, good luck. Stop reap it out, let them know that you're here. Do you want to continue to massage or not? That was my education, right? And now it's just so much more, right? Because there's just so much talk about that and how our traumas.
Word I'm looking for? Are embedded in our bodies.
In the body. They're stored in the body.
They're stored in the body. And when they want to release, they want to release. And maybe they're with you, maybe they're not with you, right? It's a big one. If somebody wants to come in and bitch for an hour, sometimes I'm just like, you know what? That's exactly what they need. That's going to release a lot more of that tension in their neck than I'm going to, and that's okay.
How do you deal with it? How do you not take it home? I know you're just going to say that, right? I think that's something that needs to be taught and needs to be really needs to be driven home. It's like, you have to develop the ability to leave your client on the table, right? What do you do? How do you do that?
You know what? I don't know what I do. I never really bring it home, though. To me, it's kind of like, okay, that's what I do. It's like, okay, that's what happened, because none of it's mine. So during the massage, I'm not taking it in and being like, oh, and thinking about it and putting it onto my life or comparing my life or my situations or anything like that. I'm just listening, and I'm listening carefully. But either am I asking questions to get deeply involved in it? Either, right? So I'm really kind of creating that boundary already where I'm like, yes, I'm here, I'm ears, but that's all that I am, right? And so I think for me, I've segmented it that way, and I don't ask questions that's going to take it further and further and further and further and further. Because the thing is, I don't want to ask somebody, well, how does that make you feel? Or things like that, because I might not be able to deal with the answer. Right. Like you said, it's well beyond your scope as therapists, as massage therapists, acupuncturists, et cetera. So I am very careful as to what I'm going to ask. And I think for the most part, people just need to be heard and actively hurt. So we all have read something where it says we all hear to listen or whatever. Or listen to whatever. No, we listen to respond. That's what it is. We listen to respond. Which is pretty important to note, I think, right? Because then you're not fully listening because while that person is talking, you're generating a response in your head. So during a massage, it's a perfect opportunity to just sit and listen without having to have a response, because I don't have to have a response. Every now and again, I'll make a noise. So I acknowledge that I heard them. Right. So you don't tell me something, and I'm deadpan silence. Yeah, that must have been hard. Yeah, that must have been this, okay, I understand. I never listen to relate to my life because I don't want to bring my life into the story. And then I think that's how I segmented, because then I'm not emotionally involved. I was just kind of a vessel to listen to hear this story because you know what? People will work it out on their own. They just need to talk it out. They just need to get all the shit out and be like, just a catharsis.
Just get it out, get it out.
And then they have, like, just that cathartic moment. They process it, and they resolve it themselves with me just going, yeah, that must have been really hard. Yeah, I hear you. Yes. And that's all I'm doing. Right. And so I think because I don't get emotionally involved in it because I don't bring my stuff into it, that's how I'm able to go home now. That took years to develop in the beginning, oh, my God, I was a hot mess because I just didn't know. And I was young, like, I was 24 when I graduated. And so I didn't have that life experience as well, to understand when someone comes in and is telling me some crazy story about whatever, which is not a crazy story, but I'm trying to think of an example of, like, their marriage or something because that stuff comes up and it's like, oh, yeah, that's relationship. Like, I know that now. At 24, I didn't have the experience to understand that that's actually quite normal. And you're 30 is like, you're not alone, but it's developing that experience as well in life and in yourself and that growth. But for me, I just don't get involved. I just am very good at having a very invisible boundary around myself and just being like, yeah, this is them, I'm here to listen. I'm going to give them a great massage still. They're going to leave here feeling great and that's it. So that's how I kind of do it. I don't know if that's an answer, though.
I think it is, right? Yeah. You mentioned kind of like an invisible barrier, just kind of leave it there. It definitely wasn't the case for myself. Like, when I first started, I didn't understand about emotional transference at all. So I wouldn't come home and talk about my day and be like, here's all the clients I saw. But I'd come home just like, emotionally wasted, right? Like, I wouldn't have the wherewithal to manage my own temper or my irritability. And my partner at the time got the brunt of it because I really didn't understand that that was a part of our job. And just like you, it was years of developing and seeing people until eventually I should have known because I actually did have an instructor who warned our entire class but us about it, saying, like, you need to find a ritual, you got to find a way. But I'm like emotions. Nonsense. But then a couple of years later, I developed this way, this system, right? No, I don't take any of that on. I'm way too tough for that. But no, I eventually had to. I figured it out, and now it's like, I finish with the client and the moment I wrap up and I'm kind of like, okay, take your time getting off the table. By the time I walk upstairs, I've almost completely forgotten what I did in that hour. Obviously not I'm going to do with soap notes and stuff, but it's just so second nature now to leave my clients problems with my clients on the table. But in the beginning, it definitely wasn't. It was something that I had to work hard at to create that boundary. Like you said, that invisible barrier where there's a separation between their problems and yours.
Yeah, no, and it's so important. I was thinking, like, while you were speaking that ritual. And I would have to say, even now, washing my hands after a massage is very important to me because it's kind of like I think it's like washing off all that stuff, and it feels really good. And it's just, like, kind of my moment to just let it all go, just move on. And I think it's important for our patients to see. US after a massage like that, if that makes sense, like, not affected by whatever happened during the treatment. Because then I think that also kind of gives them that confidence that they're like, okay, they're not going to go out and tell the world about me. And nor are they affected by that. They're just doing their job. They're just doing what they need.
That's a way to build that relationship.
Again, it is another way to build that relationship. And sometimes I feel sometimes I do write out my soap charts and in pretty good detail if any emotional stuff comes up, but sometimes people will come in and be like, I'm so sorry about that. I'm like, about what happened. And then it's like, oh, my God. No, don't worry about it. Once I click in, right? Because I think, like we were kind of saying before, your mind can take you on these big journeys that make zero sense, but you're having anxiety about and it's the same thing, how patients dealing with us and how I think they feel like they're like, oh, my God, they must think I'm so crazy, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, when really I don't think about that of anybody. Right. It's just like you're just a human dealing with human stuff and it's weird out there. Out there is a whole other place. I get it.
We're all just trying to do our best, and our best is always changing and on the millisecond sometimes, right? So I think, yeah, it is just another way to build that confidence and build that relationship, for sure. But yeah, in the beginning I was terrible. I would come home, like you said, fatigued and emotionally drained and just not able to cope and not having enough knowledge to recognize that that was the problem. Does that make sense? And that comes with experience. It comes with experience. I don't want to say age, but as I age, I just get better and better because I think I just have the ability. I've noticed in my forty s I really have perspective now. Or I'd like to reflect more on my life. Where in my 20s was I reflecting on anything? No, but now in my 40s, it's like, oh, I see how I got there, because I did. I just have a little more perspective. Right. But it doesn't say that somebody in their 20s couldn't. They can. We're all so different. Right?
Yeah. I mean, this conversation has been pretty interesting because it's really emphasized on a few points over and over again that have come up. It's like relationship, one of the things that you've brought up over and over is relationships that you build are so unbelievably important. And what an industry we're in because we build super strong relationships with our clients. Like an hour, sometimes an hour a week. We're with the same person. I see some of my patients more regularly and for longer periods of time than I see my best friend, right?
So it's relationships. Another thing that came up a number of times was confidence, which comes with practice, it comes with time. Right. It comes with dedicating yourself to this career. Right. That's the second thing that's come up a lot. Those two have been the main themes I've kind of got from this. And now we're kind of coming up on an hour here. So as we sort of finish off our conversation, I'm curious if there's anything you would say, like if you were to summarize into, I know this is the worst thing and I hate being asked it, but I love asking it because it's such a hard question. One thing you say not to a new therapist, just one thing to a massage therapist to make their practice better, whatever their practice looks like, what could they do? What's that one thing you would suggest?
Now we're going to sit in silence for a minute as I think about this. So what's the one thing I would say to a therapist to improve their practice? I'm going to say work on what you are bringing into the room, which means translates to human talk here, translates to what are you working on within yourself that would be affecting what's going on in your room, in your treatment, in your clinic? A buzzword, I guess, is mindset. Right now it's all in your mindset. If you have a winner's mindset, you're going to win. If you have an abundant mindset, you're going to be abundant. Right. What does that really mean? But I really think I would tell somebody it's what is going on within you that is affecting whatever you're doing. Right. I think that's what's really important. I always think as massage therapists, we need that introspection because you are, if you're living I have had massages with therapists who are going through a crazy transition in their life, crazy stuff going on. And that massage was wild. It wasn't bad, it wasn't great. It was just like, I feel what they're feeling. Right. Because again, we do, we said it. We make very deep relationships with people. We are in an intimate relationship with our patients. We really are. They are freaking naked on a table alone in a room with us that's dark, with music going sometimes without talking. We're in this a very intimate relationship with somebody, so of course they're going to feel your anxiety, your fear, your stress, your anger. That's going to come out somehow in your massage. Maybe it won't come out with your techniques, but it may come out with how you even move them on the table. Right. You may be a little aggressive with how you do things or look fast or without consciousness, without intention. And I always think having intention is so important in everything you do in that room. Be conscious of what you're doing. It's just so important. So yeah, I would think that would be the biggest thing. What's happening within yourself.
Perfect. That's an awesome answer. I really appreciate that one. No, I think that's perfect. I don't think you were it at all. I think, weirdly enough, that's similar to the answer that I've received from a lot of different people.
Okay, good. Thank God. It's very important, though. It's really important because it's very important because I've even been there when I'm stressed, and I remember when I was young and I was going through something, and all of a sudden the massage session became like therapy for me because I'm dumping all my stuff on the client. It's like, okay, countertransference.
Yeah. We got to be careful.
Yes. Not about Eugene. Right. So things like that, all those little things. But you have to be conscious of what you're bringing in, definitely, because that's going to everything. Right.
So is there anywhere that listeners can get in touch with you or follow along with what you're doing? Because we haven't really talked much about it all. But you do offer mentorship, right, for massage therapists, and you do offer continuing education programs in prenatal massage and a few other things. So how can listeners find you?
Okay. How can they find me? Jess so the clinic I own a clinic in Calgary, so the clinic has a social media site, so Instagram and Facebook. So it's inhale exhale massage therapy for both. You can find me there or also emailing me. I'm still kind of old school, so I'm okay with any good old email. And that's info at inhalexale life is where you can catch me. I'm kind of on and off with my social media. I'm not going to lie. I have a love for it, and then I have a strong hate for it. And right now, I'm just coming off a strong, like, good, solid six months break. So I'll get back on there. But that's where you would find me.
Cool. All right, well, I'll be sure to leave all that particular email because it sounds like the most reliable way to get a hold of you. And of course, if you're interested in one of Janine's courses, am online courses, you could find her prenatal stuff there. They're awesome. And with that, again, thank thank you, Janine. I really appreciate you taking the time, and it's been a pretty fun chat.
It's pretty been crazy, but it was really fun. Jess I really enjoyed it. Love a good chat.
Dr. Jess Reynolds
Dr. Jess Reynolds is a seasoned wellness practitioner with over a decade of experience in the field. He is the founder of AIM Online Education, a continuing education company for health and wellness practitioners. Dr. Reynolds is also the host of the AIM In Practice podcast, where she interviews practitioners, authors, and influencers from a variety of disciplines to explore the meaning of wellness and the art of practice. Her passion for wellness is evident in her work, and she is dedicated to helping others live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.