All of these responses are from an article I published in www.thebodyworker.com in Aug 2002.
(The article is at the bottom of this page)
*Please e-mail me any concerns, complaints, or thoughts on being a ‘Male Therapist’ at
firstname.lastname@example.org (Your name will be kept confidential).
I am a male massage therapist and I just graduated this past May and decided to work at a couple of local spas....the clients' seem to only want women. It is frustrating to me sometimes but its nice to know I am not alone. I think I will probably go into business for myself at some point, maybe in a year or so. My name is XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX and I work in Massachusetts.....Once again...thanks for the great article!!
Hey Ryan! How are you doing?? I have a very important question for you on a situation that I am having with my business. There is a man who called me about 2 months ago to schedule a session; he had seen a flyer (with my picture on it) about my business in a local business. After he scheduled the session he went on to ask me out I declined of course!! (I do not know this person at all) It really creeped me out!! I told him I couldn’t date clients. He then started calling me on my business line "just to talk." I then told him the whole situation was making me very uncomfortable. He asked me why and I told him because I do not know him and he is asking me out. He so OH I am so sorry I have crossed the line. Later that week he canceled the session he had scheduled. When he called to reschedule I read a statement to him (to make sure he knew that my massages were completely non-sexual) and he agreed to the statement so we scheduled another session for him and 2 days before he cancelled again. This made me very nervous because I felt like now he was just scheduling so he could call and talk to me. So since then he will call to schedule and appointment and I will be booked on that day (for real) and I don’t know if I should schedule an appointment with this guy or not. I am thinking that I am going to call him back and tell him that The situation has made me very uncomfortable and I don’t think that I could give my best massage with this situation hanging over my head. Do you think that would be appropriate for this situation or do you think I should schedule with him? Thank you for your help Ryan. I REALLY DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!
Thanks for the interesting article. As an aspiring male massage therapist this article put things in perspective. Lately I've been getting a lot of kidding and cajoling from friends about my future profession. Of course this is stereotyping in it's finest form! I just spent the last 8 years in the U.S. Army as an Airborne Infantryman and I don't have to tell you that it was a totally different mentality. I was and am influenced by my mother who is also a massage therapist in Atlanta, GA. I can imagine for you it was tough overcoming many of the stereotypes of being a male massage therapist. I was amused by the "carcass" comment in the article. I think that could really help! My question is; are there female clients who actually prefer male therapists to female and do you get many objections from male clients because you are a male therapist? Thanks for your time.
Hi! My name is XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX and I am a Licensed Massage Therapist in the state of Louisiana. I stumbled across your article "Male Massage Therapists" and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
This is my first year practicing Massage and as a male I run into the same problems you and I think all of us have faced. I still get offended sometimes - every situation is different but I try to take it as a grain of sand. But I do love my job and I know it was what I was meant to do. Thank you so much for your article.
My name is XXXXXXXXXXXX,
I am a first year massage therapy student, from Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Canada. I am attending Sault College of Applied arts. I have just Recently read your, thoughts and words of advice which were displayed on www.thebodyworker.com. And, although I am still only in my first year I am still worried about the same discrimination you describe and have experienced, in your practice.
Although I don't know what your teaching styles are, but from what you have written you sound like a guy who knows what he wants and knows what he feels, this is a quality I look for in a good teacher. I was a little surprised to hear that the female students are having that much difficulty in the comfort aspect of getting a massage performed on them by a male therapist. I am in a class of 36; there are 30 females and 6 males. I have had the opportunity to experience a massage from both male and female therapists, and to tell you the truth I couldn't really tell the difference, except the males have bigger hands. I had often wondered how I would feel to experience, a same sex massage and I was a little leery about it until I actually thought about what was making me nervous. The only answer I could come up with is that I have always found massage to be a more intimate activity, and my fear was that what if I liked the massage form the male therapist more then the female and what would that mean. It took me no more then 3 seconds to realize that, we are becoming health care professionals; this is a therapeutic event, not an intimate one. I had discovered these thoughts before I had even spent one day in the clinic. My class is filled with students ready to learn, if the have to expose parts of their bodies to do it so what. The way I look at it is, the human body is our job, we pamper it, we appreciate it and we take care of it, now how can a therapist perform a gluteal routine or massage when they aren't comfortable enough to have it done on them. Another thing that made it easier for us to become more comfortable is that our teacher explained to us that, when you are a client for a student to practice on, you are their learning material, you are their learning tool. Our bodies are our work, career and our future. So denying a student access to these tools, is essentially denying them of an education, career, and a future. I am however interested in hearing the reasons why your students have these comfort issues. Is it possible that your state doesn't have regulations on how this field is operated I don't know how you state governs massage therapist, but Ontario, and British Columbia or regulated. Massage Therapist have Standards of Practice that each therapist must follow to protect the clients, but also to protect the therapist. If these Standard of Practice are not follow, the therapist risks, loss of license and possible criminal charges. These are what we study, and these are what we practice to insure that each therapist that comes from our college has the knowledge and competency to maintain and hold down a job or a practice. I would like to hear back from you, as I am interested in talking to therapists, of other location and educational background to find out certain traditions or differences that location has on our field. It would also be greatly appreciated if I could communicate with some of your students just to broaden my knowledge and understanding of what I am trying to achieve. I thank you for reading this and hope to hear from you soon.
Thank you for responding so quickly! I was pleased to read, and gain knowledge from your reply. I was surprised to hear that the course you teach is only 600 hrs/9 months. The program I 'm currently taking is 3 years, and 2500 hrs in total. It is true what you said about massage therapy in Canada being classified as a medical profession. Massage therapy is covered under medical insurance, and O.H.I.P which incase you aren't familiar with it stands fro Ontario Health Insurance Plan. One of the questions I have is; do you teach any hydrotherapy in your course outline? I say this because for us hydrotherapy is a core component, of our course. Along with the Swedish massage techniques we are taught, we are also taught the concepts, application, and treatment value of hydrotherapy modalities. We learn how to administer, many water therapies, a few of them are, body wraps, mineral & oils, and rubs & scrubs. We also learn how to check vital signs, assess injuries and also make up treatment plans. We are taught to great depths, Anatomy, Anatomy and physiology, pathology. We learn the application of massage as a medical treatment, as well as a general relaxation technique. Another question I have is: When you graduate from your course, what certification do you get? I have a few more questions but I am kind of pressed for time at this point I Will however follow up with your next reply. Thanks for reading this...
Hello, I ran across your website and found it very interesting. I have recently lost my job as a high school teacher.(due to budget constraints) I liked teaching, but dislike all the other crap that goes with it, such as being expected to work many extra curricular activities for no pay or very little. Anyway, I was looking into a massage therapy school close to where I live in So. IL. I'm male 35 white muscular 6' 180. The lady I talked with says they have a demand for male therapist after completion of the program. This is something I want to pursue, I'm just not sure of reaction from my family, they are very conservative church going people. My parents would never consider going to a massage therapist, they still think it has to do with prostitution. I don't think they will be very supportive of my thoughts to pursue this field. I know personally I have a massage therapist who is female and she is great, I wouldn’t consider going to a male therapist, just because enjoy the touch of the female therapist. I would say that the majority of males prefer a female therapist, but females react different. Do the majority of female clients prefer a male or female therapist. I still have a lot of questions, but the thought of being able to control my own destiny is very attractive. I would appreciate any advice or suggestions you might have
Thank you very much Sincerely
I just read your article, and I have to say it made a lot of sense. I am a male student of massage therapy in Colorado, and I am one of about 5 or 6 males in the program. There is so few of us that some of our classes I will be the only male at the time. Of course there isn't too much more females because the school likes to keep small classes, but sometimes I feel awkward, especially in the anatomy classes when they talk about the female reproductive system. They all stare at me like I am satan or something. That's okay, I like all my classmates and we tend to get along very well. Although I have been asked by a couple of the women if I was gay, merely from the fact that I was going into massage therapy. Is this a stereotype of male massage therapists? Does most everyone think we are gay? Oh well, I guess. Anyway, good article.
If this finds you, I wanted to thank you for making your thoughts and impressions of being a male massage therapist available for me.I've been giving it a lot of thought lately, and truly feel this is the profession I want to be in. I currently work for the phone company here in Omaha Nebraska and repeatedly speak with small business owners who are massage therapist, chiropractors, etc. and am always asking them how they got into the business. I would enjoy hearing more from you on what got you into the field, and how things have been ever since.I'm currently working on a way to juggle the classes into my already jam packed schedule. I'm married with 3 wonderful kids, but they are at that age when it makes doing much of anything else almost impossible.Nonetheless, I feel I'm finally going to make a leap of faith and jump in. I'm confident in my abilities, have a fantastic personality, and get the biggest kick out of being around people.Anyway, enough about me. I would like to hear from you. If you'd like to respond. If not, I can understand.
I read with interest your article on being a male massage therapist which you presented on "The Bodyworker" website. I decided to write you this e-mail because I too share the same frustrations that you have had in the past. It has irked me tremendously at times to have new clients unwilling to book with me solely on the basis of my gender. What's worse, is to have to sit on the sidelines while I watch female therapists, who at times don't even have a tenth of the experience that I have, book clients one after another.
I've been a massage therapist for about four years now. I live in Modesto, California. I have had five hundred hours of massage training including reflexology, sports, and therapeutic massage.
I'm very good at what I do based upon client satisfaction in the past. My only problem is getting a new client on my table to begin with!!
Like I said already, I'm very good at massage therapy. I site three reasons for this: 1)At first I was filled with resentment because of this male prejudice. Then, I decided to use this as my motivating force. I reasoned that if the female massage therapists were giving 95% effort towards the quality of their massage, I would give 120%! 2.) I have a genuine passion for this work. I have two full time days at the massage therapy office as well as evening hours. Esther, the owner of the massage business, is a woman that I went with to massage school. 3.) Not only do I have a passion for massage, I'm by nature a very sensitive and intuitive person. I swear, I can feel what my client is feeling at times. Even with these traits, I still struggle to build a clientele. I don't like the feelings of jealousy or resentment, so I pray to God to allow me to continue my work and remove these negative feelings from me.
About three years ago, I saw an ad in the want ads section of the local paper(Modesto Bee). An outpatient physical therapy business was looking for a massage therapist. I quickly responded to the ad and got the job.
Now, the job wasn't high paying but I thought of the experience I would gain by working with injured and/or post surgical patients.....not to mention how good this experience would look on my resume later on! I spent a year and a half there and then moved on to a physical therapy position at a local hospital. I've been at the hospital for nine months.
The reason that I mentioned my p.t. experience is because, like you, I decided to try a different approach at marketing myself. Instead of presenting myself to the public as a massage therapist, I now reinforce my therapeutic background ie. stiffness & pain relief specialist for post surgical cases and injuries and also injuries caused by activities of daily living and emotional stress. A male massage therapist presenting himself in a "clinical" way, lends an air of legitimacy to his practice(even though that legitimacy had been there all the time!). So you see, same product, different label.......makes all the difference at times. And it has helped to relax the concerns of the clients that took the "risks" and booked with me. Did this strategy eliminate the problem completely you might ask? Well, no......in all honesty, it hasn't. I still have people refuse my appointments only because I'm a man. Incidentally, I came upon this strategy when I started realizing that all the successful male therapist in the Modesto area present themselves in this clinical fashion. I have to be honest with you. I haven't been a strong marketer of myself. Oh yes, I pass out cards to the nurses at the hospital. I can’t solicit the patients there but I sometime casually mention to some of them that I work two jobs....the other being a massage therapist.
They almost always ask for my card. Perhaps, as you read this, you could offer me suggestions on marketing that have worked for you. Modesto is in the central valley of California which is predominately dairy production and farming. It is a very conservative community which doesn't help either. I've been living here only four and a half years. I grew up in So. California, which has a much more liberal lifestyle.
I might research the prospects of working in a Southern California city say like Palm Springs or maybe even look into Nevada for possibilities (like Las Vegas). In the meantime, I'll continue to do the best possible massage work that I can and thank God for what is provided to me.
Thank you for your time......I would love to hear any additional thoughts and tips you might have to get me past this frustrating barrier
hi ryan. my name is XXXXXXXXXXXXXX and I just read your writing on the bodyworker. It made me think a lot about my pursuing occupation in massage therapy. I realize the disadvantages but I think I can work past them. I especially liked how you said if people love their job 50% of the time then its like not working at all, that is completely true. I’m glad I stumbled upon the website, I just wanted to say thank you.
Hey Ryan :
This is XXXXXXXXXXXXX from London , I just read your article on the net about
How difficult is being a Male Therapist.... & I am totally agree with U!!!
In my case I think is a bite different cause I am Skin/Beauty Therapist for Demagogical. I am the only Male working for the company in the uk , so far the is an Male instructor in LA & He is also doing very well. Just writing to u in order to support all male therapists.
Also you just give me a GOOD idea!!! I have got a presentation to do for an interview before becoming instructor for the education Dept for Demagogical & I think I'll talk about How a Male therapist Influence in the industry & the way I/we feel .
Take Care .
“A.K.A. Male Massage Therapist”
Since 1989 I have been in the health field; from working in nursing homes, group homes, clinics and other heath related places. I loved what I did, but I knew there was something missing in my career. In 1996 my mom talked to me about being a massage therapist, I laughed at first but I soon realized that it was a profession to help people. I finally enrolled in a massage school in 1997 (you always have to listen to your mom). My first day of class there were 15 students and there was only me and another male student. I finally felt like I was someone when I started massage school and I was always thinking outside of the table (no pun intended). Halfway through my first class the other male student dropped out and then there was just me. It didn’t bother me at all, because most of my past jobs there were very few males.
The schooling experience…
After my first class I enrolled in the full program and it was a very special class, because there were only 2 other people in most of my classes. I loved the hands on classes, but then I realized that there were lecture classes…a lot of them. There was Anatomy, Kinesiology, Business, Ethics and more. It was hard to comprehend that I had to take so much lecture classes for a hands-on profession, but I made it work. The only class I struggled in was kinesiology, but I mastered that once I just accepted it was all about memorization (I was looking into it too much). My biggest hang-up during school was being comfortable enough to massage the opposite sex; I know it sounds weird, but I wanted to make sure they felt comfortable and I would go above and beyond with asking them questions. After massage school I felt more relaxed about the opposite sex and I treated everyone equal.
Employment while in school…
I worked in a nursing home as a nursing assistant and a trained medication aid; also I got a part-time job at a spa working as a massage therapist. It was o.k. being a male in a spa that catered to people from outside of Minnesota and some from outside of the United States. I started at $8 an hour guaranteed, plus tips; I know that it wasn’t much, but I was going to school at that time and experience is everything when you need bodies to practice on. Most of the clients did not request a female therapist and I was expecting to not be busy because of horror stories in school about males trying to make a living in a spa setting.
Employment after school…
I stayed at a nursing home part-time while I worked at a health club and I also worked out of someone’s garage as a massage therapist (the place was a lot prettier than it sounds and they made it into a professional massage clinic). I liked where I worked, but I wanted to perform massage full-time. Then I got enough guts with another person and opened a massage clinic in a small town of 3,000 people with the rent of $250 a piece. That was back in 1999 and I did that for almost 2 years and my business was steady and I still worked at the nursing home part-time.
The call for teaching…
In 2001 I received a phone call from a person I grew up with and she attended a college for massage therapy and she said they were looking for someone to teach massage. I thought about it for 2 seconds and jumped on the chance. After 3 months of teaching I quit my business and worked full-time as a massage instructor ever since.
The teaching experience…
My first quarter I wanted to quit everyday, but I was stubborn enough to keep going. Three days before I was scheduled to teach I was hired and they gave me a book, syllabus and not much more help than that (now new instructs get tons of extra training before they start). After that first quarter it got a little easier and I didn’t regret leaving my business. With teaching, I never felt there was much of a male/female difference and I really felt I found my calling. I have taught the basics, to the more advanced styles and everything is just a great learning experience. My dad told me that if you like your job more than 50% of the time, then it’s like you aren’t working at all. I totally live by those words and massage has been a savior to me and it has made me complete.
Being a male massage therapist is not all that bad. We just have to choose different areas to be successful in. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change too much, except have my employment be in more the college, chiropractic, health club or hospital settings. Males are the minority in the massage field (around 20%), but we are here to stay.
Ryan Hoyme A.K.A. MassageNerd