Chair Massage on the Rise

A study done by the American Institute of Stress has shown that job-related stress and economical anxiety are costing companies an estimated $300 billion or more, roughly $7,500 per worker per year. Stress has been named the number one cause of disability in and out of the workplace, and many employers are spending money covering the lost productivity and health care fees.

Luckily, most companies, big and small, are becoming more receptive to the problems that work-related stress creates. Tension in the workplace is almost unavoidable due to a rise in workplace expectations, which is a direct result of an unstable economy. Physical stress in most business environments is also an issue. Sitting at a computer all day long is often harder on the body than physical labor. Being planted in one position that is not conducive to our natural postural alignment causes havoc on our bodies, namely our upper back and neck. 

Chair -MassageEmployees in today's economy are holding on to their jobs for dear life and are willing to do almost anything to stay ahead of the game, including sacrificing their own wellness.  Sadly, the more stress employees consume by overextending themselves, the more likely their professional efficiency will plunge. Fortunately, most employers who are concerned about the quality of work their staff is doing are increasingly open to the benefits of stress reduction techniques during work hours.

The most popular form of stress reduction making its way into the workplace is on-site chair massage. Chair massage in general has become a fast, inexpensive remedy for a world on the go. Many companies such as law firms, car dealerships, realty firms, insurance companies, hospitals, and many other businesses are hiring contractors to perform chair massages as an incentive to their employees. Here in Chicago, businesses such as United Airlines, Federal Reserve Bank and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois have hired one company in particular called "Hired Hands," on-site massage specialists, to provide chair massage services to their staffs.

On-site massage specialists provide their own training to contractors working for them. A co-owner of "Hired Hands," Christine Ramsey says, "Most massage schools do not spend enough time on chair massage." Since the main focus of chair massage is on the back, neck and head, it is important to be completely proficient in those areas. Although therapists working through "Hired Hands" are considered independent contractors, they enjoy the luxury of consistent schedules and a guaranteed hourly pay. The good news for aspiring massage therapists is that the need for this type of massage work is increasing and companies such as this one are almost always hiring licensed and insured massage therapists. 

Chair massage as a methodic technique has been around for quite a while. Although David Palmer created and designed the first massage chair in the 1980s, the technique has been traced all the way back to ancient Japan. Block prints showed people being massaged while seated on what appeared to be stools.

David Palmer is really the driving force behind contemporary chair massage, however, and received that title rightfully after bringing chair massage into the public eye when he began massaging Apple computer employees in 1984.

In 1998, Palmer wrote in Positive Health magazine how he believed chair massage would eventually become more popular than table massage. He thought that in order to bring massage therapy into the mainstream, it would need to be completely accessible at all times to anyone and everyone. The idea that a person can experience the positive effects of massage in a matter of minutes, sitting in a chair and fully clothed is a very attractive and practical idea.

"Touch is the orphan sense in our culture," Palmer says. "It's the one sense we've disowned most, and it's time for us to reclaim it. It's the first sense we have in the womb and likely the last sense we experience when we die. Yet, we live in a culture that numbs us from the neck down. When we reclaim that, it will be revolutionary. If we got all the touch we wanted (or needed), 75% of mental health problems would go away tomorrow," he says. "It would change the individual, it would change their relationships, and it would change the institutions in which they live, work and play."

Palmer explained chair massage best when he wrote, "The beauty of chair massage is its simple message - that massage can make you feel better, whatever that means to you, any time you want. You don't have to be sick or enlightened or wealthy to appreciate its benefits. It's truly massage for the masses." 

Being skilled in chair massage can open up many employment doors for you as a massage therapist. Since the massage chair is portable and not as heavy as a table, you have increased mobility with your business and a better chance at marketing yourself. As a chair massage practitioner, you also have the choice of working completely for yourself or working with companies like "Hired Hands."

At National University of Health Sciences, chair massage is a required part of the curriculum, and you will also spend intern hours and outcall hours practicing your chair massage skills. For more information on training in chair massage, call 1-800-826-6285.

Take A Number

Deb -lrgMy biggest pet peeve, one that is ever present like a festering boil, is the lack of customer service that is available in just about any business you deal with these days. Just coming out of the Christmas season, I'm sure you can relate.

Have you ever stood in a long line just to have a new cashier open up and instead of taking the next person in line, lets the people who just got in line rush up to get taken care of first?

How about the invisibility factor? Any of you have it? My sisters and I have always suffered from this affliction and I now see it trickling down through my children, so I'm thinking it's hereditary. For those of you who don't have the disorder let me explain. You're standing at a counter or in a line waiting to be taken care of when another customer steps right in front of you as if you don't exist. Or you've been at a counter for a while and you know the salesperson has seen you, but they continue to wait on other people?

How about the phone call you try to make to a cable company, utility, or charge card company and you're put on hold for an eternity? I actually can feel myself aging as I wait and wait and wait. And then to add fuel to the fire is the ever so cheerful voice that repeats to you over and over, "Thank you for holding, your call is important to us." ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

The reason I bring this all up is because the opposite is true in the field of massage therapy. A massage therapist is the epitome of the customer service champion. Everything about a massage session is geared to the comfort and care of the client. The most successful therapists pay close attention to the smallest details with the sincerity of a true caregiver.

Copious notes are taken to remind the therapist of any specific conditions that have been addressed or simply to remember the type of touch the clients likes and the techniques that work best and are well accepted by the client. Details like sheet color, music and scents are used to complement the clients' experience. An overall feeling of a "safe environment" is created to promote relaxation and comfort and the most pleasant of memories. The combination of all of these things sets the stage for what every therapist hopes for - happy clients, repeat business, and referrals.

If you're thinking about attending our Massage Therapy Certification Program, it's important to remember that this is a profession all about service. You must be willing to go the extra mile. You must be a people pleaser. And you have to check your ego at the door of the massage room. It's important to examine all of this before you make the decision to become a therapist.

There is competition out there, too, so although you can get away with being mediocre, you'll never be at the top of your profession unless you see yourself as a caregiver. And just as important, you need to back up your passion with the best education available. Once you decide that this is the right fit for you professionally, come and see us and we'll provide you with a program that'll take you to the top of your game. We'll prepare you professionally and instill in you the confidence to pass your National Board exam the first time around, like about 95% of our students.

We'll be waiting for your call!




Life's Choices

Deb -lrgGrowing up, I attended a parochial school and the first time I heard anything about one's calling in life was from the priests and nuns who were our teachers. Looking back, there was much discussion on the call to vocation, or becoming a nun or priest, but not so much information on the endless list of other fields one could be "called" to. So, at that time in my life, little thought was given to one's mission, outside of the clergy. I've since learned to think outside of the box!

Life is all about the choices we make and how we respond to those choices. I have found often in my life that when presented with a decision, my inner voice (the smart me) tells me what I should do. On the good days I both hear and listen to the message. But other days when I think I'm smarter than the wisdom within, I override those instincts and do it my way. Inevitably it is a disaster. Given the incredible luxury of that inner advisor it is in our best interests to listen - after all, it comes with no agenda.

We are responsible for our choices and at some point in our lives we come to a place where we long to uncover our mission, our life's assignment, our calling, that speaks to us from deep within our soul. As an admissions counselor at National University, I am very lucky to witness people doing just that - responding to their inner voice, exploring the possibilities, and finally, listening to the wisdom within. A calling, in my opinion, is not a job, it's not even a profession. It's fulfilling the need inside of you to give to the world that special gift that is unique to you. It is something you HAVE to do, LOVE to do, and it brings you incredible JOY. 

Almost daily I meet people who are thinking about starting our Massage Therapy Certification Program. When I ask them how they became interested in this profession, a huge percentage of them tell me it's something they've been thinking about for years - something that's been "calling" to them - a little voice of encouragement that they can no longer ignore. They tell me stories of how they gravitate to people in pain and are able, without any formal training, to relax those muscles, work out those knots, and ease someone's aches. They are Massage Therapists. There is no denying that they have a gift to offer to the family of humanity.


So You Want to Work on a Cruise Ship?

Working on a cruise ship sounds like a dream job, doesn't it?  Well, here's the scoop on how it all works.Cruise -large

According to Steiner TransOcean, an organization that manages and trains personnel for about half of the cruise ships running in the world, massage therapists are hired who have the qualifications to work in the United States. Therapists who are accepted are trained in the Elemis system of massage, which includes a specific product line of oils not available on land. The oils are used in a 75-minute massage that incorporates mind and body relaxation.

Two very important attributes to have:

A good attitude- They want smiling faces and genuine people. Their clients are on vacation and are there for a very positive experience.

The ability to sell- Therapists are expected to sell the Elemis products and a large part of their income depends upon their sales.

After sending in a resume and proof of your certification or licensure, you will be contacted by Steiner if they want you to appear for an initial interview and trial massage. These interviews are conducted on cruise ships when they are docked in U.S. ports, usually around Florida (at your expense).

Once accepted, you fly to London (at your expense) to complete training. Training lasts from two to 10 weeks depending on how qualified the therapist is and how quickly she/he catches on to the Elemis system. Steiner pays for lodging. Therapists are then flown to their assigned vessel.  From that flight on, Steiner picks up all expenses, including room and board, and the return flight home at the conclusion of the assignment. The length of assignments ranges from four to eight months.