Giving Back & Getting Ahead
“I knew I wanted a new career helping people,” says AMTA member Donna Cormier (NH), who first discovered the power of massage while seeking help for a pesky injury that was hindering her marathon training. “The Massage therapy profession was that and more.”
Now licensed in both New Hampshire and Maine, Donna currently practices massage therapy in a variety of settings. She continues to find that volunteering and networking are powerful tools in growing her career. This past year, Donna participated in AMTA’s National Massage Therapy Awareness Week (NMTAW) for the first time as a way to give back to her community and advance her profession.
“I love the idea of NMTAW and spreading the work of massage therapy,” she says.
What first attracted you the massage therapy profession?
I was training to run a marathon and had an injury that was limiting my mileage. I decided to see a friend for a massage. I was then able to run the marathon with no problem!
What career path has led you to your current position?
I am still trying to "fit" all I want to do in life, and the list just keeps getting longer! I work in the sports industry and I've worked in special education and sports team coaching in a middle school. I love working with people who are taking steps to improve their own wellness. I now have a home office, work out-calls, work at a local day-spa and various hotel spas in my area.
I have found that networking is very important in the massage therapy business. When I did my externship for school, I worked with a massage therapist who then rented me office space when I became licensed. Working with someone who I could also learn from was a great way to get started. The massage therapy school I attended offered wonderful business classes, which has also been a huge help.
What specific experiences or types of education have helped you succeed and progress in your current role?
As an athlete, I know how important it is to be able to stay healthy, and I feel I have an inside perspective for massage for athletes. I recently took seminars with John F. Barnes Myofascial Release where I learned so much about myofascial work. The more I learn, the more tools I have in my toolbox, and the more I can help my clients. I volunteer at sports events, too. You always have the opportunity to gain more clients through these types of events, but, more importantly, the events give you experience. You meet other massage therapists and athletes, share best practices and have a great time!
I have also been volunteering at a nursing home where my mom is a resident for more than a year. I see such a need for massage for the elderly.
What advice would you offer other massage therapists looking to establish themselves within similar settings?
Be flexible—physically and mentally! You need to get your name out there. One way I did this was by joining our local chamber of commerce. They have many ways to advertise and some are even free. Word of mouth is truly the best form of advertising. Volunteer--at local events, store openings, sporting events, charity events, any place with a large amount of people!
Why did you decide becoming involved with NMTAW was important, and how did you incorporate NMTAW into your practice?
I love the idea of NMTAW and spreading the work of massage therapy. I picked a local charity, Jen's Friends, which provides support for families in our area who are battling not only cancer, but all the far-reaching ramifications of the disease. Jen's Friends Cancer Foundation provides supplemental financial assistance and other resources to cancer patients and their families who are uninsured, under-insured or financially challenged, allowing them to focus on battling cancer without worrying about the indirect financial burdens that often arise. For the month of October, I pledge a portion of my business income to Jen's Friends.
For this year's NMTAW, I plan to offer a portion of each massage to Jen's Friends Cancer Foundation again. Last year was my first involvement in NMTAW, and it was a wonderful experience. I feel NMTAW is a way for me and my clients to combine two causes, advertise my business and allow people to see what causes I care about.
I also envision a massage therapy day in our downtown area, maybe a chair massage on every corner for an hour? I need to start working on that one!
Where do you work?
Where do you work and what do you find most meaningful about the work that you do? Let us know your story! E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org