"Today, my practice is pretty much focused on working with athletes and your 'weekend warrior.' It is very satisfying to help someone succeed in a sport," says Mike Blackmore, owner of Blackmore Massage and president of the Oregon Chapter of AMTA, the 2011 National Convention host chapter.
What, specifically, drew you to the massage therapy profession? What has kept you in the profession?
I was a college athlete and also completed my Master’s Degree in Athletic Training. I was introduced to massage through my own issues with injury and soreness as well as my experience learning about injuries in the training room. In 1987, I was competing on a U.S. track team in what was then Yugoslavia. I was suffering from some calf stiffness and searching for relief when I got a massage from a member of the medical staff. I ended up winning the silver medal in my event.
Today, my practice is pretty much focused on working with athletes and your “weekend warrior.” It is very satisfying to help someone succeed in a sport. I look forward to getting out of bed and going to my office each day.
What career path led you to your current position?
After making orthotics for three years, I left the medical field. I was working part-time so I could continue training and competing. The opportunity to work full-time, albeit in another industry, eventually became important. About 10 years later, the local community college catalog showed up in my mail, as it had every quarter. This time, I opened the catalog right to the massage therapy training program page! I made an instant decision to go back to school. The company I worked for had a benefit we could use for “improving” ourselves; that benefit paid for about 25 percent of my schooling. Now I provide chair massage there on a regular basis.
What types of education and experiences have helped you to be successful?
I learned a lot about business working for other businesses: good things I took with me when I started my own practice and a handful of things I didn’t think made much sense. I’ve also worked on various events where circumstances can make for tough working conditions. It can be easy to complain about things out of your control, but it’s just as easy to find a way to work under the conditions you're given. Running into a deer at 1:00 a.m. driving to the next site can ruin your day, or you can turn it into an experience that reminds you why you chose this profession in the first place.
How has your involvement in AMTA impacted your career? How has your attendance at past AMTA National Conventions helped you to thrive as a massage therapist?
I went to my first convention in 2002...in Portland! I served as a delegate of the Oregon chapter. Now I’m the president. Maybe that doesn’t totally answer the question, but, then again, I think it does. The connections I have made through my AMTA membership have been invaluable in helping build my own practice and a reputation within the profession.
This year’s AMTA national convention, October 19-22, will be in Portland, Oregon. What types of Portland-specific attractions and events should attendees start looking forward to?
I live in Eugene, about two hours south of Portland. However, I spend a fair amount of time there. If you’re a fan of athletics, you may know the Nike world headquarters is in the area. The Nike store downtown is a pretty cool attraction. Great restaurants, Powell’s bookstore, an underground tour, Voodoo Donuts (gotta Mapquest that place!) and some awesome running trails in Forest Park should be on your list. I love beer, and I can’t even keep track of the new breweries that keep opening. The Friday night river cruise will be a hoot as well. If you want to count me as an attraction, I’ll be there too!
>> Learn more about the AMTA 2011 National Convention, October 19-22, and all of the opportunities to learn, connect with your peers, and explore host city Portland!