"I work for myself but I never feel alone," says Meredith Kusmer who has managed her own practice in St. Louis for the past 17 years. Read Meredith's story below.
What attracted you to the profession?
At age 18, I was very sick and diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. My mother took me to get a massage. This turned out to be the only treatment that took my pain to a tolerable threshold. It was so amazing to me that someone could help my pain and anxiety so much without the use of drugs. From then on, I knew that massage therapy was my career path.
Describe your education.
In 1996, I attend the Moscow School of Massage in Moscow, Idaho. After graduation, I felt I was ready for my career in massage therapy, although I knew that there were many more learning opportunities ahead of me. For the past six years, I have been the education chair for the AMTA Missouri chapter. This position has given me the ability to explore so many different education opportunities and has led me to many certifications.
What is your current work setting like?
For the last 17 years, I have been extremely fortunate to run and own Body Harmony Massage Therapy. I work for myself but I never feel alone. It is located in a building with several other health professionals that range from social workers, fitness trainers and other massage therapists. My office is just the right size for one massage therapist and I have been in my current office for the past 11 years. This environment feels like one big networking group. I have also been giving corporate massage at two different companies for the past nine years, . This has been an opportunity to network and acquire new clients, and it's great to be able to have a variety of places to work.
What do you enjoy most about your current position?
Being your own boss is very rewarding, and it means I control how and when I work. I know what I have to do to keep my practice successful and running smoothly.
What are the challenges?
Some challenges I have are when I or my clients get sick or there is bad weather and people have to cancel their appointments. What I have learned over the years is that it always works out. I am very fortunate to have lon- time clients that reschedule and refer me to new people.
A typical day ...
On a typical work day I will give about four-five hours of bodywork. I try to split it up to a few in the morning and a few in the afternoon. The corporate massage takes place in the mornings twice per week. The beauty of my job is there is not really a typical day of work; it changes from day-to-day, which keeps it interesting.
Being an AMTA member:
Membership in AMTA had been an essential part of my career. I decided about seven years ago to run for my local AMTA Missouri chapter, and it has given me enormous opportunities. I started out as member-at-large and today I am 1st VP and education chair. This position has not only taught me more about the massage profession, but it has given me the opportunity to learn how to do many different jobs. Being the education chair is much like being an event planner.
I have also met several mentors who have guided and taught me more then I can describe. These people are very important people in my life, and I am grateful for their support and guidance. One of the amazing things about AMTA is that you have an enormous network of massage therapists all around the country, and this has made working for myself feel like I am working with colleagues. It also has given me the opportunity to meet the best of the best in the industry.
And one piece of advice?
Massage is a career not a job. Have a business plan and do what it takes to achieve that plan. Get involved with your local AMTA chapter—it will open many doors for you if you allow it!
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