Where Do You Work? Specializing in Thai Massage

Jill Burynski is an experienced massage therapist and expert in Thai Massage who also teaches CE workshops all around the country. How does she handle this busy lifestyle while still doing her best as a therapist and a teacher? Find out more about Jill below. 

What attracted you to the massage therapy profession?

Unlike many massage therapists, massage therapy was actually my first and only career. When I was in high school, I was suffering from health problems and traditional treatment was not working for me. I took a job at a health food and supplement store and watched people’s lives transform with a holistic approach to health. Then I transformed my own life through yoga and diet. I knew then that I wanted to pursue a career in alternative medicine.

In 1994, I moved to Gainesville, Florida, for college. After majoring in nutrition for three semesters, I felt something was missing. I switched gears and enrolled at the Florida School of Massage in Gainesville. My life was once again transformed and I observed the same in my classmates. After graduating, I continued my studies at the Mueller College of Holistic Studies in San Diego, California, and then onto several schools of traditional medicine and massage in Thailand. 

What is your work environment like?

I own and operate Town Mountain Massage Therapy in Asheville, North Carolina. We are a small clinic specializing in Thai Massage and Integrated Bodywork.

I am also an educator. Since 2009, I have been an approved provider of Continuing Education. I teach CE workshops in Thai Massage as well as offer an advanced certification program and have brought students to Thailand for advanced training.

What is your specialization?

Thai Massage is my primary specialty, although I also love doing integrated bodywork sessions which can include trigger point therapy, myofascial release, reflexology, aromatherapy, and more.

What do you enjoy most about your position?

I consider myself to really have two positions, massage therapist and educator and I enjoy them both immensely.

As a massage therapist, I love that I am able to be self-employed and have the luxury of working with clients on my own terms. I have mostly regular clients that I usually see a minimum of once a month. I get to really know my clients’ bodies and lives, so I can customize their treatments to meet their evolving needs.

As an educator, I get to spend my time working with other massage therapists at all different stages in their careers. Through Thai Massage, I am able to give them a new modality to help them grow their practices and refresh their career. Thai Massage is a form of martial arts and meditation so I am also able to give massage therapists a different way of using their bodies that does not cause the burnout that is all too common among massage therapists. I can’t overstate the joy it brings me to see massage therapists who were ready to give up on massage feel renewed again with new tools that will save their own bodies as well as their clients.

What are some of the challenges?

Massage and bodywork can be humbling at times.  What works for some clients may not work for others and there is no magic formula. It is wonderful when I am able to assist in total relief for a client’s ailment. It is still hard for me, after 17 years of practice, when I can’t solve a client’s issue.

Another challenge is balancing two businesses—a massage practice and a CE workshop businessas well as being a mom and wife. I love what I do and want to be available for everyone. I also want to model health and wellness in body and mind to my clients and students. This leaves me continually trying to maintain healthy boundaries and manage my time well.

What is a typical day like for you?

I strive to keep my days pretty compartmentalized. I dedicate days to treating clients, days to travel and teach CE workshops, as well as days for administrative office work. On my days to treat clients, I see an average of four-five clients per day and my sessions are 60, 90 or 120 minutes. Although, as a “solopreneur” I have learned to expect the unexpected.

How has AMTA impacted your career?

AMTA has been a huge asset to my career from the beginning. I became a member in 1999 shortly after becoming licensed. As a new therapist, AMTA provided me with valuable resources for marketing, education and networking, as well as giving me an identity as a serious therapist.
Later in my career, I became involved with the organization as an educator. Through AMTA I have had the opportunity to present at several of their conventions on both the national and state level as well as contribute to an article in MTJ.

The members of the AMTA are just outstanding. I am so grateful for all the organization continues to do to advance the profession.

Advice for aspiring massage therapists?

I think it is so important to expose yourself to many modalities early in your career so that you can find your niche and add to your tool box. Specialization can be very helpful as well. Having a specific modality that you have advanced training in can help you find your target market and set you apart from your peers.

When I taught at a massage school, I would often suggest to my students to consider working for someone else in the beginning of their career. This can give you a lot of valuable hands on experience and the time needed to master the skills of being a good therapist.  Keep the big picture in mind and let your career as a massage therapist be a marathon rather than a sprint.

Lastly, receive massage on a regular basis. Receiving is a wonderful (and enjoyable!) way to learn. We want clients to look to us as an example. Modeling the benefits of receiving regular massage is key.

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Watch Jill Demonstrate an Intro to Thai Massage

"AMTA is just the best professional organization there is and does the most for their people."

Karen T., AMTA member since 2002