You Get What You Pay For…

Recently I was on Facebook and saw an ad for a local chiropractor’s office offering three hours of massage for less than $100. I was instantly furious. Several thoughts bounced around the inside of my head while I was trying to determine what made me so mad. Was I upset about possibly losing business? Yes, but not so much for this kind of emotional reaction. Was it the chiropractor’s office? Maybe, but I’d never even heard of the place before. Was it the massage therapist? Maybe, but I didn’t even know who worked there. Was it the ad itself? Just a black and white text affair, blunt, but no. It took a bit before it finally coalesced to the point that I could put it into words.

Who in their right mind is willing to do three hours of massage for less than $100?

As an independent business owner and massage therapist the only scenario that makes sense is that the business is doing it to bring in more business. Okay, that’s one way to do it, but is the massage therapist getting paid a previously agreed upon minimum hourly rate? Or are they having to eat the cut rate? It’s one thing for me to decide to cut my rates and do a special, it’s another thing for an employer to decide that for me.

Let me break some of the numbers down and give you an idea of why I found myself so angry at this Facebook ad.

I’m an independent massage therapist whose rates are currently $70/hour. When I do an hour of massage I receive from my client $70. With that $70 I keep the doors open, the heat, air, lights, and water on, supplies stocked and pay any other business related expenses, pay taxes, pay myself so I can keep food on the table (and in the dog’s bowls) and a safe place for my family to live.

As an employed massage therapist when the employer runs a “special” the massage therapist typically takes at least a share of the hit. So that special for 3-hours for $100 works out to 1-hour for $33.33. The employer then takes their share which is negotiable at the time of employment and is typically 40-60% depending on what the employer supplies. So out of $33.33 the employer will take $13.33, if the massage therapist is lucky, leaving them $19.99 for an hour of massage. If they’re not so lucky those numbers flip, the house takes $19.99 leaving the massage therapist $13.33.

Now, I am fully in support of the house taking their cut, they have to in order to keep the doors open. But can you imagine going to school, graduating, being required to take and pass a national-level exam, purchasing and maintaining liability insurance, going through the process of becoming licensed by the state, maintaining continuing education hours in order to become a skilled professional all to be paid $13.33 for an hours worth of work?

I certainly cannot and before you move away from that list I just wrote about all the things you have to do to become a legally practicing professional massage therapist in the state of Alabama, consider that every single thing on that list takes money. Most of those steps take a lot of money.

So it’s just not feasible from a business standpoint for a massage therapist to agree to work for this kind of pay. They can’t keep up their certification and licensing much less put food on the table. Add to that, people flock to these kinds of deals giving that therapist a lot of work to do. So they’re wearing their bodies down without receiving sufficient resources to maintain their self-care or livelihood. I think we can all agree this is not good practice nor is it sustainable.

So who would agree to work for this pittance?

Unfortunately, the massage therapists who agree to work under these circumstances are often desperate for money and employment, very young, just graduated from massage school, have student loans coming due, and/or a combination of these. So deal shoppers who bounce from place to place looking for the cheapest deals are essentially taking advantage of someone who is already down on their luck or trying to get started. They also may not be receiving the best massages either because let’s face it, how good a job do you do when you’re stressed out and worried about how you’re going to pay the electric bill.

What Can We Do?

As a consumer of massage, you can either refuse to deal shop or if you do, tip the therapist directly at a very high percentage. If you can’t afford to make up the difference in the tip then book at least two more appointments at full price for every one appointment you get at a discounted rate, write a review for the therapist, and send your friends to that massage therapist. In other words, do all you can to support that person.

As a massage therapist, you can negotiate these things with your employer. It’s best if it’s in the employment contract or agreement, but you can still negotiate with them even after you’ve signed an agreement. Insist on a minimum rate of pay for your services. Insist on limits, both to the number of “deals” they offer per year and how many massages they sell at the discounted rate or give away for free. Don’t expect that to be an easy conversation, but nothing worth having comes easy or cheap. Also consider the possibility that self-employment may be a better option.

In a perfect world we would all get paid what we are worth. Unfortunately, our system doesn’t work that way and we get paid what we settle for or what the market will bear. As a massage therapist I choose not to settle for less and know that sometimes I’ll be slow because there are lots of deals floating around. As a consumer of massage I refuse to shop the deals because it artificially dilutes the value of massage therapy and makes it harder for all of us, consumers and massage therapists, to afford.

So if it sounds too good to be true, you know it probably is, at least in the long run. Anyway, here are a couple of related articles that you may now be interested in reading: How to support your favorite businesses for free and How to find a great massage therapist

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Ashiatsu Barefoot Specialist!
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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Whether you love it, or hate it, Valentine’s Day is here. If you’ve waited a little too long and need a little something for that special someone, click here to save the day with a gift certificate for a massage! Feeling a little down because you’ve not yet found that special someone? Why not give yourself the gift of relaxation?

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Ashiatsu Barefoot Specialist!

 

Here’s wishing you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2018!

Black-eyed peas, turnip greens, cabbage, cornbread and ham are warming to cover us on that front. I hope you and yours are also abundantly blessed this New Years Day.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Barefoot Massage Specialist!

So if you’ve waited until the final hours before you really need a gift for someone, have I got a deal for you!

Click here to buy a gift certificate for that special someone. All you need is an email address and a credit card and in just a minute you will be printing a gift certificate and stuffing it in a stocking. Easy peasy, and you are done!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

 

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Barefoot Massage Specialist!

A Client’s Bill of Rights

I just wanted to take a moment to address the sexual misconduct involving one of the giant massage therapy chains that has been in the news recently.  I am horrified and disgusted that someone in my profession has violated the sanctity of our collective healing space.

People come to massage to find a safe place in which to let their mind and body relax and begin the healing process. Obviously, it’s not to be assaulted. While it is impossible for an employer to control individual employees’ actions, it is deplorable that virtually nothing has been done to address the now hundreds of complaints that have been filed against these employees. The company owes their clientele better and I will be surprised if there’s not repercussions for not removing predators from their employ in a timely manner. I am saddened that so many people are now having to deal with the trauma of being assaulted when they rightly believed they were safe.

All that being said, I just wanted to make sure that you, as a consumer of massage, know exactly what to expect when you schedule a massage. And I want to give you some straight talk about what to do if ANYONE or ANYTHING ever makes you feel uncomfortable while receiving massage with any bodyworker, anywhere.

As a massage therapist and bodyworker, my main goal is to help you feel better. I strive to create a safe, comfortable space for you. You will find this is a common thread among people who practice a healing art. We know receiving massage can be an incredibly vulnerable experience. Most of the time you will be unclothed to some degree, possibly lying face down, and someone you may not know yet will be touching you. I never want you to feel unsafe or uncomfortable so read on and know that you are always in charge when you are receiving a massage.

A Bodywork Client’s Bill of Rights

  1. If you’re uncomfortable for any reason, tell us. It’s not going to hurt my feelings if you don’t like my music, if you feel cold, if the sheet feels scratchy or if I’m actually hurting you.
  2. If you feel unsafe for any reason, tell us. It’s not going to hurt my feelings and I need to figure out what’s wrong so you can feel safe again.
  3. If you feel like you want to stop the session and leave for any reason, tell us. It’s not going to hurt my feelings and I don’t want to subject you to an experience you don’t want.
  4. If you feel like you need to cry, let it out. You might startle me, but I’m not going to run away.
  5. Your massage is your time. It may be the only hour you get this week, month, or year to be perfectly yourself and let your mind and body enter into a healing state so please tell me if there’s something I need to do to help you have the best massage experience possible.

What To Do If You’re Assaulted During a Massage

  1. If you’re able, stop the session and leave the establishment immediately.
  2. Once you are safe, go directly to the police department or the emergency department (depending on the severity of the assault).
  3. Expect to make a police report on the incident.
  4. After making a police report ask the police if it is okay for you to call the business and make a formal complaint against the therapist. This is assuming this happened in a multi-therapist office.
  5. Make a formal complaint against the therapist with the state Board of Massage Therapy.

I hope this never happens to you. I hope it never happens to anyone and I am horrified that it has happened at all.

How To Prevent Assault During a Massage

Unfortunately, in our world as it currently stands it is impossible to prevent someone from doing harm if they are intent on committing assault. Even if you’re willing to use deadly force to protect yourself there’s no guarantee you won’t still be hurt in the process. Such a sad and frightening prospect, but there are a few things you can do to try to protect yourself.

As a massage therapist in the State of Alabama, I am required to maintain a massage therapy license with the state. In order to do that I have to agree to and abide by a whole host of laws that deal with the ethical treatment of my clients. Many of those laws specifically outline boundaries and forbid me from assaulting a client. Not that I need a law to know that it’s just wrong to assault a client… So when considering going to a new massage therapist make sure they are licensed. And there are a few other things you can do, here’s how to tell if they’re legit and agree to ethical boundaries.

I hope you have found some helpful information here. And while I would have preferred to never have to address this situation, please know that Harvest Moon Massage Therapy will always be a safe space where you don’t have to worry about your personal safety.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Exclusive Provider of Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage!

It’s no secret that sounds and music can have profound effects on mood. I think we’ve all experienced sentimentality while attending a wedding, the elation and hyperactivity after a rock concert, and irritation at an alarm that just will not stop. I’ve always been especially tuned in to noise and music which probably explains why I spent so much time in band and orchestra as a younger person. Thus I found it very interesting when I started seeing articles a few years ago about a new kind of music.

This “new” music was called binaural beats music. And essentially it is a type of music written such that each ear hears a different frequency or note. Sounds weird, right? Just weird enough that I had to try it!

So after a bit of research and reading I found some samples of binaural beats music. I have to admit I was skeptical. It flew in the face of all my musical education. And not wanting to spend a lot of money on something that I thought was perhaps just another gimmick, I settled down with the samples to listen and I was stunned at my body’s reaction.

After my first binaural beats music listen, I was drunk. Not the tipsy, let’s party kind of drunk; I was drowsy, time to go to bed drunk. And I went to bed and slept hard. Obviously more research was in order because one can’t just go around being drunk all day. Well, I guess one can, but it might really impact one’s ability to function productively in society.

So upon even more reading I discovered that binaural beats music has an interesting effect on the brain. Used mindfully, it can take one from a state of high functioning brain activity to a more relaxed state of brain activity. In lay terms, it can turn the monkey brain off and promote a more relaxed state of mind.

What would you do with a more relaxed state of mind?

Even more interesting, binaural beats music can be customized to take the brain into a state suitable for sleep (which is what I listened to that first time) or to an alert state great for getting all the things done or to enter that meditative state that is so healing and relaxing. If you’re still reading I know you’re now wondering how that works. Well, it’s got to do with sound frequency and how the brain responds to different frequencies and all of a sudden things get very sciency. If you’re really, really interested in the science behind it I recommend starting here to read about what’s happening in the brain when listening to this kind of music.

If you don’t really care about the science, that’s okay and you don’t have to know it to use binaural beats music. And even better the creators of binaural beats music (even some of the free stuff) label each “song” according to its purpose. So it’s really easy to find something that suits the kind of relaxing you need to do whether it be getting to sleep or getting into a creative groove.

So let’s get down to some details about how you listen to binaural beats music to get this relaxation effect. First you need to find some binaural beats music. Here is a website that let’s you download sample binaural beats music for free. You’ll need a set of earbuds or headphones and they need to be able to handle stereo sound. Get comfortable, take inventory and see how you feel, put on your headphones, and start the music. Plan to spend at least 15 minutes listening. When you’re finished take inventory again and see how you feel.

It might take a few tries to find something you like. Big surprise I’m sure, but I’m partial to nature sounds. It may also take a couple of tries to really start feeling the relaxation effect. It’s sort of like meditation or other relaxation methods in that you have to give your brain and body a chance to figure out what you’re trying to accomplish. Also, you must use earbuds or headphones. The technology simply doesn’t work without them. And some of this music you can’t hear at all without earbuds or headphones.

I hope this gives you one more self-care, stress-relieving technique in your arsenal. If you try it I’d love to hear about your experience. Happy Listening!

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Exclusive Provider of Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage!

Well, it’s that time of year again! Time for me to fly away to Pasadena, CA for the 2017 AMTA National Convention.

I will have access to my phone and email so feel free to text or call. I’ll be taking several classes this year so it may take me a while to get back to you though. Follow my trip on my Facebook page!

Hope you all have a great week and know that I’ll be back tired, but rejuvenated on Monday the 18th.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Exclusive Provider of Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage!
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