Everywhere we go, we are mandated to stay 6 feet away from others. And yet, there are some folks who are choosing to go back to school, in-person, specifically to touch people. I have been spending the summer with some of these unique individuals at an entry-level massage therapy training program in Washington state. And in the middle of a pandemic, I have never been more hopeful for our future.
Why do people go back to school?
Traditionally, when the economy takes a turn for the worse, people go back to school. They may have lost their job, or they want to learn new skills to be more employable. Either situation may certainly be the case in today’s world, but there is something else motivating these particular students.
What’s the bigger threat?
Today, many might answer, “COVID-19, and we have to do all we can to stop it.” But I think these massage students may argue that the equally large threat we face right now is the tremendous increase in stress and anxiety due to this pandemic, combined with touch deprivation. I am inclined to agree with them.
Are they altruistic?
But why study massage? What motivates these students to devote their time and money to learn skills that may not be employable, or even wanted, as the fear of COVID-19 infection grows and flu-season approaches and governments threaten to shut things down again? Is it simply altruism? While practicing massage may indeed be a compassionate or selfless act, setting aside a measure of our own personal protections to help others with the pain and consequences of increased stress, the practice of massage may also be a wise strategic decision.
What’s the opportunity?
The school where I have been spending my time receives calls from employers daily, wanting to find qualified therapists and to post massage job openings. I visited two local Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spas and they have to turn away clients because they do not have enough therapists to fill their facilities. It seems that the general public is not willing to give up their pain treatments or wellness care.
In fact, the increase in stress and anxiety may even be forcing people out of isolation to find solutions for reducing the effects of added stress in their lives. Luckily, more and more people are aware that massage is one of those solutions.
And let’s face it, many of us spend our lives looking for an opportunity that both supports our family and helps our community. Massage therapy is increasingly that opportunity.
- It’s the opportunity for the individual who wants more secure employment.
- It’s the opportunity for the entrepreneurial individual who is finally ready to be their own boss.
- It’s the opportunity for all of us hopeful individuals that know the resilience of humanity is greater than any one virus.
And it’s the opportunity for anyone who realizes that as fear grows so does compassion, but amazingly not in equal measure—compassion grows exponentially in response to adversity.
What about you? Why do you practice massage therapy? Do you know anyone looking for a similar opportunity?
p.s. Schools that require the Business Mastery book in their curriculum are good places to send anyone looking for this type of opportunity.