(By Matthew Chan) As a health and fitness enthusiast, I have always sought new skills and knowledge to add to my repertoire. In 2018 I took an interest in massage training. After searching for the best massage therapy school near me, I stumbled upon the massage therapy school IKRA Academy of Massage Therapy and immediately enrolled in their Introduction to Swedish Massage I workshop. This decision had changed the trajectory of my life, opening doors to amazing new opportunities, leading to a fulfilling career helping others through massage therapy. Here is my life-changing journey as a student at IKRA.
My Introduction to Massage Therapy Training
Being completely new to the massage industry, the Introduction to Swedish Massage I workshop was recommended by the adviser at IKRA to kickstart my path as a potential massage therapist. At this stage, I was unsure of whether I wanted to pursue a career in massage therapy, but I did have an interest in learning massage techniques. The workshop lasted two weekends, but within that short time, I learned enough Swedish massage therapy techniques to perform a one-hour full-body massage, which I practiced on friends and loved ones—all of whom were very impressed. This workshop is where students find out whether or not massage therapy is the right path for them. By the end of this introductory workshop, I did not hesitate; I knew right away that a career in massage therapy was the perfect fit for me. I fell in love with massage and was ready to learn more to become a professional massage therapist.
A Journey of Personal Growth
Upon completing the introductory workshop, I signed up for IKRA’s fulltime Swedish Massage I program. This massage course included classes in anatomy, physiology, and of course, massage techniques, expanding on the Swedish massage techniques learned in the intro course as well as many new maneuvers. Something that I did not expect to study in a massage program, was the self-development and personal growth aspects.
Throughout the program, I learned to address my weaknesses as a person as a means of improving my interpersonal skills so that I can better handle the various unexpected situations that may arise with an aggressive or emotional client. The professors at IKRA taught me that emotions and trauma can be stored in the muscles, and when those muscles are massaged, it can cause the client to release emotionally—if you are not prepared to guide a client through this, it can affect their experience during a session. Classes such as Helping Relations and Sexuality forced me out of my comfort zone and prepared me for unpredictable situations that all massage therapists should be ready for.
As I progressed through these classes, I developed a new sense of self-awareness and self-confidence. I had noticed an improvement in certain aspects of my life such as personal, romantic, and professional relationships. Thanks to IKRA’s training, I was better able to make quick decisions and deal with confrontational situations as a professional. After completing this course, I received my massage diploma and was now eligible to start working professionally in the field.
My Career in Massage
Massage therapy is a growing industry and there is always an abundance of jobs available for new massage therapists. When I received my Swedish Massage I certification, I immediately began working for several spas around Montreal. Although I was being booked constantly, something I noticed was that my hunger for knowledge was growing. I decided to cut back on my hours at the spas to focus more on my studies at IKRA, who offers a wide range of massage workshops and professional programs. I wanted to grow my skillset in massage so I can have more ways to help my clients. IKRA’s hefty menu of courses enticed me to take one class after the other, allowing me to add more tools to my toolkit.
My Continued Growth At IKRA
The amazing thing about working as a massage therapist is that you can set your own hours. While working part-time as a massage therapist, I was taking more massage therapy classes at IKRA such as Kine I (sports massage), Tuina Chinese Massage, Reflexology, Chair Massage, and more.
More Skills, More Jobs
Taking more courses and earning more certifications looks very impressive on your resume—some spas will pay you more if you have more certifications. As my list of certifications grew, so did my job offerings. I was in high-demand not only among spas, but from my growing list of personal clients as well. Taking more classes also allows you to find out what style of massage you want to focus on. For example, some massage therapists choose to become sports therapists, some become reflexologists, and others incorporate different styles into their own unique practice. After acquiring my Chair Massage certificate at IKRA, I developed a particular interest in Chair Massage because I enjoyed the fast-paced environment of a chair massage setting—as opposed to the slower, more relaxed atmosphere of a spa. I decided to focus more on chair massage for public and private events as well as corporate events.
Opening My Own Massage Business
Eventually, I left all my jobs at the spas to focus fulltime on my business. I teamed up with a fellow IKRA student to start our own massage therapy business together, focusing on mobile massage, going to the clients’ locations to massage them in the comfort of their own homes. Additionally, thanks to our Chair Massage certificates and our growing reputation, we acquired more corporate chair massage contracts at various companies around the city. We also received more chair massage bookings for private events such as bachelorette parties, birthday parties, weddings and fundraisers. Our services were growing in popularity and we were expanding rapidly.
Combining the knowledge from our work experiences and the knowledge we learned from the Professional Aspects class taught in IKRA’s Swedish Massage I program, we were able to grow our clientele and grow our business to the point where we had to start hiring massage therapists to take over our appointments. We now have a growing team of massage therapists working under us, taking care of our clients so we can focus our time and energy on expanding the business and finding new ways to adapt to the growing industry.
My Continued Success Through Challenging Times
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many spas were forced to close due to a lack of business. However, my partner and I found ourselves getting booked more than before; we continued to hire more massage therapists to fill in the increased demand for in-home table massages and on-site chair massages. Our ability to adapt and make the proper decisions and adjustments during these challenging times were all thanks to IKRA’s training, and it is because of them that our business continues to thrive no matter what challenges may arise.
The day I stepped into IKRA Academy of Massage Therapy was the day my life changed for the best. When you complete your training at IKRA, not only do you leave as a fully-qualified and certified massage therapist, but you also leave as the best version of yourself. The lessons I learned at IKRA continue to guide me through every aspect of my life, allowing me to grow as a massage therapist, businessman, and as a person. I remain a lifelong student of IKRA massage academy and I owe my success to their amazing team of professors, advisers and directors.