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Bodywork Buddy: business management software for the solo therapist that keeps you organized and makes tax time a breeze.

Showing posts with label just for fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label just for fun. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Advice From Strangers

When I was about 2 years into being a massage therapist, I had a stranger going through massage school contact me for advice on being in the biz. They found me through a live journal massage group (which reminds me, I think I have to log into live journal before they delete my username). I was flattered and confused at the same time. It seemed weird to be asking someone so new in the business for advice. It was a class assignment for her and she had a list of specific questions that she emailed me and I could answer at my leisure. They didn’t look too hard, so I did it. I remember trying to answer thoughtfully and I really hoped they were helpful. She, of course, thanked me, but I never heard from her again, so I have no idea how it went. 

Several years later, a massage therapist that I had received a massage from emailed me for advice on how to make it through those first struggling years of being self employed. I thought about this email for a long time and how to answer it. She wanted me to tell her what to do, and I just couldn’t do that. I didn’t know her needs well enough, and frankly it wouldn’t have helped her succeed. When you are self employed, you are the one that makes the decisions, and when you let others decide for you… well, you aren’t happy. I answered her the best I could, but I never heard from her again. I learned later that she gave up on being a massage therapist, which made me sad since she had only been at it 5 months. 

This very evening I had a sales call from my Alma Mater asking for a donation. The gentleman asked what I did for a living as part of their questionnaire and when I told him I was a Massage Therapist he immediately started asking me about it. He too, was thinking of going to school for massage therapy after his undergrad. It got me thinking about how often I get asked for advice from strangers and about what information they are actually looking for. 

These days it’s easy to find advice online, even hire a business coach to help you with all the technical details. There are blogs galore on how you should be and what you should do and how you are probably doing it all wrong. When I think about the advice I wanted when I was starting out, and the advice these strangers asked of me, I wondered what was it they really wanted to hear. 

I think I wanted to hear "we all screw up sometimes, but we learn from our mistakes”, and "even though it feels impossible to imagine this as your full time career, it is something you can do, so keep at it." So, here are some things that I’ve learned in the last decade or so that have helped me be a better massage therapist and a better businesswoman. These PRO TIPS come from personal, if sometimes embarrassing, experience and changed the way I practiced. Some of the lessons are more subtle than others, but all of them make me laugh when I think about them (even though they didn’t when they were happening). 

This is something I did not learn in school, or even given the hint of it occurring. If you have a stool that you put under the face cradle… there is a good chance that your comatose client will mindlessly drool and it will land right where you put your hand to move your chair, or right where you sit when you’re ready to do some neck work. Gross doesn’t even begin to cover it. I now keep clean towels near by and plenty of hand sanitizer (which came in handy when I was later surprised by the lovely odor of CHEESE FEET). 

I work in a building with a back entrance for staff. After a habitually late client no-showed one day, I called to see what was up. It turned out I was in the back chatting away with a staff member and she was up front knocking on the locked door. We are all human and fallible, but unlocking the door is a no-brainer. We had a laugh about it and it worked out for me, but it reminded me to be present for even mundane things when I’m at the office and to laugh at myself every now and again. 

I live in the type of community that doesn’t require you to lock your doors during the day. For years, I never locked the front door of my office (see pro-tip #2) even though I was almost always there alone… until one day a city pipe leaked in the street and the city waterworks guy came in jovially calling hello over and over again… and then proceeded to open every office door including my treatment room until he found someone. It wasn’t a crisis, but he just wanted to make sure it was okay to look at our building pipes… my client wasn’t too perturbed (I was able to save her dignity in time) and I received a heartfelt apology from the workers supervisor. However, I now lock the doors and put up a sign saying I’m in session… even if I’m not expecting anybody.

Sometimes your clients are talkers. In trying to keep my boundaries AND be friendly, I would share what I thought was a TINY tidbit about myself thinking ’they don’t really care, they will forget it in couple of hours', but I have found the opposite to be true. I had a client that asked me if I liked sports. No, not really, but I want to be friendly, so I say “I played basketball in high school, but I don’t really follow sports these days”. A year and half later I saw this client again and all he talked about was basketball and his grandkids… which would be fine, except he then tried to set me up with one (he had a flattering, but inaccurate inference of my age). Other clients will bring up topics (about my dog or getting stuck in a snow bank) that I never remember talking to them about. I see so many people during the day, I can’t remember everything I say. Being vague and non-committal might be the better option here… but really I think it’s best to just let them talk and you just zip it. Obviously, you have to have some conversation, just remember they won’t forget what you said as fast as you will.

I once had a client show up on time for an appointment… according to her watch. Unfortunately, the night before she had just flown in from the east coast AND Daylight Savings started, so she was an hour late. She was extremely embarrassed, and I wasn’t able to squeeze her in for a few days. I started calling people who were ten minutes late to their appointments to “check in with them”. Sometimes they were able to make it to the appointment for a shorter session time and that translated to productive time for me and a super grateful client for still squeezing them in when they obviously made the mistake. Sometimes it pointed out my flaws: "I cancelled that appointment and rescheduled… remember?!” and helped me make changes in my front desk procedure to make sure my schedule was accurate — which dramatically cut down on the desire to demonize clients in my mind and rue the day they were born. That’s never good for morale.

Okay, this is more of an philosophical tip, but I swear by it. There are so many ways to use it. My favorite ways are: get a massage for myself; read massage therapy blogs/groups/articles; search the internet for cool things to get for my office one day; do chores that I bitch about never having time for; going to lunch with my sister; or watching that last episode of New Girl. All these things sound like time wasters or unproductive time, but when I’m busy I never get to do those things and I feel exhausted and drained and detached from my life. These activities all address some aspect of my whole person, not just working person. If I’m feeling overwhelmed by my day, having lunch with my sister (it can be a bag lunch at a park) will rejuvenate me when I’m back in the office. Downtime is good time, don’t waste it by fretting about it so much.

Beefy, garlicky, and peppery do not go away fast enough no matter how much mouthwash or essential oils you use.  The smell just becomes weirder when you add peppermint to that combo. Trust me. Even if your client brought you the venison jerky, just save it for later… much later. 

P. S. Here is a bonus for you: 
It's just polite and it keeps you humble. This goes for clients as well as others that inspire or help you in life. I would be remiss if didn't thank Ginger Glomski for her more "colorful" PROTIPS which not only had me laughing, but inspired this post, and Cindy Iwlew for sharing her blog audience with me and giving me an opportunity to write for others. 

As you can imagine, everyone has a list of things they never thought would affect the way they do business and perhaps even set a path towards success. So, go ahead, make mistakes; learn from them. You can do this. What are your PRO TIPS?

Erin Howk, BS, BCTMB

Thursday, February 7, 2013

“Trigger Point Ninja ™” – He’s “Knot” Your Average Ninja

“Trigger Point Ninja ™” – He’s “Knot” Your Average Ninja

New Free Web Series for the “Stealth & Wellness” Community Serves Up Thrills, Chills, and One Heckuva TriggerPoint Smackdown

by Susan Epperly, B.A., L.M.T.I., C.M.T., Co-Owner & Creative Principal at Tiger Lily Studios & Creator of Trigger Point Ninja

Those of you who know me know that, in addition to being a Clinical Massage Therapist and Massage Therapy Instructor, I’m a vocal advocate of using fun, humor, and creativity to spread the word about the virtues of massage & bodywork.  Not only do I believe in laughter as real medicine, but I also consider humor to be a powerful, unparalleled learning & teaching tool.  As far as I’m concerned, the wackier, goofier, and sillier the presentation, the better the lesson is learned and the longer the information is remembered.  My comic, “A Touch of Humor,” which is a regular feature in ABMP’s “Massage & Bodywork” magazine, is one example of my creative exploits.  And another recent example of my insatiable need to engage in arsty-fartsy endeavors is the web series that my husband & creative partner, Shane, and I have created through our production company, Tiger Lily Studios.

The all new show, Trigger Point Ninja™, chronicles the eponymous character’s single handed (in fact, single digited!) war on the worldwide terrorist organization known as Myofascial Trigger Points.  A great learning and teaching tool for health & wellness practitioners and laypeople alike, each five minute episode incorporates educational components as well as quirky humor and tongue-in-cheek action & adventure.  Episode one, “Deadly Traps,” focuses on the trigger point terrorists that harbor out in the trapezius muscle, while future episodes will feature the trigger point terrorist cells that terrorize a variety of other muscles.   

Happily, since having released the pilot episode on January 1st, we’ve enjoyed phenomenally positive responses from our colleagues, clients, and even a variety of folks in the entertainment industry.  While some have wondered how on earth we managed to come up with this character and how we made the connection between Trigger Point Therapy, deadly ninjas, and worldwide terrorist organizations, if you’ve studied Trigger Point Therapy (the modality in which Shane and I specialize), you understand that it’s really not that far of a stretch. 

Trigger points can sometimes act as covert saboteurs (latent trigger points), or as spectacularly bullying “super villains” (active trigger points).  Despite being confined to their assigned “headquarters,” they are able to wreak havoc in a variety of remote locations.  They operate as members of terrorist cells, and have specific relationships with one another, including hierarchies comprised of “kingpins” (key trigger points) and “lackey henchmen” (satellite trigger points).  Their effects can spread from one territory to the next and “corrupt” neighboring regions  (creating complexes of postural dysfunction and compensatory patterns).  And as Trigger Point Therapists, we know that we must be stealthy and clever in order to outsmart and usurp these terrorists.  We know that we must first eliminate a key trigger point (the “kingpin”) if we stand any chance of defeating its satellite trigger point(s) (its “lackey henchmen”).  We also know that we must act stealthily and surreptitiously, so as to “slip in under the radar.”  (The nervous system’s radar, that is.)  We’ve all had experiences wherein we attempt to “attack” a trigger point too quickly, too aggressively, or too brazenly, only to find that our client’s nervous system “shuts us out” (by tensing up and guarding the musculature).  If we take a more furtive approach, however, we can patiently wait for the most opportune moment, and then gently, quietly, and stealthily slip in, zero in on the trigger point, and “assassinate” it, much like a shrewd and stealthy ninja silently and meticulously stalks and overcomes his prey.

If you haven’t seen Trigger Point Ninja ™ Episode 1, “Deadly Traps,” I hope you’ll check it out.  Whether you’re a seasoned Trigger Point Therapist, a practitioner who is just starting to explore this amazingly powerful modality, or even if you’re hopeful that Trigger Point Therapy can potentially help relieve your own pain, you’ll find plenty packed into each five minute episode to entertain, educate & engage.  Shane and I have five more episodes slated to be released throughout 2013, with Episode 2 coming out on March 1st

The best way to make sure you don’t miss an episode is to subscribe to the Tiger Lily Studios YouTube channel  You’ll also find a variety of fun previews there, as well as the animated video versions of my “A Touch of Humor” comics.  Becoming a fan on Facebook ( or following Trigger Point Ninja ™ on Twitter (@TrP_Ninja) are also great ways to keep up with this “stealth & wellness” hero, and joining “The Ninja Network” at will ensure that you receive official briefings about this Myofascial Master’s noble missions and clandestine exploits, as well as lots of fun freebies.

I’d like to extend a big “Thank You!” to Cindy Iwlew and Bodywork Buddy massage software for the opportunity to share this project with you, and Trigger Point Ninja ™ is proud to count the Bodywork Buddy folks as allies in The War on Trigger Points!

Tweetable: zero in on the trigger point, and “assassinate” it

Susan Epperly, B.A.. L.M.T.I., C.M.T., is a Clinical Massage Therapist in private practice in Downtown Austin Texas, specializing in Trigger Point Therapy.  She and her husband, Shane, in addition to operating their practice, also own Tiger Lily Studios, LLC (, through which they produce creative content for the health & wellness industry.  Tiger Lily Studios’ goal is to “Entertain, Educate & Engage” an audience of practitioners and laypeople alike.  Susan’s creative credits also include the Massage Therapy comic, “A Touch of Humor,” and creating “Trigger Point Ninja ™.”   

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving [Infographic]

This Thanksgiving, the Bodywork Buddy team is incredibly thankful for our members.  Without you, Bodywork Buddy wouldn't be possible.  Thank you!

And now, some useless facts about Thanksgiving :-)

Happy Thanksgiving [Infographic]

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cool Tool: TweetSheet

Check out this nifty site that creates a graphic report of your activity on Twitter:

It's free and only takes a few seconds.  A great way to get a glimpse of what twitter marketing is working best for you!

Cindy Iwlew is co-founder of Bodywork Buddy Massage Software, a complete online management solution for independent massage therapists that includes online scheduling. She continues to operate her own private massage practice of 13 years.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


I posted this video on our Facebook page a while back.  But with this recent article detailing how Pinterest is now sending more web traffic than Yahoo Search, I thought it was worth a blog post about using Pinterest for your massage business.

I'm not sure that using Pinterest will directly bring you more massage clients, and I've found conflicting information on whether or not it helps with search engine optimization.  But that being said, if you happen to be on Pinterest anyway, and enjoy it - why not create some pins for your massage biz?

I think a board with info on self-care for clients would be valuable.  Put your Pinterest link on your website and direct clients to your boards for info on health, massage, self-care, etc.  It could be a great resource for your current clients if nothing else.

What do you think?  Do you have a Pinterest account?  Have you noticed an increase in traffic to your website from it?

Share your Pinterest page in the comments below so we can all follow you.

Cindy Iwlew is co-founder of Bodywork Buddy Massage Software, a complete online management solution for independent massage therapists that includes online scheduling. She continues to operate her own private massage practice of 13 years.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Massage at the Paralympics: Followup Post

In August, I wrote a post about fellow therapist Jen Tamang volunteering at the Paralympic Games in London.  As a followup,  I asked Jen a few questions about her experience.

Many thanks to Jen for sharing her story!

What first got you interested in the Paralympics?
My first exposure to the Paralympic Games was when I was selected to be on the international sports massage team for the Athens Paralympic Games in 2004. Working in the Athletes Village was amazing and I felt so thrilled to be working along with top therapist's from around the world.  This was just a great opportunity to do two things I love, travel and massage!  I learned so much about the tragedy and triumph of many athletes and could not ignore the energy of their passion to be there competing.  When I returned home, I realized many ways to remain involved with a particular sport that I grew to love called Goalball, which is for the visually impaired.  WMU has a wonderful blind/low vision program and Kalamazoo also is base for the State of Michigan Commission for the Blind.  I went all the way to Greece to learn about this sport that was so active right in my back yard!  :-)

What did you have to do to be chosen to volunteer there?
For both Athens and London, it was over a year long process to be selected for the massage team.  Out of thousands of applicants only a handful are chosen.  It is a true honor!  A series of applications narrow down the possibilities and then a phone interview as well as background checks and on-line trainings for your venue and role specific duties.  Scurry to get what was needed and then wait and wait and wait.  Worth every wrinkle.  

How many hours did you work each day?  
A typical day was about 8 hours per shift including an hour break for a meal in the volunteer cafeteria.  With about a 90 minute commute door to door, it did make for a long day, but I really enjoyed feeling like I was living there and people watching was always interesting too.  

How many people did you work on?   
Our shift consisted of 30 minutes sessions per client.  I would see anywhere between 5-15 client's depending on how busy the day went.  Never knew until you show up and it was almost all walk-in basis.  On slow days, we were allowed passes to the Olympic Park and walked around and enjoyed just being there!

How many were the athletes?
Athletes have priority if there was a line of people waiting, but we worked on anyone who lived in the Village.  Coaches, trainers and Chef De Missions came in looking for relief from their very important and stressful job!

How much down time did you have and what did you do or see in London while you were there?
Typically, after 2-3 days of working, you would have a day off.  The shift manager was very relaxed about switching days off as long as you had someone to cover your shift.  They know you are there to enjoy the experience and not just work work work.  Although there was plenty of that too.  :-)

What was the most inspirational thing you saw while there?
There were so many inspirational moments and this is why I make the time and effort (and $$) to keep going to these events.  I come back completely exhausted, yet renewed and with a totally different outlook on life. Priorities shift and become clear.  It is exhilarating to work on individuals who are normal everyday people and then get to transform and showcase their superhuman athleticism on a world stage.  I indulge in feeling that I am a part of what I can to help turn their dream into reality.  Massage has such a profound affect with these athletes.  Making a great athletic performance into a WINNING athletic performance.  That is gold for me!

Jen also added how awesome it was that 2.5 MILLION tickets sold (that is sold out!) to watch the events and opening and closing ceremonies and to even get into the Olympic Park!  The impact this will have on the young generation (in England at least) seeing and experiencing these games will be amazing in the hopes that they will be a more aware and compassionate group of humans.  Even the impact for adults is inspiring to give recognition to these amazing athletes.  It's pretty darn cool that the Paralympic Games were so well received and sought out by the London and surrounding community.

What do you think?  Have you ever considered volunteering for such an event?

Cindy Iwlew is co-founder of Bodywork Buddy Massage Software, a complete online management solution for independent massage therapists that includes online scheduling

She continues to operate her own private massage practice of 13 years.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Exceeded Expectations

      • I thought that once I was out of school that would be it. I would have a trade and go on with my "job"! I learn new and exciting things everyday either from another therapist, my clients, my co-workers. I am always growing in my profession and the knowledge and experience available to me is truly limitless! Love what I do!

      •  Emotional it is very fulfilling. Financially, although I run a big shop, its still a struggle, but I am thankful. Physically, I am thankful to not have secretary spread from an office job. ;)

      •  I love how I learn something new from Every Body, AND some days what I learn is immediately applicable to someone else, like the universe tried extra hard to pull off awesome synchronicity :)

      •  yes it has! Never dreamed of being to be so successful that I could pay my mortgage, support my family and allow my wife to stay home with the kids and to still enjoy to do all the things in life I love. Plus being able to go to a job you love is beyond words!

      •  Its the most spiritually fulfilling job a person can have. I especially love the success stories that come from my rehab clients. When someone's carpal tunnel syndrome or migraines are relieved from my work. It's amazing! PLUS I have a flexible schedule which means I get to spend more time with my children. Super bonus!

      •  When I first started school, I thought I would just learn a trade. Little did I know that it was going to be my passion and be in love with my career. It's not only made me care more about my health, but become more compassionate for others. Truly am I blessed for being a therapist.

      •  I was sure how far my career would I have been practicing for 10 years. I even was blessed with an opportunity to teach for 4 years. Massage has opened many doors. I have been so graciously allowed to contribute to the massage community & can wait to see how many more years I will be blessed to contribute.

      •  Started in 1996!! Took a leave from 2003-2008! Had my first child...self employed renter in a small salon now!! Work 10-15 hours a week!! Kids NO daycare!! Work around husbands schedule!! Have retail products and massage and net 2500/month!! What more could a wife/mother ask for!

      •  My favorite part is when a person comes in bent with pain and WALKS out.

      •  This week, for the first time, a client broke down and cried on my table. It was unsettling at first, but she was so grateful to feel good in the midst of an emotionally taxing storm in her personal life. I'm so thankful to not only help people feel good physically, but to help release people from their mental and emotional pain as well. It is an absolute honor, and I hope to always be able to touch those who need it with love and compassion. ♥ I never knew that "work" could be such a reward before becoming an LMT.

      •  My favorite part of being a LMT is that a client walks/shuffles in, gets on my table, I work on their problem(s) and they are thanking me on the spot, and walking upright. Recently I had a woman who had been living with a pain in her shoulder for 8 months, and after 15 minutes of trigger point therapy it was gone. Another was a 12y/o boy who has had a stressful youth - problems sleeping, home life, etc. and at 12 y/o he was convinced nothing else would work, he fell asleep on my table and told his mom he wants to come back to see me. :) I love my career.

      •  Not crazy about starting out, spending more $ than I've made the past year. But....I love the happy, stress-relieved clients. What better job is that, where people always leave so happy?!

      •  On top of all the other great things about being self employed, helping many people every day, and being in love with the work itself, I didn't think it could be really lucrative, but I was wrong. It can be- and it is!

      •  ‎30+ years later, I'm still here. Every day I am humbled by how blessed I am to have broken out of the mold and followed my own path. Who knew? :)

      Pretty awesome, right?  So then as a followup, I

       asked (TWICE!) how a massage career has not 

      met expectations.  The response?


      Hm, I think that says a lot!

      How has massage exceeded your expectations?

      Cindy Iwlew is co-founder of Bodywork Buddy Massage Software, a complete online management solution for independent massage therapists that includes online scheduling

      She continues to operate her own private massage practice of 13 years.

      door photo:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

11 Ways Getting a Massage is Better Than Taking a Vacation

Bummed you didn't plan a vacation this summer?  Can't take the time to work in a getaway?  Consider these reasons why getting a massage is better than taking a vacation.  (And then schedule your massage).
  1. No sunburn, tan lines, or skin damage.
  2. You'll smell like heavenly essential oils afterward, instead of like salty sea water, pool chlorine, or stuffy airplane air.
  3. It only takes an hour of your time & a short commute to get there.  No long flights involved (usually).
  4. A massage won't break the bank.
  5. You can squeeze a massage in during your lunch break or after work hours.  No requesting time off from work. (ok, this could be a con as well as a pro...)
  6. Your shoulders and back will feel nice and loose versus how they will feel after hauling luggage through an airport.
  7. No stress of planning what to do on your vacation.  Just lie back, close your eyes, and relax.
  8. No hangovers.
  9. No layovers.
  10. You won't come back feeling like you "need a vacation from your vacation".
  11. No groping from airport security.

What are some of the reasons you would add to this list?

Cindy Iwlew is co-founder of Bodywork Buddy Massage Software, a complete online management solution for independent massage therapists that includes online scheduling

She continues to operate her own private massage practice of 13 years.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Creative Lighting for Your Massage Room

Remember the beautiful homemade artwork featured in Massage Pin-Spiration?

Here's another gorgeous idea from Pinterest.  The original pin includes this in the description: use tall canvas, apply stickers, decal, etc., and spray paint. Remove Decals; hang white lights behind it.
(I haven't tried this... if you have, I would love for you to send a pic for everyone to see how it turned out!)

This would be a great addition to your massage room, yes?

Do you have creative soft lighting ideas for a massage room?  Share what's worked well for you in the comments.

Cindy Iwlew is co-founder of Bodywork Buddy Massage Software, a complete online management solution for independent massage therapists that includes online scheduling

She continues to operate her own private massage practice of 13 years.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Poetry, Massage and... Naps?

Remember writing haiku poems in school?  Here's a little prose I wrote about client cancellations.  

While this is all in fun, I did find this great list of massage haikus that are quite lovely.  And what an awesome idea this therapist had.  According to the website, she traded massage for a poem in an informal research project to study individuals' perceptions of massage and inner states of being catalyzed by massage. 
You can read all of the poems at her website

Feeling poetic? 
Write & share your massage haiku in the comments below.  (Reminder: the syllables are 5,7,5.)

Cindy Iwlew is co-founder of Bodywork Buddy Massage Software, a complete online management solution for independent massage therapists that includes online scheduling

She continues to operate her own private massage practice of 13 years.