Everyone has to start somewhere. At one stage or another even the best therapists were beginners.
It would be too easy to say that we all start in the same way, with a qualification. I suppose we technically do all start in sports massage at this point, but I would argue that we each have a background that will inform what we take specifically from the qualification, our particular interests, and the way in which we then develop our career.
For example, take myself. I started studying sports science. During my degree I found that we learnt lots of amazing theory but did very little hands on practical as such. I therefore decided to start the level three sports massage qualification. At that time, I had very little intention of using the qualification. I thought that I might treat a few people alongside my degree, but was more interested in the skills it would give me, as well as building my CV. However, as I started learning, with Tamsin as my tutor, I started to enjoy the actual treatment side, especially as I was starting to get some good results and feedback. Within my degree course I opted to study sports injuries and medicine, which worked really well alongside the massage, and gave me a different insight to what I was learning. From here I managed to get myself on a placement with Bristol rugby, steering me directly from my qualification, into the industry in a very sports, rehabilitation and injury focused way. From here I progressed to my level four qualification and then have worked stints in clinics but have also focused on my own freelance work, knowing that I am far better as my own boss, and that I love the flexibility and variety that offers me. In order to do this I started treating friends for a highly discounted rate, allowing then to stay on that rate if they kept referring people to me, and this worked really well for me! Its not easy but that’s my journey!
Tamsin however, started working in offices before being made redundant. At this point someone recommended that she went into beauty therapy, as she was good at practical things. Through this, Tamsin discovered that she was actually quite good at massaging, however the pampering side of beauty therapy was not so appealing. As a result, and after some research, she undertook a sports massage qualification, despite no particular interest in sport, apart from lifting the odd weight! Once qualified, Tamsin started working for herself, alongside a full time job. In order to help build the client base, Tamsin was able to work alongside her sister in law, who was a personal trainer at the time. After probably one to two years, Tamsin had developed enough business to give up her job and start massaging full time. Through taking opportunities to meet people at events, Tamsin was offered a post working within a sports injury clinic, and the rest as they say is history. This background in care and therapy has enabled Tamsin to develop a much more holistic approach to treating, meaning that she can focus on a bigger picture, not solely on the sport or injury in question.
In contrast, while teaching I have come across people from all different backgrounds, and as with both Tamsin and I, this can inform their initial approach to treatment, and often their starting point in the industry. These examples are not exhaustive and are certainly only illustrative of a few different options. The first examples may be personal trainers looking for a new career, or something to up skill themselves. These individuals come from typically a more training perspective, and will focus potentially on how to get more from their clients training. They will often then approach their start in the industry through their existing client base, or gyms, which can be a really nice starting point, but typically less clinical and involves working with fit and healthy people.
Another route may be parents, or a family member, just looking to help their own families, often kids who do sport. This is a really interesting entry point as we have worked with people who often don’t go on to be employed within the massage industry, but they are still able to deliver safe and effective massages, with a good qualification to back them up. I have known individuals to go on and pick up more of a paid role later on, but this might not always be the case, and there is nothing wrong with this as an approach or interest.
Others come into this qualification looking for a complete career change. Depending on their life experience they will each take something very different from the course; some liking a more theoretical approach to treatment, some more holistic. Their entry into the industry as a result is typically varied, but we have always supported our students with placements and also references where appropriate for professional and paid roles, be that in clinics or sports clubs.
So as you can see there is no set type of person who can start this qualification, and no right way into massaging longer term. What I love about this profession is the different people that come in, and what they can bring to their treatment as a result of their own experiences. What we hope to do through the school of sports massage is to mentor and assist from whatever entry route you choose meaning that you don’t start out in the industry alone.