Stacy Siddle, L.M.T., 38, of Highland Hills, Ohio, recently graduated from Cuyahoga Community College with an associate’s degree in massage therapy. A $1,000 grant from the Successful Hands Grant Program, sponsored by Biofreeze, Massage Envy Spa and Bon Vital', made it possible for her to take an additional semester of advanced massage courses to add to her skill set. Siddle was one of eight massage therapy students who won the grant by submitting a 200-word essay on “What being a successful massage therapist means to me.”
“Many times our clients will not be able to articulate exactly where the discomfort resides,” wrote Siddle in her winning essay. “In these instances, we must act as private investigator[s] looking for clues from the body in order to solve the mystery.”
FutureLMT.com interviewed Siddle to get some more insights into how she chose massage therapy as her new career—and what she has found most rewarding about it.
When and how did you decide massage was the right career for you?
I have an autoimmune disorder, and I’ve been seeing doctors my whole life. Somebody told me maybe massage therapy would help me. I went to see a massage therapist. I had seen other therapists before but mostly in a spa-like atmosphere, just for relaxation, but [this time] I went and had an abdominal massage for the first time maybe two years ago—and it really helped me. I thought, ‘Gosh, after all this time I could have been doing this all along.’ I thought, 'I want to help people in that way. I want people to think of massage therapy first, rather than doctors.'
What kind of work did you do before becoming a massage therapist?
I went to college right when I graduated high school, but I didn’t finish because the major I picked was broadcasting, and it wasn’t something that interested me. I was a gardener for public spaces in the town where I lived. I needed to do something else. I like the fact that with massage therapy the schedule can be sort of flexible.
Are you working as a massage therapist yet?
I am—I got my license on Dec. 11. I had my first interview today, a phone interview with a lady who said she would like to bring me aboard and train me in the way they do massage there. They do a lot of hot stone work. It’s not a full-time [position], just as-needed right now, but I’m also seeing private clients.
What are your specialties?
I finished the massage program at Cuyahoga Community College [and] they offer advanced courses, so I went back and took those. It was a lot of trigger-point work, myofascial release, muscle energy technique, a lot of stretching and facilitated stretching. And I like that aspect a lot—moving the body around more instead of just letting it be on the table.
How did the Successful Hands Grant help you?
I was able to cover the last part of my school, the advanced stuff. I got a degree, which is great—and I also bought a table.
What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of becoming a massage therapist?
This is just from working at the advanced clinic at school: It’s the instant gratification you can see on someone. You know, they come in in pain and then they’re able to be more relaxed and in less pain when they get off the table. You can see it right then. I’ve met with people afterwards to check, to see if the techniques actually worked, and a lot of times they did. That’s rewarding to me.
In five years, where do you see yourself and your career?
Hopefully I’ll have enough clients that I can sustain my own business. I think maybe 25 or 30 clients a week would be ideal, and I would be happy with that.
The Successful Hands Grant Program™, developed through the collaborative efforts of Biofreeze®, Massage Envy Spa® and Bon Vital'®, supports professional massage therapy students and their schools. The 2016 program, which launches March 1, allows students to apply for one of eight $1,000 grants. In addition, each winner’s school will receive a $500 grant and a $500 product package.