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What Are the Leadership Tips from Two Successful Entrepreneurs?

Stephen D’Angelo and Carol Christopher are two successful entrepreneurs who share their great leadership tips.

  • Originally Published January 5, 2022

Stephen D’Angelo is a best-selling author and Silicon Valley veteran with more than 30 years of experience in the tech industry. He has led global sales organizations as a CRO and served as CEO and President of both private and publicly traded companies. Stephen has been an integral part of IPO’s and company acquisitions and has helped build global organizations that become leaders in their respective market segments.

A single day of peace

His book A Single Day of Peace serves as a guide for self-empowerment and how to climb to success in both business and personal endeavors.

Here are Stephen’s 9 Leadership Tips

#1 Winning

A leader must believe the business can win, but winning is partly dependent on the other principles of leadership.

#2 Accountability

Leaders must be accountable for their actions.  Since your team will hold you accountable and you will instill accountability in them, it’s a two-way street. Both groups need to be totally accountable.

#3 Transparency

Things don’t run smoothly in a business all the time.  There are many bumps in the road.  Acknowledge the bumps and be transparent if you don’t have all the answers.  Brainstorming with your team to come up with creative solutions will make for a stronger business.

#4 Continuous Learning

Learning comes in different forms and shapes for all of us.  From YouTube to books, courses, and learning from each other.  If you are stuck, learning from a coach or mentor can be invaluable.   Don’t be afraid to reach out.

#5 Process and Metrics

If your business has effective and efficient processes (think Amazon) then you will delight your customers and you can measure your results.  The metrics are powerful for customer retention and improvement.

Equally important are the processes for each of your job functions.  If an employee understands what is expected and feels supported, then you will get the maximum output.

#6 Customer and Market Driven

Nothing provides repeat business like customer satisfaction.  If you are focused on your customer’s repeat business is almost guaranteed.   They will stick with you even in times where you might have supply chain or capacity issues if you are transparent and accountable.

#7 Leverage Diversity

If you only hire people like you, your company will be one-dimensional.  Diversity in gender and age is important to the growth of your business.  You need diversity of thought and opinion.  Are you open to diversity?

#8 Caring and Recognition of People

Does your business leadership create a caring work environment and recognition of their efforts?  From the bottom to the top, your business culture must set a standard that cares for its employees right from the first day of hire to retirement.

#9 Having Fun

You and your staff spend at least 8 hours a day with each other, so make it a fun and enjoyable place to work.

For more great leadership advice from Stephen D’Angelo, listen to the full interview on our Fabulous Fempreneurship podcast.

Carol Christopher is CEO of Ellis Day Skincare Science and has a solid background in business

Carol has spent more than 25 years in the biopharma industry, focused on translating new technologies into valuable commercial products and sustainable businesses. As Director of CNS Drug Discovery at ALZA Corporation, Carol built ALZA’s CNS pipeline and is an inventor on several of its patented products, which led to ALZA’s sale to Johnson & Johnson for $13B in 2001.  After ALZA, Carol spent 10 years as a founding team member of three consecutive venture capital-backed biopharma companies (AeroGen, Alexza Pharmaceuticals, and NuMedii), where she held executive roles in finance, business development, and product development.

Carol’s advice on Leadership is to think about forming a Collective in your industry.   What is a Collective?  A Collective is a group of people with similar interests who can help each other grow quickly and sustainably.

Carol is the founder of a Collective in the beauty industry.  With over 300 members they help each other with so many phases of their business that each individual business is able to progress at a faster pace because of all the specialized help they receive from other members of the Collective.

The beauty industry has so many competitors that it is amazing that a Collective with this many members was able to launch, given the competitive nature of the business.

Carol said the secret to success was forming relationships with leaders who were like-minded.  And to find leaders who felt this way, Carol found her tribe on Clubhouse.  After many Clubhouse sessions, a core group formed the Collective for common good.   Members are from all across the globe.

From the Clubhouse start, the Collective moved to form a Group on the Slack platform.   With the ease of asking questions within the Slack group, so many issues have been solved for these beauty businesses.

From labeling to regulatory issues, sourcing products to patents, many questions have been answered by members of the Collective.

Carol finds the Collective to be so inspiring to help founders become better leaders of their business that she recommends it to any small business group.  Click here for the full podcast interview with Carol, 

Elaine Slatter

Elaine Slatter is a Small Business Expert, founder of XL Consulting Group and author of the popular book, “Fabulous Fempreneurship”, a complete business guide for women. XL Consulting Group helps entrepreneurs with market planning, strategy, branding, web design and social media. She has over 30 years of executive business and marketing experience and is ready to help you rocket your business to success. Elaine is passionate about mentoring women to become successful women entrepreneurs. To find out more, visit XL Consulting Group or join the Fabulous Fempreneurship mastermind.PrevOlder Stories


How The Gym Has Helped Me Deal With Chronic Pain

Jeffrey L. Klump

“My Second Home”

Dateline: Creve Coeur, MO. USA/October 21st, 2021/Written by: Jeffrey L. Klump


The gym has always been my second home. 

The first gym that I ever trained at was George Turners in Dellwood, Missouri in the late 1970s. 

It was at that gym that I knew I belonged. 

That gym, in particular, had real tough guys training there with names like Jay Rosciglione, Greg Tuck, and “The Beast”, Tom Sumner. 

I remember Sumner having 7 or 8 plates on each side of the barbell deadlift and that barbell was bouncing up and down like a rubber band. 

Guys were in there yelling and screaming while training and that was just a little intimidating for a skinny 15-year-old kid at the time. 

Over the years the names and places of gyms have changed, but for the most part, I have always been comfortable at the gym. 

It has always been a place for me to destress and clear my mind along with strengthening my body. 

Exercise has been the most effective way to strengthen your immune system. 

There is no substitute for exercise. 

The one time that I should have been going to the gym, in my late 40’s but slacked off, was right before my mind was blown and my wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. 

From 2011 to 2015 my time in the gym was rare and at the same time, I was not eating well and abusing alcohol to cope with the stress that my wife would be leaving us. 

By the fall of 2015, I realized that I needed to make some changes quickly, or I would be headed for trouble as well. 

I started watching a chiropractor on YouTube by the name of Eric Berg and he was talking about something that I never heard of even though the gym was my second home. 

The word Ketosis and Ketogenics are the words that he kept using and after watching his videos, I started living the Ketogenic lifestyle.

I started seeing results within a few weeks. 

Then in April of 2016, the day before my wife died, I lifted her up on a porta-potty and she was dead weight. 

I tore something in my right upper back but didn’t know what it was. 

The pain lasted for a while and then over time especially from 2017 to the present, that pain trickled down to my lower back and both sides and all of the ways down to my feet. 

Pain is a constant part of my life now. 

I had my disability hearing yesterday and the judge asked me which positions do I experience the most pain, and I told her, it is worse when I lie down, and sitting down is a close second, and then standing up is still painful but not as bad as the previous two. 

The judge did not ask me when I feel the least pain. 

If she did, I would have told her at the gym. 

When my body is in motion, then and only then, do I feel some relief from pain. 

I rest briefly in between each set and exercise. 

Along with exercising in the gym, I do a lot of stretching and this is so critical especially for people over 40.

Before and after exercising, I sit in the sauna for between 10 to 15 minutes.

Saunas are incredible for ridding your body of toxins, excess water, and pain relief.

They are also important for anyone who has had a stroke or other cardiovascular issues.

After a while, I think I just become numb to pain. 

Taking pain killers and opioids is out, not just because of the dangers involved but also because they constipate me. 

In the summer of 2020, I had an X-Ray done on my lower back.

This was through the Social Security Administration and they would allow only one and no MRI’s which is what I needed and asked for.

The one lower back X-ray revealed Degenerative Disc Disease and Spinal Arthritis.

I am sure there is more going on there but I have not had health insurance since 2017, and there won’t be any way to tell unless my disability case is approved. I will then be eligible for early Medicare. 

If this wasn’t enough, at the end of October 2019, I had a series of 4 strokes.

I am just getting myself back to where I was before this happened. 

It has been a long road back.

The strokes really took it out of me and I still do not feel right. 

Regardless of the outcome of my case, I will be at the gym. 

It is here that I belong.

I am not afraid of a little cold virus. I keep my Vitamin D levels very high. 

I am not afraid of anything in this world except not being able to take care of myself long-term. 

That does bother me and that is why I am here. 

My Second Home.

RELATED:

7 Tips for Exercising When You Have Chronic Pain (spineuniverse.com)

Cardiovascular and Other Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing: A Review of the Evidence – Mayo Clinic Proceedings


Why is Elsa Deen Is the Best Massage Therapist in Saint Louis?

Elsa Deen is the Owner of True Touch Massage and is One of the Fastest Growing Businesses in Massage Therapy.

Dateline: Creve Coeur, MO. USA/October 10th, 2021/Written by: Jeffrey L. Klump


She came from humble beginnings.

Elsa Deen was born and raised in a small village outside of Cebu, Philippines.

Anyone who has ever been to the Philippines or knows someone who has will understand the abject poverty that many people in that part of the world, live in.

Elsa was taught at a young age how important family is and to always respect your parents no matter what.

She began working around the age of 12 to help her parents out and she continues to help them out by sending them money that she earns from her massage therapy business, including to other relatives in the Philippines.

She is one of the most unselfish and hard-working people that you will ever meet.

Elsa came to the United States in 2013 after marrying an American, which is the only way most people from the Philippines can emigrate here, and moved to Saint Louis.

Her husband tragically died and Elsa was left alone with her 4 kids wondering what to do.

She remarried 6 years ago and has 2 additional children with her new husband and decided to go to school for massage therapy.

Elsa attended the Healing Arts Center located in Manchester, Missouri.

She graduated in 2016 and received her certificate as a Certified Massage Therapist.

Later in 2016, Elsa set up her own massage therapy business known as True Touch Massage in Creve Coeur, MO.

Elsa came up with the name True Touch because she was told by several students at her massage therapy school that she really has the gift of touch to help heal any injuries or other physical problems you may have.

She is very attentive to detail and has strong hands for deep tissue massage and reflexology.

She has the ability to help you relax which also helps with any mental or emotional stress that you may be going through including Post-traumatic Stress and grief.

Massage Therapy has also received attention from the prestigious Mayo Clinic.

An article published in January 2021 goes into detail about all of the many benefits of massage therapy. CLICK HERE to read.

Elsa could have worked for one of the national chains in massage therapy but she wanted to be in business for herself and take care of her clients her way, not someone else’s.

Her clients have immense respect for her not just as a massage therapist, but as the beautiful, hard-working, and unselfish person, that she is.

Massage therapy is not only effective for physical problems including Degenerative Disc Disease, Spinal Arthritis, Herniated Disc(s), Spinal Stenosis, and, Osteoporosis but also for mental and emotional issues like Post Traumatic Stress, Grief, and Anxiety.

Elsa makes you feel comfortable and relaxed for your massage and every massage is just as good as the very first one.

Massage therapy use to be referred to as a luxury or pampering yourself.

Those caregivers like Elsa Deen in the Healing Arts Business would disagree with you from day one.

They know how important massage therapy is to your overall health and wellness and they understand that society has put a label on massage therapy that could not further from the truth.

Elsa Deen with True Touch Massage

Everyone should incorporate massage therapy into their overall healthcare routine and not just those who are suffering from physical, mental, or emotional issues.

Massage therapy has proven to be effective at preventing injuries as well as healing injuries. CLICK HERE for the report.

The majority of people sit down during the daytime whether at work or at home and as the years go on, more and more people will be suffering from back problems, in particular, because gravity has a way of compacting on your spinal discs over time and as you age.

Taking care of your back, glutes, and lower body will become a necessity with massage therapy unless you want to take the option of opioids.

Exercise and proper stretching are also necessary especially for those living a sedentary lifestyle.

Elsa Deen will be here to help you with massage therapy. The rest will be up to you.

Elsa Deen has the touch, the True Touch, that makes her the best massage therapist in Saint Louis.


Jeffrey L. Klump is a writer, blogger, digital marketer, and work-from-home business opportunity, specialist. He is also an original member of the Guardian Angels-St. Louis Chapter.




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How to Stop Selling and Start Building a Business

Originally published on Aug 26, 2021

By Paul Cowan


The Day I Stopped Selling and Built a Business

The advertising agency I’d joined was the most competitive and ambitious in London. Building business was hardwired into every one of us. Competition with other internal teams as part of the process. Jumping to the top of the queue above other teams for the next new business prospect gave us more opportunities for winning new business. We were trained to present, to sell, and sell again and again. And I was desperate to succeed.

Failure could be challenging. Our creative teams could be fearsome to deal with. Emotions ran high — sometimes way too high, with unpleasant consequences. I planned to stay for a year or so. But twelve years passed quickly, and I ended up running a big group. The rewards for those of us who succeeded were good, but I wanted more.

I took a big, big risk and started a breakaway agency with seven colleagues. With a full team and a great office in the center of London, we had a stupidly large overhead from Day One. We also had no client and no income. We had to sell to survive. Every single opportunity, every new business prospect, however small, was critical. Our family houses, the school fees, the grocery bills, and everything we owned depended on winning business.

We were good — mostly, very good. Even if we lost a new business pitch, we didn’t give up. Sure, this irritated some prospects, but mostly they appreciated our hunger.

Every idea had to be sold and nurtured. Every opportunity, however small, is exploited. Our lives and our families depended on it. And at the end of the first year, we broke even. Our bankers were so amazed they threw us a private lunch to celebrate.

Then times got edgy. We had big debts. We restructured, redoubled our efforts, and focused harder on winning business. We survived — and produced some outstanding work.

After years and years of selling the agency to prospects, to staff, stakeholders, and selling work to clients, I realized something. I was dog-tired. I was exhausted from filling the leaky bucket of revenue over and over again. I knew it was time to merge my agency and get out. I stopped selling.

New Business. No Selling

After a stint at business school, I was back in business, but this time, on my own. I had no website and no nameplate in my office. I was invisible, and I didn’t sell. I just told past clients and colleagues what I was planning and doing.

For four months, the phone was quiet. Then it rang. I met with the prospect — and instead of selling and telling him about my offer, I just asked questions about his company and what problems required attention. I checked the size, importance, and cost of those problems.

He was interested in working with me, and I was interested in working with him. I wrote a two-paragraph summary of how to tackle the issues and added a price range. It was large and provided good value.

And the phone continued to ring, despite no website, no marketing, no sales activity, and no long submissions. I refused to write submissions – only one-page outlines. I just asked questions.

“Telling is not selling. Only asking questions is selling.” – Brian Tracy

Really. No Selling.

A few years later I co-founded The Client Relationship Consultancy. Again: no website, no marketing, no selling. I met with past colleagues and explained our philosophy. We made them sign a two-way NDA — we would never talk about them, and they would never talk about us.

But they wanted to work with us. As clients moved to new agencies, the word spread and we got more calls. These new prospects wanted credentials presentations. I explained that I would tell them about our business for less than sixty seconds, and about our philosophy and approach for four minutes. At that point, if they did not agree with our approach, we could cut short the meeting and I might be able to suggest others who could be a better fit for them. But no one ever said that. And we still had a two-way NDA.

We never chased after a meeting. If I thought a prospect would not be right for us, I would decline their business. Occasionally, existing clients wanted to do things differently. If whatever they suggested failed to meet our philosophy, we refused to work with them.

I loved this new way of carrying out business. I felt re-energized. And our clients stuck.

To my business partners’ intense irritation, I refused to set annual targets. I did not want to feel that I needed to sell. But over sixteen years, our business grew and grew — to offices and consultants in London, Windsor, Boston, Mexico, Munich, Singapore, and Sydney. Still no website. Still no new business or marketing activity. Still a two-way NDA.

Why It Worked

Why did this approach work? Not having objectives for sales, and not selling, meant that I had a powerful position, equal to that of a prospective client. I could relax. As a result, so could the client. We were able to have adult-to-adult conversations. The prospective clients became less defensive, and more open to me. They were comfortable disclosing deeper, underlying issues.

Both parties had the opportunity to ensure that the ‘fit’ between was tight. Both sides had the chance to ensure that our beliefs were in synch. The result: long-term, enduring relationships, and no leaky buckets anywhere.

RELATED:

How to Sell Anything to Anybody – business.com


How to Benefit From Massage Therapy

How Massage Can Heal the Body and Mind

Think of massage as an indulgence? Perhaps. But it can also be a powerful tool for health and well-being — from easing pain and inflammation to soothing stress and anxiety.

By Catherine Guthrie | Experience Life

Originally Published February 1st, 2020


When Amy Buttell separated from her husband in 2005, her anxiety spiked off the charts. A suddenly single mother, Buttell didn’t have a lot of money to throw around. Still, in the wake of her marital upheaval, she made massage a priority. It helped her weather the storm,  she says, and today, she still finds that getting one or two massages a month helps keep stress at bay. And that helps her defend against physiological tension, too.

“When I’m anxious, I feel all clenched up,” says the 49-year-old marketing communications director from Erie, Pa. “My massage therapist untangles my knots.” Like many people, Buttell values not only the hands-on healing but also the opportunity to power down her brain and nervous system for an hour or so. “Even if I’m short on money,” she says, “I find a way to make it happen.”

Buttell is not alone. Despite massage’s reputation as a self-indulgent luxury, an increasing number of people are embracing it — not just as a “spa treatment,” but as a powerful therapeutic tool.

Americans currently log more than 114 million trips to massage therapists every year. Massage therapists are the second most visited complementary and alternative medicine providers behind chiropractors. All told, Americans spend up to $11 billion a year on massage. And statistics from the American Massage Therapy Association project that over the next five years, that number is likely to grow considerably.

What we’re getting for our money, whether we realize it or not, is an access code of sorts — a healing key capable of opening the body’s stickiest locks.

Scrunching our shoulders, craning our necks, sitting for hours, driving in rush-hour traffic — such mundane activities can create patterns of muscle tension (referred to as “holding”) in the body. And when muscles are chronically tense or tweaked, it can have a nasty effect on both our bodies and our minds.

Persistent musculoskeletal tension can restrict blood circulation and nutrient supplies to the body’s organs and tissues. As the weblike connective tissue (fascia) that envelops the muscles gets increasingly dense and less mobile, it can negatively affect posture and breathing. The experience of low-grade, habitual tension can contribute to chronic hormonal, biochemical, and neurological problems of all kinds.

Massage interrupts such stress-inducing patterns and helps nudge the body back into a natural state of balance.

So what is massage, exactly? Scientists who study its health benefits often use the therapy’s broadest definition: “The manipulation of soft tissue for the purpose of producing physiological effects.”

That clinical definition hardly does massage justice, though. So read on to find out more about the subtleties of various types of massage, and the powerful healing potential they might hold for you.

Alleviate Anxiety

In conventional medicine, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are the gold standard. But massage and most other forms of bodywork don’t lend themselves well to such studies. Therefore, scientific “proof,” both for massage’s efficacy and its means of function, runs a little thin. But convincing clinical evidence is accumulating.

For example, in 2004, Christopher Moyer, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin–Stout, published a meta-analysis on massage therapy research and found that, on average, research subjects who received massage had a lower level of anxiety than those who did not.

“My research consistently finds that massage does have an impact on anxiety,” says Moyer. “We don’t know exactly why, but people who get massage have less anxiety afterward.”

One popular explanation is that massage lowers the body’s levels of cortisol, the hormone notorious for triggering the body’s fight-or-flight response. “No matter how we measure cortisol — in saliva or urine — or how often, we always find that massage has a beneficial effect,” says Tiffany Field, PhD, a researcher at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.

Although Moyer is yet to be convinced of the cortisol connection, both he and Field agree that massage is potentially very therapeutic for what’s known as “state” anxiety. Unlike generalized anxiety disorders, state anxiety is a reaction to something you can pinpoint, such as a troubling or traumatic event, circumstance, or setting.

Although more research is needed, says Moyer, “some experts posit that the reported alleviation of state anxiety could be a result of something as simple as the social and psychological environment where the massage takes place.”

Relieve Lower-Back Pain

Aside from stress, if there’s one thing that drives people to the massage table in droves, it’s pain. Especially lower-back pain, which up to 85 percent of Americans experience at some point during their lives.

In 2008, the Cochrane Collaboration (a global, independent, nonprofit organization that reviews the usefulness of healthcare interventions) published an examination of the evidence linking massage to relieving lower back pain. Reviewing 13 clinical trials, they found massage to be a promising treatment.

“Physical pain is like the alarm system of a house,” says Andrea Furlan, Ph.D., a clinical epidemiologist who specializes in massage at the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto. “With acute pain, like a burn or a broken bone, the pain signal indicates something is wrong. But, if you have pain every day, like chronic back pain, the alarm is malfunctioning. Massage may not be able to turn off the alarm, but it can lower the volume.”

Theories abound on how massage interrupts the body’s pain loop. One of the oldest and most well-regarded explanations is called the gate-control theory. Proponents surmise that pain signals to the brain are muffled by competing stimuli. More specifically, the pain travels on small-diameter nerve fibers, while massage stimulates large-diameter ones. Larger nerve fibers relay messages to the brain faster than smaller ones. In essence, says Furlan, the sensation of the massage “wins” over the sensation of pain.

One word of advice from fitness experts, though: You’ll get more lasting, long-term relief of lower back pain by supplementing massage with isometric core exercises, such as planks, that focus on strengthening the muscles that support and guide the spine’s movements.

Soothe Tension Headaches

Tension leads to headaches, so it follows that massage would help ease them. And for many, trigger-point therapy can prove particularly effective.

“A trigger point is an area of tightly contracted muscle tissue,” says Albert Moraska, Ph.D., a researcher focused on complementary medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. “Trigger points in the shoulder and neck refer [relay] pain to the head. By reducing the activity of trigger points, we can reduce headaches.”

Moraska’s work, funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, explores how massaging the neck and shoulders can ease tension-type headaches. “We think massage can disrupt trigger points by forcing apart the tightly contracted sarcomeres (proteins responsible for contraction) within the muscle cells; as a result, the cells relax and subsequently muscle tension dissipates.”

Restore Deep Sleep

Roughly one in five Americans suffer from sleep deprivation, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. That’s a problem because lack of sleep alters the body’s biochemistry, making it more vulnerable to inflammation and lowered immunity, and more sensitive to pain.

“The relationship between pain and sleep deprivation is a vicious cycle,” says Tiffany Field. “Your body doesn’t get the rest it needs to heal.”

Although studies of massage therapy and sleep quality are few, the findings suggest that massage can promote deeper, less disturbed sleep, especially in people with painful chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia. Massage therapy indirectly promotes good sleep by relieving pain and encouraging relaxation.

Because massage therapy stimulates the body’s parasympathetic “rest-and-relax” nervous system (the opposite of its sympathetic “fight-or-flight” response), it counters both physical and mental stresses — giving you a better shot at enjoying the sleep you need to repair tissue during the night and to cope better during the day.

Reduce Symptoms of Depression

It may seem surprising that physically manipulating the body can help counter a malady we associate with the brain. But, in his oft-cited 2004 review, Christopher Moyer found that depression is particularly responsive to massage.

The average research subject who received massage had a level of depression that was lower than 73 percent of those who did not. These findings are on par with more conventional approaches to treating depression, including psychotherapy.

Field’s research on depression shows that massage boosts the body’s natural levels of serotonin, a substance that works “much like Prozac” in the brain. Her studies show that massage also encourages the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, a mood enhancer, as well as oxytocin, a hormone that generates feelings of contentment.

While the exact mechanisms are unclear, it seems evident that a good massage has a variety of positive psychological implications as well, from receiving nurturing touch from another person, anticipating that the experience will be beneficial, or feeling empathy from the therapist.

Lower Blood Pressure

Given how positively it affects the rest of the body and mind, and how well it moderates stress, it probably comes as no surprise that massage therapy can also benefit the heart — in part by reducing blood pressure. In his meta-analysis, Moyer found that massage significantly lowers blood pressure, at least temporarily.

He notes that the findings are consistent with the theory that massage can trigger the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which helps prompt the body to return to biochemical balance and emotional ease after enduring a stressful event.

But perhaps the bigger takeaway here is that massage can help unlock the body’s healing potential not by anyone means, but rather by many. As epidemiologist Andrea Furlan points out, “Well before drugs or surgical procedures were developed, people used massage to treat almost everything.” Still, today, she notes, “when we get hurt, our first instinct is to rub.”

Amy Buttell, for one, doesn’t need any more evidence than her own transformation. “I don’t know if it’s the touch, the warm table, or the fact that I get to turn my phone off for an hour, but I do know that massage is worth every penny.”

Multiple Modalities: What Kind of Massage Is Right for You?

Not so long ago, available massage styles in most U.S. cities were fairly limited. Today, bodywork modalities abound, from familiar basics like Swedish to more exotic options like Hawaiian Lomi Lomi and Chinese Tui Na. Wondering which style of massage is right for you? Read on for a rundown of some of the most popular options. Some massage styles are more physically intense than others but keep in mind, you always have a role in guiding your therapist about how much pressure feels good to you and where it’s applied.

Abhyanga: Based on the principles of Ayurveda, one or more therapists apply herb-infused oils to usher the body into a state of relaxation and balance.

Acupressure: Working with the same theory of acupuncture (but without the needles), acupressure stimulates points on the body to release energetic congestion and open the body’s energy pathways.

Craniosacral therapy: A gentle, non-invasive form of massage in which a therapist uses a light touch to work the cranial bones, the spinal column, and the sacrum (a triangular bone at the base of the spine) to balance energy, treat headaches, and reduce mental stress. Mild enough for infants, as well as the elderly.

Deep tissue: Targeting chronic patterns of holding, deep tissue relies on slow strokes and targeted pressure, often with a finger, thumb, or elbow.

Hot stone: Smooth, warm stones are placed on the body and become focal points of relaxation as the heat penetrates and soothes tense muscles.

Lomi Lomi: An ancient Polynesian practice, this style is characterized by the practitioner’s rhythmic use of the hands, forearms, and elbows. Long, broad strokes invite relaxation.

Myofascial release: A light, sustained pressure is applied to constrictions in the body’s fascia, or connective tissue, to elicit elongation and release.

Reflexology: Stimulates pressure points on the hands, feet, and ears. Each point is believed to correspond to other, less-accessible parts of the body, such as the organs.

Shiatsu: A Japanese style, shiatsu directs pressure to lines of energy (meridians) considered important for health and well-being.

Sports: Often used before and after athletic activity, the focus is on reducing inflammation, keeping joints flexible, and enhancing performance.

Swedish: A combination of long, gliding strokes, as well as kneading, stretching, and tapping. Swedish massage is thought to enhance health by increasing blood flow to the muscles.

Thai: Performed on the floor with clothes on and no oils, a Thai massage involves being stretched into yoga-like positions.

Trigger-point therapy: Trigger points often show up as “knots” in the muscles, most often in the shoulders, upper back, and neck. Trigger points are different from acupressure points because they actually feel like lumps. Trigger-point therapy (also known as neuromuscular therapy) uses pressure to dissolve the knots.

Tui Na: A vigorous kneading and pulling of the body, Tui Na (meaning push and grab) is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Like other Eastern approaches, such as Thai massage and acupressure, the goal is to open up the flow of Qi through the body’s energy pathways or meridians.

How to Choose a Massage Therapist

Finding a truly great massage practitioner — one whose skills, style, and personality all suit you — can make the difference between a merely nice (or worse, ho-hum) experience and the kind of transformative healing dynamic that keeps you coming back for more.

You won’t know for sure until you get on the table, but here are some key questions to help you decide whether a therapist is right for you.

1. Are you nationally certified? More than 300 schools and programs in the United States offer accreditation for massage therapists. To become nationally certified, a person must have a basic set of skills, pass an exam, adhere to certain ethical guidelines, and take part in continuing education.

2. Are you state certified? Every state is different, but most of them (42, plus the District of Columbia) offer certification for massage therapists; some are voluntary, and others are mandatory. Seek out a massage therapist who is state-certified, which typically means he or she met a minimum number of training hours and passed an exam.

3. How many hours of training have you completed? This is a helpful question, especially in states lacking strict oversight of who can call themselves a massage therapist. The answer you’re looking for is a minimum of 500 hours. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, the average practitioner has 633 hours of training. A massage therapist with less than 500 hours of training can still be good, but consider the number a benchmark.

4. Do you have any special or advanced training? The best massage therapists spend years developing specialties and honing a specific skill set. The massage therapist who is passionate about Chinese meridians and spends several weeks a year going to special training may have an edge over the generalist who hasn’t evolved beyond the basic moves she learned in massage school. The same goes if you have special needs. For instance, a massage therapist who emphasizes sports massage might be a good bet if you have a weekend-warrior injury, but not if you have fibromyalgia.

5. How much do you charge? Expect to pay roughly $1 a minute for a chair massage at the mall or airport. At an upscale spa or studio, massage rates range from about $60 to $120 an hour, plus a 15 to 20 percent tip. (Sometimes, packages of four or six massages are available at a discount.) If you have health insurance, ask your provider if you are eligible for either a discount (available with some plan-approved therapists) or if you can pay for massage with money from a flexible spending account. Unless you have the Mercedes-Benz of healthcare plans, preventive massage is probably not covered 100 percent, but if your doctor or chiropractor recommends massage therapy, your plan might cover a specific number of sessions.

One final tip: Get a referral. It’s OK to be picky about who puts their hands on your body. If you’re feeling spontaneous and want to book a one-time massage at a local spa, great. But if you’d like to explore massage as a long-term investment in your body, or if you have some tenacious kinks to work out and you think you might need a series of treatments, talk to your friends about whom they like and why. If your friends don’t get a massage, ask for a recommendation at your local yoga studio, health club, acupuncture center, or chiropractor’s office. More often than not, these folks are plugged into the local “who’s who” of bodyworkers and can steer you in the right direction.


Catherine Guthrie is an Indiana-based health writer and a regular contributor to Experience Life.

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