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It has recently come to our attention that as of January 1, 2019 the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) will no longer be required to attain state certification through the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC). However, this is only a temporary change. The removal of the MBLEx as a requirement for certification will only be in place for the period of January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2020. The MBLEx will be reinstated as a testing requirement beginning January 2, 2021.

Please note; the San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork does not anticipate any changes to our curriculum as a result of this recent news. We strongly encourage all current and future students to prepare for and/or take the MBLEx examination as the testing requirement will be reinstated January 1, 2021 and is presently a requirement for licensure/ certification in nearly every other US state.

For our current students, a representative from administration will be stopping by each class some time during the next week to discuss this in more detail and answer any questions you might have.

For more information, please visit https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1480 and scroll to SEC. 23. Section 4604 of the Business and Professions Code to see the amendment.

It’s an undeniable fact that every body is different. Even though we are all composed of more or less the same stuff, we are all put together a bit differently and each of us ask our bodies to do different things for us. Some of us run, others swim, and some do little physical activity at all. Each of the possible sets of variables and demands we put on our bodies means that our individual needs can be dramatically different.

The same is true of massage therapy. The unique needs and preferences of each client means that no one modality is a perfect fit for every person who lands on your massage table. Some clients will respond very well to a Swedish massage but for others, Swedish massage does not produce the results they are after. For this reason, the modern massage therapist should be trained in a variety of massage techniques. After all, the more tools you have in your tool box, the more people you will be able to help achieve their massage therapy goals.

A MASSAGE PROGRAM IS JUST A FOUNDATION

A good massage therapy program will provide you with a solid foundation in some of the most popular and useful techniques and this will enable you to help a good number of the people who come to you for massage. However, a good foundation is just that, something upon which you can build and grow your skills. Because even with a solid foundation, it is inevitable that you will eventually come across people in your practice for whom your skills may be contraindicated or simply do not produce the results they desire.

These types of obstacles can be frustrating as a massage practitioner. We don’t want to refer clients to other therapists if we don’t have to but it would be unethical to continue a treatment plan that we know isn’t working. So how do we obtain more tools to build upon a solid foundation? Continuing education is the answer.

AN INVESTMENT IN YOUR FUTURE

With continuing education you will learn more techniques but it is about more than that, it is an investment in your practice’s future. After all, the more techniques you have at your disposal, the wider variety of clients you can provide services to, the busier your practice will be. Beyond that, continuing education can keep your practice fresh and interesting for you. If all you do all day is Swedish massage, it can get pretty boring. Bringing new techniques in can help jostle you from a well worn rut and make a stale practice exciting again. What’s more, as you gain new skills you will begin to carve out a niche for your practice that is unique, and this is a key aspect to long-term success in massage therapy.

AN INVESTMENT IN YOUR CLIENTS

People are not static beings: Things happen and we change. Your clients will change too as you work with them. They may get injured, they will grow older, they may become pregnant or be diagnosed with cancer, and all of these changes will impact how you apply your massage skills. But if you are not skilled in injury rehab, elder massage, prenatal massage, or oncology massage, you may inadvertently end up sending them to another therapist who is. However, if you are regularly obtaining training to learn these skills, you will more likely retain those clients as their needs change. Some massage therapists even learn techniques specifically for their dependable clients with changing needs.

IT’S A BUSINESS EXPENSE

One objection to continuing education is that it is significant financial burden but, considering the resilience it will add to your practice, those investments will quickly be amortized. Best of all, continuing education is a business expense that can be written off when it comes to tax time. Tuition, books, supplies, lab or equipment fees can all be deducted. Even if you are traveling to a workshop in another state, you can deduct the cost of laundry, meals, baggage, telephone expenses and tips while there. Just make sure to get all your receipts for your tax preparation specialist!

With all of the benefits that continuing education can provide to your massage practice, it’s easy to make a case for participating. If you would like to enhance your skills, improve client retention, and ensure the stability of your practice, check out some of the many continuing education options that we provide at the San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork. Chances are, there’s something we offer that will benefit you, your clients, and your massage practice!


Prenatal massage, also known as pregnancy massage, is a modality of massage specifically geared to address the myriad changes that take place in the bodies of mothers-to-be. It provides the general benefits of massage therapy while also introducing some benefits specific to pregnant women. Once regarded somewhat dubiously as a risky modality, modern research has shown that not only are most of the risks overblown but that the benefits well outweigh any trepidation.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BENEFITS

Massage therapy is increasingly found to have numerous benefits. For the pregnant client, massage can decrease stress, ease muscular tension, reduce joint pain, improve sleep, and alleviate anxiety; just like it can for any other client. But, prenatal massage can also ease labor, positively impact hormone balances, improve birth outcomes, and even increase the general health of newborns compared to those whose mothers did not receive prenatal massage. Many of these benefits are quantifiable but others, such as the psychological impact of an expectant mothers self-care or simply surrendering to being nurtured, are more delicately complex and understated, but none-the-less important.

MASSAGE, MODIFIED

Most massage therapists will be familiar with much of the basic theory and technique behind prenatal massage. However, pregnancy brings with it vast biological and physiological changes to the body. Carrying a baby will impact everything from posture to sleep patterns and can profoundly change how massage therapy should be applied. Most importantly, prenatal massage comes with a special set of indications and contraindications that require the massage therapist to modify techniques, propping, draping, and more. What’s more, some of these modifications will change throughout the pregnancy, a woman’s body will be quite different in the third trimester compared to the first. These differences will impact how massage therapy is performed.

CERTIFICATION IS ESSENTIAL

Because prenatal massage is more than just massaging someone who is pregnant, getting proper training is key. Massage therapists must be educated in the process of pregnancy from conception to birth and be able to adjust the application of massage techniques accordingly. While some of the contraindications, such as no deep pressure to the abdomen, may be obvious, others are more nuanced and require familiarity and guidance from an experience professional to fully grasp. Further, the prenatal massage therapist will need to understand some of the other potential issues that may arise, such as preeclampsia and edema, and be able to coordinate therapy with other health care professionals. For all of the aforementioned reasons, most doctors will strongly encourage patients to seek out a certified prenatal massage therapist. Hence, being certified in prenatal massage is a key ingredient to receiving referrals and creating a healthy prenatal massage practice.

WHY SHOULD YOU LEARN IT?

As the known benefits of prenatal massage continue to expand, so do the numbers of expectant mothers who seek to add massage to their prenatal care regimen. This is reflected in the fact that prenatal massage has been one of the most requested modalities year after year right along side Swedish massage and deep tissue. As such, many massage clinics, hospitals, and spas are increasingly requiring their massage therapists to be certified in prenatal massage.

Even if you are in private practice, there is a good chance that your existing female clientele will be among the 6.2 million women who become pregnant in the US each year. Being able to provide them with quality prenatal massage therapy ensures a consistency of care and the ability to retain them as clients throughout their pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond. Besides, being a part of a mother’s journey through pregnancy, birth, and motherhood is extremely rewarding. The real question is, why wouldn’t you learn prenatal massage?

If you would like to learn more about prenatal massage and receive training and certification from one of the bay area’s most experienced prenatal massage educators, check out our upcoming “Pregnancy & Postpartum Massage” workshop with Leah Kennedy, CMT.

Comments or questions? Let us know below!

Thai massage, also called Nuad Boran, is an ancient, energy-based healing system that integrates aspects of acupressure with assisted yoga postures. Traditionally, Thai massage uses no oils or lotions and is performed on a mat on the floor with both the client and practitioner wearing loose-fitting clothes. Thai massage sessions are comprised of a series of compression strokes, stretches, rocking, and pulling techniques intended to clear energetic blockages and relieve tension in the body. This is different from many western massage techniques where strokes rely on oil or lotion to glide along the surface of the skin. Thai massage practitioners utilize their whole bodies in a session, maintaining constant contact throughout while applying rhythmic pressure with thumbs, palms, forearms, elbows, knees, and feet. Practitioners rely heavily on gravity and leverage to execute deep assisted stretches and postures derivative of the yoga traditions in nearby India. Combined, these techniques release muscular tension, alleviate pain, and open the joints of the body to improve balance and range of motion. Receiving Thai massage creates a deep sense of relaxation and restoration.

ANCIENT ORIGINS

Thai massage has its roots in Buddhism and began its evolution about 2,500 years ago. Even today, many prominent Thai schools are located in “Wats” or temples such as Wat Pho in Bangkok. Trough this connection, traditional Thai massage draws on many influences in the Buddhist world from Ayurveda to Traditional Chinese Medicine. It focuses on activating and circulating vital energy in the body through pathways known as “Sen” lines, which are similar to meridians in acupuncture. These pathways are targeted, manipulated, and stimulated to break up blockages and restore the flow of energy to a harmonious and natural balance.

A TRUE ARTFORM

Thai massage is typically recognized by its striking and often beautiful assisted yoga postures. Through these partner poses, the body is stretched beyond what is normally attainable through an individual yoga practice alone.

For many practitioners, performing Thai massage is akin to a spiritual experience as it incorporates meditative mindfulness and the concept of “mettā” or focused compassion. This results in a full-body Thai massage session creating a powerful and positive healing experience for recipients and practitioners alike.

Thai massage began gaining popularity in the west during the 1990’s and is now a fairly common in spas throughout North America. Recently, in San Francisco, several of the top-rated spas in the city offered a focus on traditional Thai massage, putting the technique on par with more familiar massage modalities such as Swedish massage and deep tissue.

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING

If you’re curious and want to try a Thai massage in San Francisco, check out one of the great locations run by graduates of the San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork; Iyara on Geary Boulevard or the beautiful Suchada on King Street downtown. If you’d like to learn some Thai massage for yourself, check out our workshops: For the layperson there is our “Thai Massage for Couples” class and for the professional massage therapist there is our “Traditional Thai Massage: Level 1”.

Got questions or comments? Leave them below!


Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, non-invasive set of evaluations and techniques used to influence the function of the craniosacral system in the body. Developed by Dr. John Upledger DO, the therapy has been proven effective in treating a variety of different medical issues associated with pain and dysfunction. The therapy draws from an area of medicine known as cranial osteopathy which was developed by Dr. William Sutherland.

The word ‘craniosacral’ is a portmanteau of cranium and sacrum because the system extends from the cranium down through the spine and terminates in the sacrum. The craniosacral system protects the organs of the central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord, with cerebrospinal fluid and a network of membranous tissues. Because the craniosacral system encases the core of our nervous system, it plays a role in the development and function of our brain, spine, and extended nervous system. As such, dysfunction in the craniosacral system can be responsible for a variety of sensory, motor, and neurological disorders from chronic pain to learning disabilities.

As a treatment, craniosacral therapy is thought to stimulate the body’s innate healing mechanisms, improving central nervous system function, relieving the negative impacts of stress, and bolstering overall health and disease resistance. As the functioning of the craniosacral system is very subtle, practitioners utilize a light touch to test for restrictions and apply gentle techniques to influence the movement of cerebrospinal fluid within the system. These techniques can also extend to the manipulation of cranial, facial, and spinal bones to further facilitate proper function of the system. Craniosacral techniques also induce a state called a ‘still point’ where the cerebrospinal fluid ceases to circulate and the craniosacral system resets. The experience of a still point is extremely relaxing, dramatically reducing stress and calming anxiety.

Though the breadth of evaluations and techniques under the craniosacral unbrella is a robust method of bodywork unto itself, many of the basic skills can be integrated into a standard massage session. While practitioners often use craniosacral therapy to enhance relaxation and the efficacy of their work, massage therapists who are trained in this modality also develop a profound ability to palpate subtle changes in the body, thereby deepening the physical communication between the therapist and their client. These skills add more diversity to the range of clients and conditions that can be addressed in a standard session and also improves existing massage techniques by enhancing the therapists hands-on sensitivity. Further, the ability to create a craniosacral still point during a massage can facilitate deep relaxation and allow other massage techniques to ‘sink in’ as the client becomes more receptive.

For all the reasons above, at the San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork, we feel that basic craniosacral techniques are highly valuable for the average massage therapist to possess. While we teach some basics in our massage therapist program, in our Cranial-sacral I and Cranial-sacral II continuing education workshops, we focus on the most effective craniosacral techniques for massage therapists to integrate into their daily practices. If you are curious about craniosacral or just want to gain some practical skills to improve your massage sessions overall, these workshops are a wonderful and useful introduction to the capabilities of this remarkable therapy.

Are you considering a change in your career? Perhaps you’ve reached a point where you’ve grown bored with your office job, don’t see yourself there in five or even ten years, or maybe you just finally feel like you have the time to pursue your dream. Whatever it is, you’re here for a reason, and we’re here to help you get started. At San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork, we strive to create an environment for our students that is focused on learning, growth, and achieving mutual goals.

Because you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time for a new career, you are likely looking into all of your options to complete your schooling. There are many basic massage courses offered online, and this might seem like the easiest way to achieve your goal. Though we understand the need to have a flexible school schedule, online classes are not going to be able to provide you with the real world experience that an in-person education can. The California Massage Therapy Council has stated that they

“will no longer accept distance learning or online hours for the first 500 hours of education as of December 5th, 2013.”

Unfortunately that means that though you can take online courses,they will not count toward your California massage certification…

SFSM is happy to work with our students’ schedules, and we understand the difficulty of balancing your normal work and home routine with classes. So that leaves the question:

Are In-Person Massage Therapy Courses Better?

This answer depends on your personal availability, determination to succeed, and learning style. SFSM advocates for hands-on training, because we believe the best way to learn is to watch and practice using your own two hands. The best way to become a master in your field is to gain that practice both in school and after. There are benefits to in-person training you just can’t get with online courses, such as:

  • Individualized attention – Whether you need help learning a specific technique or require further explanation, having an instructor in front of you who can provide real-time feedback will help you learn. Our teachers are dedicated to providing our students with diverse and personalized instruction, so you can rest assured you are learning from the best.
  • Group learning – By learning with a group of students, you learn better. You can watch others, work together, support one another, and pace yourself accordingly.
  • Environment – By coming to our campus and learning with us, you will be distraction-free and can better focus on your improvement. Additionally, many people learn better in a setting that focuses them. Being in the mindset and physically in the environment dedicated to Massage Therapy improves retention.
  • Practice – This one might seem obvious, but you can’t practice on anyone if you are alone learning on your computer. Though you might know the techniques, nothing beats actually performing your new skills on real life people.

The above are the main reasons that we advocate for in-person courses and because online courses do not prepare you to pass the state exam to become a licensed professional. Explore our Massage Therapy program and see if SFSM is right for you; we’ll be happy to figure out the best schedule for you and make sure your time with us is rewarding. We can’t wait to meet you!

Whether you regularly spend time at massage therapy appointments or have considered a career in massage therapy, you’ve probably heard a few words that seem a bit confusing. Each profession has its own jargon, massage therapy included! Don’t be afraid to become well-versed in these massage buzzwords; knowing them can make you a better guest and a better massage therapist!

1. Bodywork

Bodywork is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of different therapeutic treatments for the body. For example, massage therapy, trigger point, and myofascial release are all forms of bodywork. This is why we include the word ‘bodywork’ in our name, because we teach so much more than massage therapy alone.
massage therapist doing deep tissue massage for a client

2. CMT

CMT is the common abbreviation used to shorten the title certified massage therapist. But not every massage therapist is a CMT, there are also the abbreviations LMT and RMT for licensed massage therapist and registered massage therapist, respectively. It’s good to know this stuff in case someone throws it out there.

3. Certification

In some states, like California, a massage certification comes after completing the proper education, testing, and registering with the state. In other states, ‘certification’ is earned from an approved school, after which graduates take a test and are awarded a massage licence. Though the distinction may seem semantic, if you’re interested in practicing massage therapy professionally, it’s important that you know the difference and which is available in your state.

4. Modality

When you hear the word ‘modality’ used in reference to massage therapy and bodywork, it refers to an individual approach or set of techniques for treating stress, tension, and pain in the body. Some modalities are more general while others treat specific conditions. Examples of different modalities include:

5. Shiatsu

Shiatsu is a massage technique (or modality) that originated in Japan. It follows the same principles as acupuncture. Pressure points are the focal point of this treatment.

6. Trigger Point

Trigger points are exactly what they sound like! They are sore points in the body that hold tension that can trigger radiating pain. Bodyworkers trained in trigger point therapy can release these painful spots and return the body to pain-free function.

7. Myofascial Release

Myofascial release, also sometimes called ‘deep tissue’ is another modality of bodywork. Like trigger point therapy, it is easily defined by its own name; ‘myo’ means muscle and ‘fascia’ refers to connective tissue. This therapy focuses on specific work treating muscle and connective tissues to relieve pain, improve flexibility, and increase joint mobility. Though this modality is often seamlessly woven into a Swedish massage, it is a modality unto itself.

hand massage therapy

What Words Do You Want Defined?

Are we missing any important words on our list? What buzzwords have you heard that would help clarify your treatment or help you become a better massage therapist? Make sure to let us know in the comments below!

Massages have long been a common gift throughout the holiday seasons. Whether it’s Christmas, a birthday, or Valentine’s Day, a massage gift card can make anyone smile. However, many people don’t consider what it really means to give someone the gift of massage. Here are a few ways you may not have known you were showing your love.

1. The Gift of Relaxation

Relaxation means more than just taking a few minutes out of your day to be alone. Massage therapy can help ease tension, relieve stress, and promote overall relaxation. If you have a hard-working spouse, mother, or friend, a massage gift card can bring one (or more!) days of peace to a rather chaotic work schedule. Show someone you care by helping them prioritize themselves.

2. The Gift of Recovery

If you have an athlete in your life who prioritizes their physical health, we can tell you that massage therapy should be a part of that routine. Massage therapy can help athletes recover from injuries or after competitions and meets. Massage therapy is good for athletes of all ages, too. Give the gift of recovery and revitalization to the person in your life who is running circles around everyone else.

woman in white receiving a massage

3. The Gift of Preparation

In addition to aiding recovery, massage therapy can help prepare you for a variety of physical activities. Massage can help warm up and stretch muscles that may have otherwise felt tension before an event. You can even use massage to help someone prepare for everyday life. A morning massage appointment can make all the difference in the work day. Whether your loved one is running the 9-5 race or hitting the pavement, massage can make a difference.

4. The Gift of Self-Love

Everyone should take time out to give themselves a little bit of attention. Help your wife, husband, mother, or father focus on their own wellbeing by giving them a reason to get a massage. Gift cards are the perfect way to allow someone to make time for themselves.

massage therapist working on a client's calves

5. The Gift of Community

When you give a gift card from San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork, you allow someone to connect with their community. Our students are people just like you. They work hard and are passionate about what they do and how it affects others. Your loved one can help a fellow citizen practice a craft they care about, all while making a connection with someone who can be a friend in the future.

Who Will You Give To?

Who do you want to show love and appreciation for? Who in your life can benefit from all these ways massage can give? Make sure to share with us in the comments below. If you want to pick up a gift card to our student clinic, click here.

Massage Therapists, Find Out How to Use Gift Cards in Your Holiday Marketing! Click Below.

click here to read more about giftcards

As we enter the depths of the cold and flu season, massage therapists have an extra responsibility to their clients, communities, and themselves to prevent the spread of harmful germs and bacteria. We come in close contact with multiple people throughout our work day, which makes it especially easy to spread cold and flu-causing viruses. However, some simple precautions can help keep you and your clients healthy and happy.

Hand Washing is Your First and Best Defense

While it may seem obvious, keeping your hands clean is the easiest way to prevent the spread of cold-causing viruses. From office door handles, to coffee cups, to elevator buttons, there are an infinite number of high-touch points that can all harbor viruses and bacteria.

washing hands with soap and water

Luckily, frequent hand washing is the most effective method of preventing those viruses and bacteria from transferring to you (and then to your clients). Here’s a step by step approach to effective hand washing for massage therapists.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, warm, running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. If you use your forearms and elbows during a massage, be sure to wash them too!
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Humming the “Happy Birthday” or “ABC” song from beginning to end twice is a good timer.
  4. Turn on the tap and rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a paper towel.
  6. Use the paper towel to turn off the tap and to open the bathroom door before recycling it or disposing of it in the trash.

This method ensures that your freshly washed hands won’t come into contact with any high-touch points where viruses and bacteria can lurk.

Now that you know how best to wash your hands, when should you wash them?

  • Before and after every massage session
  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before and after eating food
  • After using the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching garbage
  • After touching used linens or dirty equipment

You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth during or after a massage until you can wash your hands. In lieu of hand washing, it’s okay to use hand sanitizing gel throughout a massage session as needed but, it should never replace regular hand washing. If you do use it, make sure to massage it into your hands for a full 30 seconds to let the sanitizer do its job.

Institute a Firm ‘Stay-At-Home’ Policy

It can be hard sometimes when we’re sick to admit it to ourselves. We might think that a little sniffle is nothing to worry about. Despite feeling a cold coming on, many of us will still keep our appointments until we are in full-blown sickness.

girl in a blue hat with a cold blowing her nose

Our massage clients are no different. Many of them will arrive for their session in denial about what their little sniffle might be, or even thinking that a good massage is just the thing to help them feel better. The reality is that getting a massage during a cold may actually make them feel worse!

Massage therapy stimulates the immune system and if your client is fighting off a cold, receiving a massage may actually increase their symptoms. Never mind that they may be transmitting their cold to you and the rest of your clients.

Likewise, if you are feeling sick, you have a responsibility to not transmit your virus to your clients. If you sense that you are coming down with something, do yourself and your clients the favor of calling to cancel and reschedule their appointments. You may lose a few sessions in doing so, but most clients will appreciate that you are putting their well-being above your income and happily reschedule for a later date when you are feeling better.

It’s important to communicate these facts to your clients from the get-go and as cold and flu season makes its annual appearance, remind them of them through an email, newsletter, or via your social media outlets.

One easy way to convey this information to your clients up front is to enter into a “Wellness Agreement” with them as part of their initial sign up. This can be a separate section of their intake form that simply says something like:

“Wellness Agreement: If I am sick, I will call and reschedule my massage appointment so that I do not transmit my illness to my massage therapist or their other clients. I also understand that should my therapist be sick, they will call me to reschedule my appointment so that they do not transmit their illness to me.”

After the statement, you can provide a place for them to initial that they understand and accept this agreement.

Target Points of Mutual Contact

Another technique you can employ during cold and flu season is to take extra care in cleaning your massage studio and equipment. Besides always changing your linens after each client, clean the entire massage table after each session.

Use a commercially available disinfecting wipe or a spray with bleach solution of 1 Tbsp of bleach to 1 Qt of water. Sanitize and wipe down the entire surface of your massage table and face cradle after every session. You can use the same wipes or bleach solution to clean any equipment or high-touch areas.

Clean after every massage session:

  • Massage oil and lotion bottles
  • Massage bolsters, props, and arm rests
  • Massage tools such as thumb savers or trigger point knobs

Clean daily (at least):

  • Massage table leg and face cradle adjustment points
  • Doorknobs
  • Sink taps and sink
  • Toilet seat, handle, and lid
  • Light switches

The easiest way to remember what to clean and when is as follows:

  • Anything that contacts you or a client during a session, clean after every massage.
  • Anything that you or your clients touch before or after a session, clean daily.

Vaccinate Against Intruders

Finally, viruses are everywhere and the average adult gets 2-3 colds per year. Even if you follow the above guidelines, regular flu shots and other vaccinations should be maintained and up-to-date. Talk to your doctor, tell them what you do for a living, and ask them what vaccinations they recommend to help prevent you from getting sick in the first place.

female doctor vaccinating a senior man

We employ all of these methods at the San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork to help prevent the spread of colds and flu to our students, instructors, and faculty. While nothing will prevent all infections, implementing these proven techniques in your massage practice will sharply reduce the risk of infection to you and your clients and defend against the spread of viruses. Be well, and massage happy!

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

The holiday season draws out millions of shoppers, all seeking to get the perfect gift for the people on their lists. For industries like massage, this can present a bit of a conundrum. Competing with the retail space’s pervasive grip on consumer attention, holiday spending, and brand awareness might seem simply impossible, but there’s actually a ton you can do to take advantage of the season.

If you haven’t tried to capture some of the holiday season buying frenzy yet, it’s not too late. Here are a few things you might try out.

Get Festive

Little details can bring the festive mood into your practice. Brighten up your space with some string lights, decorate with sprigs of winter berry and balsam, or burn a pine-scented candle. Subtle changes can remind your customers of the holiday festivities and keep them in the spirit of the season.

santa getting a table massage

Gift Certificates

If you don’t offer gift certificates, you should; every massage gift certificate given is a new potential client. They make great stocking stuffers and fit nicely into a card. Don’t be afraid to let clients know you offer gift certificates. You can make a cute little holiday display in your office to promote them, or simply let clients know you have them available after their massage.

Don’t forget, everybody loves a deal, especially with all of the holiday sales happening. Offer gift certificates for a single massage at a slightly discounted rate to help encourage your current clients to buy them for friends and family.

Bonus: DON’T forget to push them on your social media accounts! (More on that below).

woman looking at a gift card on her tablet

Be Creative!

Upgrade your massage menu by offering a pomegranate oil aromatherapy massage. Create a special mini massage session featuring a peppermint foot massage that would be perfect for weary holiday shoppers. Trying out something new can be just as fun for you as it is for your clients!

Not to mention, seasonal specials can make people feel like there are always new options to explore if they come back and want a bit of a change up!

Give Gratitude

The old adage, “Your best new customer is your current customer” is true. Research shows that marketing to existing customers can be six or seven times more cost effective than marketing to new customers. Why not send an email to all of your existing clients telling them how awesome they are and saying thanks for a great year?

While you’re at it, make sure to extend a special holiday massage deal just for them; buy three massages get one free, take 20% off your first massage of the new year, or something similar that really lets them know you appreciate their business.

Engage Your Customers

Social media can be a great way to connect with your existing client base and let them know you’ve got something special going on. Tweet about how massage relieves holiday stress. Blog about the benefits of giving massage gift certificates. Share some pictures on Instagram of the holiday decorations in your practice. Post on Facebook about your special peppermint foot massage. Get the word out far and wide and try to cross-pollinate between various platforms where possible. Whether you do one of these or all of them, get going! The holiday season is almost over and you don’t want to miss out on these opportunities to connect with clients new and old.

Get in Touch!

Maybe you’re a seasoned massage therapist that would love to learn more about the business or expand your skill set. Maybe you’re a budding therapist-to-be. You might even just be an eager holiday shopper looking to take advantage of our great clinic. Get in touch with us here at San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork, and happy holidays!

San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork

School Campus
475 Valencia Street – 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
415-474-4600
Student Clinic
– Located at the School Campus
475 Valencia Street – 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
415-474-4600