October 21, 2007

Male practitioners, the underdogs of the industry

The industry is filled with amazing practitioners from every walk of life. We all have a vast amount of knowledge to share with the world around us. We, massage practitioners take a huge pride in facilitating the healing power of another individual. It's monumental, the influence we have on the people we are around. Yet there is still a huge difference in the male population of massage practitioners versus the females.

Why is that? The last time I came across a statistic from the AMTA (about six months ago), it said that the female percentage versus male was/is 85/15. This is huge!! In few other industries do you see such a huge difference.

The encouraging thing is that I am finding more and more male students coming through the doors of massage therapy schools. But the challenge doesn't just end with school enrollment. You see, there is a double standard, female clients hesitate to be touched by males and male clients are reluctant to be touched by males. I've actually seen where male practitioners have left the field because of this. So this puts an unbelievable amount of pressure on the guys to figure out how to build a client base.

I'd like to hear from you all. What are your thoughts on this? How can we get the general public to grow past this and more the industry further into a more balanced place? How can we educate the public?


Anonymous said...

Let’s be honest about it: male massage practitioners are still viewed on base of sex. Period. Till somebody suggested you as a good massage therapist and a good person there is small chance potential client will come to you through your add in a Yellow Pages or newspaper. Clients divided by me on a Female America* and Male America. First category afraid that male massage therapist is sexual predator. Second category is homophobes...that is it.
If masseur wants to get clients on his table he has to do few things:
1. Rent a room with other massage therapist who is female and will give a good word about you, as well willing to share her clients
2. Work for a medical office where referrals will push clients your way.
3. Start speaking publicly to promote your self (most of us went to school just for a sake of less talking to others :)) and promote massage in general.
4. Work for large company
5. ETC... Suggestions could be a mass.
As a male massage therapist you have to find your own way. Don't get discouraged. Do step at the time but go forward.
*As for Male and Female America, in Europe there is different, more positive approach to sexes in massage.

Anonymous said...

#1 Another cute stereotype about Europe vs. America (see above). The only places in the world where people don't generally prefer massage from female LMPs are where 1) homosexuality is invisible and also 2) opposite-sex massage is prohibited. For the most part, this would be in conservative religious communities.

#2 I'll try to provide a balanced view here: As a female massage business owner with a healthy mix of LMPs along all demographics (and # of male LMPs much greater in proportion to the profession, like 50-50 not 85-15) I agree that male LMPs need to be extra conscious about how they develop their practice. Barring the male LMP catering only to gay male clientele, the average male LMP will need pay extra attention to:
1) personal appearance in terms of grooming & hygiene, work-appropriate attire 2) body language & facial expressions, use of their humor & "presence" in setting people at ease 3) being super-reliable, organized, on-time, etc and 4) use appropriate marketing techniques. (The latter includes refraining from citing personal measurements or appearances when marketing to gay clientele! How completely inappropriate!) Male LMPs even more so than female LMPs will find easier success with referral-based marketing, that is establishing rapport with given clients, managers, colleagues and co-workers and then asking for referrals. This referral-based marketing includes the type found in chair spas where front desk staff "talk you up" to prospective clients. They may also find easier success in more medical-oriented settings where the emphasis is more on expertise and results than it is on how clients *feel* towards the LMP. Male LMPs *usually* have greater stamina so they can do more hours of massage, more days in a row, etc. They may find easier success with situations where it's known up front that a great deal of hands-on work will happen. I've heard anecdotally from other massage business owners that male LMPs are typically the workhorses of the profession. If one had to generalize, male LMPs are more on-time, dependable, reliable and can put in the hours. (For any massage therapist or business, client hours = $$.) There may be any number of reasons for this. I've also experienced male LMPs who had a good professional appearance and outwardly appeared reliable but also had "creepy" "edgy" "high-strung" personal vibe that I could not put in front of customers. I've also dealt with male LMPs who thought they were "all that" were rude to me as the business owner. I've dealt with male LMPs with poor personal appearances and hygiene. How do you tell someone "hey, you smell like cigarettes/body odor/halitosis, your teeth are gross to look at, you could use a haircut and you're very under-dressed for a professional massage therapy appointment"? It doesn't matter how nice the person is or, sadly, how good the massage work is. If I can't feel stress-free about putting him in front of customers, I won't. There are lots of other LMPs out there. Before someone gets their feelings hurt I do want to say that I've dealt with plenty of flakey stuff from my fellow female LMPs. I can't say for sure but many of them may rest on their laurels because they know that society will prefer M from the female LMP for the forseeable future. Me, I get rid of them. I want my business to be a stress-free as possible.

Anonymous said...

er, that was supposed to read "chain spas" not "chair spas".