Fitness Fiber – the BEST way to stay regular with your massage!

You know that fitness is a balance of good food, hard work and plenty of REST.  Without all three of these vital components of health, you’ll feel tired, or anxious, or you just won’t make the progress you want toward your goals.  But many of us put the rest part of our health on the back burner.  Maybe you’re great at eating well and exercising frequently but you just put off the recovery portion that regular massage provides. 

Good News!  We created the fitness fiber subscription plan for those who want to stay on track with regular monthly massage and want a good reason to do so!  “I need to do this more often” is something we hear ALL the time, and we wanted to make it easier for you to do just that.  Your monthly payment covers one massage each month AND any additional services you book with us while you are subscribed are ALL 10% off.  Massages DON’T roll over and can’t be shared, so get them booked and stay on schedule!  That’s what Fitness Fiber is all about, STAYING REGULAR!

In addition to the monthly massage included in your subscription, Fitness Fiber members also enjoy the following perks:

Access to easy online booking 24 hours a day

Option to create a standing appointment or book with as little as one hour notice

10% off unlimited services for the subscriber

Worry free automatic billing

Priority enrollment in our free #letslearn classes

First chance at trying new services

 

FAQ:

How much is Fitness Fiber?  $67.50/month for the hour, $94.50/month for the 90 minute.

What if I get too busy and miss a month?  You’ll miss that month’s included massage!  Your next included massage can be scheduled for the following month, and you could get back on track by booking an extra appointment during that month.  You’ll get 10% off any additional appointments.

What if I want to send my mom in, can she use my included monthly massage? No.

Well could I let my mom use one of my 10% off additional appointments? No

Could I buy my mom her own subscription?  Yes.  Just remember we bill every month, and require 30 days notice to cancel.

What if my job sends me to Argentina for two months? You can cancel your subscription at any time with 30 days notice.  But since there are a limited number of subscriptions available, it’s always possible we won’t have one available when you return.

I’m really busy, and can’t be sure I’ll be able to make an appointment each month, can I still subscribe? You can, but maybe Fitness Fiber isn’t right for you.  This is really for people who know they need regular massage and want to make it a priority.

How do I sign up?  You can book an appointment and sign up when you arrive for your appointment.  Be sure to make a note (if you are booking online) or tell the support staff your are talking to or emailing with that you’d like to subscribe so that we have your agreement ready for you to read over and sign when you arrive. We can set up your next appointment and your auto-billing at that time as well!

Nobody Ever Called The Tappet Brothers Psychic

 

My colleague Gambit says it all the time, “We have an interesting job.”  In a given day, one client will expect you to cure their chronic lower back pain, and another will ask “do you go to school for this?”  No and yes.  The range of expectation runs from not much to miracles.  Some people consider massage a way to pamper themselves, others consider it health care.  I think massage lies somewhere in between.  It can be a powerful tool for helping people feel better, but it’s not really intended to solve problems.  Massage is best used regularly, and as a preventive.  Massage allows the client to notice areas of tension and pain, and then make habitual changes in her daily routine that can improve posture, fitness, and health.  A massage therapist can act as a guide in your relaxation journey, what you learn on the way is your contribution.

 

While doing massage IS a lot of work, and requires a fair amount of skill and focus, it is NOT magic.  From time to time a client will ask if we do energy work.  “I didn’t tell you about my tennis elbow, but you found it!”  Now when someone asks IF I do energy work, I feel I have to be careful how I answer.  The short answer is no.  But that simple answer has actually caused some people to take offence.  “I think that you DO do energy work!” said one stranger at a coffee shop.  No, really, I DON’T do energy work.  I work on physical bodies.  I don’t need any kind of energy guidance to discover tennis elbow.  Tennis elbow is something you can observe, physically, by touching a client.  Not in any majickal way, not in a “you have a gift” way, but literally by observing it in a tactile way. And yet, when a client doesn’t understand how you could possibly know she has tennis elbow when she didn’t verbally tell you, she often assumes you must have “tuned in” to her “energy field.”

 

No.  I didn’t.  So how DOES your massage therapist know  where your pain and tension are?  There are probably dozens of ways we observe differences in your body that indicate to us there is an area of tension or pain present.  Sometimes the tissue feels cold, or hot.  Sometimes it feels stiff, or resistant to moving.  Sometimes it’s as simple as being different from the other side.  The human body has two of nearly every part your massage therapist works on, so comparison is a really easy way to find abnormality.  We have also worked on hundreds of different bodies, so we have a general baseline sense of what is normal in terms of mobility and symmetry.  Over time, and through actively paying attention to details and noticing patterns, a good massage therapist will develop some pretty impressive palpation skills.  

 

So when I have a stranger INSIST that what I do is in fact “energy” work, it’s actually mildly offensive.  First, you’re implying that I don’t know what kind of work I do.  Second, you’re suggesting that I didn’t work hard to acquire the skills that I have.  Is it impressive that I can find your tennis elbow without you telling me?  Sure.  But you know what else is impressive?  That Click and Clack (the Tappet brothers) of Car Talk fame can diagnose what’s wrong with your car OVER THE PHONE.  I can touch your arm and find Lateral epicondylitis, but Tom and Ray Magliozzi could tell you if you needed a new clutch just by having you call in and describe what your car was doing verbally.  Now THAT is well beyond my capacity, but I never thought it was magic.  We don’t have a lot of great words to describe tactile information in our language.  I understand that many of our clients don’t understand how we find the things that we do.  We are flattered that you find it impressive, but please don’t call it energy work.

 

PS

The strange image attached to this post is the ceiling of a local coffee shop.  They must be having some work done to the roof, because the ENTIRE ceiling is draped with this thick plastic.  The lines caused by a pinch in the plastic are similar to tension we feel running through the body.  Fascia (connective tissue) in particular is analogous to a plastic or fabric sheath that can have twists, pinches, and areas of tension similar to the ones you see in this photo of a coffee shop ceiling.  A strange analogy, yes.  But ask any MT you know.  She sees stuff like this in the human body too.

Less But Better

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Enjoy Life MORE When You Simplify

In a world busy with options, notifications and blinking lights, it’s easy to understand why people are trying to simplify.  Books like Marie Kondo’s popular The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up encourage us to keep only the things that bring us joy.  Greg McKeown‘s book Essentialism demonstrates the value of saying yes to FEWER activities, leaving us with more energy and focus for the things we really LOVE to do.  Having taken five giant loads of stuff to the thrift store a few years back, I have personally experienced the joy of the Kondo Method!  Thrift stores are like a no-kill shelter for all the stuff someone else would love more, and I don’t miss ANY of that stuff.  

I recently sought help from two local experts to enjoy the perks of “less, but better”. This time, instead of getting rid of things I don’t love, I had two items I love repaired.  I had a pair of pants hemmed at Larissa’s Plaza Tailor and the buckle repaired on a pair of shoes at Renner’s Boots.   Each repair cost around $20 and was worth every penny.  The pants were beautiful, but too long.  I never really wore them and they were just collecting dust.  The shoes were also a favorite item. But the elastic on the buckles had worn out, and again, I never wore them.   Having stuff you don’t enjoy is a kind of stale warehousing.  Everything you own deserves to be taken care of and used.  If you’re not going to use it, let it go. Both of these shops are local, and you can tell the owners are experts at what they do.  The two repairs I had done were simple, but I now have a go-to for other, more complex repairs.  I also get to keep two items I love, and enjoy them even more.  

What are your favorite KC places to get things repaired?  Would you love for someone to get all your shoes polished for your birthday rather than buying you anything new?  What is your rule of thumb for keeping an item or letting it go?  

Speaking of letting things go:  If you have a computer, tablet or phone you don’t use, consider taking it to Laptops KC.  They buy used items, repair them and resell them.  If you haven’t touched in  a few weeks, why not let someone else enjoy it?

Update: We thought of another great local Kansas City place that helps you keep the stuff you already have in great shape Ambrosi Brothers Cutlery at 3023 Main in midtown KC.  Drop off your dull kitchen knives and let these experts sharpen them to perfection. Remember, a sharp knife is a safe knife!

 

 

less but better is best done with great local repair shops!

Massage Licensing, Why Bother?

In 20 years of doing massage, I’ve had exactly one client request to see my professional license. In that same time we have fielded hundreds of request for girls, or a “female masseuse.” It seems that no one really cares if we are licensed, educated or qualified. Even consumers who do want a great massage don’t even know that a license is REQUIRED in the state of Missouri to practice massage. To make matters even more confusing MANY businesses don’t follow the rules and operate using people who don’t have a license and without the required Massage Therapy Business License from the State of Missouri.

Once, while discussing the matter with a lawyer friend of mine, she admitted that she thought a massage license was something that was an extra credential, but not something that was REQUIRED. You CAN drive a car without a driver’s license, but every time you do so you are breaking the law. Many people don’t know the law, and many others who do know the law choose to ignore it. So why does it matter? Why does my business carry a license and why do I insist all the MT’s who work here are licensed? My life sure would be easier if I didn’t care. But I do. Let me tell you why:

It’s the LAW. When I first started doing massage there was no state regulation in Missouri. My first license came from the Liquor and Amusement Department of Kansas City. I had to get a hepatitis test and have a doctor sign a form that stated I had “no communicable diseases.” It was humiliating and insulting. There was no educational requirement. There was no test. The woman who started the school I was attending worked very hard to get a more professional regulation in place for the entire state of Missouri. By the time I finished school, to get a license to do massage in Missouri you had to have completed 500 clock hours of education, get a background check and fingerprints taken, as well as pass a nationally accredited test. The goal was to bring professionalism and credibility to the field, and I was happy there was a better standard in place. I was happy to follow the law.

When you get a massage from an unlicensed business and/or practitioner, you don’t know what you’re getting. I hear all the time about experiences people have at places that focus primarily on the feet. If you look closely, those places don’t use the word “massage” to describe their work. That is because the law regulates use of the word “massage”. By avoiding that word, those places can employ literally anyone with no training to mash on your body. While I haven’t been, I’ve also heard that you typically leave your clothes on. That is another way to get around the massage regulations in Missouri. If the client remains clothed, it is not regulated by the massage board. I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy a good clothed body mashing, but you should know that you are not getting a service from a trained professional.

There is a significant chronological and monetary disadvantage to following the law. I waited YEARS to finish school and get my license. I watched many other people take clients before they had completed school, starting businesses without a license. As much as I LOVED waiting tables, I too would have rather been doing the gratifying work of therapeutic massage years earlier. Working/running a business without a license is unfortunately very common. Consumers don’t know to ask for a license. And there are lots of people who don’t want to bother with the expense and hassle of getting a license. When you frequent an unlicensed establishment or practitioner, you are voting with your dollars for people who cheat and disrespect the profession. When you get a massage from a licensed professional at a licensed massage business, you are supporting years of hard work and helping to pay off student loan debt.

If you are a consumer who is inclined to support a licensed massage therapist who works at a licensed massage therapy business you can look up both credentials online! Keep in mind some businesses / people use a different name than might be on their license, so always contact the person or business directly to ask for their business or professional license number! If you ask me for my license number, you’ll be the second person in 20 years.

No Ambush Massage!

DSC03587Let people make their OWN massage appointments.

If you know someone who could use a massage, the right thing to do is to buy them a massage gift certificate. While you may think what you need to do is actually make them an APPOINTMENT, you couldn’t be MORE WRONG.

Massage is about relaxation. Relaxation is about BOUNDARIES. When you decide for another person when and where he should relax, you are really missing the point big time. Even a person you know VERY WELL can have a dozen reasons he doesn’t want to get a massage Tuesday at 2:00, and a client who doesn’t WANT a massage is NEVER going to be able to relax.

Maybe you are thinking “I’d LOVE for someone to make ME a massage appointment and surprise me with it!” But let’s take a moment to consider just a few of the reasons a person might NOT want an ambush massage.

1- She’s on her period and feels cruddy.
2- He doesn’t like being touched by strangers.
3- She didn’t shave her legs this morning and feels self conscious about it.
4- He’s never had a massage before, and isn’t really sure if he wants one at all.
5- She has lunch plans with a friend that you don’t know about.
6- Work has been very busy, and taking this time off WON’T reduce stress levels.
7- She has allergies and laying face down for a half hour will make breathing impossible.
8- He has a rash on his back he feels weird about having a massage therapist touch him right now.

While we LOVE the sentiment of helping someone you care about relax, we are not in the business of working on people who don’t want to be here. On a related note – you cannot fill out an intake form for another person. We need for the person RECEIVING the massage to read and understand as well as sign the intake form. If an adult cannot communicate with his massage therapist what his needs are, he is not a candidate for a massage. We work on adults. Adults make their own appointments and fill out their own intake forms. It’s really that simple.

What kind of massage do you do?

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What kind of massage do you do?

What is the name of that technique?

How did you arrive at this style of work?

Do you have a specific routine that you do?

All simple questions with no quick, honest answer. I recently had a great conversation with a client who is also a visual artist about what it is that we do here. I didn’t know he was a visual artist, but I found that out over the course of the conversation. His first question was “What is the name of the technique you are using?”

I replied that after nearly 20 years of doing massage, no therapist is really ever doing one particular technique. I explained that while we may have no specific routine, good massage therapists do work with intention and purpose. I like to compare what we do to playing jazz, or abstract visual art, it might seem random from an outside perspective, but there is order and reason involved in the process. I repeated a few of the recent pushes and pulls on his forearm, and explained what it was I was looking for when I did them, and why I followed those up with a neck stretch.

His next question was great. “How did you arrive at this style of work?” I often say that my mother is the reason I do massage, and my father is the reason I do it the way that I do it. My mother was a busy, stressed single mom, and growing up she would ALWAYS make me and my sisters rub her feet. Some families cook together, some families play music, we traded back rubs and foot rubs. Helping my family relax was always a part of my childhood, and any kid with a stressed out parent is happy to find a way to help!

My father had a very scientific mind, with a background in electrical engineering. Solving problems and building things always had a very specific sequence and physics-based reasoning. Understanding the mechanics of applying force to a screw without stripping it, or how to efficiently remove a nail from a piece of wood are the same concepts I use to remove tension from the human body. “Never force it,” is a phrase I heard him repeat many times.

The human body is a complex set of systems that can be understood in mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and thixotropic terms. I don’t practice so-called “energy” work, because I am focused on the science of the physical body. Others have described the work that I do as “intuitive,” though I don’t care for the term myself. It’s hard to imagine a good auto mechanic being described as “intuitive” or being “blessed” with a “sixth sense.” In my conversation with our visual artist client, he described what I am working with well as a “body of accumulated knowledge.” Yes, just as a jazz musician studies theory, and scales, and plays many times with others, he develops over time an accumulated body of knowledge he draws from while performing.

So, there is not a name for what I do. But let’s give it one, just for convenience. Let’s call it The Buffington Method: A mechanical approach to removing tension from the human body. That’s my middle name, and it sounds fancy. I believe every good massage therapist learns mostly from experience, and eventually builds enough accumulated knowledge that she is genuinely performing her own style of massage, just like a visual artist, or a musician develops his own style after years of practice.

Kip Wigs
Missouri Licensed Massage Therapist
Owner – Solaris Massage

What Do I Wear to my First Massage?

So glad you asked!  Here is the very short answer: As long as you are covered by the sheet when we return to the room, the details are a matter of your comfort.

Massage Drapping Time Lapse

If you come to our shop, you will likely hear this: When I leave the room you will disrobe to your level of comfort.  Everything from completely clothed to completely nude is normal, and anywhere in between is fine.  About 50% of folks leave their underpants on, you will be draped modestly during the entire massage.

Some folks snicker when I say that “completely clothed” is normal.  One of my favorite clients of all time heard the above speech.  When I returned I found that he had removed ONLY his shoes and lay there in his button up flannel shirt.  I looked forward to summer, because then I was greeted with short sleeves.  But this was HIS level of comfort.  I did a different sort of massage through clothing, but we were both comfortable.

The important thing to remember is that no matter what you are comfortable with, draping WILL be used.  I can’t speak for all states, but here in Missouri, draping is mandatory.  No, you cannot lie on top of the sheets and blankets “necked.”  I have run across a few clients who claim that it is very “American” to be so concerned with privacy and modesty.  Well yes, that’s where we are.  Massage is about warming the muscles, so in addition to modesty, the sheets and blankets we use preserve heat.

Should I leave my underwear on? Up to you, but here are some reasons you might want to leave them on:

A: You are having IT band issues, your hammys are tight and you are hoping your MT will do lots of assisted stretches.  Leaving your drawers on makes it easier for your MT to move your leg around without an uncomfortable breeze.

B: You prefer that your MT work on your glutes through fabric.  Ok by us, we can work through fabric OR avoid any area that you’d rather not have us work on.  Just say so.

C: You don’t want to miss an opportunity to promote Uncle Frank’s used car business, and those Uncle Frank Boxers are the BOMB!

When we say “you will be draped modestly” what do we mean?  We use either a sheet, and a blanket or a towel and generally uncover JUST the part of the body we are working on.  For ladies, this means that when we work on the arms the sheet will be just below the collar bone; for men just below the breast bone (sternum).  For front and back of legs we drape at about wear a swimsuit would hit.  For the back, we pull the drape back to the level of underpants.  If we wouldn’t see it on a conservative American beach, we don’t see it in the massage room.

Some ladies feel more comfortable wearing a bra or a sports bra during their session.  Some of the work we do might be a bit less fluid, but your comfort is more important than our convenience.

If you have long hair, putting it in a pony tail or bun on TOP of your head is good.  If you don’t want us to touch your head, please let us know.  Some folks don’t want to have to  “fix their wig,” and we understand.  A hair cap or bandanna can help keep things in place if this is a concern.

Socks?  If you have chilly feet you might leave them on during the massage.

So that’s it, in a nutshell.  If we’ve missed anything,  just ask!  Send questions to:

solarismassage@gmail.com

Is Silence Golden?

Monica S. asks: Awkward silence makes me uncomfortable. Is it OK to talk to my therapist during the massage or is silence golden?

The number one complaint by massage clients about their therapist is that the therapist did TOO MUCH talking during the massage! SO, the rule of thumb is: your THERAPIST should not LEAD the conversation, and will likely let most conversation come to a quiet, natural end. However, this restriction applies to the THERAPIST, not the CLIENT. If you have something pertinent to say about your massage, by all means SPEAK UP during your massage! While most massage therapists I know DO work best with little or no talking, the priority is YOUR comfort, not our convenience. Our goal is to help you relax, so if talking a bit to your massage therapist makes you feel MORE relaxed, then speak up!

Do your hands get tired? Massage FAQ’s

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No. An experienced massage therapist knows to use the right tool for the job, and that means that very little hand strength actually goes into a professional massage. While your massage therapist IS making contact with her hands, most of the time the power for applying force actually comes from proper body mechanics and leverage (some techniques use forearms, elbows and even feet – see Ashiatsu!). So, rather than gripping or kneading your tissue with her hand strength, she will lean into each movement with some -or most- of her body weight.

A therapist who is standing on the floor (yes, VERY common in our space/time continuum) will, at best, be able to leverage about 50% of her body weight to apply force during a massage. We know. We’ve measured. When you divide that force by the surface area of contact, you have pressure. So, for instance, I can apply 55 pounds of pressure per square inch. No matter how strong a therapist is, she cannot apply MORE than her own body weight. A person might be able to LIFT 200 pounds, but that does not increase her ability to press into a client laying on a table. If I am practicing Ashiatsu, I am able to leverage about twice that, because I am standing above the client with no weight on the floor.

“I need a really STRONG therapist.” I’d argue you need to relax, and find a very SKILLED therapist. Just like a martial artist, a massage therapist who knows WHERE to apply pressure is more effective than one who simply has brute force on her side. While perception does impact the experience, if you are willing to find a skilled therapist of any size/gender/description, you will likely have good results. If you believe strongly that you need a giant MT, that will probably impact your experience, and perhaps you should go ahead and find someone to pummel you.

In short, our HANDS do not get tired because we know what we are doing. Massage IS a physically and mentally taxing profession, it does require strength, and concentration. It can be tiring, but no, our hands don’t really get tired.

What KIND of Massage do you do?

PicsArt_1401717863881 “What KIND of massage do you do?” has always been a vexing question. What technique are you using? What method is that? What tradition did you train in? Where did you go to school?

These are questions we are asked frequently enough that I figured I’d try to answer them here. The long answer is this: Any good massage therapist has been trained in a variety of techniques, and will employ a blend of their knowledge to treat your specific issues today.

The short answer is: I’m using my own method.

While there probably are some massage therapists who stick to specific protocols and guidelines learned in school, most of the great massage therapists I know really don’t use a recipe when doing massage. That’s not to say we haven’t learned many different protocols and guidelines, or that we have no method to our madness, but the truth is any good therapist after about 500 clients has assimilated the learned knowledge with hands on experience to form what really is a unique kind of massage that they alone practice.

Lately, I’ve been calling what I do “The Buffington Method” – that’s my middle name. I began my formal education in massage in 1997, and massage is something that’s been a part of my life since I was forced to rub my mother’s feet as a child (humor). The way I conceptualize it, massage has it’s roots in the mechanics of building and taking apart things – skills I learned from my father and in technical theater in middle and high school. The goal of EVERY massage I do is relaxation. It’s that simple. The way I help my clients relax varies depending on what I sense their body needs on that day. I determine this through viewing them walk into the shop, and by observing symmetry, tension and pliability with my hands once the massage begins. I always ask verbally what (if anything) is bothering them, but knowing that tension can be in an unexpected place, I listen more to the client’s body than to what she says.

So the answer is: I practice The Buffington Method. The goal of The Buffington Method is relaxation, which is achieved by observing, acknowledging and removing tension in the body We do this using the right tool for the job, and never force it.