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In my 23 years, I’ve only ever had a handful of massages, most of which have been the result of a gift card from my parents or a particularly enticing Groupon for the local massage parlor near my house. Until my most recent massage I always requested a female masseuse. The tables turned, however, when there was a mix-up at the massage parlor and Tracy the receptionist said Daren instead of Danielle had been scheduled for my appointment.
“Sure, that’s fine…” I said. Mostly because I like Tracy and I have a problem with confrontation.
All I can say is, thank god for the mix up. The day that Daren rubbed me down is a day that changed my life. I’m exclusively a male masseuse girl now. Daren kneaded out the knots inside my knots I didn’t even know existed. He was strong enough to attack my hamstrings with a rigor I did nay fathom possible from a single human being and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I left my first massage with Daren feeling like a pampered wet noodle. He was an artist and an athlete and if I ever make enough money to hire him full time as my personal in house masseuse mark my words, he’s going on retainer.
When I left that day I couldn’t help but wonder how Daren became Daren. He is 30 and has both a robust clientele and the muscles to prove it.
After this week’s interview, however, I think I can tell you how; He started as someone like Nick.
On Wednesday night, Nick, a reader from South Florida, told me all about what it’s like to be a 23-year-old massage therapist in the land of sun and money. He let me give his brain a rub down in an effort to uncover how he got to where he is today.
So here we go – let’s lower the lights, break out the lavender lotion, and really dig into this thing. Relax and enjoy! There’s lemon water in the lobby.
What is your job title and how did you get there?
Well I am currently a massage therapist and took kind of a winding road to get there. I started working at a Massage Clinic when I was in undergrad just for some extra beer money as a front desk receptionist. I worked there for a few months and was doing pretty well I guess. I like to work out and am kind of tall (6’2), so I would get a lot of clients asking if I was a therapist and one day my boss overheard them asking then offered to send me to massage therapy school.
Author’s Note: Can you imagine looking so big and strong people actually beg your boss to let you rub them down? Ya no, me either. Must be nice, Nick.
How old are you?
I’m turning 23 this weekend. Yes, I know. A St. Paddy’s day birthday celebration is a recipe for disaster.
What does your day to day look like?
My day to day is pretty chill. I come in, go in the back and check my schedule and see what appointments I have that day. Then, I read up on their profiles to get an idea of what I will be working on and massaging as the clients come in.
How is work-life balance?
It has taken a while to get used to my routine because it’s not a normal 9-5 (I don’t even work 40 hours a week) but different hours like 2 p.m.-10 p.m. for instance. At first I was pumped because I only had to work 4 days a week and pretty much make my own hours but people don’t realize how physically demanding it is a lot of the time to be a massage therapist. So I can’t go get blasted the day before work and just go through my day hungover because it directly affects my work and thus affects my income. I think I’ve managed to find a decent balance though after a few months of experimenting.
Do you feel “fulfilled” in your job?
Um sometimes? Every once in a while you will have someone that just has this intense pain or something and they will exit the session feeling like a whole new person and just thanking you so much for helping them. Sadly, those experiences are few and far between.
What do you fucking hate about your job?
Well, I am in a very rich part of South Florida with a lot of old wealthy retirees mostly from New York. So in short, the old Jewish woman.
That’s so funny, has anyone ever tried to set you up with their granddaughter?
Once I was checking a client out at the front desk and she said it was a shame that I wasn’t Jewish. I told her that actually, I was Jewish (I have blond hair and blue eyes so people generally don’t know). She screamed in glee and said “oh my, why couldn’t you have put babies inside of me!?” When she finally left my manager had to check in with me to make sure I was okay.
Is the money good?
Surprisingly yeah. I think it’s common to kind of look down on professions that do not necessarily require a degree but if you get put in a good enough area you can make a good living once you get a decent clientele. This is one of those rare jobs I think where it’s kind of hard to bullshit your way through, if you are good you get rewarded and if you are not it’s going to be tough for you.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years professionally?
Graduating Chiropractor School and hopefully working and helping athletes or at least breaking into that field. I would also like to stay in Florida.
Have you ever dipped your pen in the company ink?
Not necessarily, I do not work with that many other people at my clinic and I am by far the youngest, and with clients that is just a road I do not ever want to go down on since at the end of the day they are very vulnerable in these situations. I might have gotten drinks once or twice with the receptionist though.
What is dating like? All I’m saying is, if I went on a date with a massage therapist my first thought would be that he must be good with his hands.
Dating has proven a bit tricky, actually. I’m on all of the apps, but sometimes it’s hard to explain what I do to girls without them being judgmental about my work. They don’t see the bigger picture, or really understand the training and skill level being a massage therapist takes, so I’ve been on a few dates before where the girl has written me off because she doesn’t think I have a career.
Hmm, it’s crazy to me that there’s still a stigma around jobs that are not your traditional 9-5.
Yeah. I wish girls would give me some time to explain what I do before immediately putting me in a box. That being said, I have dated people in the past that, every time I come home they want a massage and they don’t understand that I massage people all day, so coming home and massaging my girlfriend is kind of the last thing I want to do.
Is it ever hard to navigate having clients that are women in our age group?
When I have female clients, especially if they’re young, I am hyper aware of everything I do. I go in and am immediately extra cautious and cognizant of how I interact with them. I am respectful of all of my clients of course. That being said, young female clients tend to make me more anxious.
Generally speaking I do take a pretty uniform approach for each person. When you are with someone in their most intimate state the ultimate goal is to make them feel relaxed and safe. I ask a lot of questions and take my time, there is a big difference between someone who is new to massages versus someone who has been coming for 10 years. You have to gauge what they’re comfortable with.
I never thought about how physically taxing it was to be a massage therapist. How do you keep you body prepared?
I’ve always been your classic workout guy, your typical ex-college athlete. When it comes to my job, however, it’s all about body maintenance. Basically, we all have early onset carpal tunnel. The pressure you’re putting on your fingers on a daily basis is taxing. Since becoming a massage therapist I do a lot more forearm stuff, so my grip is stronger and I can put on more pressure. Otherwise, I do a lot of rolling. I have a hang roller that you stick your arm through. Also, I get massages from other therapists. When we’re on breaks we generally massaging each other to keep loose.
What do you get to wear to work?
Khaki pants and polo.
If someone came up to you on the street and told you they wanted to get into your industry, what are 3 tips you would give them?
1. There are a lot of sketchy massage schools that are there to just rip you off and take your money, so make sure you go to a very accredited one. A lot of colleges even offer programs through them.
2. Live or move to an area where people actually get massages. At the end of the day massages are a luxury to the majority of people who get them and are not cheap. So I doubt you will get a lot of clients in some small town in the midwest.
3. Don’t plan on this being your career for the rest of your life. It’s a cool job and fun sometimes, but it destroys your hands. I can’t imagine doing this for 20 years and have yet to meet someone who has. Use it as a stepping stone to something else or even as a side gig from your normal 9-5.
Finally, Nick – are you single? (Asking for the readers obviously)
Haha ya. I’m actively dating right now. I don’t know if there are any readers in South Florida, but you never know.
And that’s all folks, our hour’s up. Do you feel a little bit looser than before? A little more relaxed?
I found a few things particularly interesting about this interview. I certainly didn’t realize how physically taxing being a masseuse is, but also I never really considered it as an excellent side hustle or stepping stone to save money before your career. I have never encountered a masseuse in their early 20s, so quite frankly I didn’t know it was an option for someone right out of school.
The thing that shocked me the most, however, was that Nick faces some sort of stigma about his job when he’s out on dates. If I have to say anything, it is that I would like to respectfully send a little PSA to the single ladies in South Florida.
Don’t sideline the massage therapists so quick, friends. I mean, he’s every grandmother’s dream and come on, did you hear what I mentioned about the hands?.
Image via Shutterstock