From a career in dance to setting up and running a successful home practice, Massage Therapist and Wellpark College Graduate Shannon Leticia took time out of her busy day to talk to us about her career journey and why she loves Massage and working from home.
What first attracted you to learn more about massage?
Back at Unitec where I trained in contemporary dance we were always exchanging massages as our bodies were in constant fight or flight often resulting in acute injuries training for upcoming performances. At some stage, I became “best hands” and was receiving daily lolly bribes and flat whites in exchange for lunchtime back massages. I guess a seed was planted way back then.
What made you decide to change careers and focus on getting a qualification in massage?
Honestly, it was a calling. I’d been travelling for a short time overseas with my husband and I was hāpu. I wanted to come back to NZ and create a lifestyle where I could be a Mother and be my own boss. I envisioned a cute working space in the garden and then it just popped into my head that I should do massage so I did.
Why did you choose to study at Wellpark College?
A lot of friends over the years have studied at Wellpark. I loved the holistic aspect of training and I’d heard the teachers were incredible. I heard right.
Why has education and studying to gain your dance and massage qualifications been important to you?
The way I see embarking on qualifications is the start to a journey exposing yourself to the right contacts and environment to provide yourself with the tools needed for the era of life you wish to move into. I auditioned for Unitec in my last year of high school because I wanted to feel elevated out of my small town and to live independently as this young creative, free-spirited artist. I lived that season of my life which naturally gravitated me towards studying massage therapy. A qualification in massage was to again cement the foundation for a life I wanted to move into.
After studying did I open my practice or work for someone else first? If someone else what did I learn?
While I was doing my diploma I worked part-time as a massage therapist at a Pilates studio in Herne Bay. I quickly learnt that the nature of this kind of work for someone else felt like a commitment I couldn’t make long term.
Personally, I like to have creative control over my business style and how I want to run my weekly timetable. I wasn’t daunted to start out on my own because I was meticulously organised about every little detail in getting started. I was manifesting and journaling my ideal working week, my ideal income, my ideal clients and learning about financial forecasting and tax. I made a decision to run the show and I committed to it.
How has your background in dance helped with your career in Massage Therapy?
Coming into the Massage programme I had a kinetic understanding of how a body should move through space and what it feels like to endure physical limitations. I have always been comfortable getting up close and studying bodies because as a dancer you are always entranced by the movement qualities and abilities a performer projects on stage, over time you start to recognise in a body where they are strong, why that may be weak and how can they jump that high? So that’s an example of how my dance experience has been a platform to my ability to recognise mechanical pathways and nuances in my clients.
Why are you called The Thoracic Therapist?
Because my driving mantra each morning as I prep for clients is that I want to lift their spirits physically and emotionally. You know that feeling you get when you receive a really good massage or have a really great time somewhere and people describe it as “floating out of there” well I want to make people float. I want to help people look and feel taller and carry themselves with confidence and light energy. Your physical Posture and stance are telling to how good you feel.
What business advice would you give to a Massage graduate thinking about setting up a home practice and going into business for themselves?
Have clear policies and stick to them. Lovingly let go of clients that don’t respect your time and boundaries. Be ruthlessly organised, schedule your weeks ahead of time and keep promises you make to yourself.
What is the best thing about working for yourself?
The freedom to create and reflect a business model that is 100% my own. From experience, I’ve always worked better alone. I am independent and spontaneous and I have the license to pivot whenever I need to and there’s nobody I need to console with which makes my work authentically fluid and personal.
Any tips on creating the right atmosphere for a home practice?
Just go for it. Getting started is daunting and challenging no matter how prepared you feel. There are things that will come up that you have to learn along the way. There are mistakes you will make that will make you a better Therapist. But you can’t get there without taking the first step. Your space around you will evolve to be the essence of who you are effortlessly. But Pinterest is also helpful!
How do you want people to feel after their treatment with you?
I want them to be satisfied with the results they were hoping for and if that wasn’t achievable after 1 session which is realistically the case then I want them to want to return on a semi-regular basis so that I can help get them there. 90% of my clientele are recurring clients. They return for their own personal reasons and I’m humbled that I have provided them with that experience.
What are the benefits of receiving a regular massage?
That’s a broad question because I have such a spectrum of clients but to give you an example I have clients that have suffered various trauma in their lives. Therapeutic touch has helped them feel safe being touched in a non sexual or threatening way. The body is a complex network of events. Therapeutic massage applied with understanding and compassion has helped people to let go of anger, exhaustion, grief, shame, and so much more. Those things can physically manifest on the body in the form of adhesions, injuries, headaches or stomach problems.
Fav essential oil – Ylang Ylang.
Fav quote – “ How you live your life is the lesson that you teach”
Fav healthy snack– the humble hard-boiled egg
Best relaxation technique– stillness and intentional diaphragmatic breathing
Your preferred massage– a beautiful long relaxation massage, extra time around the skull sends me sideways. Love a good cranial treatment.
Interview by Nikki Morgan with Shannon Lectia – The Thoracic Therapist
Find out more about studying for a Diploma in Wellness and Relaxation Massage at Wellpark College
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