I've been an Ashiatsu barefoot massage instructor for 15 years, and many massage therapists have come through my training studio. I get a combination of newbies fresh out of school and seasoned massage therapists who have been in the massage and bodywork field for decades. But learning ashiatsu will level the playing field no matter how many years of experience you have in massage and bodywork. Many factors come into play when learning barefoot massage.
So, what does it take to be an amazing
ashiatsu barefoot massage therapist?
Webster's definition of talent is "any natural ability or power." Some therapists seem to have a natural grace and talent for barefoot massage. They may have a background in dance, yoga, or exceptional spatial awareness. Their strokes look effortless, and they are dancing around the table by the 3rd day. Other therapists are clunky and clumsy and walk around the table like BIGFOOT. And it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with size! I've had therapists who weighed 200 pounds and were terrific in class and 100-pound therapists who struggled! Some therapists come with years of experience in hands-on massage and already have a successful practice. They usually get frustrated because working with their feet doesn't come as naturally to them as using their hands. Starting from the basics can be humbling at best. Even when they go back and start working on clients, they may struggle for a while. For most, learning Ashiatsu is not going to be easy. It will take time, and the next step is essential!
Whether you're a natural or not, everyone needs practice. The more you get, the more confidence you'll gain and the potential to be a better therapist. And the more you use your feet, the more you'll improve your palpation skills and proprioception! It took time in massage school to develop this in your hands, and it's no different with your feet. With time, practice, and repetition in various circumstances and on different body types, you will gain mastery in barefoot massage. Suppose you have a massage practice that focuses on more specific pain relief bodywork. In that case, it will take more time and training before a barefoot massage can replace your hands and their specificity, but it's possible! And clients who are used to that specificity may have a difficult time transitioning as well. We usually recommend therapists go back and practice on clients, get feedback, and have more confidence before they start charging full price as an ashiatsu massage therapist.
Most importantly, an amazing barefoot therapist will have passion. Passion is an intense desire and a powerful force that can get you to accomplish amazing things, and it doesn't give up easily. Even when you struggle with getting your bars up or run into roadblocks in setting up your space for barefoot massage, or you finally get your bars up, your clients are hesitant to experience the work. Stay focused and allow the passion for your new barefoot skills to consume you, and clients will sense it and can't WAIT for you to practice ashiatsu on them! When you put your heart and sole into it, it will inspire and influence others.
Even if you don't have natural talent, you can be a fantastic barefoot therapist if you work hard and consistently ALL THE TIME and with passion. But it's not going to happen by going back and occasionally doing barefoot massage. You have to commit to practicing it as often as possible. Maybe you break up the strokes and include a portion in every massage in one week and focus on different ones the next week until you master them.
For more ideas to effectively do this, read our blog, 4 Tips For Improving Your Barefoot Massage Technique. The fact is everyone has a different learning curve. Figure out the best way to follow your passion as an ashiatsu massage therapist; there's no limit to what you can do!
Are you looking to extend your career as a massage therapist?
Check out our classes at NC Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage Training. We're the Durham campus for the Center for Barefoot Massage, and we have 20 years of barefoot massage experience and 10 years of hands-on before that! So, we know a little bit about longevity in massage and bodywork. Our Fundamentals is where to start, and you'll only get more specific and extraordinary with your feet if you continue with our advanced myofascial barefoot massage training classes. Hope to see your soles in our classes!