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Massage, Rolfing and Life Experiences

Hi! I'm Julie Marciniak, Certified Advanced Rolfer™, owner of Bull City Soles massage & bodywork studio, and barefoot massage instructor for the Center for Barefoot Massage.

Ashiatsu bars in top NC Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage School
NC Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage Instructor

I've been practicing massage and bodywork for over 28 years. Over the years I've seen many massage therapists and female Rolfers™ struggling to stay in a profession that they love, but their body is setting limits on what they can do; carpal tunnel, worn out thumbs, thoracic outlet syndrome, worn out rotator cuff, back issues and tons of other things that we know how to work on other clients. But when your livelihood depends on performing 5-6 or more massage and bodywork sessions a day on clients, with muscles that feel like cement and looking for MORE pressure, we sometimes push beyond our body's limits and end up just like them!

So after coming to this realization, you start to look into other types of massage that are easier on your body like cupping, esthetics, energy work, etc. And don't get me wrong, there are many types of bodywork out there that are really effective! And there's nothing wrong with learning to work SMARTER. However, I find that many therapists are settling for something that they really don't want to do because they can't continue to physically do the work they once did, especially if it's deep tissue or a deeper type of bodywork.

I ran into this dilemma 18 years ago and knew I had to figure something out, or my body wasn’t going to last. I was 4'10", 86 pounds, and working on 300-pound clients that told me I gave them the best, deep tissue massage they ever had. But there were consequences. I was waking up every night with numb hands. I knew how to work from the core, but there's only so much repetitive movement and pressure that a small petite body can consistently produce over ten years! Standing beside the table and leveraging over the client with a short torso and arms, I was limited by my center of gravity. I started climbing up on the table and just walking on clients' backs without lubrication. Then I saw a trade magazine with an instructor teaching other massage therapists to do something called Ashiatsu. I signed up and never looked back!

Ashiatsu barefoot massage training not only saved my massage career, but it transformed into something MORE.

For my chronic pain issues, I eventually sought out a Rolfing® Structural Integrator to address what I couldn't resolve with massage therapy. I was getting weekly massages, but the results and relief didn't last. After the Rolfing® 10 series, I was in love again with something called fascia. So I committed to going back to school in Boulder, CO, for the next 3 years.

The whole time I was training at the Dr. Ida Rolf® Institute, I would hear, "Ida Rolf would never have let you into the institute if she was alive." It seems she judged therapists' ability to do the work by the size of their hands. I had to push through the training using my hands, but as soon as I got home, I trained my feet to work without lubrication and engage the fascia. Over the next ten years, I would navigate this path of having one foot in the massage world and one foot in the Rolfing® Structural Integration world.

Eventually, I realized that no matter what I called my sessions, that I was a Rolfer™, fascia was my medium, and there was no going back! I had the opportunity to go back for my Advanced Rolfing® Certification in 2018. I received my instructors' permission to bring my portable ashiatsu bars and use my feet in my advanced training classes. It was scary, exhilarating, and humbling, but SUCH an amazing learning experience!

If there's one thing my experience has taught me, it is to let go of what you think you can and cannot do!

Open your mind to the possibilities of barefoot massage training. 👣 You'll find that the foot is a tool to be used just like our hands and elbows, and in some ways, it's BETTER. With proper ashiatsu training and commitment to learning, you'll find that the sky is the limit!

I have been a barefoot massage instructor for 12 years now. I love teaching other massage therapists and giving them encouragement and hope. There are tons of people struggling with chronic pain and health issues that the medical field has failed. And while massage therapists may be a dime a dozen, GREAT massage therapists are difficult to find. Instructing massage therapists is just one way to contribute and share my experience and knowledge with the public. And it challenges me to continue my professional growth and expertise!

The Center for Barefoot Massage is an awesome place to start or revisit your barefoot journey. We are committed to providing quality LIVE continuing education to massage therapists and refuse to dumb down our curriculum in this online-learning crazed world. Your clients deserve better, and so do you! Step up your massage skills and take them to the next level.


NC Ashiatsu barefoot massage training studio is the Durham campus for the Center for Barefoot Massage. We focus more on advanced myofascial barefoot training, so we have a limited number of introductory Fundamentals classes per year. Follow NC Ashiatsu on Instagram or Facebook.


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