By: Jeremy Renta
Around the 45 minute mark of a session with a new client I’m often asked the question, “How long have you been a massage therapist?” I say without hesitation, “I’ve been practicing massage since I was seven”. Licensed at 40 with 33 years of experience.
My first “client” was my dad. It was a Sunday evening and he and I were watching Knight Rider starring Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World as a talking car. I was sitting on the couch, my dad was laying on the floor and he turned to me and said, “Hey Jeremy, I’ll take you to McDonalds for a Happy Meal if you rub my back.” Seven-year-old me loved McDonald’s Happy Meals but I understood supply and demand and was a tough negotiator. “Make it a cheeseburger Happy Meal (which was ten cents more), an extra cheeseburger, and an apple pie and you’ve got a deal!” I said.
And so began our exchange and my journey to becoming a bodyworker. For 30ish minutes I’d rub my dads back, shoulders, arms and legs, sometimes throwing in a scalp massage and hair brushing. I once went so far as to write up a contract. Ya know lock in my only client in case some other kid in the neighborhood was offering massages for fast food.
As I entered high school my reputation as the go-to-guy for back rubs grew. I had friends who were often times quite insistent to volunteer. During choir people would jockey for position in front of me as our warm ups always included a quick shoulder massage. As a theatre major in college I’d often spend my down time during rehearsals or in the green room between scenes working on whoever asked.
Those early years of literal hands on experience had a profound impact on my abilities as a bodyworker. It helped me become more attuned to reading people’s energy and mood. It helped me develop my intuition and discern common holding patterns. I learned how each person responded to touch and varying depths of pressure. It helped me develop my style using techniques I would later discover were the basis for modalities like Swedish, Lomi Lomi, Trigger Point, and Myofascial Release. It supported my empathic nature as a space holder and taught me about the physical and emotional process of others. (More on this in a future post.)
I absolutely love being a bodyworker. It is a skill that I’ve been cultivating and sharing most of my life. To paraphrase Mark Twain, if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life. I’m so grateful and honored that my clients trust me to hold such an important and sacred space for their healing. And to think it all started with a Happy Meal!
Jeremy Renta is an Energetic Bodyworker and Licensed Massage Therapist. Jeremy is co-owner of Voice Hands Heart, an integrative healing practice in Boulder, CO. Follow us on Facebook.