Spotlight on a Massage Therapist Massage Therapy is an amazing occupation with a variety of career paths available. We feature interviews with professionals in the field and share their successes, challenges, rewards, and advice.

Bil Bitz Graduated February 2013

Bil was awarded one of Clinton County’s BEST Massage Therapist!

Irene’s – Why did you choose massage therapy as a career?

Bil – I have a friend that I’ve known since middle school, he’s an LMT and he would work on me for free if I worked on him in return.  Fast forward to the winter of 2011.  I was hanging out with my friend Dr. Eric Dilts, DC, who had hurt his back while shoveling snow.  I offered to help him out using the simple things I’d learned from my LMT friend.  When I finished, Dr. Dilts asked if I’d had any training.  I told him the story about my friend and then he said, “You might want to think about becoming a massage therapist.”  I was burned out after 20+ years of website development and graphic design and wanted a new challenge.  Irene’s was the first school I visited and as soon as I stepped into the lobby before I even checked in for my interview I knew that I was going to enroll.  The feeling of calm and Irene’s spirit just took hold.  I knew I was in the right place.  Best midlife crisis ever!

Irene’s – Where do you practice massage therapy?

Bil – I work at Nicole’s Salon and Day Spa in St Johns, MI.  I have been there for 5 years now and we’ve won 5 Peoples Choice Awards for massage in the last 4 years.  Best Therapist – Clinton County twice and Best Medical Spa – Clinton County the last 3 years running.  The funny thing is, we’re not a medical spa.  Public perception is a funny thing but most of my clients come to me for help with mobility and pain.  I’d say 95% of my clients want that.  The other 5% just want to relax.  I’m happy to be the go-to guy to feel better.

Irene’s – What is the most rewarding part of your massage career?

Bil –  The most rewarding part is all of the people, clients, and students that I get to help.  Nothing feeds my spirit and drive for massage therapy more than that.

Irene’s – Do you have a favorite memory from massage school?

Bil – I’m lucky because I’m still collecting those. I apprenticed right after graduation and was hired as a Clinic Event Supervisor.  I’ve been at Irene’s for over 8 years now (one year as a student). I am the Clinic Event Coordinator and an Instructor of Applied Myomassology.  Life is good when you get to work with your mentor (Jeanette) every week!

Irene’s – What was the best class you took at Irene’s massage school?

Bil – That’s a tough question.  The class that had the biggest impact was the Elder Massage elective.  We went to a care facility on the second day and we worked on most of the residents there.  One gentleman made his way into the line.  We all saw this and made sure that we all gave him a 10 min neck and shoulder massage.  This guy never said a word but his smile was priceless.  By the end of our time there we all had misty eyes.  That was a great moment because we all saw how much a little attention and bodywork helped all those we worked on that day.

Irene’s – What bodywork modalities or massage techniques do you find most effective?

Bil – I love using post-isometric relaxation and reciprocal inhibition techniques.  My clients love it when I do something that makes me look like a wizard.  I also love doing TMJ work.  I have dentists as clients and they refer their TMJ patients to me.

Irene’s – What was your greatest success with a massage client?

Bil – I have a 78-year-old client (Vietnam Vet) with PTSD.  His wife brought him in after speaking with me about how massage can help with PTSD.  This guy did not want to be here, he was grumpy and had a scowl on his face.  We spoke and I pointed out the things I saw in his stance, gait, etc.  That was enough to convince him to try it out. He has scars from a mortar round on his back and I asked about them.  This was the moment that his world changed.  He just started talking as I continued to work and I just listened.  He had a smile on his face when we finished and he rescheduled.  His wife stopped in a week later and I asked how he was doing.  She smiled and gave me a big hug and said;  “He’s talking now bit by bit, but he’s started letting it go.  Thank you so much!”  I’ve been working with him for over 4 years now and he comes in once a month.  He’s smiling and happy, no more scowl.  This is truly why I do what I do.

Irene’s – Where is the first place you worked after you graduated from massage school?

Bil –  I was hired at my first massage job the same week I graduated and I was very excited to take on the world.  It was a cookie-cutter massage place and the main focus was on selling Aveda products. One day I was called into the office upon my arrival and was told, “you’re an amazing therapist, but not a good fit for the Aveda culture”.  I was so upset about this.  The next day, my wife had a coworker call me who was in pain and I helped her.  She was having hip pain and she was pain-free by the time I finished.  At that moment I knew it wasn’t me, I just had been working in the wrong place.

Irene’s – What do you do for self-care to provide longevity of your massage career?

Bil – I continue with healthy living, water, diet, exercise, receiving massages, etc.

Irene’s – To what do you attribute your success as a massage therapist?

Bil – I attribute my success to my education and my drive to keep learning more.

Irene’s – What marketing do you feel has worked best to promote your massage practice?

Bil – We use Facebook and word of mouth.  Word of mouth still works the best.

Irene’s – What do you feel was the biggest mistake you made as a massage therapist and how did you address it?

Bil –  Years ago, I got lazy one-week and was falling behind on my SOAP notes.  I’ll never make that mistake again. Write your notes as soon as you can!  Instead of guessing, I brought up the last visit the next time I worked on that group of clients and completed my notes where I wasn’t sure.  It’s always important to be accurate, my clients respected this and were happy to help.  Lesson learned!

Irene’s – What continuing education have you taken after graduating from massage school?

Bil – I’ve taken Orthopedic Massage classes with both Rob Kelly and Dr. Ben Benjamin, as well as a lot of others. Orthopedic Massage was my favorite so far.  Cranial Sacral is next on my list along with Rob Kelly’s Lymph class.

Irene’s – Do you have any advice for new massage therapists?

Bil – Remember that you’ll always be a student. Keep learning and keep growing. You won’t be sorry, you’ll be amazing!

Irene’s – What is the best way for massage clients to contact you?

Bil – You can set up an appointment by calling Nicole’s Salon and Day Spa in St Johns, MI. at 989-224-4500