For fifty years, our Portland massage school has guided students to become LMTs. We know how challenging it can be to find the right massage school. So we’re thrilled to support the Choosing a Massage School Podcast, which features interviews with massage industry leaders whose decades of expertise deliver deep wisdom on the massage profession, and on how LMT-hopefuls can choose the ideal school of massage. Today we’re reviewing an episode featuring James Waslaski, a celebrated leader in Orthopedic Massage. 

James’ journey to massage therapy began thirty years ago, when he was working in medicine, and pursuing running as a hobby. After twenty years as a paramedic, he began seeing a massage therapist. To his delight, massage kept his running injuries at bay, and he found that regular massage therapy allowed him to continue running marathons. He considered massage a mere interest, until he saw a presentation by Benny Vaughn. (Coincidentally, The Choosing A Massage Podcast also interviewed Benny Vaughn.) This rousing presentation inspired James to shift his career focus to massage. He soon earned his license to practice massage therapy.

James’ strong background in medicine and sports led him to develop an integrated manual therapy program. His publications and seminars empower all medical professionals specializing in treating chronic pain and sports injuries. James is the author of the book Clinical Massage Therapy: A Structural Approach to Pain Management. He teaches 45 seminars per year around the globe. Respected across the massage world, James recently lent his deep wisdom to the Choosing a Massage School podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the Choosing a Massage School Podcast interview with James Waslaski, in the hope that these tidbits will motivate you to listen to more.

James Waslaski’s Massage Career Lessons

Be humble and kind. Realize no matter how much you know, someone knows more.

James grew up on a farm in North Dakota. Coming from such humble beginnings, he had some insecurity. However, this insecurity soon grew into egotism, as James trained thousands of massage therapy students, and became renowned on massage workshop circuits. He admits this massage world fame brought him a certain degree of self-absorption.

This egocentricity was checked when James worked as a sports massage therapist for the New York Yankees.  In the Choosing a Massage School Podcast interview, James recalls that the trainer of the Yankees mentioned that he doesn’t usually like working with massage therapists because “They walk in here like they know everything.” James took this off-handed comment to heart, and vowed to remember that no matter how much you know about a subject, someone always knows more. As James put it, “People love a kind-hearted humility.” His advice is to be consistently kind, and to avoid becoming egotistical.

Prioritize Learning Styles. Maximize learning by absorbing information through multiple approaches.

When selecting institutions for massage therapist schooling, James advises applicants to look for instructors who can cater to every style of learner: Kinesthetic, visual, and auditory. He believes that people learn best when they receive information through all of these learning styles. 

As an instructor, James prioritizes what he calls “blending” of learning styles. If you took one of his workshops, you might see that James has one screen set up to  show the relevant anatomy/physiology/neurology, while another screen shows what James is doing with his hands (visual learning). Meanwhile, James is voicing what to do, and how each massage approach works (auditory learning).  Simultaneously, participating students practice each stroke with their own hands, and then switch partners to receive massage, and appreciate how each technique feels for clients (kinesthetic learning). Instructors who know how to blend learning styles will maximize learning for their students.

Finally, James emphasizes knowing your goals as a massage therapist. Do you wish to work in a clinic, a massage business, or on your own? What massage modalities interest you most? How do you anticipate using your massage license? Knowing where you hope to end up will help you make smart choices for which school to attend, which classes to sign up for, and more.

To listen to this fascinating interview, you can access the Choosing a Massage School Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. Here are direct links to the James Waslaski episode via various podcast providers:

Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts
Overcast (link to all episodes)
Amazon Music
Deezer (link to all episodes)
Podcast Addict
Listening Notes