Roberta (Bobi) Gartley Graduated from Irene’s in December 1995
Irene’s – Why did you choose massage therapy as a career?
Bobi – Honestly it was by accident. I had quit my job to go back to school full time for Physical Therapy. That same year they changed all the requirements nationwide to a Master’s Degree program (it’s now a doctorate). I called Wayne State and asked what I should do. They recommended I go to school for massage and then continue my PT school. I didn’t even know where to go. They recommended Irene’s (Mable Sharpe is/was in charge of the programs at Wayne State at the time). I went and checked it out. Completed my program, started working in a PT clinic, continued my classes, and had a light-bulb moment a year and a half in that asked me why I was killing myself doing this when I really enjoyed doing massage.
Irene’s – Where do you practice massage therapy?
Bobi- I have my own office in Shelby Township inside a small gym. I’m also a Personal Trainer so this is ideal for me. It took me a while to get here, but I’ve been happy ever since.
Irene’s – What is the most rewarding part of your massage career?
Bobi – Helping others. I feel a sense of fulfillment.
Irene’s – Do you have a favorite memory from massage school?
Bobi – Yes. I really enjoyed it when Irene would come into the classes and talk with us. Her knowledge was vast.
Irene’s – What was the best class you took at Irene’s massage school?
Bobi – I really enjoyed Touch for Health and Macrobiotics.
Irene’s – What bodywork modalities or massage techniques do you find most effective?
Bobi – I specialize in deep tissue/rehabilitative style massage. My clients not only feel better but are relaxed when they leave. It’s a win/win.
Irene’s – What was your greatest success with a massage client?
Bobi – Helping to remove all pain that the client was feeling, giving them better posture and better rest.
Irene’s – Where is the first place you worked after you graduated from massage school?
Bobi – I worked at Dynamic Rehabilitation Centers which was/is a physical therapy clinic with MDs, DOs, DCs, PTs, and more. It was exactly where I needed to be at the time and I learned so much. They even helped me with CEUs.
Irene’s – What do you do for self-care to provide longevity for your massage career?
Bobi – I practice what I preach. I exercise 4-5 times a week with weights and cardio. I also receive a massage every other week. I get weekly chiropractic adjustments. All of these, to me, are keys to a long life and long career.
Irene’s – To what do you attribute your success as a massage therapist?
Bobi – Perseverance. I didn’t give up during hard times. I’ve worked in many different areas – medical, spa, etc. I learned as much as I could everywhere I went, including what I thought worked, and what I thought didn’t. I do constant classes to be able to help others. Education is Power (as Schoolhouse Rock told us).
Irene’s – What marketing do you feel has worked best to promote your massage practice?
Bobi – For me, it wasn’t so much marketing as it was networking. What helped me grow my practice the most was joining a networking group. I was in it for nearly 6 years. Now all my new referrals are word of mouth. I strongly suggest doing this. All networking groups are not the same so you may be in many before you find the right fit for you.
Irene’s – What do you feel was the biggest mistake you made as a massage therapist and how did you address it?
Bobi – Trying to go out on my own when I was new to the field. I thought people would just come and I’d be busy. It doesn’t necessarily work that way. I feel if you work for others in many different types of settings you learn so much that helps you to be successful.
Irene’s – What continuing education have you taken after graduating from massage school?
Bobi – So, so many. I started out with NMT classes (Paul St. Johns 1-5) and MFR classes. I continued to take other things that interested me. I took aromatherapy from an aromatherapist (not a company) and she taught me so, so much. I would tell others to find classes that help you to be better in how you wish to practice.
Irene’s – Do you have any advice for new massage therapists?
Bobi – Get a massage from many different therapists. Never stop learning. Find a mentor. And enjoy what you are doing then it doesn’t feel like work.
Irene’s – What is the best way for massage clients to contact you?
Bobi – Phone or email. 586-899-7492 or firstname.lastname@example.org