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


Come Visit Irene’s for a Tour

Wellness topics like the one covered above are part of our massage therapy curriculum. If you’re interested in topics like these or in massage school in general, we invite you to visit Irene’s massage school to see our campus and get a feel for our environment.

In fact, we are so confident that we are the best school for you, if you come in for a tour of Irene’s and then enroll in a massage program at another school, we will pay $50 towards your registration fee at that school. A check will be written to the institution with proof of enrollment in a massage program.