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