Inspired and renewed…that is what connecting with over 300 other massage therapists in tranquil Lake George in upstate New York can do.
This past weekend I attended the American Massage Therapy Association New York Chapter’s 2013 Annual Convention. Two of my colleagues and fifteen of FLCC’s students from our Therapeutic Massage and Integrated Health Care program accompanied me to the event. This year’s conference was held in Bolton Landing, New York on Lake George, a 33-mile long lake located in the southeast base of the Adirondacks. This is New York State’s twenty-second statewide AMTA convention, and the event’s location circulates to various areas of the state from year-to-year. Founded in 1943, the AMTA is America’s oldest association for massage therapy and bodywork professionals. The AMTA acts as an advocate to advance the profession of massage therapy through continuing education, insurance benefits, conducting research supporting the benefits of massage, and committing to the ethical practice of massage and bodywork. National, regional, and statewide conferences are held annually to support continuing education for professionals and promote the advancement of massage therapy.
This year’s state conference was held at the luxurious Sagamore Resort, a historical lakefront retreat for spa and golf enthusiast. Upon exploring the history of the resort, I discovered that it was opened in 1883, and was twice damaged by fire in the early 1900’s.
The resort was completely reconstructed in 1930, and is famed for hosting numerous high-profile figures over the decades. Apparently, the Sagamore was one of former president Richard Nixon’s favorite retreats. So, I decided on my first day to take a stroll around the grounds, since we would be occupied in our workshops and presentations during the majority of the weekend.
On my way down to the spa and hot tub area, I learned that the Sagamore prides itself in being “A smart resort for nice people.” Well, I must say, I was quite grateful that I was not a guest at a dumb resort for mean people…..
It was beautiful at the Sagamore, though. The resort offers stunning views of Lake George, and the early spring weekend lingered around sixty degrees with semi-sunny beams of light peeking down from the cumulous clouds. For those of us who reside in upstate New York, these conditions are quite favorable for this time of the year. I was happy.
The rooms were quite cozy as well. Chelsea and I agreed that the couch in her suite was especially comfy.
Many of my students in FLCC’s massage program participated in this year’s Massage Club at the college. Beginning at the start of the fall semester, the students dedicate several hours a month fundraising and participating in club activities to raise enough money to come to the spring conference. Activities have included several chair massage events, a “spa night,” and selling items the students made by hand, such as jewelry, aromatherapy eye pillows and rice bags, and framed original art and photography (if I haven’t mentioned yet, we have some very artistically talented students in the program). As the club's faculty advisor, it is a pleasure for me to witness the students reaping the benefits of their months of diligence by participating in the convention.
The AMTA-NY event consists of three days of concurrent seminars and presentations related to massage therapy. This year’s presentations included topics such as Lymphatic Drainage Therapy, pregnancy massage, massage ethics and business development, treatment of shoulder, wrist and forearm pain, exploring fibromyalgia and massage therapy, deep tissue body mechanics, and myofacial release techniques. The students were spread amongst several of these workshops. I traveled around to visit them.
Here is Natalia getting ready to begin the Mothermassage workshop.
Here, Tonya, Lisa, and Hannah were studiously waiting to hear Ruth Werner’s ebullient lecture.
I especially enjoyed Ruth’s entertaining and informative lecture. Ruth Werner authored A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology, (now in its 4th edition) and is the president of the Massage Therapy Foundation. I am here with Ruth after her enlivening presentation about the Ethics of Client Communication.
I was also delighted to learn that several of our program alumni were attending the convention as well, seeking continuing education for their massage therapy practices. Sarah (‘08) was the first alumna I saw during breakfast.
Not long after, I saw Chauncy (’05) and Tracy (’10) partnered up and waiting to participate in the workshop on full-body postural assessment.
I continued to be greeted by several others as the day progressed. All of them either have successful private practices or are currently working as licensed professionals at businesses.
Vendors also filled the hallways, sharing information about bodywork and massage products, book, and even giving mini-sessions.
On Friday, the group attended a business luncheon with keynote speaker Dr. Kathleen Doyle from the New York State Department of Education Office of the Professions. Dr. Doyle shared current legal standards for the practice of massage therapy in New York and updated us on recent trends in the profession.
By Saturday night, everyone was in agreement that they had gained an immense amount of knowledge about new techniques and concepts related to therapeutic massage. We were ready to socialize, eat some delectable food and boogie. I sat with my colleagues and some of our program alumni, including Evie (’04) and Kaide (’08), who now own a very successful massage practice together in Trumansburg, New York.
Oh, but before the festivities began, there were many prizes to be given out during the AMTA-NY’s raffle of products generously donated by various sponsors. Well, it seemed our current students and alumni took home about 75% of this year’s prizes. Students were winning items ranging from hot stones to jojoba oil, to Topricin lotions, and more. The biggest prizes went to some of our alumni, though.
Angela (’04), for instance, won a brand new massage table.
….and here is Evie right after learning that she won a one-week craniosacral intensive course with the Upledger Institute (redeemable at a location of her choice), which is valued at about $800. Yes, she was very excited (who wouldn’t be?).
My colleague Maria and I visited with our students for a bit after dinner. This seemed a great opportunity for a group photo.
Well, the evening was capped off with a very active dance floor, and Alyssa (a sophomores and soon-to-be graduate) was the first one out on the dance floor (and one of the last, too).
If I haven’t mentioned already, massage therapists like to have fun. We were not a shy group on the floor, as you can see. Our group, of course, was right up front near the DJ, dancing right up until the final song.
After one final workshop on Sunday, we departed this beautiful place with an abundance of knowledge and new skills. We agreed that this convention was a success and a great asset for state LMT’s (Lisenced Massage Therapists). In a few months, I’ll begin the fundraising process all over again with next year’s students. We’ll be heading to Tarrytown, New York for a more urban version of this educational retreat.
Until then, I’ll be here, writing and sharing about yoga, or Thai massage, or Asian philosophy, or tree toads, or whatever other whim I’m fancying in the moment.