Tag Archives: massage therapy

How I Came to the Decision to become a Massage Therapist


Thought I might give you a little insight into how I made my choice to become a Licensed Massage Therapist.

It was a very long thought process, about 20+ years……  Upon graduating from high school, I was a bit lost.  I had no idea what I was going to do.  Poor grades in school weighed heavily on my lack of purpose in life.  I didn’t know until I was trying to get my missing credits to graduate high school that I had Dyslexia, a mild enough form that none of my teachers, in 12 years of school, caught it, they just thought I was lazy.

So where did that leave me?  Well, after a few months of this and that, including starting a semester at Monterey Peninsula College, I decided I would try my hand at the US Army.  Well let’s just say my mind was GUNG HO, but my body was NOT.  I was in and out of the hospital in the 2 months I was in basic training, with the flu, sprained knee, and that was when my A-typical Migraines started.  So home they sent me.  I was a little disappointed in myself, but I know now that was not the path for me.

After I came home from my failed attempt at military life, I decided to go to cosmetology school.  Lets just say, I am not hair stylist material.  I ended up meeting my first husband, a US Army officer around that time, and for the next 9 years I was fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom.  We were stationed in several posts over that time, including Hawaii, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma I had so much fun taking aerobics classes at the YMCA, that I decided to become an aerobics instructor.  And it was a blast!  I had a great time being part of my students health and wellbeing.  I choreographed my own classes in step, floor, and cardio kickboxing style aerobics.  I did that for about 4 years.  But when my husband and I divorced, I found that teaching aerobics does not pay the bills.

For the next few years I had many different jobs….. Waiting tables, bartending, and temp work.  But one day while I was working as a bartender, a friend said that the equine hospital where she worked needed foal sitters, it sounded fun.  I helped out with the sick foals and really felt a pull towards this kind of work, I fell in love with the prospect of working with animals.  I asked about how to be a veterinary technician and they trained me on the job as a vet tech.    So I worked in the equine hospital for about 8 months, and loved it.  But the pay was not that great so I quit to take a job in the warranty department of a flooring company.  That was short lived when my second husband got a job in another town.  But when we moved I found a job in a small animal veterinary practice.  I worked several vet tech jobs over the course of the next 6 yrs, from emergency, to mobile, to multi vet practices.  I worked with some amazing veterinarians, and many different types of animals like horses, dogs, cats, wolves, big cats, guinea pigs, snakes, birds, and many more.  I really enjoyed my time as a veterinary technician.  I knew, however, there wasn’t a whole lot of upward mobility tho, and I felt like something was missing in my life and career.  And I was getting a little too old to be wrestling 100lb playful pooches, and feral cats(but still loved it all).

Most of my life I was giving shoulder, or back rubs to family and friends with aches and pains, and they would always say, “You should be a massage therapist.”  And for years and years I had thought about it.  I always felt massage therapy school would be too expensive.

I decided to start looking into massage therapy schools, and an online course, that was really inexpensive.  But when I received the material, I realized I would have to go to Colorado for several months for the hands on clinical credits(I was living in NJ at the time).  So I started calling around to massage schools near me to see if they would give me the clinical credit.  After many phone calls, I found out that that was not going to be possible.  I spoke with a great registrar at Cortiva Institute Massage Therapy School, and found out that I qualified for government student loans.  Needless to say I enrolled that day……..

So at the age of 41, I quit my full time job, and went full time to Massage Therapy School!  BEST DECISION EVER!!  I was encouraged by my amazing friend’s and family’s faith in me the whole time.  My “poor me”/negative attitude changed for the better, my depression almost completely disappeared, I was happy, and for the first time in my life I was achieving a 4.0 GPA!  I finished something I started, which was huge for me.  I Graduated Cortiva Institute with a Professional Massage Therapy Diploma, and I received the Faculty Award.   I was actually quite proud of myself, and so were my family and close friends.  They saw the positive change in me, and had always known I had a talent for massage therapy.

Now I spend my time doing what I love!  Helping clients reach their health and wellness goals, working out knotted and tight muscles, reducing stress, and educating them on changing habits to keep muscles from being painful.  

If I had this whole life/career thing to do over again, the only change I would make would be to go to massage therapy school SOONER!

To Tip or Not To Tip (Your Massage Therapist)? That is the Question

Do you tip your massage therapist?  Is it appropriate to tip your massage therapist?  How much should you tip your massage therapist?

The questions stem from working in a membership spa, and in my own private mobile practice.  

Here’s the deal……  Yes PLEASE tip, it is always appropriate to tip your massage therapist!  Here are some guidelines to help you with how much.

  • Membership Spa–  These Spas are popping up all over the country(US).  A little background on membership spas….. If you are a member you are getting a massage at a greatly discounted rate, and the therapist makes commission only.  If they aren’t working on a client, they aren’t getting paid.   The therapist usually gets around 40% of that, so if you are paying $39, the therapist is only getting around $15 per massage hour(depending on how long they have worked there, they could possibly get up to $20. Also if you are not a member and paying full price, the therapist is still only getting commission on the member price!) .  And because massage therapy is a very physically taxing job, about 97% of massage therapists only work around 20 hrs a week.  So in the grand scheme of things, massage therapists that work in membership spas only make about $300-$400 a week.  

    • So now we get to the nitty gritty, how and what to tip.  Here is the general rule, you tip on the non-member price!  Let me make it easy for you, If you pay $39 and the non-member price is $78, you tip on the $78.(If you are unhappy with your massage you should at least tip 10%, but also let your therapist know why you were unhappy.  But don’t tell your therapist it was an amazing massage and tip $5, that will make your therapist sad!)  So find out what the Non-member price is and tip accordingly.  The front desk staff will gladly tell you what the average tip is for the service you received.  But here is the average on a $78 massage. (tips are rounded to the nearest dollar)

      • 10%  $8

      • 15%  $12

      • 20%  $16

      • 25%  $20

  • Regular Spa/ Day spa–  This is an easy one, these spas also pay commission only to their therapists, however the prices are higher and therefore so is the commission.  So tip accordingly.  Some spas automatically add a gratuity, but you have the option to tip more if you’d like, just let them know.

  • Private Practitioner–  Here’s where it gets tricky.  If you are going to an office that your massage therapist rents/owns,or even to their home, absolutely tip!  If your therapist comes to you, I personally, tell my clients it’s up to them!  But 99.9% of the time, a tip is given.

Holiday bonus tips are also a great way to show your therapist how much you appreciate them!

What it basically boils down to is yes, a tip is always appropriate, and always appreciated!

Thank you in advance, from all of us Massage Therapists, for your generosity!

New blogs coming soon!!

Good morning friends! I am so sorry you haven’t seen a blog from me in over a week. I was sick last week. I did try to get some writing done, but well, it just didn’t happen.

I am happy to say I am fully recovered and ready to get back to my full duties in life, including my Blog! Look for at least 2 new posts in the next couple of days.

Thank you for your continued support of my blog.

Be Well,

How to find the Right Massage Therapist


There are a few things you should know before you invest in a long-term client/LMT relationship.

1.  Does the state you live in require a Therapist to be Licensed/Certified?

If so make sure your therapists license is current.  Some states require yearly renewal, other’s every 2 years.  Each state will also have a set amount of continuing education credits that each therapist is required to take in order to renew the licence or certification.  These CEU’s are to keep the therapist up to date on training in the massage field and on the rules/regulations that each state has in place.  Here in Florida, a Licensed Massage Therapist is required to have their Florida LMT number on business cards, any type of media, on display at any place they are currently employed as a massage therapist, and can be asked to show their license to any who would like to verify.  You may also go to your states website, or call, to find out if they require licensure/certification, and to see if there are any complaints or investigations against any prospective therapist.

2.  Does your prospective therapist carry liability insurance?

Some states require a Licensed/Certified Massage Therapist to carry liability insurance, some do not.  However it is my belief that liability insurance is a must.

3.  What types of massage modalities does the therapist practice, or have certifications in?

If you are looking for something specific, ask.  There are many different massage modalities, some require certifications, others just expand on the therapists skills.  Not all therapists practice all modalities.

4.  Do you feel comfortable with your massage therapist?

Here is the BIG one!  It is very important to feel comfortable, and at ease with your Massage Therapist.  Here are the questions to ask yourself 1) Is my massage therapist communicating with me?  Do they ask about your goals for your session, about pressure, are they focusing on what you asked them to focus on?  2)  Is my massage therapist listening to me?  A proper massage therapist will not only listen to your verbal request, but also what your muscles and tissues are saying to their touch.  3) Do I generally feel comfortable with my massage therapist?  Everyone has energy that they put off, and not all energies work well together.  Sometimes you just don’t feel like there is a connection/compatibility, or you are just not meshing with someone.  It’s perfectly natural not to “click” with every person you meet, but it is of the utmost importance you “click” with someone who will be working on you in an intimate manner, be it a Physician, Dentist, Massage Therapist, etc…

It’s perfectly ok to ask for a consultation before choosing to have a Massage Therapist work on you, if the therapist says no, then find another!

Good luck in your search for a Massage Therapist, I hope this information was helpful.  If you have anything to add I would love your input!

Fitness & Massage Therapy

As a Licensed Massage Therapist, I see people from many walks of life, and I really enjoy being able to work-on and help each and every one of them.  My biggest group of clients would definitely fall under the Active/Athlete category.  I see amateur/semipro golfers & tennis players, runners, cyclists, personal trainers, yoga/fitness instructors, and of course, mostly, the average person trying to stay in shape by working out.   Massage can and does play a vital role in recovery.   Massage can speed up healing and recovery between workouts, as well as assisting in creating a state of mental calmness, helping ease stress, tension, and anxiety.(I will talk about the mental and emotional advantages of massage in more detail in a later blog)

So if your total body fitness routine doesn’t already include regular weekly or even twice weekly massage, I invite you to read this article from Massage Magazine, and then book your massage therapy sessions today!  



Welcome to my blog! Koren Lester, LMT


I’m Koren Lester, LMT, and I’m committed to helping you reach your health and wellness goals!

I provide professional customized massage therapy in your home or office. Some of the more common benefits experienced are:

  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced stiffness and motion limitations
  • Reduced muscular and emotional stress
  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased blood flow
  • Enhanced soft tissue healing

I invite you to contact me today and experience for yourself the benefits of natural, therapeutic massage therapy.

For more information, please visit www.massageSWFL.com