Rebecca Tamm is the one behind the curtain at Michigan Massage and Wellness, pulling the strings, posting to social media, running the show and doing her best to keep things flowing.
What made you decide to pursue a career in massage therapy?
It was purely by chance. I was working for an automotive magazine when I was 24 and had resigned myself to a life of 40 hours a week in a cubicle but saw a brochure for Irene’s Myomassology Institute and even though I had never received (or given) a massage before, I decided to check it out. I signed up for classes that night, went into work the next day and put in my 2 weeks notice, cashed in my 401K to pay for school, took a year off and embarked on a course that changed my life.
Why did you start your own business?
Again, purely by chance. When I was in massage school all I wanted to do was work for a fancy day spa doing fancy body treatments, and after school I got a job doing exactly that. And I HATED it. I had 2 clients when I ended up in an office randomly in Royal Oak for another service and there was space available, so I took a leap of faith and ended up there for over 12 years. For me, I wanted to run a business the way I wanted to do it. It’s not for the faint at heart, and we’ve definitely had our struggles, but we celebrated 15 years in October 2019 and at this point I’ve basically made myself unemployable for anyone else!
I also want to have a space to have a small team of therapists to grow and thrive. To be mentored, to do techniques and modalities that they are interested in and truly be a member of our team/family. To not be another number in a huge facility, to not be stuck doing cookie cutter massages and most importantly, to be paid fairly for their work.
Tell us about your ‘office assistants’
If you’ve been to Michigan Massage and Wellness chances are you’ve met Cooper and Elliot, my pups. Elliot is my sassy little lab/hound dog and Cooper is a mix of lab, hound, staffy and who knows what else. They are both therapy dogs through Go Team Therapy, Crisis and Airport dogs and they love being in the treatment room with me.
Where are some of your favorite places in the US or world to visit?
Oh gosh, SO MANY PLACES! In the US: San Diego and Denver are pretty high up. In the world, it’s hard to choose. I have been very fortunate to have gone on (I think) 17 cruises now? 2019 was a big year for travel, I fulfilled a bucket list trip to New Zealand and also did a cruise through the fjords of Norway. Both of those places are magical. I would love to see more of Scandinavia one of these days. I have a pretty big bucket list and it keeps getting bigger! I don’t often visit places twice because there’s so much more to see.
What do you do when you’re not seeing clients?
Travel, obvi. I’ve been ruined by Delta Medallion status and 2020 will be spent reaping the benefits of my newly earned Gold Medallion status. However, less expensive and less time consuming hobbies include hanging with my pups, my friends, enjoying a lazy Sunday once in a while, taking new trainings to improve our offerings at Michigan Massage and Wellness. I love going to pilates and picking up a barbell once in a while, exploring Detroit, finding new favorite restaurants, making a mess in my kitchen and being out on my paddleboard.
Who would you like to be on a deserted island with?
As much as I would love to say “one of my best friends”, if I’m going to be on a deserted island and there’s no rescue date in sight, I’m taking a Navy SEAL with me. I mean, come on, we would thrive there with those resources!
What makes Michigan Massage and Wellness different?
So much! We are a welcoming, friendly, fun environment. We specialize in specialty services but we also have amazing team members that offer relaxing, therapeutic massages for people who just want to unplug for an hour and be taken into a blissful land of relaxation and stress relief.
Our approach to massage and bodywork is a results based approach. We aren’t a revolving door business and we thrive on relationship building. I still have my very first client that was referred to me in 2003, and our goal is to be your go-to for your maintenance massage therapy sessions. We have had people come in for a specific problem and once we fix that, they may leave us, or they stay on for regular maintenance sessions to keep their pain and posture problems at bay. However, most of the clients that I personally see have been with me for years. They understand the value that we bring to their lives, and as one client says, it’s like going to the dentist and we are the equivalent of flossing. Do it regularly and the dental visits go much easier. While we don’t floss teeth we do floss shoulders, hamstrings and feet to keep you moving 🙂
What are your favorite modalities to do?
If you told me 5 years ago that I would be doing what I’m doing now, I would have said you were crazy. But 2017-2018 was a crazy year of continuing education and now I love doing Fascial Stretch Therapy and Lokte Method. I also love treating specific problems such as frozen shoulder, migraines and plantar fasciitis. In my Comprehensive Bodywork session I pull all of the tools out of my toolbox, there may be cupping, or IASTM (instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization) or MPS Therapy. I have been diving deep into scar tissue work and am excited to be starting my Visceral Manipulation training with The Barral Institute in 2020. Basically, people come to me to get their sh*t fixed, not relax (they see my other therapists for that).
What does your self care look like?
So, full disclosure, because I believe in leading authentically. My self care sucks sometimes! In classic ‘lazy healer’ syndrome, I don’t take enough time out for myself because I’m fixing everyone else. However, my go-to self care is anything Yoga Tune Up® related, using the YTU therapy balls for self massage and myofascial release, pilates classes regularly, prioritizing sleep over pretty much everything else, and following a relaxed paleo/primal way of eating and living. To me self care isn’t bubble baths and wine, but it’s unplugging from life when necessary (hence all of the travel) and spending just a few minutes a day regularly doing mobility work and stretching. I even created an online program to help people squeeze some movement into their already busy day and these are techniques that I regularly incorporate into my own day.
Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
Probably on vacation, haha! But as far as Michigan Massage and Wellness is concerned, still at our great location in Troy, and adding to our staff by just a little bit. I don’t have dreams of multiple locations and dozens of therapists, quite frankly that’s a lot of work! Our goal has always been quality over quantity and I want to have a small team of therapists (3-4 amazing staff members) and continuing to offer cutting edge treatments and modalities that no one else is doing. We have kind of carved a niche for ourselves offering unique sessions and our end goal has always been and will continue to be client care and relationship building. We’re kind of into long term things over here.