Massage School Learning Experience

By Roblynn Neumann

At the end of our first day of massage school, we all circled up to share our feelings. I got teary eyed and said, "I miss my kids and cannot wait to go home and see them."

The months, weeks and days leading up to this experience had been very stressful for me. I had been a stay-at-home mom for the past fifteen years, with six children ranging in age from two to fifteen. I was embarking on my second career. My husband could not understand my stress and concerns. His constant reassurances that everything would be fine at home for the next five months, and that it was no big deal to undress in front of complete strangers, did not help.

As the first day of school got closer, I was so stressed that I broke out with a huge fever blister, right smack dab in the middle of my bottom lip. It hung around for the first two months of school!

It was amazing for me to realize how many of my ideas about education could be traced back to my elementary school teachers. I was actually remembering educational experiences from over twenty years ago; which fed right into my stress, of course.

Another stress was the unknowns of massage school in general. Would I be the old lady in a class full of young people? Would there be guys I would have to work with?

Did my brain even still function? All of these and many more doubts went through my mind.

The first day of school erased about half of these worries. There were eleven students in my class; all but three attending for the purpose of a second career, like myself. They all seemed harmless enough, including the three guys. What a relief!

Thus we embarked on our five month journey together. I have seen and heard about classes were everyone became instant friends forever. We were all pretty much to busy in our own lives for that to happen.

Massage school definitely has a way of showing you yourself, up close and personal. I had always considered myself to be laid back, nice. This unraveled with the first learning experience; which was just a nice name for a test. It is supposed to help mentally to call it something else. At that point I found out that I was very competitive, and even almost mean about it. Wow! Insight number one.

Another eye opener came a few weeks into school when we were having a communications class. I usually skipped these. In this particular situation we were to partner up with another student, and tell how we felt about each other. My partner told me that when we had begun school she did not like me, but she was beginning to! That hit pretty hard, obviously, since I still remember it.

Number three came in our daily circle when we were given time to share how clinics were going, and how we felt about the work we were doing outside of class. I was so excited to share about my work with the university cross-country team. When the teacher called my name, another student remarked, "What are you going to brag about today?" Boom! Insight number three.

I am glad to say these three and many other experiences did encourage introspection and change, but that did not make them any easier to take at the time. The biggest lesson learned was to be careful about the words coming out of my mouth. This has served me well in my business and my life. This lesson, still with my twelve years later, is the same, with this addition: be kind.

On the last day of massage school we all circled up to share our feelings for the last time. When my turn came I said, "I'm glad this is over, and I can't wait to go home to my children."
Everyone chuckled, but all agreed.

Roblynn Neumann is Co Director and owner of Costa Rica School of Integrative, a study abroad massage school located in Heredia Costa Rica. You can contact her at She has owned and run a private massage practice for 12 years, and taught for 3 years.

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