Interview with Massage therapist Alex Payan

Cortiva graduate Alan Paxel

My name is Alex Payan.

Where do you practice massage therapy?

I have my own private practice that I operate out of my apartment in
downtown Seattle, WA. I also work for Massage Envy at their Shoreline, WA location.

Are you an employee or self-employed?

I am both an employee and self-employed.

What year did you begin practicing massage therapy?

I started school in January 2010. Wow, it has been almost three years. In
January of 2012, I started my private practice.

Describe your practice, the modalities you use, and what you try
to achieve.

I like to think I can incorporate all different types of styles into my
massage. I do a bit of everything; Swedish relaxation, put-people-to-sleep
massage, and deeper more intense work of Myofascial Release and Structural
Bodywork. I mix in sports techniques and do a lot of pin and stretching to
really try and relieve muscle tension and increase mobility. Treatment to
injuries is another thing I enjoy because it’s always different and causes
me to really think and set a plan with the client to reach a goal of
recovery. I also really enjoy doing hot stone massage with my clients. It
is currently my favorite. I ultimately try and achieve optimal health for
the client. I just want them to feel better and take care of themselves.
There a lot more tools I would like to have or sharpen in my toolbox (and I
am working on that by continuing my studies still.)

What kind of experience do you want your clients to have during a

First and foremost, I want my clients to feel safe and secure. Their
overall comfort; whether it’s mental, emotional, and/or physical is very
important to me. In every massage I focus on the client’s needs for that
session, whatever those needs may be. I do a good amount of education (and
dialogue) in my session. (It is important to me that the) client knows what
is going on with their bodies and what I am doing to create positive
change. The goal is to have each person get off my table feeling better than when they came in. (I also want them to) leave with a little bit more knowledge as well as some tips on how they can improve things with self-care.

What do you enjoy most about being a massage therapist?

I enjoy the freedom. I can take all the different knowledge I learned in
school and apply it to many fields. Within massage I can work at a variety
of places, like clinics, spas, cruise ships, there are so many possibilities. I feel like I make a bigger difference in the world and create more of an impact in individual lives than I ever did serving coffee. Don’t get me wrong serving coffee is a very important job as well.  The idea that a combination of the knowledge in my (head?) and my hands can be such powerful thing and it can improve someone’s well-being. That is an awesome thing.

Is there anything else that you’d like to describe about your

My practice, like my own self-work, is all a work in progress. It is not
the ideal for me right now, but it is what I have to work with. I am still
very young in this field and I have not come into my own yet, so please be
patient. I welcome people into my home and ask them to accept it for what
it is. Someday, with enough clients and enough money coming in, I will have
the clinic setting that fits perfect with my personality.

Your Education

Which massage school did you attend?

I attended Cortiva Institute of Massage in Seattle, WA.

On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the best) how would you rate your

Definitely a 5. I had an amazing experience.

What was your favorite part about your school?

It was different from any other school I have ever attended. The
environment of the school was not pressure driven, even though the
schooling and the learning was not the easiest thing I have ever done. The
material was challenging but taught in a way that made sense and wasn’t so
bad to learn. The instructors and staff are some of the most amazing
people, ever.  They really cared about each and every one of us and I came out of the school learning a lot more than just how to give a good massage. I love my school so much. I have even returned to assist instructors in the
classroom, mainly so I can just hang around the school.

Describe additional education, formal or informal, you have
received since graduating from massage school.

I have not taken any CE classes yet. It is on my to-do list. I will have
some of those classes done in the next year and half, since they are
required. However, I learn new things everyday just from working with
therapists who have been doing this for a long time and being around
instructors. I also learn a great deal from the students I help teach. I
strive for constant self-improvement.

What advice would you give to prospective massage therapists about
education?  About practicing massage?

A good school will not make it so easy that anyone can do it. This work is
very rewarding and very worth all the mental and emotional breakdowns one
goes through. Massage should and can be a very stress free practice and
an experience that transcends to another state of consciousness.

What is the one thing you wish you had known before starting your
journey as a massage therapist?

Part of me wishes I knew how hard it really was, both the school and the
profession itself. On the flip side, if I did know, I might have not done
it and missed out on something amazing.