Please join us in congratulating MH Vicars School graduate Sheena Taggart, winner of the 2020 Peter Martin Award of Excellence from the Massage Therapists Association of Alberta.
The Peter Martin Award is an annual prize that honours recent graduates who have shown exceptional contributions to massage therapy as a student or new therapist. Sheena impressed the award judges this year with her commitment to educating her clients and community about the benefits of massage therapy.
At MH Vicars School, we have always believed that our graduates are the best therapists around. We’re never surprised when they get recognized and celebrated by other massage professionals – but we’re always delighted!
From new graduate to business owner overnight
Sheena graduated from our Calgary campus in June 2020, and immediately launched her own clinic, Connective Wellness. To get things started, she used the business plan that she’d created for her second-year business course at Vicars.
“I took that assignment very seriously, and it really helped me start my business,” says Sheena. “It meant I wasn’t completely lost when I started setting everything up, because I already had my ducks in a row.”
The clinic is based in her home in Bragg Creek, Alberta. Sheena knew that as a new business owner in a small town, she was going to have to get creative in order to get her name out there.
Having lived and worked in Bragg Creek for many years, Sheena has deep roots in the community. So she was able to begin building her client base through traditional word-of-mouth promotion, as well as the 21st-century version – social media.
“I have found that if I want to be busy, or if I have a last-minute cancellation, I just put a post up on the Facebook ‘Buy and Sell’ page for our little area,” she explained. “And any time I post on Facebook, I also have friends and clients who like or share it, so there’s a community feel to it.”
For Sheena, simply getting her name out there didn’t feel like enough. She wanted to make sure that her marketing reflected that she is an RMT who provides effective, therapeutic massage treatments. And she wanted to help the general public understand the health benefits of massage. After all, discovering those benefits is why she became a massage therapist in the first place.
Spreading the word about massage therapy
Before discovering massage therapy, Sheena worked as a Canada Post mail carrier for many years. This meant she was no stranger to muscle and joint pains and overuse injuries.
“Until my first therapeutic massage, I honestly did not know what therapeutic massage was like,” Sheena explains. “I did years and years of physio, and my fair share of chiropractic, I took anti-inflammatories and did stretches. And then I found massage therapy and it encompassed almost everything that I’d been doing, but it worked better.
“So now I’m trying to let people know what massage therapists can do. If you’re suffering, you can get better.”
So how could she spread the word about the health benefits of massage therapy, and connect with new clients at the same time? The answer was waiting for her in her Canada Post mailbag.
“Because I worked for Canada Post, I know that there are these community newsletters and newspapers that go to everyone,” she explains. “I asked my own physiotherapist, and he said ‘well, when we run a regular ad we don’t really get anything from it. But when we put an article with it, we get results.’
“So that got me thinking: I can do some actual education!”
Soon after opening her clinic in summer 2020, Sheena began submitting articles in the High Country News alongside a small ad for her business. The free monthly newspaper is delivered to thousands of households and businesses southwest of Calgary.
The results of her writing are clear. The articles attract new clients to her practice – clients who are coming specifically for her therapeutic expertise.
“I have had clients book in with me because my articles really connected with them,” she says. “And the people that were calling me from the articles tended to be older people that had never had massage therapy before.”
The topics Sheena has covered so far include hyperkyphosis, fascia, and TMJD.
Here’s an example of the kind of short and informative article that Sheena Taggart writes for in the High Country News. This piece was published there in November 2020. It can also be found on Sheena’s website.
Does Your Massage Therapist Treat Antagonist Muscles?
Have you ever had a treatment that fixes your pain but comes back within days? Most people have chronically sore shoulders and mid back. A common cause is due to your pectoral muscles being too tight and pulling you forward. The pectoral muscles can get so tight that it rolls your shoulders forward. As a result the back muscles become stretched and overworked. This also happens with the neck muscles. The front neck muscles become tight causing a head forward posture and pain in the back of the neck and shoulders.
To treat these issues properly the antagonist pectoral muscles need to be treated. Many clients tell me that they have never had a massage therapist treat their pectoral muscles. Often the result of treating these muscles patients immediately comment how open their chest is. They then report later that their back pain has changed dramatically with just one treatment.
My goal as a therapeutic massage therapist is to leave my clients with lasting results. I also wish to empower them to further their health. I do this by providing a plan of stretches and strengthening exercises to re-educate and maintain the muscles. If you feel an initial trial treatment may address your health issues, please reach out to me by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to my website www.connectivewellness.ca to book online. Direct billing is available.
About the Award
The Peter Martin Award of Excellence is an annual prize given to a recent graduate who has shown exceptional contributions to massage therapy as a student or new therapist. The winner is determined based on a letter of recommendation from an instructor or fellow therapist, and a personal essay in which they describe their career goals and accomplishments and why they chose to become a massage therapist.
It was launched in 2019 as a way for the MTAA to recognize and support outstanding RMTs as they begin their career. The award is named in memory of Peter Martin, a long-time MTAA member, and is open to therapists who have recently upgraded from student to full association membership. In addition to the professional recognition, the award comes with a $750 cash prize. To learn more about the award, including past winners and full eligibility criteria, visit the MTAA’s website.