Prior to Amanda Steinmann I had never interviewed a massage therapist before. Fortunately, I facilitated her first interview. Below she explains what it’s like to squeeze the tension out of skin, muscles and bones for a living. A lot more is happening than you would ever think!

How did you become interested in what you do?

I’ve always been fascinated by anatomy and the human figure—even growing up as a Mennonite where bodies weren’t on display. When I eventually left the culture I decided to enroll at the Body Work School of Massage in Jackson, Tennessee.

What surprised you the most about massage therapy?

Learning how the body works together really delighted me. Also, it’s fascinating how much of massage therapy is based on reading what people want without any words being exchanged.

Aren’t the Mennonites supposedly skilled at reading body language?

Yes, because we have such structured clothing and beliefs you have to read between the lines to understand personalities.

How much does intuition play into what you do? 

You have to be very aware of what someone wants or needs. I think, above all, massage therapists should be unselfish. It’s my client’s time and all I want is for them to be comfortable.

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?

The instant gratification. I love that I can go in someone’s place and within an allotted amount of time turn them from stressed to happy, relaxed and feeling good about themselves. I feel like I am helping people change their lives.

Do you think it’s important to feel balanced yourself when working on someone else?

There are some people who are very aware of energy. Most are not as tuned in. A friend of mine would tell my clients, “Amanda has sweet, innocent energy” and the people he told could pick up on that. The other ones didn’t. People believe what you tell them.

Has anyone ever been weird or inappropriate with you?

Some have joked about it because there is still a culture of sexual things happening during massages—even though it’s illegal. I just shut that shit down, and then they know to never bring it up again. It’s all about the way that you handle it.

Plain and simple: Is it weird touching naked people for a living?

No! (Laughs) You’re hilarious.

Have guys you’ve dated ever assumed you’d given them a massage for free?

(Laughs) I find them more hesitant to ask. Even though I oftentimes have used them for practice.

Does massage therapy get you to pay more attention to body language?

Absolutely. I think people ignore a lot of what goes on around them. I personally find it incredibly difficult to talk about myself, which is why I love listening to other people. I love massage because I can make my clients feel good without speaking. I like that they know very little about me. It feels safe.

Why does that appeal to you?

I can give to them without taking from myself. Also I love picking up bits of knowledge from others. My goal in life is to gather a kaleidoscope of information.

Is it hard being that close to someone physically if you don’t dig their energy?

Fortunately I’m able to select my clients. Right now I’m all booked up! (Laughs)

From touching people’s knotty shoulders and necks can you tell our society needs to take a chill pill?

Yes! And it doesn’t necessarily equate to how productive people are. The problem is we never shut down and take a moment to do absolutely nothing. My favorite thing to do is drive around in my car in silence. It helps me to process my thoughts and clear out the energy I’ve picked up during the day. I can relax your muscles, but only you can relax your mind.

How much has word of mouth played into your business?

I’ve never advertised. I don’t have a website. All of my clients come from referrals so I stopped giving out business cards.

What’s one of the best compliments you’ve ever gotten?

I love it when people say, “you have magic hands.” Actually the biggest reward is counterproductive to my business—when I fix someone so properly I don’t see them for awhile. But I do love my clients who I see every week for relaxation purposes.

Stay stressed out people.

(Laughs) Exactly.

Photo by Joy Gustin

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Lily C Hansen

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