The two questions that I get asked the most when meeting visiting coaches, therapists or people I may encounter outside of the industry are:
- Why did you become a therapist?
- How did you come to work with ALTIS?
Likewise, people I meet or interact with outside of the profession are often very interested in why a person would want to put their hands on people that are: a) strangers, b) partially clothed, or c) both. The answer most therapists give is: “I want to help people.”
Since being asked to write this blog post I have spent some time musing over that very question: What motivated me to want to become a therapist?
The more I deliberated on this point, the more I started to dislike the reality that the answer is based upon. For therapists, often the reality is that we have a very limited time-frame in which to impact positive change on the people we treat. Can what we do in an hour, or even 2 hours, positively impact our client’s lives?
Looking back to when I worked in a clinical setting I would see people once or twice a month for 60 to 90 minutes at a time. They would typically feel great after the session, and this feeling would run into the day after treatment. However, there was often then a massive gap of up to 500 to 700 hours before I saw them again for the next session.
What were they doing during this time? Mostly sitting in uncomfortable office chairs, standing on their feet for 8 hours at a time, or sometimes doing something undesirable in the gym. They would then come back to me, and expect to be fixed. In the interim, they often hadn’t been drinking enough water, stretching, or doing any of the “homework” that I gave them.
I felt like I was fighting a perpetual battle that I knew I couldn’t win.
So when I deconstructed the question above and thought about why I became a therapist I came to a similar conclusion, I did want to help people – but with a twist…
It’s not just about helping people; it’s about helping the RIGHT people.
Who are the right people you might be asking yourself? Well, for some it might be working with cancer patients performing Oncology Massage; for others, it may be working with people affected by PTSD to help with stress.
For me it was sport.
As a sports fanatic, I know how devoted athletes can be, and I wanted to find a way to help these intrinsically motivated people to achieve their goals. Herein is the start of the metaphorical journey that led me to ALTIS. When I thought about “helping people” and began researching different training and athletic injuries, the therapy profession kept popping up. I had to find out more about it. I decided to contact a local Massage Therapy school and take a tour.
After seeing the curriculum and the job possibilities, I signed up right away. I was very excited about starting a new career, and was looking forward to progressing as a therapist within athletics: I could have never guessed how quickly my dreams would come true. After a year of working with Chiropractors, and at a local massage clinic working with the general public, I was presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity.
A former instructor of mine who was working with Nike at the time, and who is now working with an NFL team, messaged me about a volunteer opportunity working with Olympic-level Track & Field athletes at ALTIS. Obviously, I jumped at the opportunity despite not having a ton of knowledge about track.
I set up a time to come to the track with one of the coaches and met a few of the athletes. That evening we set up a time for me to work with two Pole Vaulters who are the record holders in their respective countries: Needless to say, I was pretty ecstatic at this point. Thankfully they both enjoyed the treatment and gave the seal of approval to the coaches.
After that, I started to volunteer my time in the morning at the track while still working at a clinic. The volunteering turned into an internship, which led me to become the Lead Performance Therapist for the semipro group at ALTIS. A journey which has culminated with me becoming Lead Performance Therapist for the throws group, and Assistant Lead for the jumps group.
What has the journey so far taught me?
If and when you presented with a positive opportunity – jump at it, or as we say at ALTIS “jump into the deep end” or “get stuck in.” Volunteer your time if you have to. Make sacrifices.
Secondly, never stop learning. There is a seemingly limitless supply of research articles and videos out there to ruminate and learn. Learning is an ongoing process – keep it in perpetual motion.
The last piece of advice I could give is to surround yourself with the (here’s that word again) right people, both professionally and in your private life. Find someone to latch onto and learn from; make them sick of you standing next to them, and learn as much as you can when you can.
In your private life try to associate yourself with positive people that will encourage your dreams and aspirations. Try to stay away from negative people. Find joy in what you do, and you won’t ever feel like you’re working again.
So there we have it – the story behind me becoming a Performance Therapist for ALTIS. It would be remiss of me, however, to end without saying one last thing. I could have never gotten to where I am without the amazing coaches and therapists that I have worked with along the way. Thank you to all who have been part of my journey so far, and good luck to all of you a journey of your very own – whatever it may be.For more coach and athlete resources from ALTIS, see ALTIS 360.
Since you’re here…
…we have a small favor to ask. More people are reading SimpliFaster than ever, and each week we bring you compelling content from coaches, sport scientists, and physiotherapists who are devoted to building better athletes. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage the authors with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. — SF