On massage, crazy times and Covid-19…


Well, it’s been a while since I’ve wrote for this blog.
And during that time the world has become, interesting.

So, first and foremost, Covid-19 is a thing.

In California, we were given a ‘stay at home’ order in the middle of March. Businesses were closed, and all manner of facilities shuttered. I’m pretty sure no one at the time knew what we were getting into then.

As a massage therapist, it was very difficult for me to have to stop my practice. Financially, it hurt me bad. So much so that I felt compelled to start a GoFundMe, the first of two. (I still have one open right now.)

Through March and April I was terrified to work on people. In May I started to slowly get back into it at the behest of an MT friend of mine that needed some work done.

To make a long story short, California closed, then reopened, then closed again. Now we are in this weird, nebulous place in-between.

Many restaurants and small businesses are shuttered. And some gyms have moved their equipment outside. I passed by a beauty salon that has their work stations outdoors now. While my neighbors that owned a barbershop had to close their business for good and move.

Me? I’ve barely scraped by but I’m surviving. After a denial from the EDD for PUA funds (Pandemic Uninsurance Assistance Funds) I decided to get back to work.

Again, it’s been hard, but I’m keeping my furry chin up.

There are a lot of men who still need my touch, but many of my old clients are afraid to go out and about. And I don’t blame them.

That fear was one of the reasons why I chose to stay closed for so long. The uncertainty of the situation was awful. But, I thought about it, and have mulled over my options…

…well, I have no options. LOL

So I’m reopening for real this time as what I offer is a private service, not a ‘McMassage’ in parlor with lots of foot traffic and revolving doors.

I have always been aware of cleanliness. I wash and wipe down all touchable surfaces immediately before and after the session. I wear a face mask and have a pair of goggles now. All clients are required to wear a mask as well. With the exception of the face masks, my cleanliness ritual hasn’t changed.

Only now when someone books a massage with me it’s ‘extra clean’.

It’s crazy times.

I planned on taking the year off from school to concentrate on a small book imprint I was creating. But, now that we are in another open/closed type limbo I decided to go back to college. I signed up for the Fafsa last year, not thinking I would use it. It turns out I’m eligible for student aid, which will be a great help in the next few months.

I will be taking all of my classes online, and will be free in my space from 10am to 8pm daily for massage.

So, for me it’s looking up, but it’s still tight.

If you were a client, and would like to help me out through the Pandemic as a long (or short) distance Patron, you can venmo me, or send me a donation through my GoFundMe page.

If you would instead like to make me earn my keep by giving you a massage (with a mask), then I am open to that as well. 🙂 Make me use my hands!

I miss massage! And I miss the smiles and the hugs. But I will be here when those of you who are far away are ready to come and see me again.

It will be a pleasure to serve you!

Again, my daily availability is 10am to 8pm. If you were a older client of mine I’ll charge you my original rates for the 65 min or 90 min massage.

And any help through Venmo and GoFundMe is greatly appreciated. All funds go toward rent and bills.

Rent – $900
Utilities – $100
Misc – $50

My phone service I buy yearly and am eligible for ebt as a full time college student.

I live very frugally but that’s how I roll.

Anyway, if you need a massage, I’m still here for you. Book me and I’ll iron out your back, with a mask on.

Or if you’d like to help me from afar as a patron because of the feels I gave you, I’ll have links below! Thank you and a big bear hug for you!
🙂

My Venmo – @BCTolbert

My GoFundMe – https://www.gofundme.com/f/Brian039s-emergency-Covid19-fund

Take care of yourselves, Be safe, Wear a Mask, and hopefully I’ll see you soon!

Brian aka Cuojoe
“Uncle Cuojoe”

The Humble MT



On self care, ‘Mind, Body and Spirit’…

Good day to you all,

I hope you all are doing well!

Me? I’m doing good! My next semester of school begins at the end of the month, and I’m excited to jump back into it after a much needed summer break.

On top of school, and planned palliative care training over winter (With the Heart Touch project) I’ll be finishing my first novel and going through the process of starting a micro book publishing business. It’s a busy time for me but a good time.

I will be taking online classes the entirety of this next semester. This will help me stay well rested during my studies, and have an open availability for massage.

So my hours are the same, 8am to 8pm. With final massage start time for new clients at 7pm for a 65 minute massage.

The other changes I’ve made are for my rates.

A 65 minute massage is $80 (from $75), and the 90 minute is $115 (from $100). I no longer offer 120 minute massage.

Even with the slight increase, I’m still inexpensive given the type of massage I offer. That flow-y, all body massage that you know and love. (Which now includes sensual elements on request.) I keep my rates below market for Los Angeles but still offer a quality massage that comes from clinical and spa training.

A therapeutic massage is always apart of every treatment.

~

Keeping the flow going in stressful times can be difficult.

Learning how to embrace calm is not something that suddenly happens, you have to work on it, practice it.

During a recent massage, my right shoulder stiffened up to the point that if I continued, there was a possibly I might injure myself. My flow was disrupted, and I felt it and stopped about 45-50 minutes into the session.

This is what I did, I stopped the massage.
I tried to explain, not so eloquently, that I wasn’t strong enough for the session and needed to stop.
I offered to refer the client to someone who could give them the type of massage I at that point couldn’t, and mentioned the other masseur to be ‘a bigger guy’.
I didn’t charge them for my time.

That all seemed reasonable to me, but the client took what I said to a dark place.

Especially when I mentioned that the other masseur was ‘bigger than me’. He assumed that was my way of saying that he was ‘fat’.  Upon leaving, he said, “You should say you don’t massage fat people in your ads!” and stormed out.

To say that I was shocked about his interpretation and reaction is an understatement. It left me floored but I didn’t feel bad about his dig for long.

On my side, I did everything as a therapist I was supposed to do.

The main thing is, I listened to what my body was telling me and stopped the massage before I possibly fucked up my shoulder. I can’t afford ANY downtime as an MT. And stopping the massage didn’t help my finances, but neither would getting messed up and not being able to work for a few weeks.

So that’s what I learned from THAT experience that I would like to pass to you.

I work on your bodies. And when you are on the table you are in my care. This is regardless of your height, disability, weight, race, hairiness or age.

It’s worth addressing because so many of us have experienced body shaming and prejudice in our lives.

When my client said what he said, I felt bad. But not because of anything I did to him.

I felt bad because I couldn’t apologize for what other people might have said or done to him in his lifetime. I can only respond to his anger with acceptance and kindness. (And an ‘Oh well, Fuck it!’ type of attitude.)

I work on all body types, all races, all ages. And most of the people I work on have some form of touch deprivation. And I address that with the most loving, connected touch I can muster.

But here is my personal rule…

I will not work on a client if I feel out of sorts, ill, sore or strained. There was a time when I was in a mad hustle and I went against that rule, to the detriment of my health and well being. And in effect, my massage.

So this is my wish for you. That if you ever feel strained, ill or out of sorts that you stop for a moment and listen to what your body is telling you.

(Exp, If you feel like you’ll fuck up your back if you try to move a stove on your own, it might be best to check yourself.)

This is an important form of self care.

If others get upset by you addressing your pain, then respond as kindly as you can.

But listen to your body. Always, listen to your body.

Thanks for reading!

With Respect,
Your MT, BCT

If you like what I write here you can tip me through the Venmo app! I do not use Venmo for massage payments, only for tips! All tips and contributions go toward helping with monthly expenses and education.

Brian Tolbert – @BCTolbert
Thanks for your kindness!