Spotlight: Juana Maria Ayers BCTMB, LMT
Please provide your full name, current location, and current job title.
Juana Maria Ayers, BCTMB, Flagstaff, AZ
Provide one fun fact about you.
I have committed to hiking the Arizona Trail! Approximately 800 miles!!
What are your hobbies?
Backpacking, hiking, running, water color painting, travel
How did you discover the massage therapy profession? What motivated you to pursue massage therapy as a career?
I began to receive massage therapy the last two years of college. I was amazed how out of touch I was with my body. Then, just after starting graduate school in Canada I received “guidance” to drop out of grad school and go into the healing arts. I heard, “world peace is an inside job. What is happening on the outside is a reflection of what is going on in our insides. Healing needs to happen once person at a time”. The very next day, I dropped out! Yikes!! I have never looked back.
How did you develop your passion?
I immediately signed up for a Reiki workshop (after dropping out of grad school). I returned to the States and took a few acupressure courses while I saved up money to go to massage therapy school. I also contacted my massage therapist (she had been doing massage therapy for about a decade) and she told me it was the best decision she ever made. I choose the Desert Institute of the Healing Arts in Tucson, Arizona. A 1,000 hour program back in 1990.
Initially, I was hired at an athletic club, then added a Chiropractor’s office, then started my own practice and slowly let go of the other jobs. I was then asked to join a medical team for a local, internationally renowned business to help with their “Early Ouch” program for their associates. I’ve been in the same community for over 30 years now. Word of mouth has been the best advertising along with reviews on Google, Yelp, etc.
How has your massage career evolved?
Having my science degree has been critical for my path. The type of massage therapy I have been drawn to is therapeutic massage. I love working as an adjunct therapy with other medical professionals. I love problem solving, ergonomics, teaching self-care, educating my clients and giving them hope. I get very excited when I can help a client understand what is going on in their body and help them feel empowered about helping themselves.
I love continuing education! It has introduced me to a variety of approaches to connect with my client, their body and their presenting issue(s). I feel like I translate what the body is trying to communicate to the individual, through discomfort and pain, into a language the client can understand. This leads to a deepening relationship with their being. Quite beautiful, a true honor to witness.
When did you first become NCBTMB Certified?
December 5, 1993
Why did you elect to become NCBTMB Certified?
It was the national certification available at the time and I knew I wanted to be taken seriously in my profession. I thought certification would help establish credibility to the massage therapy profession as a therapeutic tool.
Why have you maintained your NCBTMB Certification all these years?
Because I believe in the organization’s efforts in upholding our profession as a legitimate therapeutic tool available to the public with proven results.
How has NCBTMB Certification elevated your career? What doors did it open for you?
Early on I was fortunate to come across professionals who believed in the therapeutic value to massage therapy so I didn’t have to wave my credentials in front of them, but the certification helped me feel more confident in myself, and my skills. Most recently, I applied for a massage therapy license in the state of Montana. Since Arizona is not a state they share reciprocity with, I was required to prove I had passed, and was in good standing with the NCBTMB to even be considered for the application, plus a few other criteria.
What would you say to a fellow massage therapist contemplating Board Certification?
I would say to make the effort to pass this exam. It proves to you and to others that you have the baseline knowledge, skill and professionalism to practice this highly sought after manual therapy.
How has your practice and/or employment been affected by COVID-19?
Initially we (my husband is a therapist too) shut down for about a month. After connecting with local physical therapists and chiropractors we too created a protocol to establish safety for our clients and ourselves. The lease on our office space was coming up for renewal. It was in a building with 20 other offices. A friend suggested that I ask the City of Flagstaff if we could move our practice to our residence, they responded within four hours with a, YES!
We already had a space with a separate entrance, reception area, treatment room and private bathroom (we were planning on turning it into a vacation rental). We made sure to have a half hour between all clients to have time to disinfect all commonly touched surfaces, masks were required, all clients hands were sprayed with alcohol when they arrived, everyone had to be feeling healthy or they had to reschedule. We did a saliva test weekly once they were available. Our clients LOVED the new space and felt very safe with the lowered amount of exposure. Our practice is thriving!
What would you suggest a fellow massage therapist do during this time to prepare for future success?
Make sure to take care of yourselves! Reduce stress, get outside, sleep, eat well, get vitamin D and take online courses to stay engaged. And always follow the requirements of your state/city to remain in compliance.
To apply for Board Certification, click here.