Ariana, what was your first introduction to massage and what inspired it?
During the first stage of my massage career where I worked for 20 years as a massage therapist, I was very fortunate to live in Austin, Texas, back in the 80s. Austin has a reputation for being one of the most “Fit Cities” in the US, so it was the perfect place to open my therapeutic massage practice. In my senior year at the University of Texas, where I studied psychology and art, I had a part-time job at SafeRWay Health Food store (the precursor to Whole Foods) where I met many wonderful people focus on good health and natural healing. I feel like that is when my true education began.
I was an active member of the Austin Area Holistic Health Association (AAHHA) where I expanded my network of professionals in the healing arts. Becoming a massage therapist seemed like the perfect career for me since I resonate with the natural health care wellness model that includes stress reduction and non- invasive techniques for relieving pain and discomfort. I am especially interested in the positive effects that therapeutic massage has on people whose lives have been affected by trauma.
My first introduction into the second stage of my massage career I love learning and every opportunity I get I take advanced Continuing Education courses, which is what drew me to the Costa Rica School of Massage where I studied Orthopedic Massage with Whitney Lowe.
How did this experience play a role in transporting you from joining the holistic health community to becoming a Nationally Certified Massage Therapy Instructor and the CEO of The Ariana Institute for Wellness Education?
I have always loved the educational environment and I continue to strive to learn and grow as my career progresses.
For 20 years, I practiced as a licensed massage therapist in private practice, in healthcare offices and upscale resorts environments. I was in the first group of people to be licensed as massage therapists in Texas and later, once Texas began mandating CE classes, I was approved as a Texas CE provider. Many people asked me to show them some of the techniques I learned and integrated into my practice. After 20 years as a massage therapist, I began the second stage of my massage therapy career as an educator, which has continued for an additional 20 years.
I created The Ariana Institute for Wellness Education and I began offering CE classes in Austin and then expanded to include CE classes in other areas of the United States – as far away as Cape Cod, Massachusetts. When I first started my career as an educator, there were no informational classes specifically related to teaching massage therapy. I taught myself how to market my CE classes and eventually designed a CE class that focuses on marketing massage therapy. It was one of my first CE classes. I taught it for the Austin AMTA chapter which met at The Lauterstein Conway School of Massage. I’ve been teaching 20 years now and one thing that keeps me fresh and intrigued with the massage profession is participating in advanced Continuing Education classes like Whitney Lowe’s Orthopedic Massage class at the Costa Rica School of Massage.
Looking back on my career as a nationally certified Massage Therapy Instructor and Licensed Massage Therapist, I attribute much of my success to being resilient in the face of obstacles, surrounding myself with supportive motivational peers, and keeping a positive perspective.
How did you learn of CRSMT’s Essentials of Orthopedic Massage continuing education offering with Whitney Lowe? What were some of the deciding
factors that made you leap into this particular learning experience?
I met Whitney Lowe in 2015 at the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education’s Educational Congress where Whitney was awarded educator of the year and I was awarded CE provider of the year. I was impressed with his focus on the importance of education in the massage profession as well as his emphasis on evidence-based massage therapy. Whitney is one of the most well-educated and well-prepared educators I’ve ever met. I was interested in the subject matter – orthopedic massage – as well as his teaching style.
One of my dreams is to spend as much time as possible in beautiful, tropical Costa Rica with my husband. I’d visited Costa Rica previously and had a wonderful time. From the moment I left, I wanted to return. Attending this workshop at CRSMT was a dream come true. I plan to return to Costa Rica in November to hike with the Sierra Club in Southern Costa Rica and Northern Panama.
Can you share an insight or focus area that most resonated with you from the classroom?
Whitney is an expert at presenting his material in a well-thought-out way that includes the use of technology in the classroom. I was impressed that even though we were in an outdoor classroom, we were able to access educational videos that enhanced the classroom experience. Studying with Whitney Lowe was memorable and life-changing experience. I admire Whitney’s approach to education. He helps massage therapists develop critical thinking skills that are essential to effective assessment and treatment. Information that Whitney synthesized over 30 years is presented before, during, and after his Orthopedic Massage Class. Prior to the class learners were able to access Whitney’s books, Orthopedic Massage and Orthopedic Assessment; texts regarding orthopedic massage that he sends via e-mail and social media; online lectures that are available through his Academy of Clinical Massage; and videos from his extensive archives.
During the class, Whitney helps his students become more effective clinicians, have a more satisfying and successful practice, and gain loyalty from their clients. His specific learning outcomes include the following:
– Gain insight into musculoskeletal conditions, from acute to chronic
– Explore why and how treatments function to heal pain and injuries
– Learn to match the physiology of the tissue with the physiological effects of the treatment
– Learn injury specific & generalized treatment solutions for a wide diversity of conditions
– Learn orthopedic assessment and problem-solving strategies so your treatments are more effective and targeted
– Review anatomy & kinesiology principles so your treatments and assessments are based on sound science
– Develop the clinical reasoning skills that are necessary and at the core of advanced therapy
– Content is focused on the cognitive, knowledge-based, and in- depth study that Lowe believes is the foundation for high-quality, advanced massage treatment of complex conditions.
After the class was complete, Whitney provided multiple resources for advanced study, including his books, a 130-hour online orthopedic massage training program, and online communication through his monthly Zoom & office hour meetings. The comprehensive Program Resources Document that was provided after Whitney’s class included a thorough overview of information presented in class and links to videos and articles.
For learners who are interested in diving deeper into the world of orthopedic massage, in addition to utilizing the Program Resources Document, Whitney offers his 130-hour Clinical Rehabilitative Massage (CRM) Certificate program. It was amazing to study with an instructor who cares so deeply about his subject matter. His teaching style shows that he has spent decades contemplating and researching learning theories and methods of teaching that help learners truly integrate the material in a tangible way that can expand their knowledge, develop their critical thinking skills, and enhance their professional practices.
After Whitney Lowe’s Orthopedic Massage class, I reflected on the experience and developed an awareness that I was actually able to integrate the course material in a tangible way that expanded my knowledge and enhanced my critical thinking skills. I am grateful to have experienced Whitney’s approach to teaching. It helped me see my own classes at The Ariana Institute for Wellness Education in a new light. I am particularly impressed with Whitney’s methods for creating a beneficial and effective learning environment through a combination of experiential exercises, lectures, Q&As, and technology in a classroom that was occasionally interrupted with mangos crashing down on the roof and iguanas peering in from the palm trees surrounding the classroom.
If I had one piece of advice to new students prior to embarking on Whitney’s orthopedic massage courses in a classroom setting, it would be to prepare yourself for your courses by studying the material (Whitney’s books, online classes and social media posts) prior to the class so you could reinforce the knowledge you have gained through your course of study, as well as deepening your knowledge experientially and cognitively in the classroom. There are many things to learn from Whitney Lowe, including not only course content, but also effective teaching methods. He is one of the most blazingly brilliant and accessible instructors in the massage profession today.
Being that you are an accomplished instructor in your own right, how will this coursework with Whitney Lowe help to enhance your work and practice going forward?
The team at The Ariana Institute for Wellness Education has recently updated and expanded its Massage Therapy Instructor’s course. Whitney’s use of technology during our class at CRST inspired us to expand our Technology in the Classroom section of our MTI course.
You have been a licensed massage therapist for 40 years and a continuing education provider for 20. What is the secret to your longevity in this industry?
I keep things fresh by attending interesting and informative CE classes that offer up-to-date information about the latest scientific techniques. Additionally, I have a wonderful support team at The Ariana Institute for Wellness Education, including Stephanie Friedersdorff, who is not only a Massage Therapy Instructor but has recently completed her Master’s in Education and is working on her Ph.D. in education.
Wes Fletcher is another deeply appreciated member of my team who has helped me as a marketing director, administrative assistant, and as an editor of the Ariana Institute’s eight massage therapy manuals that are currently available on Amazon. Having the support of a wonderful team has helped me throughout my career as an educator.
My husband, Michael McIver, is a long-time Advanced Certified Rolfer who studied directly with Dr. Ida Rolf. He attended Whitney Lowe’s workshop with me in Costa Rica and he loved it. He applies the therapeutic principles he learned in Whitney’s class in his daily Rolfing practice.
With accolades such as being named the 2015 Alliance for Massage Therapy Education CE Provider of the Year and a 2013 Massage Therapy Hall of Fame Honoree, what were some of the challenges you had to overcome on the journey to receiving these larger-than-life achievements?
Challenges included (1) formatting the classes in a way that conformed to NCBTMB requirements, (2) learning how to market my CE classes in a cost-effective way, (3) creating a financial platform to fund the development and marketing of The Ariana Institute.
I’m sure our listeners are curious to know a bit more about The Ariana Institute for Wellness Education. Talk to us about your students and the unique aspects of your work that bring you joy.
Being an educator is a very rewarding experience – both personally and professionally. Recently, one of my new Massage Therapy Instructor students sent me the most beautiful bouquet of sunflowers that I’d ever seen as a thank you for mentoring her. I love touching the hearts of my students and helping them achieve their professional goals. As I touch their hearts, they touch mine. I am very grateful.
Can you share one story where your touch has transformed a client’s life in an unexpected way?
I’ve been an educator for 20 years, so most of the transformations I am aware of come through educational channels. I do remember one a my neighbors and friends telling me that she was inspired to become a massage therapist after receiving massages for many years. Her practice continues to this day and I am so honored to have influenced her in her career choice.
I’d love to hear about your experiences outside of the classroom. What were some of your memorable experiences during your time in Samara?
I contacted Brenda Dragone at the Samara Info Center and she helped me arrange many wonderful experience in nature including horseback riding in the rainforest, kayaking, dolphin watching, and a wonderful guided hike in a nature preserve.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to new students embarking on the coursework you completed at CRSMT?
I highly recommend studying with Whitney Lowe, both online and in person. He is a stellar educator who goes above and beyond what many educators offer. He brings years of experience to the table and he’s very tech savvy and he shares his tech expertise in the classroom in ways that help enhance and anchor the information gained.
In closing, if you could use one word to sum up your life’s work in holistic health, what would it be and why?
Phenomenal. My career choice has been a good one for me. It suits my personality and it is in alignment with my core beliefs. I love my students and they love me. It’s truly been phenomenal.