In the chair |

3 mins

In the chair

Seated acupressure massage therapist Phillipa Spivey tells Eve Oxberry specialising in corporate workplace wellness

How did you come to specialise in workplace massage?

“I qualified in beauty therapy 19 years ago, then also trained as a massage therapist. I worked in salons and five-star hotel spas for years but around 10 years ago I developed dermatitis because my skin was getting sensitised to the products and oils I was using.

“I thought, ‘how can I still do what I love without damaging my skin?’ and I discovered seated chair acupressure massage. It’s fantastic because I can still treat because it’s done over the clothes, so there’s no oil involved, and it also gives me the opportunity to go into corporate businesses and offer a solution to anxiety and depression in the workplace, boosting morale and productivity – all things that I’m super-interested in. So, I started my small business, Phillipa Spivey Therapies, in June last year.”

How do you get clients and what treatments do you offer?

“It’s not always easy to get in front of big corporations but I’ll often pick an area. For example, I can get to Blackfriars easily from my home in Bromley so I’ll contact businesses in that area, and co-working spaces as well, where I know people will be working at desks. So, I think about my target audience and the area I want to go into then I’ll send emails to several businesses letting them know what I do, with links to my website and Instagram, and I’ve got a lot of interest that way. From there, it’s word of mouth. If they love the services, they’ll often tell a friend who works in a different office.

“I offer one set treatment at the moment, called seated acupressure massage or onsite chair massage. I bring my own massage chair and do 15, 20 or 30-minute sessions, working on the scalp, arms, hands, neck, back and shoulders. There’s no oil involved so it’s fantastic for a corporate environment and gives employees a quick fix in the middle of their work day to boost productivity and relieve stress. It’s also a good incentive for boosting morale and rewarding employees.”

What are the challenges of doing treatments in a workplace?

“Definitely transporting the equipment. I don’t drive, and most of my corporate clients are in London so it’s usually faster on the tube or train anyway, but that does mean taking the chair everywhere I go.

“Space is also important. I have had a couple of clients assume that because it’s done in a chair I’d only need a tiny space so I’ve had to make it very clear that it’s not just massaging the back and standing up, I need space to stretch the client’s arms out and move around the chair. Some clients don’t quite understand that, so I’ve recently started to ask for a photo of the space in advance, which really helps to avoid any surprises on the day.

“Another challenge is cancellations, where employees might have called in sick or can’t make the massage. It’s hard for me to fill that gap, but I think that’s a challenge for all therapists. Working for myself, there’s also quite a bit of admin, chasing clients and pitching my services, but it’s so rewarding; the pros far outweigh the cons.”

Why is workplace wellness important to you?

“From personal experience in the beauty industry, and I think with all industries, employee wellness isn’t always a priority. Particularly with the cost-of-living crisis, people are feeling more pressure, working longer hours with less money, all of which can cause anxiety and depression.

“In these times where businesses have less money, often the first cutback they make is their wellness programme because it’s not seen as a priority but if you don’t prioritise the wellbeing of employees, your business won’t succeed. If people aren’t happy, they’re not going to work to their full potential or they’re going to leave so it’s just about trying to educate business owners in that.

“People see massage as a luxury and often don’t understand the importance of massage for mental health. So, that’s also something I’m trying to educate people on too: how human touch scientifically changes the cells in your body and produces endorphins and serotonin and actually makes you happier.”

This article appears in February 2024

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February 2024
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