Body Mechanics NYC is proud to add Alex to our wonderful team. Anytime we hire a new therapist, we like to provide a little profile so you can get the 411 on getting to know them! You can check out a more formal Massage Therapist bio for Alex here.
If you have any questions please reach out to reception and they can answer additional questions! Want to know more about our programs? You can read up on our Sports Massage and Sports Injury programs or check out some of our other offerings such as prenatal massage or our tmd program.
What is your background in sports? (do you train in, participate in, or watch…. give us the 411)
Alex– I grew up as a big skier, tennis player, and dancer. Now I love being active in various ways to keep it interesting. I love weightlifting, hiking, and yoga.
How long have you been training or working at it?
Alex– I started teaching yoga about 8 years ago and got big into strength training about 6 years ago.
Can you share one experience as someone who uses their body that has greatly impacted your massage?
Alex – My first “real” massage. I had an aching pain in my hip that prevented me from squatting. I went to a professional LMT and she had me feeling great after one session. That’s when I realized massage is not just to feel good and relax (although that is a bonus), it actually has amazing effects on your mobility and can be used to aid in your training.
What is your best uh oh story? (time you really F-d it doing something with your body)
Alex– After many years of dancing and having TOO much flexibility, my hips were super wonky. I tore my labrum many years ago, but I still notice it every once a while during certain movements. I focus on diligent strengthening and consistent sports massage to keep myself feeling my best.
If you could try any sport/or amazing physical activity what would it be?
Alex – I would love to do more climbing and hiking. South America is on my list and Teton!
How did you get into sports massage?
Alex – I needed it myself! I realized how much massage is an important piece of the puzzle to keep both your mind and body healthy. I have also surrounded myself with so many athletes and clients who use their body so much and needed a massage, I decided “Hey, who understands what you’re feeling more than me? Let me help fix you!” From there I decided to get my massage license.
What are your favorite kinds of people to work on?
Alex – Athletes and active people. I can speak their language.
Are there any athletes you particularly admire? Who?
Alex – Any professional athlete because I understand how it really needs to become your entire life. Fitness, diet, rehabbing, injuries, there is so much more to it than just playing the sport. It takes so much determination and diligence to do it all. You make sacrifices that I would struggle making (especially when it comes to diet) and I admire their focus and hard work.
What sets your sports massage apart from anyone else?
Alex – I feel like I can really understand my clients because Ive been there. I’ve seen it all, whether it was me personally, a client or a friend.
Is there anything we do not know about you we should? (odd ball facts) If you had a superpower what would it be?
Alex -I spent New Years a few years ago climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
When the pandemic hit New York City last year, I started wearing a mask when practicing massage in the last days before we closed. In my reasoning, even though the government said masks were not necessary, from a health care perspective it made sense to me. As a medical massage therapist, I specialize in a number of things many other massage therapists do not. One of the treatments I specialize in is intra-oral massage for TMD. These treatments require me to put my gloved hand inside a client’s mouth to massage the muscles there. It means I spend a large part of my day focused around people’s heads, neck, and faces. I remember saying to one of my last clients, “I am going to wear this mask today, it’s just going to help my air stays in my space”. It is not exactly a scientific explanation of germ transmission but I was trying to keep things simple and not scary.
As a New York Massage Therapist, I very rarely wore a mask. Wearing a mask in New York signified illness and was a scary addition to the massage. The thinking being, ‘If you are sick enough to wear a mask, you should stay home’. That is totally true by the way, you SHOULD stay home while sick. Unfortunately, there is a lot of time between beginning to feel off, and being sick. When I worked in Ontario, Canada, where massage therapy is a full health care position, I saw a much broader patient population. The public perception of the job is different, so I frequently wore a mask. I wore them if my client had a sniffle, or if I felt off, or if the client was compromised. No one really batted an eye at my mask-wearing as they reasoned it was for a good medical reason.
When Massage Therapists are Sick
I hate being sick. I mean, hate it. I always feel as if I am sick more than the average person. I get sick at least 4 times a year. The CDC notes that “Each year in the United States, there are millions of cases of the common cold. Adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more“. I am sick slightly more than the average person, but given my close contact with people that is not unusual. For me, as a Massage Therapist, being sick is very stressful. My income is tied to my ability to not be sick. I cannot work from home and sniff my way through the day. Patients are often very upset when I cancel as well. We have had demands for free service, threats, and general poor behavior over having to cancel due to illness as well. Since my income is directly tied to my ability to massage, you can be assured I NEVER want to cancel unless I have to.
My Mask Has Kept Me Healthy
It has been about a year since I started wearing a mask full time. I have yet to be sick this year (knock on wood) I know there is still time…but it has nearly been a year and I am out and about riding trains, treating people up close, and generally going about my life…with a mask. I cannot say for sure it is the close contact with patients that is the number one reason I got sick so frequently in the past…but it probably is:). I always washed my hands far more than the average person but it is hard to say if, previous to Covid, my clients were. The fact that everyone is now washing their hands when they come into the office means I am not coming into contact with the usual yukies.
Masks Are Keeping a Lot of You Healthy
It is not just me either. Earlier this year conspiracy theorists pointed to a massive drop-off in flu reporting in an effort to classify Covid as a hoax. Almost no one got the flu this year….even with increased testing. The flu dropped off though, because people are doing what we know works for infection control. Washing hands frequently, staying home when sick, and wearing masks. Check out this article in the Science section of the Atlantic on ‘The Pandemic Broke the Flu’. Mask wearing and appropriate infection control works to keep a population healthy.
When we reopened I also expected we would have large problems with people canceling due to being ill, since we ask anyone who is sick to stay home….but it did not happen. Normally, people come in sick all the time. We do not want them to. This year, we have no one coming in sick, and no one calling out sick. NO one is sick! In 8 months we have had 2 cancellations due to being ill. That is far below average.
Massaging in a Mask Forever
I will probably be massaging in a mask forever. Even once the mandate is lifted for massage in New York City. I see no reason to endanger you with my common cold or a flu that has yet to be identified. I see no reason for me to ever be sick again if I can help it. I lose thousands of dollars a year in missed income being sick. That is money I can sock away for better things. My stress is increased exponentially by being sick, and quite frankly, being sick SUCKS. Thank you, but now that it has been accepted, I will be wearing a mask in my massages forever. I really do not mind it, and it is good for both of us.
Why did I want to write this post about pregnacy and ankle massage?
After my two pregnancies and seeing a post on a prominent Facebook parenting group for the Upper East Side of New York, I started thinking about writing this blog. In the post, the OP had asked the group, “Is it safe to get a pedicure or foot massage while pregnant?” Apparently, some people had heard it could cause miscarriage. I am not going to post the link to that discussion, as it is not fair to “out” people for their private views and conversations on another platform, one meant solely for the ears of parents. I’m sure the post is searchable, and you might find another in any parenting group by searching “massage and pregnancy” or “ankle massage and pregnancy”. Given that massage therapy is my vocation, I had watched the post grow, in part because it is actually fairly rare that massage gets posted about at all. What I saw unfold was that a great many people are wildly misinformed about massage, but are perfectly willing to give advice on what is medically appropriate for pregnant women based entirely on hearsay.
Where does the myth of ankle massage causing miscarriage come from?
The advice fell into three categories. The first was the “I heard massage on the ankles or specialized pressure points can cause a miscarriage”, some posters going so far as claiming it as fact. So let’s look at that specific misinformation. It is NOT a fact. The whole ankle massage myth is based on Eastern medicine pressure points. Eastern medicine is traditional medicine, which means it is based on philosophy, not on clinical trials and research (although clinical trials and research DO exist for eastern medicine NOW covering a great many areas). I want to be clear that there is nothing wrong with adding Eastern Medicine to your care. I am not here to bash Eastern medicine. Women should be wary of adding fear to the list of things their complementary health care brings to the table as part of that.
In the Eastern pressure point/acupuncture philosophy, certain points on the body correlate to other body parts and functions. Stimulating them, and meridians, might be part of a holistic care plan, and many people find value in that kind of treatment as a supplementary or management tool. I want to be clear though, that if I am in medical distress, I do not seek out an acupuncturist—I want to see a medical doctor.
In writing this, I tried using Google Scholar to find any existing research on ankle massage and miscarriage, or pressure points and miscarriage, but I could not find anything. In other words, I found no research to support the theory that ankle massage or pressure points can cause miscarriage in any way. What I DID find is many articles written by reflexologists and on pregnancy sites such as this on Hellomotherhood: which have published articles stating that it is dangerous simply because the philosophy says so, without any research to substantiate that claim. From a medical point of view, there is no real correlation between miscarriage and ankle stimulation. In fact, as a trained massage therapist, if I could stimulate your baby to come by pressing a few spots on your leg, I would probably be able to earn a great deal more than I do now. At week 40 you are rather desperate to get the baby out!
Is the idea of ankle pressure points supported by research? And what should we focus on?
What should women be paying attention to in terms of risky activities? Their focus instead should be things like “Am I a high-risk pregnancy?” “Have I been cleared by my doctor for this activity?”“Will there be any substances used in my treatment that may not be appropriate for a pregnant person?” (see essential oils) “Is my therapist experienced in prenatal massage?” These are far more valid concerns. Traditional medicine can be an important part of care especially in cultures where it connects people, but we need to reject the parts of traditional medicine that cause fear or people and spread misinformation. If we cannot support an idea with research, it is only an opinion. But we don’t recommend you simply take our word for it. Look for articles that are linked with supporting evidence like this one about prenatal massage and ankle massage from“Massage and Fitness Magazine.”
What about first-hand experiences of people who went into labor after a foot massage?
The second kind of so-called proof of danger that was given as a reason to avoid ankle massage during pregnancy came from “experiential proof”. People often are not objective by nature. We are wired to find meaning in things. So a number of women stepped up to say things like “I had a massage and asked to have my ankles massaged at the special points, and then I went into labor.” While it might not be unreasonable to assume that if you did “A” and then “B” happened, they are connected. “B” might just as easily have happened WITHOUT “A”. This is an issue of correlation versus causation. We would have to look at a substantial amount of data to be able to prove that “A” actually caused “B”. I would cite one of my favorite educational sources on science, The Kahn Institute. Here is the example they put forth:
The Kahn Institute has an entire post on this subject if you want to learn more about or check out your reasoning skills. Correlation and causation can be tricky for people because we want things to have meaning and time is linear. We attribute meaning to things that happen just before or after an event. A perfect example would be athletes who wear their “lucky” socks or people who tell you to wash your car if you want it to rain. It is easy to be tricked by this kind of reasoning, so listen closely to what people tell you for evidence of their claims.
What about hearing a story about early labor and ankle massage?
The next kind of comment that I saw was a combination of correlation and causation mistakes plus hearsay. It is the weakest of all the arguments. These posts said in effect “I had a friend once who went into early labor after a massage”. Indeed that could be horrible and scary. At the heart of it, though, we do not know if those two things were actually interrelated. AND we don’t know the whole story. What we do know is, if you have a massage late in pregnancy, at some point you will go into labor. The sum is it is hearsay and could have been filtered in any number of ways by that claimant.
Miscarriages are common and we need to talk about them
The truth is, miscarriages and pregnancy loss are very common, and often not preventable. There is actually a day designated to encourage advocacy around not keeping these struggles silent. October 15th is National Pregnancy Loss and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.* The fact that people often do not talk about their miscarriages can conceal just how common losing a pregnancy actually is. This can contribute to rumors or concerns that you must have done something to lose the pregnancy. It contributes to guilt, poor mental health, and poor understanding of the facts. There is no room for blame in health care, especially in issues like a loss. A woman could carry that “what if” her entire life when it is not reality.
What is the truth about having a foot or ankle massage while pregnant?
Getting an ankle massage or foot massage during pregnancy is a perfectly acceptable way to handle stress and pamper yourself. Rest assured that there is no medical reason not to have one unless you have been told by your doctor for OTHER reasons that you should not. I enjoyed them successfully during my pregnancies, although markedly less with the second one because I spent so much time chasing my toddler 🙂 Taking care of your health means taking care of yourself.
If you would like to book a prenatal massage with one of our massage therapists check out our booking page or go to our prenatal massage in NYC page to find out more information!
The CDC defines sleep hygiene as “the good habits that can lead to you getting a good night’s sleep” As a yoga therapist, I talk a lot about sleep hygiene and refer our clients to sleep hygiene resources in our massage therapy practice. Good sleep habits are one of the fundamental lifestyle modifications that you can do to improve your health and wellbeing. The steps are simple and there is a fairly significant payoff for small changes. Many people have never heard of sleep hygiene, and even if they are complaining of poor sleep, poor health and chronic fatigue, they do not realize they may be inadvertently contributing to those feeling with their behavior. Sleep hygiene alone may not be enough to ensure quality rest. You may require additional intervention from a medical professional, medication, or cognitive behavioral therapy. You should check with your medical provider. This is an excellent self-care place to start.
What does sleep hygiene have to do with massage therapy?
As both a yoga therapist and a massage therapist, I wanted to do this little post on sleep because over the years I have had clients and patients who are specifically using massage as a sleep intervention. Back in my early days of massage, I worked at a number of locations that were open until 10 pm. I remember thinking, “who would want a massage that late?”. Those 9-10 pm spots were always booked though. It turns out, many people are NOT good at relaxing. They do not know how to send the message to their brain that it is time to turn off. They probably did not know what sleep hygiene was, but they had reached the conclusion that they needed HELP and they were getting it.
I have always said loosely, that since massage is a passive intervention, that what I am really doing as a massage therapist is more of a complex mediation using touch, where I am teaching people to relax. Even with the massage treatments that I do that are more complex, for example a manual therapy treatment that is more movement based, I am trying to get you to move in a relaxed way and guiding you through that.
Those late night massages that I used to do did not come cheap! Not everyone has the means to spend $150 dollars a few days a week to help communicate with their brain that it needs to shut off. The good news is, sleep hygiene is free. Read on to see some of the basics I suggest as a Yoga Therapist. (p.s if you have children and have sleep trained, these steps might seem familiar to you or you can try them to help make bed better)
1. Do not try to sleep unless sleepy
Only try to sleep when you are actually tired. If you find that around bedtime you have no desire to sleep, you may need to move your bedtime or adjust some of your other habits discussed below. If you get into bed and find you can’t shut off, get out of bed and do something relaxing, then try again in 20 minutes.
2. Stick to a schedule
One of the best ways to tell your body it is time for bed is to keep a regular schedule. Going to sleep at the same time and waking at the same time (regardless of the day of the week) can help your body and mind know how to behave depending on the time of day.
3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol
If possible, avoid taking in caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine within 6 hours of bedtime. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can disrupt your natural sleep rhythms and your ability to fall asleep, alcohol is a depressant, and while it can encourage falling asleep in the short term, in the long term it disrupts the sleep cycles and your ability to get deep restful sleep.
4. Develop a pre-bed routine
Communicating with your nervous system that it is time to shut down can be hard. Doing the same thing every night as a soothing routine can help cue your body and mind that it is time for bed. Examples of quality sleep routines are: baths, meditation, self-massage, gentle stretching in a dim room, or drinking a ‘good night’ tea. Most people do well to avoid overly stimulating activities like checking the news or watching sports. Pick something that works for you and stick with it.
5. Use your bed primarily for sleeping
Help cue yourself that it is sleepy time by ONLY using your bed for bedroom activities. Refrain from eating, reading, watching TV, using your phone, or working in bed. This will help you associate your bed as a restful stress-free space away from the rest of the world.
6. No screen time before bed
TVs, computers, and phone screens give off blue light, which makes your brain think it’s the middle of the day. Set your timers for nighttime modes without blue light and do not use electronics within at least 30-60 minutes before bed. Make sure your dings and alerts are silenced so that your sleep is not accidentally disrupted.
7. Control your sleep environment
There are some common things that set the stage for good sleep that you can do in your home to create a sleep-friendly environment. Make sure the room is cool, dark, and quiet. If the room is not quiet, use a sound machine to fill the space with white noise or a sound you find relaxing. Blocking out the outside light can also be helpful, especially if you live in an area with ambient lighting. Have a blanket on hand, and consider experimenting with a weighted blanket.
Sleep is an important activity. We often think of sleep as passive because we are not up and doing things, but our body is in an active state of rest and digest. Massage therapy can be important in your sleep hygiene routine. In today’s world, it is easy to put emphasis on the more conscious active parts of life. It also may NOT feel natural or easy for you to communicate with your brain and tell it to slow down and prepare for the function of sleep. Taking the above steps into consideration is a great first step. The CDC recommended The American Alliance for Healthy Sleep for more information on sleep hygiene. It is also important to remember this is not a prescription, it is an assessment and a tool. You should check in with your care provider if your sleep issues persist.
The Ultimate Guide to Paying it Forward to Small Business During Covid
It is no surprise that 2020 is a hard year for most people. As a small business owner, it has been especially challenging. Many New York businesses were closed upwards of four months at the start of the season representing crushing financial losses. While most of us New Yorkers gripe about the big box stores coming in, New York is still mainly made up of small businesses, and those businesses represent jobs, and more importantly, people.
With that in mind I wanted to put together a list of things you, the public (or fellow small businesses) can do to help make sure your favorite Mom and POP’s make it through the winter.
We reached out to PrimeGuide Partners, a social media marketing agency based in NYC, to get some advice on best FREE practices to support small businesses. They are women and minority-owned small businesses themselves. Here is the list of completely free tools most people have at their disposal. They recommended some of the following bolded tips. Be sure to follow @primeguide on Instagram for more social media advice:
Posting a positive review to Yelp or Google. (or both) Posting reviews for a business is FREE marketing for them. It can also provide content for Google to crawl/read so it can affect how businesses come up in search, so putting words that include the neighborhood and service into their review can be extra helpful. Since Google is a huge search engine, it is preferred, especially since Yelp sometimes filters first-time reviewers.
Following the business on Facebook and Instagram…and commenting on their posts. Prime Guide specified that “Engagement on a post can be as simple as a smiley face emoji or heart. It helps businesses understand what type of content is resonating with their audience. Also, posts with more active and thoughtful interactions will get more reach and help the business grow its online presence. And don’t forget to share on your page or story!”
Feature the business in a story or post. If you have a favorite photographer or are remembering an event, remember to tag/geotag and give a shout out to the business involved. Telling your friends via a story that you just had your workout with your favorite trainer is literally invaluable.
Recommend them online in social groups. While these kinds of recommendations do not come up in Google the same way reviews do, they are often more trusted as they are personal recommendations from online community groups. The thread may be searched over and over again by others looking for recommendations from real people that they trust. Trust is a high-value reward.
Sign up for their mailing list. Signing up for a business mailing list can keep you aware of opportunities you might be interested in.
Word of mouth referral. This one is old fashioned, but it works. Face to face referrals are trusted…and can build long-lasting relationships.
For industry-specific advice, we reached out to some of our other favorite businesses to see if they had ideas about things that might help them the most in the next few months.
Katie Ward, a family photographer, is currently only offering outdoor shoots due to COVID. This has cut her season short since no one wants to have outdoor shoots when it gets cold. In addition to the suggestion of buying gift certificates for friends and family, or booking shoots now for next year, she also added that many photographers can provide prints and holiday cards for you as well. “I know that most of my clients are already planning on spending money to have prints and holiday cards made. What would be ideal is if they love my work, and the photos I provide to them, to make these purchases through me. The commissions from these purchases would be helpful in keeping me afloat during the winter when I can’t be shooting.”@katie_n_ward
Due to both being labeled as exercise and being a face-to-face business, yoga studios have been hit hard. Yoga studios are not necessarily a place to go exercise, they are technically schools and community meeting places. We reached out to Teri from Park Slope Yoga and she had this to say:” There are many thoughts on what support looks like – and the longer this goes, the amounts required keep rising. Coming to class and purchasing online memberships seems obvious, but can be problematic to those who struggle with space (mental/physical) in NYC apartments. Our beautiful community has provided donations that have allowed us great benefit.” She recommended introducing your neighbors, friends, and coworkers to studios you love…this season it seems like it might be time to give the gift of yoga, after all it will be a gift that flows two ways. To help right now you can access on-demand yoga from their website rather than go to YouTube, and buy gently used props for home practice. Please check with your local studio for their offerings. @parkslopeyoga
Making it as a small fitness + wellness business on the other side of Covid requires flexibility, a focus on safety and quality more than ever. We talked to Luisa Noelle about her personal training business and she said she has, “shifted about 80% of my fitness and yoga clients online. My nutrition services were generally online already or shifted along with my personal training clients to online. 10% of clients have shifted to training outside. As it’s getting colder, we are layering up and are still training outside.” While some gyms are open, it is at limited capacity and there are no classes, so now might be the time to start having some fitness dates at a distance. Being open to modifying your usual routine to train outside or online really helps. She also noted, because she took off 3 months in the pandemic, finding balance is hard, things can suddenly drop off, and “it’s hard to fit in the needed time for nonspecific client communication along with my other work-related tasks. On the weeks where things sink to 5 sessions a week, it’s hard to power work through a communications plan effectively due to change” @noelleh33
Beauty industries have been hit hard because they are face to face and they were closed the longest. We talked to Hibba Kapil about her business Hibba Soho that specializes in waxing, threading, and eyebrow shaping about what she needs most. She said, “many people are reluctant to buy packages right now, due to the uncertainty of it all, but rest assured your packages will be there when this is over.” Buying them now is very helpful. She also said to enquire about other options if you do not want to come in. For example, right now Hibba will come to you if you are in the NYC area for services over $100. Your whole pod can get pampered. Bottom line email the business and ask questions @hibbabeautystudio
Businesses that produce things, like florists, gift basket makers, and personalized products face a different set of challenges altogether. We reached out to Suzanna Cameron of Stems Brooklyn, an eco-conscious florist in Bushwick to ask her about what would best help businesses such as her in this holiday season and she recommended, “To look for any items locally versus just going online to a big chain. And having patience with small businesses by understanding everyone is working more restricted services so that sometimes impacts how quickly you can get what you want.”. New York State has placed restrictions on business capacities and many mom and POP’s are now working with reduced staffing due to moves, finances, and staff changes. Buying local even when there is a big distributor for a service is super important right now. @stemsbrooklyn
We can all see what is happening to the restaurants and cafes….We have outdoor dining but winter is coming. We reached out to Jaqueline Assumpcao of Mojo Desserts on the Upper East Side to ask what she thought would be the best help. She had recently heard of something called a “‘cash mob‘, which is where groups of people come together and shower the business”. Buying in groups so the money really adds up, taking the initiative to organize and support your community can make a huge difference. And of course, if you’re wondering, order directly from the business. @mojodesserts
There are a LOT more suggestions. While I was putting this list together and talking to business owners, this website came out to support the UES Stores. Big thank you to the designers for taking the initiative. For businesses like mine, and massage therapy, that requires long face-to-face contact I would recommend contacting the city council for rent relief. In the end our survival depends on US working together as a community to keep the beautiful things we have built. I encourage you to tag, share, post, buy, recommend, ask questions about what you can do. Many small businesses are working at 25-50% capacity by law, and that does not cover the rent.
The other thing you can do is GET INVOLVED. There are things that could be legislated to help small businesses, but so far not much relief has been provided. If you have more ideas feel free to let us know!
I am thrilled to be joining Body Mechanics as a yoga therapist. “What is Yoga Therapy“, you might be asking yourself as you read this. Yoga therapy as defined by IAYT, the governing board for yoga therapy, is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga. An individualized assessment and individualized treatment protocol employing all of the modalities of yoga is provided by the yoga therapist to treat the client holistically. We believe these treatments are to complement whatever traditional treatments the client is undergoing.
COVID has changed our lives in ways we could never have predicted and the wellness industry is no different. Previously I had worked as a yoga therapist seeing clients in various yoga studios. In this climate, many of these studios are closed, many of them for good. These closures and the new stricter guidelines for the re-opening of businesses have created new challenges. It is within these conditions that working within a more clinical practice makes the most sense, if not also providing a path forward for yoga therapy overall. We should not lose access to Yoga and the connection to self, simply due to COVID. To be able to work within an integrative practice will provide clients with greater opportunity to truly provide a comprehensive wellness program that manages the challenges that we are currently facing. Read more about Yoga Therapy on our website.
The benefits of practicing Yoga Therapy or using Yoga as a therapeutic tool in this clinical space are many:
A controlled environment
OSHA level cleaning for surfaces and blankets
A private room with your therapist
No high traffic gym style common area
Personalized reception and booking
1 on 1 assessment and application of the therapy
A window you can open for ventilation
Being a part of Body Mechanics, an established clinical Orthopedic Massage practice has made meeting the new strict guidelines less onerous. Like any clinical practice, many of the sanitizing requirements were already in place before COVID. As per the requirements for social distancing, clients are being scheduled to ensure the necessary social distancing. As the philosophy of yoga therapy offering individualized treatment programs, Body Mechanics also offers each client a safe, clean, and all the mandated requirements of COVID for a very special experience.
It is a post about how far we have come and how far we have not. Full disclosure, if you do not like boobs or feel weird when women breastfeed in public, you should probably stop reading…but I guess that’s the point of this blog entirely.
It is hard to be a woman in business.
I do not mean the sort of hard where you have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and grow a thick skin, because I have done that. As an entrepreneur, my job is essentially having uncomfortable conversations in uncomfortable places and writing checks that are gulp worthy. The kind of hard I mean is the kind where the playing field is uneven and you were not given boots, let alone bootstraps to pull yourself by.
My husband is a wonderful man and a terrible picture taker. Our phones are full of shots where I have one eye open, but every year he takes at least one shot where I feel he captured the moment unbelievably well. This blog contains the two pictures that I feel like best sum up the last 3 years of my life.
I had a daughter in 2018. I knew parenting would be hard…I did not know how deeply I would feel the total loss of myself and by extension, my business. I spent most of my maternity leave multitasking to a level I did not know was possible. I was often working from home while pumping and holding a crying baby. I was protected in some ways financially through NYS Paid family leave (and if you are a self-employed person who would like to carry an insurance policy that will help you take a leave for bonding you can- most do not know this) but I was NOT protected emotionally.
When things got hard, I had a choice, take care of my daughter or take care of the business. I felt deeply the loss of control and freedom, there were weeks on end where I did not leave the house because, if the baby slept, then I had piles of work to do. People kept telling me, sleep when the baby sleeps…and I kept thinking how? My business would fail if I did. And no matter how much my husband ‘helped’, it was still helping. He was not shouldering the same burden I was…he was not on a 3-hour tether dependent on milk supply…and he did not have to ask if it was ok to leave the house. I did. Somehow it was all on me. I deeply resented that nothing had really changed for him, he had not had to give anything up to have a family. He was tired but happy.
I was not prepared, and 8 weeks of poorly paid maternity leave without child care is not nearly a good enough safety net. The only real thing I could do was take a pay cut by working less and not move forward as an owner. I was left wondering, is postpartum depression really a thing? Or do we just not adequately care for our mothers. It was simply put, a depressing and stressful time, but it had nothing to do with the act of giving birth. I felt like I missed out a lot of bonding with my daughter because of it.
This year I had a baby at the height of the pandemic. At 9 months pregnant, I was sleeping 4 hours a night and having rolling panic attacks. Hospitals in NYC announced that women would give birth unattended, leaving no one to make medical decisions for me or my child if there was a problem. I felt marginalized and it was very stressful. Afraid they would cut NYC off from the rest of the country, we left home for my in-laws in NJ.
I had also failed to secure funding in the first round of government loans called the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program), meant to help save small businesses. While helpful in theory, the loans were organized as first come first serve, and frequently the servers would crash while I was applying due to the crush of applications. The battle for financial survival was real. I stayed up at all hours frantically applying for grants. I applied everywhere, for everything, and cried. I cried a lot. After multiple applications and failed attempts, I tweeted a reporter who helped me secure a loan.
Here is where things get interesting though…I received this loan the week before I gave birth. This loan was meant to be used in 8 weeks immediately post-funding (a funding that you were often not aware was coming–it just showed up) and it also required complicated payroll and legal administration for my twelve employees. I have no HR department or a full-time lawyer. Getting an accountant on the phone took a week…How was I supposed to administer these funds while in the hospital, or with a days-old newborn? The Cares Act, which is the bit of legislation that the PPP (the loan) was part of, made no accommodations for women who might be pregnant, or on maternity leave at the time of their funding. So if I was unable to use the money because I was otherwise occupied creating a human, I would miss out?? It is not a huge accommodation for them to make a single line of text granting exceptions for a business owner on medical leave, but no one even thought about the women owners out there. We are frequently unsupported and overlooked. I spent the week before birth, emailing and calling congress-people trying to get the PPP loan changed so I could use it outside of 8 weeks when I was recovered. I went back to work trying to save my business days after giving birth.
Having children ghosted me in some ways. I became invisible because I could not force my way in by brute alone. Instead, I have to run home and stay home in order to function. As much promise as NY offers; it is also a prison. With my child, I cannot leave my neighborhood if I am not strong enough to carry my child up and down the steps of the subway in a stroller. Certainly now with two, I cannot really go anywhere. The world is not built for us here. As a woman, I have to run home every 3 hours because there is nowhere to pump breast milk safely if you are out and about. So I have to choose…what is more important, my infant’s health or my right to be out? Women are frequently overlooked in legislation and in medicine. No doubt when the dosage for the vaccine comes out, that will be based on men as well.
The hard part is we have come so far. I remember celebrating when the paid family leave (my maternity leave) rolled out in NY…because finally we had some validation that we deserved some leave by law, but it is not enough. It makes no difference if I have leave, if when the leave is done I do not have child care. It makes no difference if I have leave if I do not have legislation that always considers women might be owners and mothers as well. Why do we have to fight so hard for such basic things? We are half of the world. I pay my share just as much as anyone. Why have we come so far and it is not much at all??
ps. The PPP loan was turned into a 24-month program. I am still struggling at home with work-life balance, trying to save a company while having a newborn.
Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage has always been a place where inclusivity and diversity have been highly valued. However, as our collective education grows, we have come to understand that simply being accepting is not the same as being actively welcoming. This is why we would like to formally announce that Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage supports the LGBTQIA+ community as an official company policy.
People within LGBTQIA+ communities undergo high levels of stigmatization from both society at large and many medical providers. These continued failings have contributed to the harrowingly high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide in LGBTQIA+ people. Among trans and non-binary adolescents studied, between ~30-51% of people report having attempted suicide. These are sobering statistics that reflect an endemic societal problem that does not treat vulnerable young people with the care or dignity that every person deserves.
We at Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage would like to assure everyone that regardless of who you are, we will respect: your body, your identity, and your experience. We have always recognized that one of the most important things a health care provider can do is validate the experience of the person in front of them. This simple act is tremendously powerful, and we promise we will always do this with every person who comes through our door.
As part of our commitment to being an inclusive space, we have made several changes recently.
Our online intake forms leave a place for your pronouns so that our therapists will know how to properly communicate about you with other providers if necessary.
Near the front desk, we have updated our signage to reflect that you should use whichever restroom facilities you are most comfortable with. Ideally, we would make the restrooms on our floor gender-neutral, but this is out of our hands because they belong to the building.
Additionally, all of our therapists will be undergoing continuing education on LGBTQIA+ issues from a biopsychosocial lens of care.
Being allies in the struggle for acceptance and equality is an ongoing process that we hope you will join us in. It’s very likely we will make mistakes in this process, and we ask that you hold us accountable so that we can become a more welcoming space for everyone. No one should have to worry about being judged when seeking massage therapy, and together we can build a space where everyone feels safe to be themselves.
Additional LGBTQIA+ friendly spaces:
Deep River Healing Arts- SohoDeep River Healing Arts is a private practice that provides thoughtful, educated therapeutic massage for all humans. The founder is a queer-identified, biracial woman that wants especially to create a healing space for the LGBTQ+ community and people of color. She specializes in massage for the transgender client, post-cancer treatment work, chronic pain management, and recovery from injury
If you want to be added to our list or you know someone who should be added, let us know!
We have an important update to share! Massage Therapy is scheduled for phase 3 re-opening in NYC! Phase 3 may be as early as July 6th. We will tentatively start taking appointments now for that date on a modified schedule. Our front desk is not yet open so all appointments must be made online.
If the opening is delayed, we will work with our customers and reschedule any appointments. Due to Covid-19, there will be some office changes.
Both you and your therapist will be required to wear a mask for the duration of your visit. This is now New York State law for staying operational. If you do not have a mask one can be provided for you, but please let us know before you enter so that we can provide it. Your therapist will also be wearing clean scrubs as their new uniform.
Your temperature will be taken when you arrive to make sure that you are not running a fever. Our therapists will have their temperatures taken daily, as well as having the government required COVID-19 tests on an ongoing schedule. Please let us know in ADVANCE if you have any symptoms so that we can appropriately reschedule you. We will still be maintaining a cancellation policy. If you fall ill, send us a doctor’s note and we can waive it.
We have cleaned your space just for you. We always operated as a medical facility so this was not a big change for us. You will notice some small changes in our protocol in the way our linens are handled and some of the products we use. Additionally, our building HVAC system has been upgraded and a HEPA filtration has been added to each room.
We have also upgraded our booking platform to a streamlined HIPPA compliant system, have less contact, and have all of our notes online. Please be PATIENT with us. This is a process and we did this to keep everyone safer and have a long term better experience, but in the beginning, there may be challenges. Before your first visit, you will need to fill out updated paperwork. If you do not see your favorite therapist, they have yet to be added, check back in a week or two.
Within the span of just the past few weeks, a number of Black Americans have been killed. Many of these people were murdered by police officers over non-violent offenses or no offenses at all. Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, Jamel Floyd, and Sean Reed are just a few of the names we must remember as this list appallingly keeps growing. This is tragically familiar territory in this country and it needs to stop. We here at Body Mechanics extend our deepest condolences to all who have been affected by these grave injustices, both past and present. We stand firmly alongside those who seek justice and systemic reform from a system that so clearly does not value human lives equally.
As healthcare providers, we recognize that systemic racism is both a moral issue and a public health issue. We recognize that the medical care you have access to, and how you are treated when you receive that care is often determined by the color of your skin. We vow to confront the pernicious racist myths and misinformation that are still highly pervasive across the medical field – because being silent is being complicit.
As New Yorkers, we recognize that our strength lies in the diversity of our community. That none of us are safe until all of us are safe. We promise to listen to our clients, coworkers, friends, family, and partners if or when they are ready to speak. We may not always have answers, but we are committed to hearing from you and supporting you however we can.
The phrase “these uncertain times” has become cliché amid the COVID-19 pandemic, so we want to make absolutely certain where we stand: Black Lives Matter
Additionally, we would like to highlight a personal perspective from Yoga Therapist and author Yuliana Kim-Grant’s personal perspective on family, racism, and the current state of events. Please take a moment to check out her deeply personal blog here.