Extreme Home Makeover: A Massage Adventure

By Rainbough Phillips, LMT, Owner of Breath & Balance Bodyworks

Have you had any adventures in massage? My first adventure occurred about a year after I had started working in the field. I was a few months into my second semester of massage school, and was working full time at a small massage clinic.

I remember that the same week I was having to prepare for my sports massage exam at TLCschool, I was simultaneously getting ready to do an outdoor chair massage event that I would never forget.

I actually stumbled upon the opportunity unknowingly. There was a sign up sheet for an outdoor “event,” at the clinic where I worked. The details were ambiguous, but it was apparently for outdoor chair massage. At the time, I had never done a chair massage event, but I was encouraged to sign up anyway.

A few hours after taking my sports massage exam, I arrived at a large parking lot in North Austin, was issued a bright blue t-shirt, signed a myriad of forms, and was then ushered into a waiting van. The event was Extreme Home Makeover when the show visited north Austin.

The van took me and half a dozen workers of various construction related fields over to the neighborhood where the show was being filmed. From there, we walked for what felt like about a mile before we discovered the house/work site.

I had never made it through a whole episode of Extreme Home Makeover as I am not generally a big fan of reality shows, so I was shocked to see a foundation and the beginnings of a frame being put up.

The site was covered with blue-shirted workers with hard hats, hundreds of onlookers, dozens of heavy machines, and several camera men walking around with massive cameras on their shoulders.

The site where the massage was set up was right across the street from the house. It was the worker waiting/rest area (a perfect place for massage). My first client was a very chatty cameraman who told me in detail what it was like to carry the heavy cameras and travel most of the year doing these shows.  He also told me how great it was to have massage available as it was often a luxury they were without.

I found myself massaging plumbers, writers, tilers, onlookers, neighbors, and even the managing director of the whole show.  The managing director’s job was to serve as the liaison between the builder and the production crew and thereby make sure everything went smoothly.

He told me that the humidity of Austin had caused a delay in the foundation drying which had put them many hours behind schedule. He also told me that the house was not built in a “week” as suggested on the show but in four days.

One of his primary jobs was making sure that the needed inspectors were on site and confirming that each part of the job was done correctly, safely, and to code. They had inspectors on site 24 hours a day through out the build for this reason.

In fact, if the inspectors found a problem all progress had to halt until it was fixed. Now imagine being the person that makes sure all that flows smoothly while simultaneously making sure all the filming that needs to happen happens. I was in awe. After that, whenever I was asked if I had massaged any “celebrities” during the show, I would say “no, but I got to massage a cameraman and THE Managing Director.”

I also received many compliments on my massage work and was continuously thanked for “being there.” By my last shift it was hard to leave. It was only two nights later and the house was nearly complete. They were working on counters, sinks, tiling, and the outside facade.

The passion and excitement of everyone around me was palpable, and the work that was accomplished before our eyes was so amazing.

I watched an episode of the show a few months later and was profoundly disappointed. The excitement, and the amazing accomplishment of building a big, safe, beautiful house in only four days seems to get a little lost behind the faces of celebrities hugging kids and picking out bedroom furniture.

Nevertheless, it was an amazing adventure for me and everyone who was there. This was how I got introduced to chair massage, and I have loved it ever since.

Rainbough Phillips is a graduate of Lauterstein-Conway Massage School and has been practicing massage therapy for five years. She has worked in several physical therapy and chiropractic offices and now runs Breath & Balance Bodyworks, a small yoga and massage business in Cedar Park, Texas. Rainbough passionately believes that everyone should know how to give a good massage.