Stories from the National Convention

My experience at the AMTA National Convention in Cleveland, OH, Tracy Albuera

I’ve been a massage therapist since 2016 and I have never attended an AMTA National Convention. I have met other therapists who attended and told me good things about it, and I was always curious to attend one.

National AMTA President, Michaele Colizza 

Last year, I was “asketeered” by a couple of massage therapists working with me at a tennis tournament. I finally decided to apply for a Board Member position in 2021 and surprisingly got elected. I was all excited and nervous at first, because I did not know what I got myself into. I doubted my skills for some time, and I was questioning myself if I was capable of representing the California Chapter. Later, I gained more confidence because my fellow board members were supportive and encouraging all the way through.

Fast forward to 2022. The Chapter Board decided to attend the AMTA National Convention in Cleveland and to attend CVOP (Chapter Volunteer Orientation Program). I felt stronger energy, I was ready to learn, introduce myself, network with other chapters, and gave away our Chapter pins. Several members recognized me from the June meeting in Kansas City and I felt more welcomed. I was one of the chosen few that shared my origin story. A few members spoke to me after and mentioned they were inspired by my story. I was truly humbled to have shared my origin story with others.

Opening Keynote Speaker, Michael Phelps

During the convention, I met wonderful people from National and State Chapter members. The energy was so heightened. I was totally inspired by others’ stories; on how they became massage therapists, how they were voluntold/asketeerd by other AMTA board members to join, how they made friends along the way, and how AMTA impacted their lives and others. Most importantly, how much support they received from each other and from the organization.

I learned so much from the convention. Taking Continuing Education at the convention truly expanded my horizon. There is so much more to massage therapy. Seeing keynote speakers such as Michael Phelps, Kevin Carroll and Mick Ebeling shared their stories on how they overcame obstacles throughout their lives. It showed me how passionate, driven and humble they are. To sum it all up, having attended the National Convention in Cleveland this year was exhilarating. I did not feel intimidated at all, rather I felt empowered and humbled by the fact that I was surrounded by people who are compassionate in serving others. I felt a sense of belonging.

Friday’s Keynote Speaker,
W. Mitchell

I had such a great time spending time with my fellow board members. I am truly grateful that I met new people, and some became friends for life. This convention made a huge impact on me, and I will not forget my experiences and fun moments in Cleveland. I am looking forward to attending next year’s AMTA National Convention again. See you in Phoenix, Arizona!

Takeaways, From Timothy Peckinpaugh

It was nice to meet you and all the other California delegates. Thank you for all the organizing you did for us and making the process feel very welcoming and easy to navigate, and also for breakfast. It was great starting the convention meeting up with everyone, and then joining the first timer’s lunch. The pin exchange was a lot of fun! I really do appreciate the efforts that went into this from you and all the other California delegation. 

Here are some of my takeaways from the convention:

The experience was rich and rewarding for me, and I’m thoroughly pleased that I attended. Massage therapy can be a bit of a solitary career, particularly for those with a private practice, so it felt great to connect with colleagues, trade stories, learn from each other, and make connections that I know will serve us all going forward. I met therapists from around the nation and ones close to home.

The three main speakers, Michael Phelps, W. Mitchell, and Mick Ebeling each delivered inspiring sessions that were well worth attending. Parts that resonated the most with me were Phelps discussing how massage helps him show up every day as his best self, and that we have the obligation to take care of ourselves, so we too can show up as our best versions. Mitchell said, “You are here because you are very good at what you do. And you want to be even better,” and that we choose not to be passengers on Spaceship Earth, but instead crew members, each dedicated to making our contributions to the best of our ability. Ebeling encouraged us to, “Commit and then figure it out,” to not back away from something because it seems too daunting or challenging, but instead to decide we can do great things and effect changes for the better, and then figure out the details of how we’ll go about accomplishing them. The content from all three speeches provided welcomed inspiration.

I took something away from each of the classes I attended, that I will incorporate into my practice. The lower body class was particularly effective, as we learned hands-on techniques to comprehensively work the lower body, as well as ways to preserve and protect our own bodies. There were 10 techniques in total, and the instructor, David Lobenstine, would lucidly break them down to groups of about three, clearly demonstrate the techniques, and then provide us time to practice them on each other, which made each one much more accessible and likely to sink in. I could do my CEs with an online course, half paying attention, skimming the material to find whatever answers I need just to get it over with. But if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it right, and I feel my practice benefited immensely from attending these rich and informative classes. 

Given the highly positive experience I had in Cleveland, I look forward to learning more in Phoenix in 2023. 

What A Week! Ana Beltrán

For many of the California Chapter National Convention attendees, their travels started on Tuesday, maybe Wednesday the week of convention. I, along with two other CA Chapter Board Members, (Tracy Albuera and Becky Thom), our travels started on Sunday, the 21st. We had three additional days of training for CVOP (Chapter Volunteer Orientation Program). Our training started early Monday morning with a wonderful breakfast and a warm welcome from Ms. Angela Barker, the Volunteer Engagement Committee Chair (and former National President). We went through AMTA 101 and met/heard from many of the different departments in AMTA (GR-Government Relations), Chapter Relations, just to name a couple. We also had the opportunity to hear from the new National Board Members in a panel discussion. So, heartwarming to hear how long these members have been AMTA Members and their volunteer service throughout the years. So inspiring! We ended the evening with a wonderful reception and the opportunity to meet more of the different chapter members throughout the nation. Tuesday was a half day of training and wrap up. By the time 11:30AM rolled around I think most of our heads wanted to explode! So much wonderful information and camaraderie! We even took a Group Photo with the Cleveland Browns Stadium as our background! I believe there were 80+ chapter representatives in this class!

On Tuesday, a GR (Government Relations) Presentation and Discussion, was held. It was great to hear directly from the team what they are focusing on and the new tools they are using to help them keep on top of important issues throughout the country.

On Wednesday, four of the chapter board members made a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I had a blast! There were SEVEN levels to visit! I must’ve taken over 100 pictures. So many of my faves were there like The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Prince, and the list goes on and on!

First-Timers Luncheon

Thursday morning was the start of the convention and not a moment to waste! The CA Chapter Board Members were up bright and early to greet our 30 CA members at the Convention’s Starbucks for a Meet and Greet / Grab and Go event! We passed out our CA pins and fans to help with the heat! Our Opening Session was with Michael Phelps! It was great to hear about his commitment to his sport and how self-care (including massages EVERY day) kept his body in tip top shape! I was also able to attend the First-Timers Luncheon. It was so exciting to hear that there were 500+ First Timers attending their first National Convention! Becky Thom, our CA Chapter Secretary, and I sat with a few CA Chapter Members and a few others from other states. We had the opportunity to get to know some of the CA Members and hear from them what they are doing in their careers and what they want to do in their futures.

The Continuing Education Courses that were offered were fantastic! I really enjoyed the ones I selected and have already incorporated some of the things I learned into my own private practice and for myself! I strongly believe in Continuing Education to keep our brains working and give our hands new tools that we can apply practically every day in our client’s sessions.

There were so many opportunities to network with other chapters and many of the AMTA staff and board. Lots of wonderful lunch and dinner meetings took place with a lot of brainstorming and networking. I could go on and on about all the fun stuff that took place during the convention, but I know you all will get bored! LOL! I’d highly recommend you make plans to attend next year’s National Convention that is already scheduled for August 24th – 26th in Phoenix, Arizona! Hope to see you there!

Opportunity for Connection in Cleveland

By Becky Thom, AMTA –CA Secretary

Traveling to and participating in the 2022 AMTA National Convention was such an honor for me. For no other reason than to geek out and “talk shop” with 1000 other massage therapists, that was enough for me. While I had been told many times about how lifelong friends would be made and unforgettable moments would be experienced, I could not truly appreciate the depth of those statement until now. Three weeks later and I am still sending follow-up emails and reaching out through text to brand new acquaintances all across America!

The opportunities to start connecting with everyone started before the plane even landed, as several therapists reached out and created a Facebook page for all the therapists attending. This page was where we shared all of our food/restaurant recommendations, fun places to go that were close to the convention hotels, tips, and tricks for getting around, as well as pictures of all of us during our week there. This really came in handy also when putting names to faces in the Exhibit Hall!

Meet & Greet, Grab & Go,
California Chapter Social

If you plan on traveling alone, as I did, you will not be for very long! Each state chapter went all out making T-shirts, buttons, hats, or fans and there was a fun sense of competition between the individual states when it came to cheering and calling out. Our state chapter had a Meet & Greet at Starbucks where we had breakfast and passed out pins! There is ample opportunity to get to know each other with luncheons and receptions tailored toward first timers and teachers.  National really does an impressive job of creating a truly inclusive environment.

I was immediately pulled into fun, meeting some of our CA board on the first day and soon after, we were a non-stop trio the entire time! I think that we, as massage therapists, tend to be a little more on the introverted side, but the energy is infectious when you get together with like-minded people. The ideas, the comradery, and the inspiration we experienced filled our cups and gave us so much enthusiasm to come back here and start working on our Chapter Conference next April! We look forward to connecting with you there!

What an Experience! By Michael Roberson

I have been an AMTA member for about 20 years, and for many of those years, I have attended the National Convention.  This year was more like a reunion.  We have missed the past 2 years, due to COVID, so coming together As I said, this was like a reunion.  Being able to see so many friends and colleagues from years gone by.  What an experience to be together again! And let’s just say, Mother Nature was doing her best to keep many of us away.  I got to spend a night at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport due to rains, floods, and re-routed flights. Let the adventures begin!

Keynote Speaker, Kevin Carroll 

When I did arrive in Cleveland, I checked in and went straight into the National GR meeting where we got to hear the “what-what” going on across the country.  Did you know there are only 3 states that do not have some type of licensure: Kansas, Wyoming, and Minnesota AND each of those states have legislation in the works. Vermont and Indianapolis got their start.  Now, if only California would move forward! (Let me get off the soapbox.). Discussion of reciprocity, IMpact, and the No Pain Act kept everyone in attendance captivated. Our National GR Team has

been busy.

Wednesday was AMAZING! (Rest did the body good!) The day began with a Volunteer Reunion! A welcome from the National President, Michaele Colizza who spoke of her home state, their symbol of the anchor and she “holds” that anchor to so many areas in her life. We were also inspired by Keynote from Kevin Carroll and being a “Katalyst!”. After the inspiring message, it was off the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with my fellow board members.  Can I just say, “Wow!”. Seriously, I love music! This was a mind overload with their exhibits of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, plus all of other collections that is housed there! I was so engaged; I was escorted out of the facilities.  Police were not involved! But lots of laughter with the rest of my board!

Keynote Speaker, Olympian,
Michael Phelps  

Thursday was the “official” beginning of the convention, and what better way to begin that the Chapter hosting a Meet & Greet, Grab & Go Breakfast Social at Starbucks on the way to hearing Michael Phelps and kick off the convention! We had about 30 folks from California who came to our breakfast.  Everyone was able to get Chapter Lapel Pins to share with other attendees (this is a thing!), meet their board, get a handheld fan to keep cool with the heat and humidity of Cleveland in August!  Back to Michael Phelps!

His interview was worth the wait! (He was scheduled to speak in 2020 & 2021) He spoke with passion on how he used massage and other therapy, every day, to keep in top form. He also spoke about the need to keep mentally healthy as well. So, what does an Olympian swimmer do after his Olympic career, he works through his foundation with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, teaching water safety. (Did you know that most people drown in water less than 3 feet deep?!?)

Now it was time for education! My education choices this year were very specific for me and a big part of my practice, all were about Shoulder, Hip and Knee replacement, about the surgery, about how to work with your clients pre-/post-surgery and working with your allied health professional team. I had different workshops, with different teachers, and though some of the information was differently presented, each emphasized the necessity of working with your allied health professional team.  I am glad I know I have been doing that correctly for years.

Closing Keynote Speaker,
Mick Ebeling

Friday, more education, more discussions, more planning, more connections, and more Inspiration. Friday’s Keynote speaker was W. Mitchell. A Marine. A burn survivor. A businessman. A mayor.  A paraplegic. All just a part of the whole of who W Mitchell is.  And his story, never let circumstances define who you are! Be more!

As all good things must come to an end, Saturday was the wrapping up of so much education, information, inspiration, and a challenge to do more, be more, and if these few days had not lit the inspiration within you, our closing Keynote speaker, Mick Ebeling, let us the message to “Commit, then figure out “the how” later”.

More than anything I have to say was different this year, was how much time I got to enjoy spending time with our Board. We came together for meals, for group sessions, and taking in some of sites in Cleveland.  I think this time together, while being inspired, drove us to plan, to look at “What if …? and “Could we …?” and brought us closer as a team. AND, I want to say, by Saturday’s Keynote, we are Committed! Now we will figure out “the how”. Oh, the things that are possible!

Each of our Keynotes had a message for everyone.  I invite you to check them out on YouTube® to get your own inspiration. Time for “Until the next time…”, the convention came to a close with a promise of coming together again, next year, in Phoenix, AZ, August 24-26, 2023.