To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “A Feat of Hands: How to Succeed as a Male Massage Therapist,” by Karen Menehan, in the October 2010 issue. Article summary: There are definite gender biases in the massage profession, on the part of both potential clients and employers. Here, successful male massage therapists open up about how they deal with discrimination and rejection on a regular basis, and specific steps they’ve taken to persevere in their chosen career.

Harry Waranch, MASSAGE MagazineHarry Waranch graduated from Health Builders School of Therapeutic Massage in St. Augustine, Florida, where he lives and practices today. He began practicing reiki in 1988 and has been a massage therapist since 1996.

Q: Have clients or potential clients discriminated against you for being male?

A: Definitely. There are instances people won’t go to me because I’m a guy; I hear it through the grapevine, things like, “I’d feel more comfortable with a woman.”

Q: How do you feel hearing those kinds of comments?

A: I’ve kind of gotten to the point where it doesn’t really matter; I feel like things will be provided. And in a way, men have brought things on themselves, the way they’ve treated women over the years, it’s somewhat karmic. I don’t really want to take it personally.

Q: Do you have advice for male massage therapists, in terms of launching and marketing their practices?

A: They have to work harder. In, truth, male massage therapists have to be very good, they have to get results. Males that are just OK aren’t going to make it. The skills have to be there.

And males have to go out and promote themselves. They have to show they’re compassionate and harmless and that their intent is to help people get better.

Q: How can they do this?

A: Do selfless service. Volunteer. Provide free massage to charities to get yourself known in the community.

Basically, you have to be genuine, from the heart. People can tell when you’re compassionate, when you’re real, when you’re genuine.