I’m fascinated when people make dramatic career changes in their lives. Like when my super-bright cousin David studied medicine for six years, completed his internship then gave it all away to become an airline pilot. Or when a cameraman buddy became a professional artist and another friend switched from being a motor mechanic to an IT specialist. It seems to be an increasing trend. Statistically, we’re all living a lot longer, so it’s unlikely the career you started fresh out of school will be the one you finish up with. And I’m intrigued by HOW people switch from one to another and why? Perhaps we can all learn something from those who do. As a result, I’ve prepared a series of Inspirational Life Changes stories. These are interviews with people who have done just that – switched from one career to another, or are in the process of doing so.
INTERVIEW (1) Cecilia Low – Dancer turned Remedial Massage Therapist
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but it seems everyone you talk to these days has some kind of neck or back issue. I suffered a prolapsed disc in my lower back about ten years ago and have been trying out different therapies and therapists ever since.
(Keep reading till the end for a great self-help tip!)
When we first met, Remedial Massage Therapist Cecilia Low was a professional dancer and performer – mostly in musical theatre. Super fit and super-toned, I always admired her dedication to her craft and her trim physique. Just look at these photos and you’ll see what I mean.
Dancer Cecilia Low. Photography by Sylvi Kreinberg
Several years later, a mutual friend told us that Cecilia (or Ci, as we call her) had completed a professional remedial massage course and asked if we’d like to visit her for a treatment. Fletch also has some niggling back issues, so we shrugged our aching shoulders and said, ‘Yeah, why not? What’s one more?’ But we didn’t have high expectations – she was a beginner, right?
Wrong. While there weren’t any miracles as such, I have to say that Ci gives the firmest and most beneficial massage I’ve ever experienced. I’m now a regular client. Ci seems to have an intuitive touch; instinctively finding the exact spots where the knots and aches lie, and then those magical hands get to work and ease out the pain.
But given her success in the theatre, with more than ten years of continuous work, I was curious to learn why she’d switched careers.
‘I’d always had a fascination with the healing arts from a young age,’ she said as we sat down to chat after I’d had a massage. We sipped fresh coconut water as we spoke. (That’s another lovely touch Ci adds to her service. After every session you are given a small glass of fresh coconut juice to help re-hydrate.)
‘Just from dancing, I’d had to visit many therapists, osteopaths and chiropractors, so I’ve always been very accustomed to it and seen how beneficial it is for the body to function. Then about half-way through my career I did try to study massage, but I was travelling around a lot, performing, and realized I couldn’t manage both.’
The pivotal moment came when Ci felt the need for change. She’d been working in musical theatre for a long time and was physically tired.
So was the constant travelling a problem for her?
‘Maybe it’s the dancer in me, but no, I didn’t mind the moving around. I think you can make any place just like home, wherever you are. That didn’t bother me.’
Dancer Cecilia Low. Photography by Sylvi Kreinberg
Perhaps she becoming bored with dance?
‘No, dancing is my passion. I sing too, but I’m a dancer first. I feel very blessed, very lucky, to have done that and that’s given me amazing strength and stamina in many other ways.’
So what WAS the reason?
‘It was more the fact that I was beginning to feel limited in my mind and the skills that I could offer to the world, to people. I was only seeing myself as a dancer. And I felt there was so much more I could offer and I wanted to use my brain more.’
The answer – Ci returned to school, attending the Australian College of Sports Therapy in Melbourne where she earned a Diploma of Remedial Massage. It took more than a year and a half of intense studying and the first few months were the toughest.
‘Ah yes,’ she sighed. ‘We went right back to the basics. Chemistry, bio-chemistry, physics, nutrition. My brain was hurting. The first three months was a massive culture shock, juggling jobs and studies. But once I got over that, I was hungry for more.’ Her face brightened. ‘Then the time passed really quickly and I couldn’t get enough. I’m sure I’ll do more studying in the future. It was great!’
It’s not surprising that Ci ended up working in two careers that focus on the human body. It’s probably in her genes. Ci’s father, Vernon Low, was the first person to introduce the Korean martial art Taekwondo to Australia in the 1960s. (www.firsttaekwondon.com.au) I asked her whether she thought her father had been an influence in her career choices.
‘Definitely, most definitely,’ she said. ‘It’s in the blood I think. Some people hear the world, others see it visually. We all have different ways we perceive life. I think I definitely feel the world through my body first. I’ve been dancing since the age of five and I know I’m a happier, more wholesome person when I’m using my body. After leaving the dance world, I didn’t do much dance for about four years and I really struggled. Mentally, I didn’t want to admit that, but I know, now, I need that. And while massage isn’t dance, it is very physical and I treat it like a gym session I guess! There’s only a certain life span a dancer can have at that level. But yes, it is in the blood and I think my Dad lives in me every day in that aspect.’
Given that Ci has also experienced many massage treatments herself over the years, I wanted to know what she thought defined a good remedial massage therapist.
Cecilia in her therapy room
‘Someone who is able to listen and have compassion, while also being very professional and enabling the client to empower themselves and to take control of their pain levels. To learn about their own bodies,’ she said.
I made a comment that I believed she had intuitive hands and wondered whether her talent was something one could learn or was it a gift?
‘I think we’re all intuitive beings,’ she said. ‘It’s really about how open you are to your intuition. But it is also a skill you can learn too. I’m all for New Age things, but I like to balance it with practicality and science as well.’
‘The main focus for me, the type of massage I do, is to use of lot of movement in the treatments as I believe movement is the key to releasing tension and keeping the body pain-free. I guess this goes back to my dance background for sure.’
So now Ci has a different passion in life. The Remedial Massage Therapy course has given her a new vocation – one she finds wholly rewarding. ‘I think every time I massage someone, I feel very honoured. Honoured that they are entrusting themselves to me. It’s quite an intimate experience – one-on-one – it’s physical and there’s a lot of trust on both sides. But I feel very honoured that someone can come to me with their problems and I might be able to help.’
And now the bit I think could really help all of us!
Ci also believes we can help relieve our OWN aches and pains with our OWN hands. That’s not to say she’ll be doing herself out of a job. More to the point, she’s establishing a series of BACK CARE WORKSHOPS so that clients might be able to find some relief in-between treatments.
‘I came up with the concept because I believe it is possible to do your own body maintenance. I believe it will also probably make my job a little bit easier. I see a lot of chronic back pain and tension – a lot of on-going pain. The course will help people maintain themselves by dealing with things like the strain you get in your neck from sitting at the computer all day, or that niggling pain between your shoulder blades.’
Ci will also show clients how to use various tools at home that could help. ‘People often ask me things like, I have a foam roller, how do I use it? We’ll also look at how you can use simple things at home, like a tennis ball, to help. It’s about teaching people about the different kinds of pain and how to deal with it. How to use different techniques using your hands and thumbs to stave off those niggling issues.’
Back Care Workshop – Saturday, November 24th
Sounds brilliant! The first of these workshops takes place in November, along with a session from a pilates instructor Wade Edewell from The Pilates Cottage www.thepilatescottage.com.au. Ci is also planning couples’ workshops for the future.
If you’d like to know more about Ci’s BACK CARE WORKSHOP, visit her website at www.cicure.com.au
Or to book an extremely amazing remedial massage session, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone her on 0414 640 052.
Ci works one day a week at City Osteopathy in the city and other days at ‘Energize and Recharge Studios’ in Elwood.
I’m not the only one who believes Ci is a first-rate therapist. Uber-cool rockstar and X-Factor host Natalie Bassingthwaighte is also happy to sing Ci’s praises. Plus you can check out other opinions at WOMO – wordofmouth.com for some great reviews.
(Disclaimer: Because the matter of ‘disclosure’ in blogging was intelligently discussed in the wonderful blog ‘Woogsworld’ by Mrs Woog today, I feel the urge to say, again, I am NOT paid for any of the interviews or products I have covered. I have paid for all my massage treatments with Ci and will continue to do so. I will let you know if and when I ever get freebies. Basically I just want to recommend stuff I genuinely think will help you. And I DID tell you about the Goodie Bags in an earlier story – of course they were free! )