Growth and challenge
MTI member Kate Browne was crowned National Massage Champion and winner of the Advanced Massage category at Olympia on 30 September 2019. Here she shares her journey to the top of podium.
I saw the competition advertised a few months before the event and wondered, should I do it? I wanted to challenge myself and have a go, but I was sceptical about how it would be judged.
My mind was set at ease when I saw the judging panel. I saw that they were an amazing bunch and contained many therapists I admired such as Susan Findlay and Meghan Mari, so I thought, ‘this must have substance, they know what they are looking for, okay I’ll give it a try!’
It is possible to enter two categories, but as I’d not done anything like this before, I decided to just go for one. I chose the Advanced Massage category because that most suited by training, having done the Sports and Remedial course with the Bristol College of Massage and Bodywork (following my original diploma in Holistic Massage).
It was great to go through the process of preparing for the competition because it made me challenge myself to think about what I was doing more, get out books and look around for inspiration to create more innovation in the techniques I was using and a give more interesting overall massage. It was a really good kick up bum to do something new, a big positive for my practice.
When it came to the event itself, I didn’t know what to expect, but the venue was amazing. It was great to meet therapists I followed on social media in person and really nice to connect with them and have a bit of a laugh. I was nervous, but the atmosphere was reasonably relaxed - professional but not tense, it was warm and friendly. There was this lovely feeling of being part of a shared learning experience. It was bit nerve wracking being watched by the judges; similar to doing a practical exam. The judges don’t speak, they just observe and take notes.
There were 8 therapists in my heat, and 2 heats in my category. I didn’t see what else was going on during my heat as I was too focused on what I was doing. But I got to watch the second heat which was really cool. I took lots of pictures and videos and made notes!
When I won my category, I was absolutely elated, I was trembling like a leaf! It’s all a bit of a blur, I just remember that I did a lot of grinning! My hands were shaking. It was an amazing feeling, being recognised by these judges whom I admire and aspire to, that was really special, a most amazing feeling.
After all the categories had taken place, the winners from each category competed again for the Judges Excellence Award and overall competition winner. I was absolutely exhausted because of all the adrenaline, but I got in the zone and enjoyed it. I had no expectation of winning, with all these other amazing therapies going on. To be then be given the overall title was just amazing! I can’t put it into words.
The competition had lots of positive effects for me. It’s given me confidence and belief in what I do and that’s something I will treasure. I enjoy what I do, and I know I do it reasonably well, but this makes it even more special and just confirms that I can feel confident in what I’m doing. It will also give my business more recognition and raise its profile. I’ll no doubt gain more work through it for myself and the great group of women I work with.
Going forward, this is a really exciting time for my practice. There was lots of interest from the judges running schools, and teaching and helping people to learn how to move is something I’m really interested in. This is a good opportunity to ignite that.
I would of course recommend anyone give it a try as I’ve had a very positive experience! For other MTI members, I would say that this confirmed to me that MTI produces the best standard, our therapists are incredible and to go and have a go and showcase what you do. Have the confidence to showcase your style, challenge yourself and meet other like-minded therapists and learn from them, there’s a lot you take away from it.
Kate runs a mobile massage business in Gloucestershire, Cotswold Mobile Massage. She will represent the UK at the European and World Massage Championships next year.