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Meet Anika Norrgard

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anika Norrgard.

Anika, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
If you would have told me three years ago that I would be a massage therapist today, I would probably have been very surprised! Since I’ve been in LA, most of my jobs have been centered around the arts and… in restaurants. You know how it is. The restaurant industry can be pretty tough and honestly, I was getting burnt out; feeling overworked and under-inspired. I reached my limit and one day said, f*** it! My mother had just become bodyworker and loved it, I decided I would too. I got on my computer, researched some schools in the area, found The National Holistic Institute and sent them an email. A couple of days later I went in for a meeting and enrolled on the spot. The following week school began.

I finished the initial 800 hours of school, got my license and then went right back to continue my training. After another 450 hours, spent studying Janet Travel’s Trigger Point Therapy Manual, I became a Neuromuscular Therapist.

So you could say it was all a little impulsive, but luckily I quickly found that I was very good at massage and that I love doing it – which is the most important part. I can’t describe how wonderful it feels to see the profound effects of session in a client. To be met with their happy faces and the aura of the post-massage glow, it’s the ultimate satisfaction and keeps me interested and grounded in my work.

Truly, this feels like just the beginning as I have so much more I would like to study and learn so I can continue to expand my offerings. For now, I am studying Tibetan Cranial as an apprentice. I fly out to Denver four times a year for trainings and clinics. Next, I hope to travel to Thailand to study Thai Massage.

I have been pretty humbled and so grateful to witness how the world aligns when you are on a path that makes sense. I have met so many wonderful people through this work and have the most amazing clients! It’s all very exciting and the possibilities seem endless.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There were definitely challenges. Going back to school full time was probably the hardest. I had to give up my social life for a while, which if you know me was a struggle! The days were long, filled with early morning classes and late-night shifts. But I loved what I was learning which really helped me stay focused and committed. Then eventually I graduated!

I went from having a very rigorous schedule to days completely free. This presented a new challenge, one that most self-employed individuals have to navigate…how to keep my momentum and create a schedule for myself? This is something I am still learning to do as I build my business.

Other challenges were a bit more obvious, how do I create a client base? How do I get my name out there? I was very lucky to meet Anna Zahn of Ricari Studios while I was in school. She liked my work and took me on as her studio’s resident bodyworker. She became a mentor to me, instilling in me her business savvy and introducing me to potential clients.

I also had to learn not to take things personally. Sometimes I would have a great session with a client and then I wouldn’t hear from them again, or I would but 6 months later. That goes for regular clients too. Ultimately, I had to understand that it’s not all about me. People go through their own life stuff and when they’re ready I would be here for them.

The next challenge I face is navigating my taxes. So if anyone has any suggestions?

We’d love to hear more about your work.
My massage differs from others because of my background. Coming to the work as a Neuromuscular Therapist, I have a foundation that is more aligned with medical-massage. The 450-hour extension I enrolled in gave me a deeper understanding of the body, the muscles, and their action/function, the systems of the body, how injuries occur, and how to perform trigger point therapy. I also got to go to a cadaver lab and see (touch!) real muscles.

While I love medical massage, I also love spas, relaxation and am adamant about the value of self-care. So my practice has been about bridging the gap between a comprehensive massage that addresses specific issues and creating an environment for total relaxation. The feedback I get from most of my clients is how specific my massages are, how they feel productive and relaxing.

As I’ve continued my training in Tibetan Cranial, my spiritual practice has deepened. This has helped me create a foundation for incorporating energy work into my massage. There are so many benefits to energy work, and it facilitates in centering my clients while bringing them to their true balance.

I seek to create an environment that grounds, rejuvenates and assists my clients on their healing journeys. I really care about my clients, their health, their goals and tailor each session to suit their individual needs. That’s why my clients keep coming back.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think the quality that has helped me most in becoming a good massage therapist is empathy. Yes, bodywork is a tactile, physical practice. But to have a really good session you must connect with your client. You have to come into each session with an understanding of where they are that day and hold space for them. It makes all the difference.

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Image Credit:
Personal photo – Laura Horstmann

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