Today we’d like to introduce you to Luis Hernandez.
Luis, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
After years of trying the college route and changing majors like 5 or 6 times, I ended up settling for a small-business degree. I moved to Wisconsin to continue my education there, but unfortunately it did not work out after a few months. I moved back to California towards the end of 2015.
In 2016, my cousin was the Kicker for his high school football team. During practice, he ended up straining his hamstring and could no longer continue fulfilling his kicking duties. So one day my cousin asked me for a ride to his chiropractor in Huntington Beach, Pro Sport Institute. That’s where I met Dr. Richard Liebel, DC and Nate Flores, CMT.
I always thought that massage was only done in spas. I didn’t know it could be done in a medical or sports setting. After hanging out in the lobby and looking around the office, I saw pictures of the athletes that have been seeing the chiropractor and massage therapists at that location. I knew at that moment, this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to become a massage therapist for athletes.
In August 2017, I decided to start my massage journey at the American Institute of Massage Therapy in Santa Ana, CA. I did the evening program from Monday through Thursday for 9-months. While in massage school, I did an internship at STARS in Anaheim, CA. STARS is a full-service training facility that offers youth, collegiate and professional sports training as well as rehab. During my internship, I had the opportunity to work with players in the NFL as well as college players who were ready to enter the NFL.
After graduating massage school and receiving my certification, I got my first massage job working for the City of Brea. I really enjoyed working at the Brea Community Center. Everyone there was awesome! While working there solo, I learned one thing, I couldn’t go to anyone if I had questions about massage or certain injuries. I would have to Google certain injuries while the client was getting undressed in the room. After fulfilling my one-year contract, I decided it was best for me to work somewhere where I can learn more about certain injuries.
In 2019 I stumbled upon a job ad on Craigslist. A chiropractic office in Irvine was looking for a massage therapist. I figured I would give it a shot and see if it would work out for both parties. Almost a year later, I’m still employed at Irvine Spine & Sport. I’ve been blessed to work and under and learn from 3 chiropractors. Dr. Timothy Twombly, Dr. Kenneth Erickson, and Dr. Kevin Parker.
But throughout this journey I’ve also been working on my own thing, Next Level Sports Therapy & Recovery. I am mobile around LA/Orange County. I go to peoples’ homes, gyms, work, and/or games to help them with any massage, stretching, or injury treatments.
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?
I don’t think there’s such thing as a smooth road. We all go through our struggles when on a new journey. But I have enjoyed this journey.
For the first year and a half, I did struggle a bit. I learned how hard it is to find new clients. I didn’t know how or where to find clients. I started offering massages for $60/hr, and I still wouldn’t get any takers. I even went as low as $25/hr. For me, all I really wanted was to gain more experience working with people. I wanted to work with different bodies and learn new things.
As I started learning more and using more social media to reach out to others, I came across another massage therapist from LA, Robert Torres from Elite Therapy. Robert has helped me make my journey a little bit easier. As to how and where to find new clients, marketing strategies, how to stay firm with my rates, and how to stay persistent. The things he’s taught me have really helped me out a lot. Thanks, Robert.
Next Level Sports Therapy & Recovery – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I first started off as Next Level Stretching. I was doing more stretches than massages. It seemed like more people loved being stretched. So I kept learning more about it. I learned about passive stretching, active stretching, and facilitated stretching.
After about a year and a half, I decided to change my business name to Next Level Sports Therapy & Recovery. I wanted to do more than stretching. I wanted to also include massage, corrective exercise, cupping, compression boots, IASTM. I wanted to make it a mobile one-stop shop. Unfortunately, I never followed through with the cupping, compression boots, and IASTM. You know, all that fancy Instagram stuff.
I started seeing where the money-maker was. It was coming from massage and stretching. I’ve tried implementing corrective exercises, but a lot of folks just want manual therapy. The clientele I was working with already had their trainers and/or strength coaches. The last thing anybody wants to do after a massage is work out. So I stuck with massage and stretching. Every now and then someone gives in to the corrective exercise.
I began offering the massage and stretch as a combo. These sessions usually last between two to three hours. I started receiving feedback from my clients and they really enjoy that combination. They too call it a “next level” experience. So now I get people who text me, “I need that next level!”
I believe combining both has set me apart from others. I see other therapists on Instagram and a lot of them use cupping, compression boots and IASTM. I don’t believe there is a substitute for the human touch.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My journey has been filled with a ton of proud moments. But my proudest one so far is I recently got hired to be a massage therapist for USA Volleyball. I will be working with the men’s and women’s indoor team in Anaheim, CA this summer. Thank you, Dr. Karen Liu.
I’m very excited to be a part of this group. I look forward to learning the culture, working with my fellow therapists, and getting to know the players. So far, I’ve had great experiences with volleyball players.
This is just the beginning of 2020. There are plenty of more opportunities for proud moments. Hopefully, I get to add more when I do the AVP Beach Volleyball tournaments this summer. My two favorite beach volleyball players are teaming up, Casey Patterson and Troy Field. Let’s get that W, fellas.
- Half Hour – $75
- One Hour – $125
- Two Hours – $225
- Email: SporthopedicMT@gmail.com
- Instagram: IG: SoftTissueTherapist