COVID has categorically shifted the world we live in. So many industries have been affected as a result, largely in the negative column, to the point where businesses within it have had to shut down for good.
One in particular that has had to adjust accordingly due to this global pandemic is the world of massage therapy. Before COVID became a part of our lives it was something that people used for a variety of reasons. Whether it be a “treat yourself” kind of deal or an activity you signed up for to fix an aching problem it was and is a practice that many of us have come to both want and need.
Ross Brodersen, a top massage therapist in the Windy City of Chicago, chatted with Instinct Magazine about how COVID has greatly affected his profession over the past couple of months. He also spoke with us about how he thinks things will change with an apparent second lockdown on the horizon while also opening up about moving to a big city from a small town and finding love in the cutest of ways.
You’re originally from Iowa but now call Chicago your home. Which do you have fonder memories in?
I’ve spent about 20 years in each area, but they’ve been completely different experiences. My first 20 years was spent growing up in a small rural town of about 500 people. Since most of my friends lived on farms, we had a lot of land to explore with four wheelers, dirt bikes and snowmobiles. We also have a cabin on the Mississippi River which we would go to on the weekends and some of my best memories were on the boat.
When I moved to Chicago, I had just come out of the closet and really felt like I started my life being my most authentic self. City living offered bars, museums, restaurants and shows with new friends who I could be myself around. So, Iowa is where my family is, and Chicago is where my chosen family is. I still travel home for holidays, so I get to keep creating fond memories in both places.
What inspired you to become a massage therapist and has it been a lucrative career choice?
Working in gyms and spas in different facets of health and wellness, I have always been interested in therapies to promote healing, muscle recovery and stress relief. Massage therapy added to this skillset and became my primary focus from 2010-2014. Since then, I managed and trained elite massage therapists at one of the top luxury hotels in Chicago.
How has COVID affected your work? Did you lose clients in the process due to the general panic that has swept our world this year?
COVID has had a very large effect on everyone in hospitality. In March, my entire staff of massage therapists and I were furloughed until further notice. Most of us still are. Since then customers are avoiding contact-based therapies, with only very recent changes in regulations and attitudes. These changes have allowed for my freelance massage business to take on customers that are comfortable with the precautions I can offer.
Do you think, with an apparent second lockdown coming, that it will affect it once more?
It most likely will. Cases are higher than ever in Illinois. Massage therapy is a tool for health and stress relief, so we must be in a place where customers feel safe.
You call yourself an “amateur bodybuilder” although from the untrained eye you look like you could go professional with it. Is that something you plan to do?
I think depending on who you ask, even “amateur” is too generous. I like ice cream and days off of the gym a little too much to try to go pro. But fitness will always be one of my favorite hobbies.
I also noticed that you have a beautiful partner named Joey. How did you guys first meet and what has COVID done for your relationship?
Joey and I first met on Halloween three years ago. I was dressed in a big monkey onesie and he didn’t let go of my tail all night. I remember the adjustment in March when we went from spending evenings together to COVID where we spend all day and all night together. It was tricky for about a week or two. Now we’re used to being next to each other all the time. He says hi.
In conclusion, what are you most hopeful for in your career?
I am excited to build a new base of customers, COVID permitting. Thanks to my furlough, I have the opportunity to start something new and on my own.