Last week, I had the good fortune of being invited back to Oklahoma City to be a part of Erik Dalton’s 8th annual workshop, held over the 4th of July weekend. I have been attending these workshops for the past several years. I always look forward to being a part of these, primarily because I get the opportunity to watch one of the best in the business showcase his knowledge and passion for his craft. Erik has the unique ability to work a room, like a rock star. That’s probably due to the fact that in his earlier life, he was one (The Flying Burrito Brothers). I also look forward to the crowd that follows, starting with his amazing staff, his knowledgable TA’s, the other “celebrity” guests and of course his minions from around the globe. Even as we scratch and claw our way out of this pandemic, we still had students from as far as Puerto Rico and Alaska in attendance.
Every year, Erik raises the bar for his guests.He starts by flying in other seasoned presenters and educators like Til Luchau, James Waslaski, Art Riggs, Michael Koplen, Charlie Pebbles, Eric Brown, Ariana Vincent, Aubrey Gowing and Diane Matkowski (a.k.a. The Massage Mentor). He spares no expense on making the student experience one to last a lifetime (or until next year since, on average, over 50% return). What many don’t get to hear or see is the work that goes into pulling an event of this size off. It is an undertaking like none other, and that’s even without having to contend with a Pandemic. This year was no exception, yet Erik was hell bent on making certain his guests had an incredible weekend of learning, connecting and most of all, F-U-N!
In a room the size of an airline hangar, he was able to make it feel like we were all in his living room. His attention to the details is what makes this a #bucketlist event for anyone in our field. After the year we all had, this event was the catalyst we all needed (and deserved) to get back out and start once again providing compassionate touch to our communities. From the moment I walked in, I was greeted with hugs and smiles from friends I had not seen in almost 2 years. As we helped over 200 students arrange 100+ tables, meticulously laid out down to the last inch, I immediately started to meet so many new and amazing people from all over. Many of us attend workshops and may meet a few new friends. Erik and his team immediately strip away any insecurities with their smiles and kindness and make certain that you are connecting around the space. They are more than just TA’s, they are charismatic, passionate people who genuinely love others, love what they do and also happen to be “wicked smart” and talented massage therapists.
As the first day was underway, you could hear a pin drop as everyone hung on Erik’s every word, laughed at his silly quips and (as Kim Miller said) “old man mumblings” 😉 . Once we all dove into “Technique Time”, you could feel the electricity in the room hit an 11 (Spinal Tap). The place was juiced. For so many of us, this was the first time in over 15 months that we actually laid our hands on a new person. IT WAS AWESOME. Awesome to give and awesome to receive. TA’s and celebrity guest were flying around the room helping folks with their body mechanics, hand placements, clarifying and explaining the purpose or objective of the technique, etc. Regardless of if you were up in front or way in back, you felt the love and attention as if you were in a room of 20 people, not over 200. As the day and weekend continued, this hangar sized space felt more like one big massage treatment room.
Every year when I return from this event, I have this unbridled energy that I can’t wait to apply to my business. This year, that feeling was magnified by the notion that there are 200+ other therapists on their way back home with the same feeling I had when I left; WE ARE BACK!!! We are all ready to start touching and helping others #feelbetter. More importantly, we can all begin to get back to a place that beyond helping others, also impacts our own personal health. Over the weekend, so many of us shared similar stories of adversity. This allowed us to navigate from that common feeling of isolationism in the massage field to a communal feeling of connectedness with so many others just like us. Both a strength and weakness of a great massage therapist is our ability to feel empathy for others and apply it throughout the course of our bodywork. Having that stripped from my life this past year (and even more if you know my back story), is something that I know I desperately needed. We ALL needed. Erik Dalton and his team provided just that for all of us and if that wasn’t enough, he helped us grow and leave as better massage therapists than when we arrived.
In the past week since I have returned, I have received over 100 friend requests on social media. Seeing their posts about this weekend and seeing some of the incredible pictures that have been shared is the spark our industry needs to get back in service to others. Thank you Erik for continuing to be the conduit that ignites so many next chapters in our profession. Your legacy is solidified. Your love for teaching, sharing and laughter has impacted more than we can ever know. I look forward to more times like these with you and your team. Your friendship is priceless to me as I am sure it is to so many others.
I can’t wait until the next time! (perhaps in Costa Rica?). 🙂