“This is harder than it looks,” says New Mexico native Nick Montoya

October 2021: By Hope Katz Gibbs, LMT

I mentioned in my first post that I’m a Martha Beck-trained life coach. One of the many things that I love about Martha’s work is her lessons on dealing with life’s significant changes using the 4 Phases of human metamorphosis. Martha explains it beautifully in an article on Oprah’s magazine, where she is a regular columnist.

For this month’s Bodymechanics column, I’ll jump to Phase 3: Re-Forming, which seems most appropriate for my classmates and me as we make our way through Month 3 of the Santa Fe massage therapy program.

Martha explains: “Here’s the deal. As your dreams become schemes, you’ll begin itching to make them come true. This signals Phase 3, the implementation stage of the change process. Phase 3 is when you stop fantasizing about selling your art and start submitting work to galleries or go beyond ogling a friend’s brother to having her set you up on a date. You’ll feel motivated to do real, physical things to build a new life. And then, (drum roll, please) — you’ll fail. Repeatedly.”

Martha lovingly notes that she has gone through Phase 3 many times and watched hundreds of clients and students do the same.

“I’ve never seen a significant scheme succeed on the first try,” she reminds us. “Re-forming your life, like anything new, complex, and important, inevitably brings up problems you didn’t expect. That’s why, in contrast to the starry eyes that are so useful in Phase 2, Phase 3demands the ingenuity of Thomas Edison and the tenacity of a pit bull.”

Since we talked last month: Our class of four has become three. Our beloved fellow student Sarah, who I interviewed in my column last month, decided she wasn’t quite ready to leap into being a professional bodyworker. We all wish her well on her beautiful journey.

Several of the teachers who started with us in August have also moved on. “Such is the challenge of starting a new program in a new town,” explains our company founder Shari, a leader, and visionary who has been an entrepreneur for decades and knows that nothing worth doing is going to be as easy as we hope.

That’s why I am thrilled to be interviewing my classmate Nick Montoya for this article. This New Mexico native is the father of three sons, and at 32, Nick says that he is thrilled to be embarking on a new career as a bodyworker. “My lifelong goal has been to connect with people in a healing way. During the pandemic, I felt we lost the sense of closeness, which is so important for good health. I know that touch is what I know people need right now, and it is my honor to be in this program where I am learning how to accomplish my goal profoundly and professionally.”

Having been the recipient of Nick’s massages, I can tell you for sure that this man has a gift. His touch is powerful and gentle. He knows where to go to relieve the pain. Yet, like all of us, Nick insists that his biggest fear is, quite simply, failure. “I don’t want to fail. Not in this program, not as a father, husband, son, or friend. But thanks to this training, I believe I will have the confidence to succeed as a massage therapist and deeply help so many people here in the small towns of New Mexico who will benefit from regularly receiving the healing power of touch.”

Growing up in New Mexico has its challenges, Nick admits. “I grew up in Pecos, which is a tiny town. Everyone knows everyone, and so much the city is populated by my family. I have some college experience — at Luna Community College in Las Vegas, NM, Highlands University also in Las Vegas and Santa Fe Community College here in Santa Fe. None of the programs felt like the right fit, so I spent many years doing jobs such as landscaping, working in a gas station, then learning the retail business at Sears, Family Dollar, and Jimmy John’s. I have always known down deep that I had a calling to help others. The question was: how?

Through the Bodymechanics program, Nick believes he has found his life’s work. “My three sons (ages 13, 7, and 5) look to me as their role model. I want them to know that it is never too late to chase your dreams, and with the right kind of attitude, You Can Do Anything You Put Your Mind To.”

Among the many things that are wonderful about Nick, it is his ability to go with the flow. “Before I began studying at Bodymechanics, I never had a professional massage. I’ve only ever given small back rubs and shoulder rubs, so the idea of touching strangers was a little daunting. When I started school, I was also afraid I’d hurt the tiny women in my class if I applied too much pressure. Scariest of all was the idea of being nude in front of strangers. All of it was more than a little nerve-racking. But here’s the thing: Now I’m ok with all of it. I have given my friend Hope more than one massage, and she told me I could apply more pressure! Similarly, this 108-pound woman can apply almost as much pressure I can. To me, this is the gift of Bodymechanics — to know your limits and go past them. I learn something new about myself, and that concept, every day.”

After graduation, Nick dreams of opening his own practice to work with people with injuries and disabilities. “I feel called to work with these two populations because I’ve’ had many sports injuries and know how hard it is to heal your body and mind after you have been tackled on the football field one too many times. More importantly, I am guided to help the little girl in my 7-year-old son’s class. She has Cerebral Palsy and is perhaps one of the strongest humans I know. If I can help someone like her, a child who needs what I can offer, I’ll’ truly be fulfilled.”

Two parting thoughts: 

  1. What Nick and I learned this month — Despite the constant change of teachers, fellow students, and a demanding curriculum that often overwhelms us, Nick and I are determined to work together to overcome any obstacles. We study together, exchange massage, and continue to support each other on the path toward our success. We are truly in this together, and I think that means the world to both of us.
  2. What we want other students to know — Massage school is harder than it looks. Yet, this mini-medical school program is magical, and worth meeting the challenging. Despite our different life experiences, upbringings, and perspectives on the world, Nick and I know that when we work together and support each other on this path, it’s’ not just us that will succeed. We know that everyone we touch will be the beneficiaries of our connection and collaboration.

Next month: We’ll’ shine a light on one of the genuinely excellent Santa Fe teachers. Guess who it’ll’ be, and I’ll’ give you a free Reiki treatment the next time you are at the school! Until then, wishing you endless health and wellness! — Hope