An Interview with Michelle Hittner! Founder of Austin Massage Company

Austin Massage Company has been a part of our store community for a year now. We love having Michelle’s team share our space, so this is a long overdue interview with the Boss Lady herself.

In addition to being a therapist, Michelle Hittner also has a diverse athletic background which gives her a discernable edge over other massage therapists.  An avid cyclist, runner and triathlete who enjoys Crossfit just as much as a fun pub run, she knows that advising a client to “just take time off” to rest is not always an option for elite or high performing athletes.  

I hope you enjoy reading more about Michelle as I have!

ATRC: How did you get involved in massage? Did you have a career prior to massage?

MH: I was always that kid in the family massaging everyone so when I moved to Austin and started working as a chiropractor’s assistant I was surrounded by a team of amazing healers. With their encouragement the decision felt very natural to register for massage school. 

Yes, After massage school I left the chiropractor’s office to spend 8 years in Healthcare. I was the office manager for an orthopedic surgeon’s group. My responsibility at that office really helped groom me for owning my own business as I managed a staff, did most of the boots on the ground marketing in the community as well as handled a majority of the billing aspects for surgical procedures. 

ATRC: What is one misconception you hear about massage therapy?

MH: That massage has to HURT to be effective…. this is TOTALLY not true and sometimes completely counter-productive. If you prefer a deeper pressure that is common however if you are tensing your body, holding your breathe or feel like you want to kill or curse at your therapist they are working too deep.  Communicating with your therapist is key to receiving effective bodywork. 

ATRC: What brings you joy in your profession?

MH: OH GOSH…. LOTS of things, First is being a part of clients wellness and helping them to feel , move and perform better and reach their health and fitness goals. Second is mentoring other therapists to be better with not only the services they provide but also with the business and marketing side of the profession. Third…. “massage face” there is nothing better than seeing  that spaced out messed up hair glassed over eyes look when they walk out of the massage room…..even after 20 years, it NEVER gets old. 

ATRC: What is one (or ten!) struggle(s) with owning your business that you never anticipated?

  • Having to decline offers to partner with organizations/events which do not fit our main demographic or service niche.  I am are truly honored when we receive a request to donate services for exposure however it is bittersweet when we have to say no. 
  • Learning the ins and outs of the behind the scenes stuff like good bookkeeping, SEO rankings and the analytics of our online presence. 
  • Staff retention and finding the balance between being the boss and being friends with the therapists who work under the AMC umbrella.

ATRC: What do you love about the Austin community?

The love, support and enthusiasm not only within each sport but across the community and how there is so much crossover. Training groups do vary but come race day everyone supports one another. I am lucky to support and partner with all sorts of groups in town and they all have  one thing in common…… to enhance the lives of their members. 

ATRC: What is the strangest experience you’ve had as a therapist?

It is not really strange but more unique.  While offering backstage massage for a tour I literally was ON STAGE behind the drum kit tucked on the other side of the curtain and was working on the drummers back between songs because his back was in spasm and he was actually in quite a bit of pain. Most people don’t make the connection that a musician is an “athlete” too. It’s all repetitive movements. 

ATRC: What piece of advice would you give someone looking to go into massage today?

Find what gets you jazzed and find a way to insert massage into that community. Find a niche to focus your skills to be the expert in that one area of bodywork. 

ATRC: As a massage therapist, what is your favorite way to relax?

Having time to read an actual book…..lounging outside ( when it is not a bazillion degrees) and actually turning the pages is a luxury I rarely have the time for these days. 

ATRC: If you could only run, cycle, paddle one more time, where in the world would it be?

WOW….. this is a tough one but I would love to leisurely cycle coast to coast across the US. 

ATRC: If you could only gift one book, what would it be?

The Dip by Seth Godin

(Editor’s note: great book and a big fan of Seth Godin!)

Thanks Michelle!

If you’re needing a massage, feel free to use the link below to schedule one with AMC! All Austin Traill Running Company members receive $10 off massages when visiting the 183 location (our shop):

Schedule your appointment today!

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