My Freed Origin Story: Elizabeth Goldberg


Y’all, it was so hot outside.

Thursday, July 18, 2013. I traveled to the Potomac Avenue Metro to meet with Frances Reed at their massage studio. Upon exiting the metro station, I walked in the wrong direction (ironically, now it’s the correct direction to get to Freed!). I had strongly debated what to wear because I wanted to appear professional and still was wobbly on my feet on the massage interview process. I hadn’t heard back from my friend Aries, already a Freed Bodyworks therapist, on Frances’s level of formality. Alas, despite all these intentions, when I arrived and took off my cross-body purse, I had a distinct and fresh diagonal line of sweat right across my chest. Exactly the first impression I was trying to make...

Credit where credit is due, Aries had HOOKED ME UP with this interview. For those who don’t know, Aries and I went to massage school together where we bonded over going to super hippy-dippy liberal arts colleges and living in Columbia Heights/Petworth. Aries already had a connection with Frances and knew about the upcoming expansion. She explained (and gushed about) Freed Bodyworks to me. She not-so-subtly hinted to Frances that I was extremely interested to learn more about their vision as they moved to a multi-therapist practice based on a simple-yet-novel ethic of “Radical Inclusion.” Thankfully, Frances took Aries’ hints and met with me.

After appropriate pleasantries, Frances’s first question to me was, “So, what is your definition of therapeutic?”

I had a lot more to learn about Frances and their business vision and mission, but from that moment I was sold. See, every other place I interviewed framed the discussion around commodity. Namely, how I (the massage provider) would make money by working for them (the business). The conversation with Frances was also about me and them, except it was how I (the practitioner) would provide the best therapeutic massage possible for them (the clients) by inquiring and listening in an inclusive, non-judgemental, open environment.

This is the paradigm I still use as my guiding principle every single day I show up for work at Freed Bodyworks. The expectation at Freed isn’t that therapists provide massage, but that they show-the-[expletive]-up to inquire and listen at every. single. session. It’s my dream job.

For the massage portion of the interview, Frances pretended to be a client describing a “weird feeling in my shoulder,” that I was supposed to assess and address. Frances lasted about a minute before ditching the act--apparently, their right-side supraspinatus was KILLING THEM and they asked me to focus there. I asked some questions and then, channelling my best technique possible, worked that shoulder girdle like I had never worked a shoulder girdle before. I am profoundly grateful that Frances asked me to join the team.

More than five years later, it is still so hot outside.

#elizabethgoldberg #freedoriginstory #massage #massagetherapy #radicalinclusion

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