By John M. Hayden
A physically demanding job? Too much time spent stuck on I-95? A coworker who stresses you out with just the sound of their voice?
There are a million things in this world that can rub you the wrong way. The way to beat them is to find someone to rub (massage) you the right way. And that’s where John-Michael Gordon comes in.
The best pair of hands in Broward County has been working their magic on stressed out South Floridians for nearly five years. Out and proud, John-Michael’s a dedicated member of the LGBTQ+ community professionally, philanthropically, and personally. “I see clients out and about and they say, ‘hi.’ I see them at the bars, dining out, all over. I go out with friends and they say, ‘Oh, you know everybody.’”
Although he’s only been a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) for a few years, he’s been dabbling in the relaxing arts since he was a kid. “I was probably preteen when I started giving family shoulder and feet massage. It didn’t really take off then. But over the years I’d give friends massages, shoulder massage, and foot massages.”
The road to making this his chosen career was a long one that involved years in retail and working in theater. Sales wasn’t his thing, and while he loved working on stage productions, it took all his time and he was still struggling to get by. That’s when John-Michael gave serious thought to turning his childhood hobby into a profession.
“When I left the theater industry, I had no idea where to go. I felt lost and confused. I kind of thought, ‘What about massage therapy? I’m good at it, maybe I could be great at it.’”
So with self confidence in himself, and most importantly his hands, in February 2015 John-Michael headed back to school. After an intense eight months of training, John-Michael got his certification in November 2015. A couple stints in professional spas, he decided to make his skills work for himself. But before settling down to cultivate a clientele in his hometown, he hit the road. “I traveled all over Florida. I started on the east coast of Florida, drove up to West Palm Beach, Port Saint Lucie, Orlando, Ocala, and up to Gainesville, then drove down the west coast helping people in Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers, and Naples. That was a fun summer.”
About a month later, he did it all again. After getting practice across the sunshine state, he came home to start his business from scratch. “Getting into the business and starting it from the ground up, it was tough. It was a lot of work and it’s still a lot of work. Probably even more work now to keep it running.”
That business is called, Relax In Peace Massage. While he serves a variety of clients, he especially enjoys meeting the needs of his gay customers. And his services are a hit with one of our local athletes. “I have a client that is part of the gay softball team. He gets work on his lower back and leg and also his arm for pitching. I work on his ankle too for running.”
He also helps someone who practices another activity you wouldn’t think needs an LMT: a pianist. “I do a lot of forearm and wrist work. I do a lot of range of motion and working out the tension. Deep tissue and range of motion really really help separate what we like to call knots.”
And that’s what makes John-Michael so special, there is no “one size fits all” massage therapy. He caters his skills to the needs of each individual. If you have your heart set on a hot stone massage, he’ll gladly provide one. But if you fill him in on the details of your life and what triggered the need for a massage, he may recommend some alternatives.
For example, “We can recommend that your tension is coming from your back, and that’s probably what’s causing your headache. Instead of a relaxing massage, let’s do a little deeper in the areas that need some work, and we’ll throw in some range of motion to help stretch out that tension.”
John-Michael can spot these needs because part of his training gave him some medical background. “We do learn a lot about blood and the endocrine system, bones, and bone marrow. A crash course in all types of cancer and medications too. We also ask what medications are you on? We now know what the body is going through.”
He tries to make a point of being there for the clients on their schedule, not his. While most of us are toiling away on the nine to five, he’s going to the bank, grocery shopping, the gym, and taking care of other business so he can be available later in the day or even at night. “I like to be available nights and weekends because people work during the day. In a night I’ll probably see up to three appointments.”
He’ll travel all over Broward to meet clients where and when they want, including one family who only has a little time early Sunday mornings. “So I worked out a deal every other Sunday, I’ll see you in the morning so you can be out by 11AM and enjoy your family time the rest of the day.”
Getting on to John-Michael’s schedule takes some planning. He has a set of loyal customers but is always willing to take on new clients. John-Michael wants people book up to two weeks in advance. Setting regular appointments is highly recommended.
Once you’re on the schedule, it’s totally worth it. John-Michael offers a lucrative membership program where you can buy multiple massages at two, four, and even six massages per month, cutting the price nearly in half.
Veterans of massage therapy will feel like they’re upgrading, while newbies will feel comfortable right off the bat. There are no expectations other than to relax. Want to leave underwear on? No problem. “It’s all comfort factor. They ask, ‘Should I be naked? Should I wear this or wear that?’ Honestly, I tell them whatever you wanna wear, keep it on, take it off whatever you want to do. I’ve had people wear clothes during the massage. I’ve had one person say ‘I wanna leave my pants on but I want you to work on my legs.’ So I do compression.”
John-Michael says while some fear “going deep” as in deep tissue, they appreciate it at the end. “Most of my clients who request deep tissue work, and if you’re knotted up, it’s not fun to go through, but they do pay for it and they love it.”
JM’s massage is very personal, and John-Michael will work on what you need and avoid anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. “Feet, hands, and around the face, any work around the neck is a personal space. So I like to ask what they want worked on. Are there any additional areas, do you want your hand worked on, do you want your feet worked on, your face or neck worked on. Even sometimes the hair, the head and all. There’s scalp massage.”
John-Michael also offers some massage etiquette for everyone.
- Be clean. You can’t come in from the beach and have sand all over you or come in from the yard and have dirt all over you.
- Be flexible. He has many regular customers but will juggle his schedule for emergencies or last minute changes.
- Give notice if you have to cancel. Life happens, just let him know if you have to change your appointment.
- Expect a professional massage. He’s an LMT, so expect a legitimate session.
John-Michael’s passion for helping people isn’t limited to getting people to relax. John-Michael also works in the community with South Florida Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The group is dedicated to the support, education, and development of the LGBTQA+ community. John-Michael’s personally helped them raise thousands of dollars, and is their official South Florida massage therapist. Hey, stressed out sisters need to relax too!
John-Michael also says the benefits go well beyond immediate relief and relaxation. “I’ve had clients that have been on antidepressants for a good couple of decades, and because of massage they were able to get off of it, seeing me once or twice a week.”
And in a toxic world, a massage done right can rid you of the poison. “Massage helps the flow of getting the toxins removed from certain types of areas. That release of toxins, the release of stress, anxiety, medication built up in your body. What we eat can build up and become toxic.” And John-Michael says that can lead to lasting results. Even if you don’t see me for a month you’re still feeling it later. I do recommend the more often the better you’ll feel. I like to do cupping. That also draws out more toxins from the area and flushes it out.”
That is a ton of benefits, and all you have to do is lay there. Of course if silence isn’t your thing, you can chat with John-Michael too, which he believes can be therapeutic as well.
“It does get pretty intense, the conversation, sometimes. I think talking about things and getting it out is very good for the mind and body. It actually does help. They literally talk themselves to sleep sometimes.”
And John-Michael keeps to a strict code of client confidentiality. “The personal stuff that we talk about does not leave the table.”
And even though the art of massage therapy has been around for 4,000 years, it doesn’t mean you’re getting the same massage Caesar or Oscar Wilde got back in the day. John-Michael stays on top of new techniques and discoveries every two years.
This year he took a class on advanced back and neck massage. “It allows me to learn new things, and then apply that to my clients. To make massage either easier on them or me or both of us. I learn new types of stretching, range of motion, better technique for deep tissue work so it’s not as painful.”
And his skills are so well known, John-Michael does guest speaking at massage therapy schools, too.
Being an LMT isn’t just a job for John-Michael, it’s a calling and he considers each client as an opportunity to help someone.
“Six to 7 days a week helping people is just a passion of mine. People work to live. I live to work. The greatest gratitude is waking up every day knowing I get to help another person feel better and to do better. My motto is: Relax In Peace Massage, The Path to a Better You.”
To begin your journey to relaxation, reach out to John-Michael Gordon on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/JMGMassage or give him a call at 954-649-4287. Have a relaxing day. See You Soon!