Stepping out of my comfort zone isn’t something I make a habit of. It requires a great deal of mental preparation and that, in itself, takes a lot of preparation!
But I have indeed stepped out of my comfort zone this evening…
I met members of the DROPS women’s cycle team this evening who were preparing for this year’s Womens Tour of Britain. After seeking advice (thanks Sarah!) I contacted the team a few weeks ago to ask about meeting up with the team massage therapist and get some observational experience within a team environment. This evening I went along to the team hotel, met with the team manager and the teams massage therapist (Martin) and found out so much about team dynamics, there is probably far more than I can write here. I didn’t get to observe any massaging take place as the Anti-Doping team also arrived, therefore massaging had to removed from the schedule to make way.
So, what did I learn… Martin is one member of a very large family that makes a team work. I had some waiting to do this evening, and whilst waiting, and trying not to be nosey, I was able to observe the roles of the people who were staying at the hotel to ensure that the ladies who start their race tomorrow, have every opportunity to deliver the maximum that they can. Even the lady behind the bar played a part in making sure that team members had the cup of tea they were gasping for.
Obviously, the team had the curve ball thrown at them with the anti-doping team arriving. Something that they knew might happen at some point, but does throw out the plans a little, at least and until the new plan has been made and calm restored. I asked the team manager how his stress levels, were, he was cool as a cucumber! The ladies were individually taken in for blood tests, paperwork filled in, chats with management had and as smoothly as they arrived, the anti-doping team left allowing the DROPS team to carry on their evening.
I got to chat to Martin for a short while before he went to eat. He is with the team for this entire tour and has been with them for previous tours, working in this environment for over 20 years. It made me realise that every single member of the team that was there was away from their family and friends, and this wasn’t just for a week, this is for a week, home for a short while, and then off again to the next tour and so on throughout the season; its no wonder that the team members I saw were clearly bonded like family. The commitment required from every single team member is second to none & even their own families must have the understanding that the team their loved ones are part of is also their extended family.
I felt like I was a shy child interviewing a celebrity on Blue Peter when I spoke to Martin. I had a list of things that I wanted to talk to him about, but the longer I sat there observing the teams movements, the more I realised that I was so privileged to have a small insight into this machine & I felt my questions seemed quite cheesy!
The main thing I learnt though is how important it is to get to know your client on the couch. Communication is key and talking to them about their body is just as important as the methods you choose to use for treatment. I asked if there were any regulations that were imposed about what you’re allowed to massage with on race day. Quote of the chat was “I massage with whatever they ask, if the client wanted to be massaged with ketchup, then that’s what I’d use” NB; please don’t ask me to do this; oil or lotion are my choices!
Although Martin works for the team, he knows each lady on the team as individuals, knows more about them than they probably know themselves and is in a position to help them get the best out of their bodies. We chatted about methods and reasoning and I was pleased that some of my methods and approaches are those used by such experienced practitioners.
I have only been in this business for a very short time and am aware that I will be learning every day for a very long time. Experiences such as tonight teach me more in a few hours than months of studying and I am so very glad I pushed myself out of that comfort zone again.