By Hope Katz Gibbs, Bodymechanics School of Massage Santa Fe, TLMT
She started off by showing us how to create an onramp when beginning a massage. Our client was prone, and the stroke began at the neck and went down in one smooth flourish that looked as good as it probably felt. That was that first massage therapy lab in the fall of 2021, and it made me, and my classmates, eager to learn more in every class with long-time Santa Fe massage therapist TC Gritt.
A 2011 graduate of the Sherer Institute of Natural Healing (which changed its name to the Santa Fe School of Massage during her program), TC knew this was the school for her when she found out it was a sponsor of the annual Open Secret: The Rumi Concert, which for years was performed annually in Santa Fe at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.
“Dancer Zuleikha, drummer Glen Velez, and vocalist and guitarist Jai Uttal perform to poet Coleman Barks’ reading of lines by the 13th-century Persian mystic poet Jalaluddin Rumi,” TC explains. “I loved it, and the school that supported this event was the school for me!”
Having a poetic flair is what makes TC a great massage therapist and teacher. Born in Wisconsin, she grew up in Dallas, and just before graduating high school, she decided she rather get a GED than spend her time in class. Not long after, sold her car to pay for a plane ticket to Czechoslovakia where she taught English. “The Wall had just fallen, so it was a great year to be there.”
Of course, when she made her way back to the US in 1991, she didn’t have a car — and needed a job. She was living in Richardson TX at the time and Whole Foods Market was within walking distance of her mother’s house where she was living. That began a 25-year on-again-off-again relationship with Whole Foods Market. In 1993, she moved with Whole Foods Market to Ann Arbor, Michigan. While working full time, she enrolled at Eastern Michigan University to study philosophy because “I promised my Dad I’d get a college degree.”
“All the while, the idea of attending massage school was in the back of my head,” TC shares. “My grandmother was an osteopathic physician, and the healing arts were something I was always drawn to. Even at a young age, I realized the medical industry was just that – an industry, without a huge focus on healing. And there are so many aspects to healing that are possible, and I wanted to explore that. I mean, as a kid, I talked to rocks. I’ve had an understanding that there is energy and vibration in everything.”
It was a magnetic pull that drew TC to Santa Fe. “My best friend, Mary, was living here at the time and I had just quit my job in Phoenix with Whole Foods,” she explains. “I had to leave Ann Arbor because I just could not take another winter. And while Phoenix was hot, dry, and sunny, it had way too many people and too much concrete for my taste. I was telling this to Mary, who said: I really think you should move to Santa Fe!”
TC confesses: “I wasn’t so sure. So, I told her that if the universe wants me to move to Santa Fe, I’m open to coming for 48 hours to see. I drove in on Friday afternoon, let go of control, and by Saturday afternoon I had a job and a place to live. Although that first gig, for a local jewelry company, wasn’t a good fit, I had moved here and can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
She ended up back at Whole Foods working as a payroll and benefits specialist when the company opened its Santa Fe store. A leadership position opened, and she became the Associate Store Team Leader, then took on a national position. The economic downturn in 2008 led to some restructuring and TC found herself leaving WFM to accept a position as conference producer for Bioneers, a non-profit organization that she volunteered for many years. Three years later, TC found herself laid off from Bioneers as they shifted their operational offices to California.
Massage school was still calling her. After some internal debate and with the support of her father, TC enrolled at the Scherer Institute in March of 2011. And then, on April 16, 2011, her father, Bob, passed away. “Losing him was incredibly hard,” admits TC.
“He had been living with me for a few years and was part of my support in going to massage school,” TC shares. “So here I was, in my early 40s, living 38 miles out of town, having lost my job and a significant part of my support system, having my whole life kinda thrown up into the air. I knew if I didn’t take advantage of the timing, I probably would never go to massage school. So, in that space of vulnerability, I decided to take the risk and follow my heart’s desire and finish the program. “
Being surrounded by so many caring students and teachers proved to be just what she needed. “I was in the perfect spot to process my grief and allow myself the space to be open with it. I got really good at crying in public, which I never had before — and needed to grow.”
In the decade since graduating from school, TC has built a remarkably successful private practice in Santa Fe and Las Vegas, NM. She has also been teaching, including her current work at Bodymechanics Santa Fe.
What is TC’s advice to massage students?
- Be open to making mistakes.“Going back as an older learner (I was in my early 40s) it was humbling to not know anything or know how to learn. So just be open.”
- Stay curious about how the body works.“When I meet a new client, my first and most important thought is how can I help them feel better in their body. From relaxation when the client is so stressed their body can’t decompress, to a physical or chronic injury – discomfort in the body can present itself in so many ways. Be open to the possibilities.”
- Don’t think you can fix anyone.“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of learning how to be ok with not being able to fix people. It’s not our job. There’s a tendency at the start of a career that we want to fix, but that’s not really what we do. We enable people to feel better in their bodies – today. Sometimes it lasts a day, week, or month. Sometimes it’s a couple of years. I have dealt with people living with cancer, Parkinson’s, MS, and other chronic diseases – there’s no way I can fix that. But I can help them feel better daily and have a better quality of life. For myself, if I’m showing up doing my best for that person now, that’s the best I can do.”
If you want to book an appointment with TC, here’s what you can expect. “I studied oncology, medical, neuromuscular therapy, manual lymph drainage (from Klose Institute in Boulder in the Vodder Technique), and have a Reiki certification,” she says. “It’s all part of what I do. There is no one technique that I love more than the others – just grateful to have the tools in my toolbox and be able to utilize the different tools.”
What does TC believe is the future of massage? “I think that as the medical community begins to realize and recognize the power of healing modalities like massage, herbal medicine, plant-based diets, and more that it will become part of the mainstream,” she says. “I hope that as massage and acupuncture become more commonplace and accepted, there’s so much possibility! We can help facilitate health and wellbeing.”
If she could do anything to change the world through the healing power of massage, what would it be and how would she do it? “When I was a kid, I told my dad that I wanted to be a dictator so I could send all the leaders to a beautiful spa where they could come together to heal. Simultaneously, I’d dismantle their companies. So, I figure I’d live for about 6 months before I’d get assassinated, but it would be worth it.”
Starting this month at Bodymechanics School of Massage Santa Fe — Friday Clinic is open to the public beginning Feb. 11. To get on the list, contact Robyn at (505) 557-6708 or by email: email@example.com. We’ll see you soon: 1091 Siler Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87507.