Interviewer ( Markus Poguntge, Journalist ):
Good afternoon Petra Schwier !
You run a successful centre for Traditional Thai Massage (TTYM) in Constance in southern Germany, Döbelestraße 40, D-78462.
What prompted you to take this life path? What was your motivation?
Petra Schwier ( Health Practitioner, BfG ):
Well first I worked for several years in the field of cosmetics, wellness and health management. This is what I had been trained and educated in. I practiced this kind of work for years and gained a great deal of valuable experience from it. From this time, I began to understand the need for a holistic approach of “treating a person as a whole”. I also became familiar with important business aspects of demand and sales, in my case for cosmetics- and wellness products; I learned how to organize sales, and am a trained retail salesperson. During these years, I also became more and more acquainted with the area of wellness services (massage, meditation).
My primary motivation for devoting myself to Traditional Thai Massage stemmed from my wish to therapeutically treat the person as a whole, including physical and emotional / spiritual aspects.
Did some kind of key experience play a role in this ?
Yes! The massage itself !
I had been feeling a bit run down and had been looking for a healing massage technique that would rejuvenate both body and mind, treating both.
That was the first time I encountered the technique of Traditional Thai Yoga Massage ( TTYM ).
What was it about this technique that so impressed you ?
Above all, I was impressed by the health promoting effects of the technique Traditional Thai Yoga Massage ( TTYM ) and by the fact that it involves variation in its sequences and yet is deeply meditative at the same time.
Both of these components are still important for me today.
Do you practice a particular form of Traditional Thai Yoga Massage ( TTYM ) ?
Yes, among others, that of the Wat Pho and of my private instructors and masters.
I have named some of them on my website.
Is there an official job description in Germany for practicing this kind of technique and with the kind of training / education you have received ?
Yes, I am officially a Health Practitioner, as per the German “BfG” ( Berufsverband für Gesundheitspraktikerinnen ). I belong to this association.
The German Society for Alternative Medicine ( Deutsche Gesellschaft für Alternative Medizin, DGAM ) is the umbrella association for this. I operate my massage centre and school as a recognised Health Practitioner under this association.
With what kind of needs and expectations do people visit your massage centre ?
My clients come to me because they sense they are receiving a holistic treatment that is individual and which targets their specific, individual symptoms.
You have mentioned a school at your institute ?
Whom do you teach, Ms. Schwier ?
I teach everyone who would like to learn and is seeking his or her way to Traditional Thai Yoga Massage ( TTYM ).
I offer training in small groups or individually. I also teach other medical or healing professionals, such as physicians, physiotherapists, masseurs, healing practitioners or yoga instructors seeking an enriching supplement for their careers. This they find at my institute.
We work together, to allow them to become proficient at this technique for their own services.
But I also expressly offer my training to non-professionals who can start with my beginner courses for Traditional Thai Yoga Massage ( TTYM ).
At the moment, I am focusing on communicating with managers and directors of Thai and Australian health spas & resorts and encourage them to contact me. Any spa or resort interested in improving its portfolio and employee performance in the service area of Wellness and Health Management or who already offer Traditional Thai Yoga Massage ( TTYM ) but would like to improve it can benefit greatly from my knowledge and experience.
Why have you selected the countries Australia and Thailand in particular ?
Because, aside from Germany, these are the two countries in which I’ve gathered the most experience, professionally and privately. In Thailand, I learned the original form of Thai Traditional Yoga Massage ( TTYM ) at Wat Pho. In Australia I was also able to make professional and private contacts in this area.
Although these two countries represent entirely different cultures and each bear a different kind of significance for me, I love the openness and the strong life that I find in both of these nations and their people.
I feel close to both of these countries, this is a part of my cosmopolitan nature.
What is it that you can offer a Thai spa or resort ? What would you improve ? Where would you see your tasks ?
What ideas would you realise ?
I would like to work in Thailand, or in another Asian country, in an environment in which I can most optimally put my knowledge and skills to use for the benefit of all involved:
- I am well-educated and highly qualified in Traditional Thai Yoga Massage. As a certified instructor of the method, I can train staff for health / wellness in Thai Massage and teach them the basics, more advanced techniques, and special therapeutic techniques for targeting specific health problems.
- As a certified beautician, I am educated in the areas of dermatology, anatomy, nutrition, cosmetology (theory and practice), business and economics, fitness, psychology and management. I have also completed training and received certification as a health practitioner, acquiring further knowledge in the areas of medicine, physiology and psychology – all of which I can employ to the benefit of these spas & resorts.
- Due to my retail background in a perfumery, I possess knowledge and skills in the areas of customer consultation, sales and interior design. I have experience with sales of high-quality articles (cosmetic care products, textiles, bijouterie and more). Also from this time, I have knowledge of accounting, product range organisation and personnel.
- Since 2000, I have been running my own school for TTYM in Constance, Germany. I train my students for all levels of TTYM – from basic courses to the mastery of complex massage sequences. I also work as a supervisor for people who provide therapies themselves.
- I have travelled extensively in Africa, Australia and, in particular, Thailand. Through my travels I have gotten to know and understand different cultures and mentalities. This is something I can employ to the benefit of a spa or resort by actively supporting and facilitating intercultural understanding in teams and between masseur and client. This understanding is key for the harmonious contact required for effective treatments, be they more simple beauty treatments or therapeutic TTYM intended to alleviate serious health problems.
Where do you see a concrete need for improvement in Thai spas & resorts ?
I feel that my qualifications and experience can particularly benefit spas & resorts where there is a need for intercultural understanding, where specific demands and requirements must be considered.
Today, guests at a hotel / spa / or luxury resort in Thailand not only expect luxurious hotel standards and wellness offers. They also expect health treatments that fulfil and preferably exceed the highest demands. Stressed clients from Japan, USA and Europe are not only looking for relaxation in the classic sense, but true mental and physical regeneration, healing, and beauty treatments.
That’s why demands on the staff of a modern spa are so high:
- They have to be highly qualified in several areas of classic health and wellness applications, and particularly in Traditional Thai Yoga Massage ( TTYM ). Guests at a Thai luxury resort are going to expect an authentically Thai treatment.
- Staff must have knowledge of psychology, know how to deal with difficult or mentally exhausted clients.
- Basic medical knowledge is indispensable for providing quality counsel to clients.
- Cosmetic training is necessary for high-level beauty treatments.
- I find it really important that staff have sales talent and can professionally promote a spa’s products.
- Finally, the staff of a top resort must be well versed in intercultural understanding. They need to know their guests’ cultures so that they may understand guest requirements. A guest should have the complete feeling of being understood and accommodated, of receiving excellent advice and of having his or her health- and possibly also mental or emotional needs catered to. The world traveller today can find luxury just about anywhere – but the Thai culture, the Thai art of healing, is absolutely unique and can only be experienced in Thailand.
So much for what I consider to be the demands on personnel of a first-class hotel.
The problem is that native staff often cannot afford thorough education or training in these areas. They have, at best, basic knowledge of TTYM, acquired by “learning by doing” and “trial and error” with guests – the guests of these spas & resorts ! Just one mistake, one poor treatment, is costly for a spa. The guest will not return if he / she doesn’t have the feeling that quality service has been provided – if it is sensed that only a very superficial massage was given, without any therapeutic depth. Another point is the language ability of many hotel staff members. Often it is limited to a few key phrases, not really enough for a differentiated consultation or sales promotion. Often, understanding of Western culture is lacking – only few spa- or hotel staff members in Thailand have ever even been to a Western country.
How would you sum up your planned activity at Thai spas & resorts ?
I see myself as a catalyst and coordinator for the interdisciplinary establishment and implementation of a wellness offer at a Thai spa or resort that is culturally heterogeneous, varied and multi-layered – uniting different cultures. I would like to assist spas & resorts interested in the wonderful technique of Traditional Thai Yoga Massage ( TTYM ), who view it as a true enrichment of and valuable supplement to their wellness service portfolio.
Do you also support the set-up of new wellness areas in Thai spas & resorts ?
Yes ! Of course.
I make a clear division between assistance to already existing structures and assistance to entirely new structures. Each requires different skills and management qualities.
I can provide valuable help to a Thai spa or resort interested in newly introducing Traditional Thai Yoga Massage ( TTYM ) in their wellness areas, accompanying them along the way. And, in general, I can significantly contribute to any spa or resort striving to improve their “Wellness & Health” service offers.
Ms. Schwier, we thank you for this interview and the insights into your complex field of activity.
What do you hope for the future ?
First, I would also like to thank you for this interview.
What I wish for most is that my clients achieve satisfaction with their lives, through themselves – and this can be achieved through Traditional Thai Yoga Massage ( TTYM ).
Markus Poguntge, journalist:
Thank you very much Ms. Schwier, I wish you all the best.