HISTORY OF NLSSM
The creation of the North London School of Sports Massage and Soft Tissue Therapy, and our Level 5 Diploma course
nearly 20 years ago...
In 2004, the North London School of Sports Massage and Soft Tissue Therapy (NLSSM) opened its doors to its first group of students. Although there were a number of established schools at the time, there was a gap within the market to provide a massage course that could fulfil the more demanding requirements of the employer.
Massage is no longer considered just part of a luxurious pamper day in a relaxing environment because now it can play a significant role within a medical and rehabilitative setting.
WHY DID YOU SET UP A NEW MASSAGE SCHOOL?
I wrote our Level 5 diploma in Sports Massage and Remedial Soft Tissue Therapy with the support of some very good colleagues, intending to dispel some myths and raise the standards of our profession. We quickly gained a reputation for producing some of the best therapists, ones that were both knowledgeable and skilful.
In the beginning we got some flak because we challenged old school concepts with new ones, but fast-forward to today and these new concepts are widely accepted as the norm.
We use an evidence based and experiential teaching approach along with the practical skills that are based partly on my background as a dancer, a discipline where body mechanics are essential because dancers are powerful, strong and yet light on their feet. How we use our bodies to create depth with ease is vital for a long and injury free career.
I also believed that all of the skills and knowledge could be taught in one single massage course, and consequently we do not offer various levels but simply a single Level 5 qualification that will put you in good standing within a year.
that's the why, Now's the.....where?
The first office was in my front room and this sufficed for many years until we found a small Fireman’s cottage on a historical site in Tottenham, North London. The site was funded to help new businesses establish themselves, at that time by a body called TGEC, and the support proved to be essential for the next four years.
A ‘strange but true’ story about this cottage (our first official office) is that one of our first employees, Barry, and his Dad grew up in this very cottage (unbeknownst to us!). His father was a fireman at this station and this was their home for his childhood years. Barry trained with us at NLSSM and went on to open a very successful business called ‘B-fitter’.
Eventually we moved to the top floor of a new building on the same site, with a view of the local park. We enjoyed this space for over seven years, even using it for the student clinic, but due to increasing business rates and taxes we had to cut costs.
So, when we secured The Annexe in the old fire station as the main teaching space for our massage courses in 2014, we moved our office into one of the cosier back rooms a couple of years later. Now we have come full circle, and with the pandemic we moved back to working from home and have remained doing so since. We still have the Fire Station teaching space and the office is still there, but we mostly work virtually now.
NLSSM through the ages
CREATING A SUPER TEAM OF TEACHERS
My teaching team for the most part has stayed with me but like most places of employment, life happens. I lost a dear colleague to breast cancer, a few moved to other countries and others have gone on to train as osteopaths, physiotherapists and the like. Even though they are highly qualified, fortunately they still like to teach.
We have all evolved over the past two decades, as has our level 5 massage course, and every teacher I employ has trained with NLSSM to ensure consistency and to ensure they know the course. At the same time I like to take pride in the diversity of experience available for our students to benefit from.
We are a close group and we have teacher training days a couple of times a year, although I would prefer to call many of those days ‘company fun filled days’. We always have a Christmas party/event, often ice skating, theatre or a murder mystery event, we like to get together and support each other.
BUILDING OUR NETWORK OF SUPPORT
NLSSM history is rich with stories but the main concept I would like you to get from this article is that we are a forever group and we will not only support you throughout your training, but also once you have graduated.
We have a very active Facebook group for our students and graduates (this is where we post the many job requests we get) and we send out regular newsletters as well as offering ongoing work experience placements that you can apply for even once you have graduated. The main thing to understand is that with NLSSM you are not just signing up to a massage course, but a network of people who will offer advice, support and encouragement for as long as you need it.
OUR RESPONSE TO A CHANGING ENVIRONMENT
Before the pandemic we believed we offered an incredible massage course in our Level 5 diploma, but not being able to have face-to-face contact challenged how we delivered it. Now because of that we have revamped it, creating more online tuition as well as more practical work.
We created student office hours, a dedicated online q&a session with one of our tutors, to help our students answers any burning queries they may have about their course. Additionally to this, we offer more in terms of quizzes, videos and articles on our online platform that all support a students learning outside of the classroom.
We all have different ways of taking information in and we feel we have addressed all the learning styles. Out of the challenges have come many benefits and now I can say with my hand on my heart, the course is fantastic.
Hope to see you in The Annexe soon,