The question of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a crucial one at present in the bodywork community. The Course Leaders at BCMB and Andy Fagg, founder of BCMB and Chair of the board have recorded a chat running through background information and the latest guidance from the UK Government and the General Council for Massage Therapy. We also share our experience of working with PPE so far. Adam Carter, who leads the Remedial and Sports Massage course is an osteopath who returned to work mid-May. Adam’s experience working with PPE has been invaluable in giving us an inside view.

This was recorded on June 30 2020. This is a fast-moving topic, and we will update our information as the guidance changes.

The video is around an hour long, so there’s an index below of key topics and times to help you navigate. We hope you find it useful.

Time Topic
3.12 UK government 24 June 2020
3.50 GCMT
Pre Appointment
6.43 Risk Assessments
10.39 Client screening
16.10 Preparing treatment room
21.11 Clinic protocols – setting the clinic up
23.05 During session
23.16 Client arrives
25.05 Spacing of appointments
28.29 PPE
44.07 Post Treatment
44.20 Cleaning
48.44 PPE Self care
53.40 Follow up – client has Covid 19

Massage Training Institute Annual Conference 2017

Massage Training Institute Annual Conference 2017


Tim Bartlett, MTI Director and Remedial and Sports Massage Course Leader at BCMB reports back from the annual MTI conference.  This years’ theme was ‘Celebrating Difference’.

Well it seems very recent, but it’s now over six weeks ago that the latest MTI conference took place in Solihull and once again it was a fantastic success. Unlike the year before when Cardiff Metropolitan Uni hosted the conference and I had a much more hands-on, organisational role, this time, it was more about meeting colleagues, old friends, ex-students – not exclusive categories at all – and doing ‘Director’ type things like trying to record some pithy sound-bites for the MTI website (still haven’t seen the edit, spent a bit of time trying to get the unruly plant in the background to stop interfering with the back of my head, so unsure what it’ll look like).

Somehow, even amongst 150 people in a very busy day, there’s always a great community feeling at the conference – the stallholders in the market-place are familiar faces too and it’s great to catch up with John from Lotus Publishing, Andy from Songbird Naturals and see Sarah Bryan and Marian Hardiman selling the products they’ve developed.

As you’d expect from a conference celebrating difference, the break-out workshops were diverse – from working with animals (the magnificent horse won’t be at the conference in London next year I fear) to healing trauma, from mindfulness and energy work to soft tissue therapy, working with the neck and sciatica – really reflecting the huge diversity of work that we do.

Normally it would have been a teaching weekend for me – the BCMB Remedial and Sports course seems to coincide with the conference each year.  I was with the student group on the Friday but was sad to miss out on the Saturday which was lots of practical and more theory on the ‘shoulder’ weekend. It’s always a bit odd returning to the group after missing a day or two as it’s hard to just slot back in, not knowing exactly what was said previously, even though I know what’s been covered. I end up saying things like ‘have you heard this before’ far too much!

My contribution to the conference was two hours of assessment techniques and tests making it easier to decide what and whether to treat if someone was presenting with leg pain – differentiating between sciatica and piriformis syndrome, testing for neural and somatic pain, and thinking about appropriate treatment. It wasn’t the aim to do much practical in the time we had, which could have been another day’s work, though it worked as a reflection of the kind of assessment, thinking, and approach we use on the RSM course, leading into treatment.

The only thing missing from this year’s conference was Ruth Duncan and her Myofascial Release workshops, which have become a regular and popular feature, always selling out in advance – sadly she was teaching elsewhere, but we’re lucky in BCMB in that she’s coming to teach the full Level 1 and Level 2 workshops in Bristol in October (which can be part of a full diploma in MFR, or stand alone CPD) with more fascinating insight and techniques in working with the tensegral nature of soft tissue and fascia.

Next year MTI turns 30 years young! The conference will be in London and should be a great celebration.  See you there!


*All photos courtesy of Kate Gallow/Massage Training Institute.

Three months in – life as a new massage tutor

As many of you know, Emma Conlon and Lydia Spry joined the teaching team here at BCMB at the start of the year.  3 months in Lydia Spry reflects on the journey so far…

When I graduated in December 2015 from the Holistic Massage course at BCMB I knew I wouldn’t be away for long. I knew I couldn’t be – the place means too much to me. This was a place where I felt truly supported. A place where I felt genuinely accepted. And – to top it off – I’d learned an amazing range of new skills that were going to set me on a new career path where I get paid for helping people feel better!

So – when the job of Assistant Tutor came up just a year later, I applied and hoped and prayed and interviewed and….

Well, here we are.

And of course,,, I should have guessed it… you might know what is coming… being a member of staff at BCMB feels… exactly the same!

BCMB are just as supportive, nurturing and accepting of new members of staff as their students. Not only were the first weekends treated as an ‘apprenticeship’ for me, not only did Andy give us training on being an Assistant Tutor, but also the lead tutors on my course have supported me at every step. I have been encouraged to push myself where I felt able and relax and be kind to myself when I felt something was going to be too challenging.

And it’s not just the staff – the students are the same. Emma Conlon got the job at the same time as me but started much quicker as she joined a course that had been running for 4 months. We talked about how tricky that might feel but she was teaching massage skills and up to her elbows in supervision groups before you could say ‘sternocleidomastoid’. Smiling, laughing and supporting everyone along the way. Everyone welcomed and accepted her in the same way that everyone is welcomed and accepted.

Because that is what BCMB is like. It is welcoming, it is accepting, it is nourishing. You can almost feel it in the air. Perhaps it’s coming down the stairs into the building – perhaps it is the welcoming cat at the door – perhaps it’s the memory of all those who’ve received massage in the building. Whatever it is you know that everyone feels it as soon as they come in the door.

The Unique Qualities of Indian Head Massage

By Sarah Cohen, Indian Head Massage Course Leader

Another group of excited students have just gained their Indian Head Massage Certificate and are taking it out into the world – well done all of you!

I love teaching head massage – it has such a unique character all of its own. I am constantly searching for the essence of what makes it so different – as different it is. It comes from such a long line of teaching and healing being part of Ayurvedic understanding which dates back over 4000 years. It is an intrinsic part of life in Indian culture with children massaging their parents, mothers their babies, friends their friends and even stockbrokers seeking their heads to be massaged before deciding to sell/buy!

At the start of each course there is curiosity and hesitancy from students who often come from a holistic massage background and want to know ‘What is this?’ I try to explain but the understanding only comes – and it always comes – after hands on experience of a day or so – and excitement, smiles arrive. And still it can’t be easily vocalised.

My desire for the world is that touch/massage become part of our daily life for everyone. There will still be a need for specialised therapeutic massage – as there is in Ayurvedic medicine – but for everyone to be comfortable and happily touching others in our daily life would help our society to be so much more healthy. Head massage is so well suited to this as it can take place anywhere at anytime without clothes needing to be removed or special equipment needed. Despite its apparent ‘smallness’ as a therapy I am constantly amazed at how it can be so much more deeply relaxing and profound than any other discipline – and it is fabulous to watch that surprise in those receiving who expected something pleasant and relaxing and find it is on another plane.

The course itself is also a joy as although there is much to be learnt and homework to be done the whole essence of the therapy is that it is relaxed, laid back and so is the course within the context of learning. Charlotte Rooney, recent Indian Head Massage graduate (and BCMB Office Manager!) said “I have loved this course! It has added so much to my practice, and I particularly enjoyed learning about the Ayurvedic side of head massage including all the gorgeous hair oils.  I’d never thought if myself as an energy worker so it was intriguing to explore chakra work a bit more and realise how effective it can be even if it’s not your normal practice. It’s difficult to explain how it’s different from ‘normal’ head and face work or even seated massage but my clients certainly like it. Some of them now choose it in preference to holistic and in addition I see people who wouldn’t choose a table massage at all.”

If you want to join us in this exploration we have a course running at our Worcester centre starting 8th April and one in Bristol starting 2nd October – find out more including how to enroll.

Essential Beginners Guide to Marketing Your Practice

Join Leora Sharp, The Webmistress and massage therapist, for this lively workshop for wellbeing business owners.

An interactive workshop

This will be a fun day of interacting with each other to gain new knowledge about yourself and your practice.
You will leave busting at the seams with new ideas and exciting ways forward.

Perfect for wellbeing business owners who…

  • Are in training and want to be ahead of the game when qualified
  • Recently qualified and don’t know which way to turn
  • Have been in practice for a couple of years and need inspiration

We’ll be covering topics such as

  • I don’t have a website…where do I start?
  • Key aspects of a site & web presence / Social Media / Web address & email / Content & images
  • Target market / Client group / Branding / Attracting clients / “Leveraging” clients for further business / My unique selling point
  • Non internet related marketing to boost business
  • and much more!

For the cost of less than 3 client appointments, come and learn how to find and keep clients and build a successful practice.

You can find out more on The Webmistress website


> Leora Sharp


£75 early bird if booked and paid in full before 29 August 2017, £80 thereafter

Book on this workshop

Book online

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Course Code:  MYP2017  –  Please quote this code when paying by BACS

Massage at Mappfest Music Festival 2016

BCMB has a thriving events team who go to all sorts of interesting events to provide massage to people on site and to showcase the great work we do.  Hannah Newrick, current Worcester student reports back from our recent outing at MappFest

“The morning of Sunday 20th of June was blessedly bright and dry as we set up for Mappfest Worcester Mappfest 22016. Now in its seventh year, Mappfest is an independent music festival held on Malvern Link common. It attracts over a thousand live music fans over two days who flock to hear bands performing on its three stages. Five BCMB students, two massage tables, a gazebo and folding chairs lent by Sarah Cohen for the purpose and yet more chairs borrowed from friends made up our massage stall where we were to spend the day offering massages to the public for a donation to Mappfest’s charities.

Worcester Mappfest 1Five hundred metres from the main stage, with a good view of the bands performing, it wasn’t long before people began to wander over and take an interest as Collette, one of our course leaders, demonstrated some great techniques for seated massage. Clients sat in chairs, with a towel draped around their shoulders, and received a ten or fifteen minute massage for a donation of their choice. Most people happily dropped notes into our bucket. Several people opted for a massage on one of our tables, with requests for back, shoulder, leg and foot massage. Disposable couch roll, a stack of towels, a hand washing station and wet wipes maintained good hygiene.

Although best delivered with minimal talking once a massage is under way, the social and fun nature of the event meant chatting with talkative clients about their day felt appropriate. The feedback we got was excellent and many people were interested in our training and impressed by how in depth it is. It was a great event to support and fantastic to gain experience of massaging in a festival environment. Everyone really enjoyed themselves and we even got the gazebo packed away before the rain arrived!”

What is Holistic Massage by Andy Fagg, Director of BCMB

What is holistic massage?

The term holistic massage can be woolly, vague, wet. At best, practitioners may talk of treating the “whole person” – body, mind and spirit. At worst they just burn incense, play whale music and charge you a stupid price.

Actually I like the word holistic although I agree with those who object to its “holiness” connotation. So just what is the “whole” that we refer to here?

At BCMB, massage is seen as a process of engagement, a dynamic communication of touch and response. There are three aspects to “wholeness”:

  1. the whole client, with physical, emotional and spiritual needs;
  2. the whole practitioner, present and focused, paying good attention;
  3. a whole range of techniques used as appropriate to the situation.

So how does massage work?


Holistic Massage - handsAs I touch your body, a whole range of physiological responses can occur, affecting the skin, sensory nerve receptors, muscle tissue, circulation of blood and lymph, ease of joint movement, breathing, digestion and so on. My skill as a therapist means I vary the depth, speed and intention to enable different responses to occur.

Yet there is much more than this.


Your emotions are body felt sensations. Anger, joy, fear, hope, shame, sadness – consider how each feels and you will evoke a physical sensation.


Also, your tissues display your conscious and unconscious belief systems. If you are confident and outgoing, you will present with very different postural and muscular patterning than if you feel insignificant and unimportant.

So when I touch you, I literally touch your view of yourself and how you feel. And that is the product not only of who you are now but also all your personal history up to that moment.

There is more.


holistic massage - AndyWhen I touch you, not only are your physical and emotional responses present, but so are mine. All my physical symptoms, feelings and personal history are also in the room. Of course, as a professional therapist, I take care of myself elsewhere, but I may also draw on my experience to support your personal process. So I may develop an expertise in working with clients whose experiences relate to mine. The range of outcomes from each therapeutic relationship is enormous, rich and constantly exciting.


As human beings, we are physical entities. Part of the deal of the human condition is that each of us has a body! Yet we have a culture that marginalizes the body, teaching us to be ashamed of its size, shape and functions. Many of us are not properly “embodied”. Our families, the media, partners and our own inner critics try to tell us that our bodies are not good enough.

The role of holistic massage is both radical and simple, namely enabling people to live fully in their bodies.   That’s it!

In future blogs I will define massage in one sentence and reveal the 4 principles that guide our work at BCMB with students and clients.

Andy Fagg

BCMB Founder and Director

12th May 2016

An Introduction to Working with Runners for Massage Practitioners

CURRENTLY FULLY BOOKED – waiting list only


An Introduction to working with Runners for Massage Practitioners

2 Hour Seminar with Susie Baker, Technique First
Running Technique Instructor and Alexander Technique practitioner

Runners love getting massages. It’s not just that it feels great. They swear by its benefits to speed recovery and reduce muscle soreness. The good news is that there are more and more runners out there and this seminar will give you practical knowledge to enhance your skills for working with runners.

We will look at how runners run, with reference to some of the common injuries and niggles which are likely to be caused by poor technique. The more you understand about what runners get up to, the more effectively you’ll be able to tailor your approach to their needs. It’s a great way to develop a loyal client base. And if you’re  already a runner yourself, you may discover some new insights.

In the first part there will be a presentation to highlight common problems which you are likely to encounter in your work. Questions are actively encouraged for shared learning.

In the second part, we’ll go outside to explore the elements of running. If you are unable or prefer not to take part, much can be learnt through observation. It won’t be a jog around the block. Just some simple demonstrations over a distance of no more than 20 metres. Ideally bring some running shoes with you. Barefoot is also an option for anyone who is keen to give it a go.

Please contact Susie if you would like more information:


Tuesday 4 April from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

Although this workshop is currently fully booked, please do contact us if you’d like to join the waiting list.


> Susie Baker


£15 for practitioners, £10 for students

Book on this workshop

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Course Code:  RUN2017  –  Please quote this code when paying by BACS.

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