Kelby Mack took a leap of faith.
But what kept him knowing that he could hit the ground safely was his desire to work with, and help people, of all walks of life. For a long time, the Lodi native knew that he liked working with people, and helping them at the same time.
After receiving a degree in History from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, one that Mack admits he really never used after graduation, it took a little bit of time after college to figure out exactly what he wanted to do.
Mack recently found it with the culmination of him opening The Recovery Room LLC, specializing in Swedish-based massage therapy — specifically deep tissue, trigger point, sports, hot stone, prenatal, geriatric and chair massages. He opened his door on Sept. 1 and his one-room business currently resides within the building located at 208 S. Main Street in downtown Lodi. He offers 30-, 60- and 90-minute massage sessions.
“It’s been pleasantly surprising to me the amount of business so far,” Mack said. “It was quite a leap of faith to leave a place I had been at for over four years and wonder if I could make it on my own.
“It took a little while to convince my wife (to do this),” he added. “But I told her, ‘I think this is what I want to do.’ I want to work with people and help them stay active.”
While trying to make his decision, he got some more family advice from a cousin, who is also a business owner in Appleton.
“He said, ‘You’ll never understand how big you can be until you actually start it,’” Mack said.
Mack saw the massage therapy industry as a growing one, and having worked at UW Hospital, also saw its importance.
“It’s becoming more widely accepted as a form of recovery, as injury rehab and as a de-stressor,” Mack said. “You’re starting to see more medical professionals push massages over prescription pills.”
After going back to school and graduating in the spring of 2016 from a one-year course at Madison College, Mack most recently worked in the massage therapy field at a place in Madison for four years prior to opening The Recovery Room. It was one of many adventures he’s had since graduating from UWM.
Mack was a three-sport athlete at Lodi High School and graduated from LHS in 2002, went to Madison College then transferred to UWM on a baseball scholarship.
“I received a History major, but I was there to play baseball,” Mack said, while still proud of the work to get his degree.
After graduating from UWM, he was unsure of what the future would hold.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I was done playing baseball,” he said.
After college, Mack worked with UW Health as a nursing and medical assistant for almost eight years, for a lawn service for a few years, and with Two Men and a Truck moving company for a year before going through the Therapeutic Massage program at Madison College and finding a job in the field. It also brought him back into the sports world, a favorite of his.
“I really liked the people portion of working at the hospital — and with everything,” Mack said, referring to seeing customers while mowing lawns and helping people move. “I like the people aspect, getting to help people. I wanted something to get back into with that personal side of it and help people at the same time. I have an athletic background, so I’m kind of drawn to that.”
While working in Madison, the majority of clients he saw were triathletes, which helped him “get a foot in the door” to working with the Wisconsin Badgers.
“I’ve worked with multiple sports teams doing recovery massages for the athletes,” Mack said. “Some of it is injury prevention, some of it is workout recovery and some is injury rehab. So you get all those aspects of trying to help people continue to do what they want to do. It’s very fulfilling, almost like you’re vicariously living through some of them because you’re able to help them accomplish some pretty cool things.”
Mack said he has worked with the football team at Wisconsin, as well as the men’s and women’s hockey and track and field teams. Athletes he’s worked with have gone on to be national champions, while others went on to play in the NHL, NFL and women’s professional hockey leagues.
“I helped them, in a very minuscule way, to do those things and achieve that dream. It’s pretty awesome,” Mack said.
There have been some clients that followed Mack as he made the transition to his own business, in addition to the new faces that are helping his business slowly grow early on. He said it was great to see a mix of clients he’s worked with before and the new clients he hopes to build professional relationships with.
Back to school
Getting the necessary schooling in order to get his Massage Therapy license for Wisconsin wasn’t an easy time for Mack either. The state has a minimum requirement of needing 600 hours of schooling. Mack said the program at Madison College was more than 800 hours of hands-on and classroom learning.
“It was grueling at the time,” Mack said. “It’s a very accelerated one-year course.”
Over the length of the course, students learn about body structure and function, musculoskeletal anatomy and therapeutic massages, as well as clinic and business practices, kinesiology, pathology and specialized techniques. Significant emphasis is placed on professional skills, the therapeutic relationship, treatment planning and enhanced body-mind awareness. Students are also introduced to clinical approaches such as trigger point therapy and sports massage, as well as hydrotherapy, hot stone and aromatherapy.
It wasn’t the class that was tough, but what made it “grueling” for Mack was that while he was in class for 25-30 hours a week, he was still working full time at UW Hospital (three 12-hour shifts), as well as being an assistant coach for football and wrestling at LHS — not to mention he and his wife, Nora, were also raising two young boys at the time. The couple now has three children — all boys — and Kelby is still an assistant coach with the LHS football program.
After all the class time, students must then pass the state’s online Statutes and Rules Examination and the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) to be licensed like Mack.
What’s in a name?
When it came time to decide on a name for his business, Kelby and Nora “tossed around a lot of ideas.”
Then Kelby threw out The Recovery Room and Nora said she liked it.
“I don’t mean recovery in that you just went through something traumatic, but I mean the different ways you need to recover,” Kelby said. “Do you need to recover from a stressful job, or recover from a workout, or are you recovering from an injury and need help rehabbing? It’s a room to come into and I can help get you back to what you desire and what you need out of life.”
Mack is also well aware that no two people are the same. Every client who walks through the door will be looking for their own “recovery” experience during their time with Mack.
“Everybody needs something different when they come in here, and that’s really what I try and make sure of during the intake process,” Mack said. “Do you want something more like the spa experience and I can turn on the music? Or do you want to fall asleep for an hour? I have some clients who are super-active and want to be “ironed out” during a session, and while it may not be relaxing at the time, the end result is that relief and reduced tension.”
Right now, Mack just has his one room where he is the sole therapist. His dream is just getting started.
“It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to own my own business, be my own boss and make my own schedule,” Mack said. “Luckily that’s starting now and the job in general allows me to be flexible and be able to be around for my family when I need to be, too.”
To view Mack’s availability and to make an appointment, go to www.massagebook.com/biz/TheRecoveryRoom. The Recovery Room LLC is also on Facebook. During the month of October, every 30 minutes of a session will get you one entry into an Oct. 31 drawing for a free 60-minute massage.