Interview with Meeghan Mackenzie, one of our therapists at Apex
I sat down for a cup of tea with Meeghan a couple of weeks ago. We talked about her early days at Apex, her passion for massage therapy and music as well as her hopes for Zimbabwe, where she comes from.
Apex: Meeghan, what motivated you to become a massage therapist?
MM: My motivation for Massage Therapy deﬁnitely came from competitive sports! I was a competitive gymnast growing up and competed at a pretty high level. When you train so much and for so many hours (39 weekly) you have a support group around you: coaches, your physios, massage therapists, chiropractors and diﬀerent health care professionals that you see.
I used to go to Lindsay Park, which is now Repsol; I used to go to Panther’s Sports Medicine there, and I had a physiotherapist there who I thought was just a superhero! I thought she had the best job in the world, because she used to get to come into the club sometimes and when I would go to Lindsay Park with my dad and I would meet so many athletes from the Calgary Flames. It was just really inspirational, I thought she had the best job in the world, I thought, I want to be like her when I grow up! So the path for me was to do Chinese Medicine. My cousin was dating a girl who did the program in Victoria, BC, and she convinced my parents that I should do Massage Therapy ﬁrst and not after. In an interesting way it was a blessing in disguise because I ended up staying in Calgary and going into Mount Royal College and getting my education there. As I was coming out of that, in my second season as a Calgary Stampeder Outrider Cheerleader, I was oﬀered a job as an acrobat for Princess Cruises!
It was almost like fate! The stars just aligned for me! I was injured quite badly which led a premature end to my sport. But I, in a strange way ended up back in that world with athletes, gymnasts, acrobats, and dancers; and now needing physio and diﬀerent health care professionals and I was totally re-inspired again.
Apex: You have been with Apex for over 9 years now. During that time we moved from Kensington to Briar Hill and have grown quite signiﬁcantly as a clinic. Can you tell us about your early years at Apex? What were they like?
MM: Early years at Apex… We were in suite 304, in Kensington House, there were maybe only 12 of us at the time. We were a small clinic – we did everything! We were responsible for a lot at the clinic because we didn’t have Reception staﬀ. We relied on our colleagues which naturally created a lot of camaraderie. I think that’s how a lot of us became such good friends even until now. We were a very tight group of therapists: we worked more or less the same hours. Everyone at that time came from somewhere too – there was a number of therapists who had come from the East Coast, I had just moved back to Canada from England.There were girls from Ontario and Nova Scotia or who had returned from diﬀerent places around the world. We were all in the same place at that time, all in our mid-twenties, seeking new opportunities and we all just connected!
Shelly Macgregor (the Owner of Apex) had just stopped practicing. So we were growing and she was growing. It was just amazing! The clinic was so small, everyone had a responsibility to each other, not because we had to have that responsibility - everybody just had each other’s back. In between our appointments there would be one girl that was doing call backs from the massages on the machine, and there would be another girl at the front checking out all the clients, there would be two girls ﬂipping rooms and someone would be folding towels. And we would do all that in 15 minutes! Check in clients, check out clients, ﬂip rooms, do some laundry, make call backs to book appointments and do conﬁrmation calls. All at the same time! So it was always a bit chaotic, but we always had really great people. I think Shelly Macgregor has always been a very good judge of character!
Apex: You are a senior therapist with a signiﬁcant number of regular clients. What has been your biggest success in terms of restoring someone’s health/ wellbeing? Because of the privacy reasons, we cannot mention any names, but could you give us an example of your most successful story from your last 9 years as a massage therapist?
MM: The most memorable for me I think was the ﬁrst client that I successfully treated for plantar fasciitis using myofascial cupping. I was taught the technique by David Sheehan who came from Australia and I thought that it was incredible. I remember thinking as a former athlete that there were so many athletes and general public that suﬀer from plantar fasciitis.
I would say in my practice 10% of clients say “I have been struggling with plantar fasciitis for x amount of years, and I have done everything the doctor told me to do and have had no success.” So I thought, nervous, I know how to treat that, I was taught!
I remember treating this patient, and she was in her early 60s. She was highly active and then she had stopped being able to take long walks, going to the gym, she was just so uncomfortable. It was just a massive hindrance on her everyday activity level. She came in and I asked her “Are you open to trying this treatment? I have just learned it myself but I know from the studies I have read that there have been massive success”. I treated her for about 3-4 months, she was coming in every 10 days at ﬁrst for 3 to 4 appointments, and then she was coming in every 2 weeks. It was about 4 months I think I treated her. And I never saw her again! She came back and told me she was back at the gym, taking her dogs for walks, golﬁng again. She was so happy that she didn’t have to swim for cardio and she could run again. She came back once for a massage and told me how I gave her her life back! Ever since then it is something I always suggest to my patients when they come in and have plantar fasciitis.
Apex: I know that outside of work you have another passion – music. You are a songwriter and a singer. Where could we see you performing?
MM: I frequent a weekly jam called “Groove Theory” on Thursdays at Mikey’s in Sunalta from 9pm until late. If you do not work on Fridays please come! I usually go there and just mess around with some of the musicians. Everyone who shows up to play there is a highly skilled and very talented professional musician. You can hear everything from Jazz, Folk, Indie, Rap. The list goes on. Even a tap dancer shows up from time to time and duals with the drummers.
Apex: You were born in Zimbabwe and have visited your country quite recently – what do you think about the recent political changes there and what are your hopes for the country?
MM: I think that the recent political changes were good, in a sense that I think any great leader should know when to just step down. I think that Robert Mugabe at the beginning had big hopes and dreams for our country. I do not fully blame him for everything that happened, but when you have been a leader of the country for 38 years and have taken its GDP down to $900 per person, the results speak for themselves. His track record as a president speaks for itself.
He is a highly educated man. He has 7 degrees and gained his 2 law degrees in prison. He worked as a teacher and professor for many years. For a black man who was born in 1921 he achieved a lot. An immense amount of information and he was loved by his students and pupils. But he was not a very good leader. When it came to our country on a world stage, he just wasn’t good and it’s sad that things turned out the way they did.
Now with Emmerson Mnangagwa who is the new leader, it’s not like the regime has changed. It is the same regime; it is just a diﬀerent person in place. However, I am optimistic in a sense that I think that every person desires a legacy and hopefully he desires a legacy for change and a legacy that will bring our country back to where it used to be. That’s just how I feel. I am very optimistic. In the deepest part of my heart I hope and pray that it is a sentiment that he shares with the rest of our country and our people - to bring Zimbabwe back onto a world stage.
At one point we were called “the bread basket of Africa” and were one of the many nations in the world that had a 99% literacy rate. We have every single natural resource and every single mineral in our country. We were trading with China and Northern Africa in the 1200’s. Our name means “Great Stone House”. How is it that we have a GDP of $900 per person? I hope that he can bring about positive change to the country so Zimbabwe can be a leading market again.
I truly believe that Africa is so powerful as a continent and as African people we deserve that chance. I am so grateful that I grew up in Canada, but I am proud to be Zimbabwean. I started my life there like many children will start there lives today in Canada, but my life there was taken away from me by a political leader who didn’t want us there and didn’t know how to run the country. As a result there was just a massive exodus of people to South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Europe, England, Germany, Australia and Canada. We have been dispersed, totally stripped of the right to grow up in our own country, on our own land, speaking our own language.
Hopefully Emmerson Mnangagwa can re-establish that. My wish for President Mnangagwa is that we can re-establish our country so that our children’s children and the children that are there can emerge in this world as strong innovative leaders.
Meeghan has been a therapist with Apex for 9 years and completed the Massage Therapy Program at Mount Royal University in 2005.Before this time she competed in the sport of Gymnastics where she gained first-hand massage and physiotherapy experience whilst rehabilitating from various injuries, inspiring her to pursue a career in health care.
Her passion and main focus as a Therapist is Myofascial Integration by using Myofascial Cupping technique. She completed Continuing Education in Manual Lymphatic Drainage in 2012 through Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia and is passionate about educating her patients on this gentle but widely effective style of Massage.
Outside of Massage Therapy Meeghan is a local Musician Singer/Songwriter and an avid traveler having traveled to many countries and remote Islands in the world.