Mike Hovi is Soma’s Program Director and one of Soma’s most beloved instructors. He’s been teaching at Soma since its inception almost 20 years ago, and even between his work with the American Massage Therapy Association and his own practice, he has no plans of slowing down any time soon.
In the wake of the Summer Olympics we thought we’d ask Hovi about his experiences working at the Olympics.
When did you work at the Olympics?
I attended two different Olympics as a sports massage therapist—2002 in Salt Lake City and 2004 in Athens, Greece.
How did you get involved?
I initially heard about the application process from some contacts within the AMTA
For Salt Lake City the selection process involved was through resume, references, and a hand written letter explaining why I should be selected. I was one of 250 therapists and I worked in the Olympic Village which all countries had access to—not assigned to US team. The shifts were six hours, five days per week for two weeks.
Were you paid?
This was a volunteer position.
What types of athletes did you work on?
I worked mainly on athletes competing in bobsled, speed skating, biathletes (cross-country skiing and shooting.) I also worked on several coaches. Each therapist had to do one day a week of working with the media.
Where did you stay?
I stayed with a local family that housed five visiting massage therapist during the games.
Some interesting items:
- Cannot advertise myself or business using the term Olympics without paying a fee to Olympic Committee.
- Signed a confidentiality statement that I would not disclose the name of any athlete, coach, or media personal that I worked with at the Olympics without their written consent.
- I had to purchase own uniform.
- Massage was not sponsored directly by Olympic Committee, but they did allow a group to provide massage, and it was that group that I worked through while at the Olympics. The group was the National Coalition for Sports Massage.
- I was assigned the Olympic Village rather than a specific team or sport, so any athlete or coach was eligible to receive sports massage..
- Total Coaches and athletes were just under 6000.
What about Athens?
For Athens I stayed in a house owned by the father on a former Soma student. Travel time between house and Olympic Village was 35-40 minutes and included two bus rides and two train rides
Total number of therapists was 100 foreign, 50 Greek. There were over 16,000 athletes, coaches, and support staff that could get massage.
- Again stationed in the Olympic Village and not assigned a single team or sport.
- Worked on 74 athletes and coaches, 34 different countries, 17 different sports.
- Uniforms were provided for this Olympics