“David may not have been the first to discover Chair Massage, but, like Columbus, there is no doubt that he was the first to put it on the map.”
That was the perspective of Scott Lamp, President of the American Massage Therapy Association, in November 1997, when he chose to honor David Palmer with the prestigious President’s Award for his contribution to the massage profession.
In 1997, Massage Magazine hailed David as the “father” of contemporary Chair Massage for the significant role that he has played in the growth of one of the most ubiquitous segments of the bodywork services industry. In 2007, David was inducted into the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame.
David began his professional massage career in 1980. Before his teacher, Takashi Nakamura, returned to Japan in 1982, he prepared David to assume operation of The Amma Institute. The Amma Institute was the first school in the United States exclusively devoted to traditional Japanese massage. It was here that David first began experimenting with teaching his graduates to work on clients seated in a chair, rather than lying on a table. In 1989 David stepped down as Director of the school to focus full-time on the development of the Chair Massage industry.
Developer, the first chair for seated massage
In 1983. David began work on the first special chair to make seated massage comfortable and convenient for both the customer and the practitioner. [Story of the first massage chair.] In 1986, his chair was introduced to the bodywork profession by Living Earth Crafts and has served as the basic model for all subsequent massage chairs. To date there are over fifteen massage chairs and tabletop units on the market that have been sold to hundreds of thousands of practitioners worldwide. David currently works with Stronglite manufacturing company to develop and maintain the best massage chair on the market.
David has written extensively about Chair Massage and the massage industry in general. His book, The Bodywork Entrepreneur, was used as a standard business text in bodywork schools during the 1990’s. He also developed Marketing Chair Massage, which is considered the best primer on the subject in the field. David has had numerous articles published in Massage Therapy Journal, Massage Magazine, Massage & Bodywork and industry newsletters.
David is a frequent keynote/banquet speaker and presenter at a wide variety of local, national, and state massage conferences and conventions including the American Massage Therapy Association, the Florida State Massage Therapy Association, the Alberta Massage Therapy Association, and the AMTA Chapters in California, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas. He is often invited to be on industry panels and conferences to contribute his unique point of view on current issues. [View video, audio, and transcripts of some of David’s presentations here.]
Prior to entering the field of massage, David spent ten years as a developer and administrator of social service programs for nonprofit agencies in Chicago and San Francisco. His work included the creation of the first nationwide social service hotline in 1972, the National Runaway Switchboard. While working for the Wieboldt Foundation, in 1974, he staffed the development of the first association of private family foundations in the United States, the Donor’s Forum, a model that has been duplicated in major cities throughout the country.
David is the Founder and Executive Director of TouchPro International. He splits his time between San Francisco and Connecticut and can be reached at this email address .
Inventor Portrait: David Palmer