Basketball legend Michael Jordan once said, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

Finding yourself in that third group takes guts. It takes strength. It takes a determined spirit that’s unafraid to go toe-to-toe with a challenge.

None of it comes easy of course, but it’s no wonder our May MassageBooker of the Month has firmly planted her story there.

Pauline Haughton always saw herself as the runt growing up in London, England. Her own father even dubbed her Twiggy—a playful jab at her scrawny stature.

But the jokes about the tiny girl with skinny legs didn’t put down Pauline. They only fueled her. After all, a big heart needs much more than just a frame to support it.

While immersing herself in classical and contemporary dance, Pauline quickly realized that she had the power within to transform her body into whatever she imagined. This newfound whole body awareness—yoked to her rigorous training—eventually landed her on the world’s stage.

Dancing became bodybuilding. Then bodybuilding became Olympic weightlifting. And by the time 1990 rolled around, Pauline was standing 3rd on the podium in the 52 kg weight class at the World Weightlifting Championships.

She humbly brushes it off as no big deal nowadays, but grit like Pauline’s doesn’t just shy away with time. She’s held tight to that courage, and she continues to use it every day to shoulder her two businesses, Massage Touch by Pauline and StretchSpot, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

We chatted with Pauline over breakfast one morning to learn more about how hurdles from the past have illuminated the future, what she’s doing to excel as a mobile massage therapist, and where in the world she’s going next.

You too can get to know Pauline. It’s not just the strength on the outside that’s made a difference. The empowerment inside has combined to foster a lifestyle made better by bodywork that’s deeply gratifying for her and everyone she chooses to serve.

MassageBook: Hi Pauline! Let’s get right to it. What led you to massage therapy?

Pauline Haughton: I left the UK about 20 years ago and relocated close to family in Miami, Florida. I quickly migrated north to Fort Lauderdale and worked a variety of jobs in hospitality and then banking. I was processing loans at one point, but the financial crisis of 2008 did me in. My chiropractor at the time knew about my past as a weightlifter, so she suggested looking into massage therapy. She thought it could be a good fit. Turns out she was right. I graduated from American Institute of Massage Therapy in 2009, and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve been asked by former colleagues from past jobs if I’m interested in work, but I have to politely turn them down. I already have a job that I love!

MB: What type of massage do you predominantly focus on now?

PH: I use the word therapeutic as an umbrella for all the modalities I’ve learned over the years and still continue to learn. I primarily use deep tissue and sports techniques, but each body has different needs. It all depends on the person at that time and the goals we’re working on. I do include lots of stretching in my massage as well. In fact, I have a whole operation dedicated to just stretching.

MB: Why so much commitment to stretching?

PH: My time as a dancer incorporated humongous amounts of it. That’s where I really started to learn how I could change my body for the better. I was focused on developing each area to be as loose and limber as possible. Then came weightlifting. I brought my experience from dance right into it, and I attribute that to helping me compete at the highest level. In my five years as a competitor, I can count my injuries on one hand. That’s all because of proper warm ups and cool downs. So that’s why I believe in it. When people tell me they have a specific problem like a lower back injury, my first instinct is to stretch them.

MB: You’re considered a pioneer in the world of women’s Olympic weightlifting. What was your motivation to do something that many considered out of the ordinary at the time?

PH: I was always very, very tiny, so I wanted to prove something to those who made fun of my size. My goal was to bulk up and be bigger. I became so in tune with my body and how I could change it. It evolved into a total mindset.

MB: It certainly sounds like you achieved what you set out to do. Congratulations on all of your success! How has that impacted where you’re at today?

PH: As a massage therapist, I knew right off that bat that I wanted to work for myself. Being self-sufficient has always been very important to me. But I did work for a massage practice right after school for about 18 months because I understood that it was important to learn the protocols of customer service around the massage industry first. And then I went completely solo! I now operate Massage Touch by Pauline for all of my massage services. I’m a mobile therapist, so I provide table services at home and chair services at the workplace. I love the flexibility and independence it provides. I also operate StretchSpot out of a fitness boot camp gym to provide stretching as a separate service.

MB: What’s been the biggest benefit of MassageBook?

PH: I don’t have to use pen and paper! Setting goals is important for me too. I like that I can set a monthly income goal on the Dashboard and track it at a glance.

MB: What’s noteworthy about your job and are there any moments you’re especially proud of?

PH: Working with clients who are genuinely appreciative of what we’re accomplishing is very rewarding. I want to be involved in identifying and solving a problem. We set goals, and then we follow through with a plan. It’s very gratifying to know that I’ve contributed to somebody’s overall well-being through regular bodywork.

I work with disabled clients from time to time as well. Recently, I worked with a young lady under 35 who had a stroke. She had very limited movement and was unable to lay flat on the table. If she was on her back, her chin was almost on her chest, and her knees had to be bent. But her goal was to walk again. She was almost impossible to massage, so we had to focus on increasing the range of motion through corrective exercises. After about six months, she was able to lay flat and almost lift her arms above her head. Unfortunately, she had another accident, and we were unable to continue our sessions. I wish we could have kept going, but I was particularly proud of what we had achieved in that short time.

MB: Bummer news, but great to hear about the impact you’re having in your community. What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?

PH: Travel. For the past five years, my goal has been to visit one new international destination and one new stateside destination each year. I just returned from Spain, and I’m already looking forward to planning my next trip!

MB: Lucky you! Leave us with some words of wisdom before you head out on another adventure.

PH: Be patient with yourself. Know what you’re offering. Know your niche. Know who your ideal client is to make sure you’re a good fit for one another. It’s especially important as a mobile therapist. You need to have a good working relationship with your clients, and it should be mutually beneficial.

Thank you for sharing your story, Pauline. We hope our chat was as rewarding for you as it was for us.

May you continue to be an inspiration for all the go-getters out there!