"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.
Massage Magazine calls David the "father" of contemporary
Chair Massage for the significant role that he has played in the
growth of this segment of the bodywork services industry.
Palmer 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 Palmer
first began experimenting with teaching his graduates to work on
clients seated in a chair, rather than lying on a table. In 1989
Palmer 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 Palmer began work on the first special chair to make seated
massage comfortable and convenient for both the customer and the
practitioner. 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 an
estimated 100,000 practitioners.
Palmer has written extensively about Chair Massage and the massage
industry in general. His book, The Bodywork Entrepreneur,
is used as a standard business text in bodywork schools throughout
the country. He also developed Marketing Chair Massage, which
is considered the best primer on the subject in the field. Palmer
has had numerous articles published in Massage Therapy Journal,
Massage Magazine, Massage & Bodywork Quarterly
and industry newsletters.
Palmer 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,
Ohio, and Texas. He is often invited to be on industry panels and
conferences to contribute his unique point of view on current issues.
Prior to entering the field of massage Palmer 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
Chicago he also 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
David is the Founder and Executive Director of TouchPro Institute.
He lives and works in San Francisco and can be reached at this