International Institute for Corrective Muscle Therapy, Inc.Crossfiber Corrective Muscle Therapy

About Victoria Ross – Founder of IICMT

Contents:
Early Influences Shape a Groundbreaker
Pioneer of New Techniques (The Mary Jo Myers Story)
Introduced to Pfrimmer Technique
Changing the Field of Massage
Present Day
Summary of Training and Credentials
Articles Written About Victoria

 

Early Influences Shape a Groundbreaker


Victoria at age 5 with mother and Bernarr MacFadden (1946)

Victoria Ross has always had a sixth sense when it comes to bodywork. Co-workers nicknamed her X-Ray Fingers. The ability to “see” with one’s fingertips the inner state of the body tissues and to “read” what type of attention they need is not something that she was ever taught but an innate quality that she has always possessed.

Born to unconventional parents with a fervent all-things-natural philosophy, Victoria was naturally drawn to cutting-edge healthcare innovators. As a child growing up in suburban Philadelphia, Victoria’s family routinely spent vacations with Bernarr MacFadden at his Physical Culture Center in Dansville, New York (see photos). Victoria was deeply impacted by this elaborate state-of-the-art natural-health complex, which represented the American inception of the Physical Culture movement that had begun in Europe decades earlier. Years later, as a young adult living in Israel, Victoria became friends with Dr. Alfred Vogel, the Swiss pioneer of natural health, who would vacation there in search of plants and minerals to take back to his world-renowned herbal factory-complex in Teufen, Switzerland.


Victoria age 5 (center)
"Physical Culture Center" Exercise Class (1946)

Exposure to such revolutionary figures from a young age created in Victoria an intrinsic connection to the healing arts and a comfort range with going outside the box of standard medical thinking. That “comfort range” caused her, during the span of the 1970s and ‘80s, to spearhead a series of ground-breaking events in the field of healthcare: establishing a new category in the field of muscle therapy; solidifying a place in academia for the field of muscle therapy; facilitating a cultural shift in the public perception about massage; and forging an interactive relationship between muscle therapy and other health care fields, including chiropractic, physical therapy, and neurology. (For more on the above, see Institute History.) Ultimately, none of these milestones would outweigh the principal event that marked Victoria’s entry into the realm of bodywork.

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Pioneer of New Techniques

The story of Mary Jo Myers, as told by Victoria Ross:

It was the early 1970s. My friend was sick. The doctors kept experimenting with drugs but held out no hope for her. Mary Jo had already been bedridden for months and feared that she would not survive to raise her two small children. Although I had no formal training in massage at that time, I knew about the body and intuitively felt that if I started manipulating her muscles I might find a way to restore health and hope to my friend.

When I felt my friend’s arm muscles, they felt like mush. I knew the muscle fibers were supposed to be parallel to one another, but instead it all felt like oatmeal. [See electron microscope photograph of this phenomenon below.] Instinctively, I started combing through the mushy areas in a back-and-forth motion. It seemed to be what the tissues asked for. As I probed across the deltoid muscle area where the fibers should be, I noticed that, quickly, changes started to take place. As I continued to comb back and forth across the muscle, congestion seemed to clear away and muscle fibers suddenly became discernible. Mary Jo winced during the first few repetitions across a muscle, but quickly the discomfort diminished. We were both surprised at this.

Normal Muscle

normal muscle

Damaged Muscle

damaged muscle

Electron microscope photographs
From Muscle Spasms and Pain. Copyright © 1988.
Reprinted by permission of the Parthenon Publishing Group.

Mary Jo had been unable to raise her arm to her mouth, but she instinctively raised her arm to see if there had been a change. Again we were both amazed that she could now easily raise her arm to her mouth. We tried this experiment on other muscles with similar results. Within a week of working on her arms, she was able to raise both arms overhead. Once we covered most of the upper body, she was able to feed herself and sleep through the night.

Her legs felt like wax. She needed help simply getting out of bed and taking a few steps. Beyond that she required a wheelchair. Every day I worked a little more on her legs, especially around the knees. The tissues around the knees felt stuck to the bone and to each other. As I released the “stuck” areas, the knee joint quickly increased in range of motion. Within two weeks, both legs could move freely enough for her to swing her legs to the side and get out of bed on her own. At that point she began to walk again, slowly, and became less dependent on the wheelchair. Her spirits grew steadily. Her breathing and fatigue level improved rapidly. Within six weeks, she was ready to get rid of the wheelchair. After that, I pursued formal training in massage and other forms of bodywork.

It is this experience that Victoria credits as having been her “teacher.” By 1975 the piecemeal experimentation that she was doing on Mary Jo had developed into a full-body system of cross-fiber muscle evaluation and therapy. Initially, this system was the source material for Victoria’s first official cross-fiber treatment, called Restorative Massage. Ultimately, it would be the source material from which her entire body of work was derived and her academic courses formulated. (See Crossfiber Muscle Isolation, Gentle Fascial Release, Joint Release, and Total Body Crossfiber Palpation.)


Victoria Ross and Mary Jo Myers

Victoria and Mary Jo related the stunning developments of Mary Jo’s turnaround to their chiropractor, who owned a progressive clinic in Devon, Pennsylvania. He responded, “Whatever you did to get this woman on her feet, let’s do it here.” For the next 3 years, Victoria worked under Dr. George Hopkins, who hired her to “coordinate a system of cross-fiber massage that would complement chiropractic,” theoretically maximizing the effects of chiropractic treatment.


Recommendation Letter
from Dr. George Hopkins
(Jan 1980)
(PDF, 0.5 MB)

Victoria combined the various methods that she had developed while working on Mary Jo and systematized them into a full-body cross-fiber treatment that she called “Restorative Massage.” This presented the Hopkins clientele with something unique in its day: an innovative, cross-disciplinary program of chiropractic and muscle therapy designed to address the body’s musculoskeletal interdependency. The experiment took the clinic’s post-treatment results to a new level. Hopkins commissioned Victoria to establish an entire department dedicated to this system of cross-fiber therapy and to training others of the staff in these “new methods of massage” (see letter at right).

(For a summary of the remaining techniques making up Victoria’s body of work, see Teachers & Training: Potential Future Courses Offered Under IICMT.)

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Introduced to Pfrimmer Technique

Claude Hoff, an early student and close friend of Thérèse Pfrimmer, heard that Victoria was doing a unique type of massage and paid a visit to the Hopkins clinic. Recognizing the significance of Victoria’s work, he insisted on subsidizing her to go to Canada to study under Thérèse Pfrimmer, an earlier pioneer of cross-fiber muscle therapy. This was a pivotal event. She would return from Canada to start her own clinic, one that would specialize in the work of Thérèse Pfrimmer and cross-fiber muscle therapy.


Thérèse Pfrimmer (right) with Claude Hoff
at his clinic in Souderton, PA, (1978)

As it happened, shortly before Victoria’s class was scheduled to begin in Canada, Thérèse Pfrimmer died leaving her successor, Mary Kish, in charge of the teaching. It was while Victoria was studying under Mary, that Mary saw firsthand Victoria’s scope of knowledge about the body and her ability to evaluate the body through hands-on touch — by then a well-developed art from her years at the Hopkins clinic. It was this observation combined with Victoria’s experience in teaching cross-fiber massage at Hopkins that would lead Mary to invite Victoria, the following year, to train as a “Master Instructor” of the Pfrimmer technique.


Canada 1980 - Victoria studying Pfrimmer Technique
Teacher, Mary Kish, is standing far left.
Victoria is seated 2nd from left.
(from Muscles – Your Invisible Bonds, by Thérèse Pfrimmer)

In 1980 Victoria set up her first clinic, Pfrimmer Clinic No. 81, in the lower level of her home. Within months, the house was overtaken by clients wanting cross-fiber treatment. She and Mary Jo Myers joined forces and by 1981 had purchased a small residential house as the new location for the clinic. This became the renowned Deep Muscle Therapy Center of suburban Philadelphia, housing both a cutting-edge Pfrimmer clinic and a cutting-edge Pfrimmer school.

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Changing the Field of Massage

For students to study advanced cross-fiber technique-work, they would need to have sufficient background and education in the basics of massage. But in the early 1980s no academic-level schooling for massage existed in the Philadelphia tri-state area. Victoria needed to create it. She would end up forming two schools that would work together, one that would provide the first-level preparatory basics of massage and the other for second-level training in advanced cross-fiber work. The American Council on Education awarded this program academic status in the Upper Division Baccalaureate Degree category.


Staff of the Deep Muscle Therapy Center
Victoria is far right. Mary Jo Myers is fifth from left.

Despite having a heavy teaching load, Victoria continued to work as a practitioner and to develop new techniques to fill the needs of the clients. These techniques, specializing in troubleshooting and evaluation methods, became part of the second-level advanced school curricula and would constitute her own body of technique-work (although during those early years, for the sake of simplicity, she would include them under the umbrella of “Pfrimmer”). To publicize the work — both her own and that of Pfrimmer — Victoria prepared and taught formal presentations of cross-fiber muscle therapy at AMTA conferences, where large numbers of bodyworkers would receive exposure to this up-and-coming concept of massage done across the fibers with the intent to “correct.”

As a result, the Deep Muscle Therapy Center became a vanguard for change in the public’s perception of massage — forever transformed from “something risqué” to something indispensible to the field of healthcare. The Philadelphia television news station WCAU ran a spot on the center. A local talk radio station held on-air interviews with the founders, Victoria and Mary Jo. Massage Magazine’s founder, Robert Calvert, published an exclusive interview with Victoria. The magazine subsequently asked her to become a contributing writer and member of their editorial advisory board. Clients flocked to the clinic from all over the tri-state area, and student demand intensified so quickly that the school outgrew the center. A cultural tipping point had taken place.

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Present Day

In the year 2000 Victoria started moving cross-fiber training into an international arena, organizing and teaching classes in the Middle East and Europe. (See Institute History: Going International.) That same year Victoria was featured in Massage Magazine’s millennial issue as one of their “notables in the field of massage.”

In the year 2010 legal complications in the field of Pfrimmer impelled Victoria to make a change and to restructure and register her body of work under the term Crossfiber Corrective Muscle Therapy®. (See Institute History: Legal Developments in the Field of Pfrimmer and The Birth of a New Field.)


Victoria on California Coast

This field of “Crossfiber” — with its sophisticated body of technique-work, its academically-competitive course program, and its carefully-crafted set of support materials — is a loving expression of Victoria’s vast years of experience with practicing, observing, and teaching about the cross-fiber principle and its effect on the body; as well as her experience with the profession and her passion to bring an atmosphere of inclusivity, cooperation, and creative exploration to the field of bodywork and to that of healthcare at large.

Victoria’s current institute, the International Institute for Corrective Muscle Therapy, is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is presently living near her children and grandchildren. The teachers who carry out her training programs are based around the country and internationally. (See Teachers & Training.)

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Summary of Training and Credentials

During the years of 1975 through 2010, Victoria filled many roles, often simultaneously: practitioner, school and clinic administrator, author of school curricula, teacher (both domestically and internationally), contributing writer for Massage Magazine, member of the editorial advisory board for Massage Magazine, and founder of a clinic and three schools. At the same time she served as an officer for a number of associations: the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), the Therese C. Pfrimmer International Association of Deep Muscle Therapists (TCPIADMT), and the Pennsylvania Association of [Pfrimmer] Deep Muscle Therapists (PA[P]DMT).

For a list of credentials earned by Victoria’s schools, see Institute History: Entering Academia.

Victoria’s formal training and credentials:

  • Registered Reflexologist (National Institute of Reflexology);
  • Registered Nutritionist (Bionomics Health Research Foundation);
  • Touch For Health (B. MacMullen, MsT);
  • Pfrimmer Deep Muscle Therapist (M. Kish, RT, DMT, RMT);
  • Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (M. Feldenkrais, DSc);
  • Osteopathic Approach to Counter-Strain, Positional Release and Myofascial Release (S. Nelson, DO);
  • Cranial Sutural Release (C. Allen, DC);
  • Master Pfrimmer Instructor (M. Kish, RT, DMT, RMT);
  • Registered Massage Therapist (AMTA);
  • Soft Tissue Orthopedics (H. Getzoff, DC);
  • Soft Tissue Manipulation Certification (L. Berry, PT);
  • Neuromuscular Therapy (J. Alland, MsT);
  • Sports Massage (R. King, BPhil, RMT, AMTA Certified Instructor);
  • National Certification (National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork);
  • Licensed Massage Therapist (RI);
  • Goodheart Applied Kinesiology (G. Goodheart, DC);
  • Neuromuscular Therapy (P. St. John, LMT);
  • Texas Department of Health Continuing Education Provider (#CE0074);
  • Somatic Experiencing (J. Gombos, MFT).

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Articles Written About Victoria

Click on magazine covers below to read articles that have been published about Victoria Ross. (For articles written by Victoria, see Crossfiber Technique: Articles Written About Cross-Fiber Technique.)

The January/February 2000 issue of Massage Magazine below contains the article “Massage in the New Millenium,” which presents Victoria as one of “46 notables” in the field of massage responding to the question of where they see massage heading in the new millennium.


Massage Magazine
Jan/Feb 2000
"Massage in the New Millennium"
(PDF, 2.6 MB)

The May/June 1994 issue of Massage Magazine below contains an exclusive interview between Robert Calvert, founder of Massage Magazine, and Victoria Ross discussing her personal journey and the integration of her clinic and schools with healthcare professionals in the 1990s.


Massage Magazine
Exclusive Interview
May/June 1994
(PDF, 2.2 MB)

The August 2000 issue of Haim Akherim below contains an exclusive interview in Hebrew, between Michal Keren and Victoria Ross, providing a detailed description of a cross-fiber treatment as it unfolds and discussing Victoria’s journey in bringing cross-fiber training to Israel.


Haim Akherim
Exclusive Interview
Aug 2000
(PDF, 1 MB)

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