I’ve been a massage therapist for 15 years now. Whether the gig is in a physical therapy office helping people rehab after injury or in a day spa pampering brides-to-be, the bottom line of being a massage therapist is helping people feel better. (I also wanted a job where people wouldn’t yell at me. Mission pretty much accomplished.) We are there for YOU, is what I’m saying. Here’s how not to screw it up.
1. Respect your appointment time.
Of course be on time, but more importantly, if you are going to cancel, please do it early enough that your time can be re-booked. Most massage therapists working in a spa or therapy office are not paid hourly; we are paid a percentage of the charge for services provided.
When you cancel 10 minutes before your appointment, that slot is now dead time that can’t be booked. Canceling two hours before the appointment is the bare minimum of courtesy, and if you have one of the earliest appointments in the day, please cancel the day before.
Obviously, there are emergencies that come up, I get that, but if it becomes a habit (like, 3 times in a row), you may be asked to leave a credit card on file so you can be charged for your missed appointment. Ugh. That is so not how I want this to go down. I really want to accommodate you and make you feel awesome, but it’s hard to do when I think you are an inconsiderate jerk.
2. Speak up.
Once you arrive, your appointment is your time. Your therapist will likely spend a few minutes asking if anything is especially sore or tight and getting a feel for what you want out of the session. Now is the time to be specific. You want me to spend the whole time on your legs and feet? No problem. Curious about hot stones? I can work that in.
Just let me know BEFORE we start. If you wait until your massage is winding down, I am stuck with choosing between telling you we don’t have time or running late for my next client. Again, ugh.
Also, don’t be shy if something feels weird, ticklish or hurts. There are no awards given for most suffering during a massage. Most therapists will check in a few times during a session, but don’t feel like you have to wait to be asked. We want you to leave relaxed and happy, not glad it’s finally over.
3. Don’t be a dick with your dick (or vag).
This is where my job gets weird. For some people, massage is synonymous with sex work, which isn’t even all that crazy because there are plenty of establishments where that is indeed the case. The Happy Ending is a thing.
However, I and the vast majority of therapists working in spas, chiropractor’s offices, and physical therapy offices, don’t provide those services. When we tell you that we don’t, you need to believe us. If you want to be nude during your massage, I am not the therapist for you. If you want a finger up your butt to rub your prostate, you need someone else.
I have no problem with you wanting these services, but I don’t provide them and that needs to be the end of it or the massage is over. I recently had a client, who had previously been banned from the spa for inappropriate behavior, give a fake name to get an appointment and proceed to remove the towel draped over his hips and ask for deep upper thigh massage.
Hey, guess what? You aren’t going to beg or trick me into touching your business. Thankfully, this is a fairly rare occurrence, but every therapist I have every met has been in this spot. It is shocking and frustrating and infuriating to have someone try to turn your work into something it is not. If this is what you are looking for from a massage, please do some research before you book an appointment.
4. Understand that our work is work.
Sometimes I dread telling people what I do. Nine times out of, oh hell, EVERY time I tell someone I do massage, they give me the Love Eyes and tell me how they have SUCH a pinch RIGHT HERE.
Dude, can I just be at this baby shower eating quiche like everyone else? Am I asking you to do my taxes right now? No. I am not. I would be so very happy to give you my card and have you come see me AT WORK. If you meet a massage-type person, please don’t fish for free rubdowns.
So, there you have it. A few simple guidelines and you’re on your way to Chill Town. Pan flute, anyone?