Chill Out, Bitch #1: Get A Super-Cheap Massage

It's rough and brutal, almost a little humiliating, cheap as chips (I love that saying) and even though you might feel bruised the next day, by day three you feel like you're in a new body.
Publish date:
August 27, 2012

We're all stressed out and overworked, and all too often, we forget to take care of ourselves. With this series, I hope to remind you that getting away from it all is important, encourage you to book a weird escape of your own, and also subject myself to multiple bizarre treatments. It's a win-win!

I thought we'd kick off with something simple, like massage. It will get much more unusual from here, don't you worry.

You see, when it comes to massage, there are two types. One is a soothing massage in a spa environment, which, while lovely, is usually very expensive. I also find that unless you get an incredible therapist, these massages are mostly just about being touched. It's pleasant, but ineffective.

The other kind is my favorite: It's rough and brutal, almost a little humiliating, cheap as chips (I love that saying) and even though you might feel bruised the next day, by day three you feel like you're in a new body.

That is some real shit.

Now, a lot of people think getting a massage is a crazy way-out luxury. It doesn't have to be! I like the cheap places: $50 and under for an hour sounds about right to me.

Sometimes it's difficult to know when these cheap places are legit massage parlors, or whether they are more designed for "tension release" for men. My advice would be to Yelp it. That's how I found my favorite cheapie massage place, which, for you New Yorkers, is Keisy on East 9th Street. I love them because they charge $42 for an hour, which is pretty much unheard of, & they do a really great job.

Here's how to get the most out of your inexpensive massage experience:

1. Blow your nose first. You don't want your nose dripping during the massage, because it will be distracting, not to mention disgusting. (By the way, if you have a cold or allergies or the sniffles, you can ask to lie on your side.)

2. One of the most difficult things, I find, is getting onto the table and then fossicking around behind your back, trying to preserve your dignity with that thin sheet they give you. There's a trick to it, of course! Once you're in your knickers, grab the sheet, put it over your shoulders like a cape & hold it there. Then climb onto the table & flick it out behind you, like Batman. This works a charm!

3. Wear headphones. Often, inexpensive massage places consist of a lot of little rooms with very little (if any) sound-proofing. Sometimes the rooms are only divided by a curtain. If you're lucky, you'll get a wall, though it usually doesn't go all the way up to the roof! If you don't want to hear other people's conversations, moaning, gentle sobbing, etc., then headphones are a good call.

4. Don't be afraid to tell them to ease up (or go harder) if you're not getting exactly what you want out of the experience! A simple "Harder" or "Softer" is all you have to say.

5. Do your best to match your breathing to their movements. Exhale as they knead your tired muscles, then inhale when they pause. This is hard to explain, but it works, and it will also make the massage feel even more like a fabulous out-of-body experience.

6. I like to use this hour face-down on the massage table as extended meditation time. It's a great opportunity for that because you can't move, so you might as well do something productive. I am a meditation neophyte so I like to keep it really simple: I focus on having a clear, empty mind, and if any thoughts flitter their way into my head, I just wave them away, like you might a bumblebee. If you can manage this, by the time your hour is up, you will feel even more incredible: limber in both body AND mind!

7. Be sure to drink a LOT of water once you're done. The theory on this is because massage causes toxins to be released -- myoglobin, lactic acid, who knows -- but some people think that is nonsense. There is a lot of debate over this, which I think is a major yawnfest and have absolutely no interest in researching further! I always find that I feel better after a massage if I guzzle a bunch of water, but it's up to you.

8. Shower afterward, because sometimes the massage oil they use isn't that great to loll around in all day. Additionally, if you have sensitive skin and have some products you'd prefer they use during your massage, feel free to take them in. I love Lush massage bars!

9. Give your therapist a good tip. You can afford it. You just paid less than a dollar a minute for an hour of happiness.

Do you have a top secret massage place? What was your weirdest ever massage experience? Are you ticklish? Do you blush all the way down to your toes when a stranger massages your bum?

Amazing postscript: I have a female friend who has been the recipient of a "happy ending" at two separate massage parlors. I didn't even know that was a thing! Has that ever happened to you or anyone you know?!