You’ve arrived in the pristine waiting area, sat down and watched other people entering or emerging from different doors for their own appointments for a few minutes before being approached by me – welcoming smile, confident hand shake and a friendly introduction: “Hello, I’m Sam and I’ll be your therapist today, lovely to meet you. Come on through…”
You may have seen me before and know that I always carry this disposition or maybe this is your first appointment and are wondering whether I’m always this smiley (spoiler alert: I am!!) But what am I really thinking?!
I understand that having a massage can come with a little anxiety, especially for people who have never had a massage or have never met me. The first hurdle is usually trying to figure out whether I’m male or female – the name “Sam” has confused many clients, so I try to have “Samantha” on my professional profiles so that it’s clear! My job is to listen to you, make you feel at ease and provide you with an excellent massage that meets all your expectations of the treatment so I’m going to give you a glimpse into my mind and tell you what I am (and what I’m not) pondering during your appointment.
What I’m Not Thinking
“Body hair… Gross!”
People have hair. That’s just a fact and if I believed body hair was “gross” or “disgusting” then I have really chosen the wrong career path! Female clients often apologise if they haven’t shaved in 2 days but there is no need to worry. I see hairy backs, hairy legs, hairy chests, hair feet, hairy armpits on a daily basis and it’s not something I particularly notice. If you have an area with particularly long or thick hair that I’m working on then I just make sure I use more oil because I’m more worried about pulling it and hurting you.
“He could do with losing a few kilos!”
I’m not judging you based on what you look like because it’s completely unprofessional and makes no difference to the excellent care and treatment I’ll be providing you with. I’ve worked on people of all body types, some people are twice the size of me and others are half the size of me, some are muscular, some are built for comfort and others are skinny or built for speed. I have found that on occasion a client will comment on my size (or lack of!) and voice their scepticism over my ability to provide a strong massage because I am smaller than they are. I assure you that the size of your massage therapist does not dictate the strength of their massage, if super deep tissue is your preference then that is what I shall provide!
“So. Many. Moles.”
Moles, acne, scars, cellulite and various other blemishes are all things I see regularly and are definitely not something to be embarrassed about, more people have them than you would believe. I will always have a short consultation with you which includes asking if there is anything else you think I need to know – this is where you need to mention you have a mole on your back that itches if touched, acne that has flared up and is sore or recent scars that are still tender so that I don’t aggravate them! My number one priority is your comfort and if I notice something you haven’t mentioned I will often check to make sure I’m not going to cause pain by massaging the area.
“They should have showered before their appointment…”
I work with a lot of lacrosse players on the side of a pitch so a bit of sweat where you rushed from work to my clinic isn’t going to phase me. It is good etiquette to shower between a heavy workout and a massage so you aren’t dripping wet but sweat only starts to smell if left for a while. Unless you’ve been to the gym twice in two days and skipped the shower entirely it’s very unlikely I can smell you.
“She kept her knickers on? Prude.”
Underwear on or off makes no difference to me because I’ll be using a towel to drape over you, uncovering only the areas of the body that I am working on. This provides you with the knowledge of a clear boundary of where I will be working as well as warmth and modesty. I will always ask you to undress as far as you are comfortable and leave the room while you change.
The only time a massage therapist will have a preference is when doing a back, neck and shoulder massage for a female client: it’s much easier to do this if you remove your bra or undo the strap and means we won’t get oil on what is usually a very expensive piece of clothing!
What I Am Thinking
“Is my client comfortable right now?”
There are several factors that I’ll be considering, including temperature of the room, setup of the pillows and the pressure I’m applying during the massage. I always make it clear that I can change any of these things and want you to let me know if there is something I can do to make your experience more enjoyable. I do read how you are reacting during the massage so that I can adjust my approach accordingly without you needing to ask whenever I can but please speak up if you need something.
“What’s the time?”
No, this is not because I’m rushing to take your payment and get you out of my treatment room, it’s actually the complete opposite. Often a client will book in for a one hour massage but want me to target a few different areas. I need to calculate how long to spend on each area so that I don’t run out of time and have to rush or miss things out completely.
“What technique will my client benefit from?”
During the consultation I will always agree a general outline of what I’m planning to treat during the massage so you know what to expect. However I have a vast toolbox of techniques to choose from and what I use for one client can be totally different for the next person I see. Each treatment is individually tailored to you so once I get started and gauge how your tissues are reacting I can start to pick and choose my approach to your appointment.
“Am I maintaining good posture?”
This one is definitely all about me. If I spend all day treating people with the massage table at the wrong height or forgetting to be mindful of my posture I’m the one who will experience aches and pains that need treatment. Maintaining the correct posture for each type of technique also ensures a better quality massage, it’s easy to tell when you’re therapist is using brute strength instead of perfect position and body weight to achieve the desired affect.
“Is my client happy with their treatment?”
I have some client who are very chatty during the treatment, vocal about what they like and will make it obvious they’ve loved their massage at the end of it. I have other clients who stay completely silent during their massage, thank me afterwards and off they go about their day. I do not mind whether you choose to make conversation or not during your appointment, it is your time to relax and you should not feel obligated to make conversation but I won’t know if you enjoyed your massage if you don’t tell me afterwards! Of course feedback is not expected but it is very much appreciated, I rely on positive and constructive feedback to develop as a practitioner and enhance the service that I provide so that I can continue to improve.
If you’re interested in a massage but have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me, I’ll be more than happy to answer your questions!