Massage is wonderful

When it comes to finding your soul mate, there are no rules. When it comes to finding your soul mate massage therapist, however, there are some rules that can be documented. I tapped the woman behind the brand new website Bite Size Wellness, Talia Tugman (totally crushing on her sexy wellness interface and awesome content!) and invited her to blog for you here.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, let’s hear Talia’s 8-step plan to finding the soul mate that matters (almost) the most!

By Talia Tugman

Whether you are a massage newbie or a longtime bodywork patron, you want the same thing: a great massage. The problem is not all massage therapists are created equal, so while sometimes you leave the spa feeling like you died and went to heaven, other times you are wishing you could hit rewind and get your $100 back.

I’ve had quite a few rubdowns in my lifetime, but some have been major pampering disappointments because I was matched with a therapist that didn’t suit my needs. With thousands of therapists out there you need to know a few tricks on how to get kneaded by the best. Here is some massage wisdom to help ensure your next rubdown will be done by the hands of a dream therapist… or maybe even your massage soul mate. (Yes, they do exist!).

1. Know What You Want

Before you head to the spa ask yourself why do you want bodywork done and what do you expect to gain from your time. Are you going for chronic aches and pains? Do you just need an hour of relaxation? Do you prefer deep-tissue sculpting or a lighter touch? Consider things such as cost, massage style, therapist experience and certifications, personality/attitude and so on. One time I asked the manager who he would schedule a massage with knowing my list of demands, which made my choice much easier and worked out in my favor. Being attentive of your expectations is the first step in scheduling a therapist that fits your needs, so you are not matched based on availability, but rather with the right masseuse. You wouldn’t want to walk in expecting a relaxing massage and leave with a deep tissue disaster. Know what you want and express that accordingly.

2. Don’t Swear off Men

It is important to identify your preferences. My massage past has been mostly full of women therapists, because I didn’t know if having male hands rubbing me down was appropriate and, frankly, I was a little shy. After one too many a complaint about how my massages felt more like back tickles than deep tissue grind downs, someone recommended I try a male therapist. Despite my modesty I tried it out and (oh my gosh) it changed my perspective completely. Typically they have a stronger touch that makes all the difference. So, Dan the Man, if you are reading this, thank you for changing my life. Well, my spa life at least.

3. Ask Your Friends

A good massage therapist is always in the eye of the beholder, but if you have a spa savvy friend it doesn’t hurt to ask for some initial guidance. If anything, your dear companion can suggest a massage studio that is clean and welcoming. He/she may also divulge some personal experiences with certain therapists. Word of mouth is typically the best way to make an informed decision prior to spending your hard earned cash.

4. Test the Waters

Even with your specific questions and recommendations at hand, part of the great therapist quest involves lying on the massage bed and crossing your fingers. You may hit a few duds before you strike gold, but this is all a part of the experience in finding a good therapist-client match. With that being said, if you strike out with one therapist, that doesn’t mean the entire spa is a no-go. Use this information to make better arrangements for your following visit. It is normal (and understandable) to tell the receptionist why you don’t want to reschedule with so-and-so in hopes that they will be able to suggest a better choice. Or ask for a “test” massage with a different therapist — a 10-minute trial that some spas offer. If, after three attempts, you still didn’t find your masseuse match then move on to a new location.

Testing-the-waters Tip from Spa Week: Have yourself the ultimate massage marathon of $50 treatments during Spa Week this spring, April 16-22!

5. Keep a List of the Good, the Bad and the Never Again

Nothing is worse than getting scheduled with “that therapist” again because you blanked on the name when you called to schedule. I keep a small business card in my wallet at all times where I write down the great and not-so-great therapists. When I head back to the spa, I’m then prepared to steer clear of those I’ve already tested out and deemed unsatisfactory. Mental lists are never enough, so write those names down!

6. Speak Up (and Not Behind their Backs)

The number one mistake I used to make was suffering in silence. Some massage therapists may have the magic touch, but that doesn’t mean they are skilled at mind reading. If you are writhing in pain (and doing the silent scream through the face rest) or thinking that you could give a better self-massage yourself, then you MUST inform your therapist. It may feel weird to chitchat in an environment that is library quiet; however, your dream therapist may be one knot release away from getting an A+. They just need to know what you’re thinking. Speak up pre-massage and during the session about your needs and goals. Also, say something to management if your massage was below satisfactory, despite your efforts to communicate your expectations.

7. Try a Longer Massage

Sometimes it takes bit longer to get what you need out of a massage session than the standard 60 minutes. A common phrase of mine is “it’s already over.” No one wants to feel like you were shortchanged due to time constraints. An extended session allows the therapist to get more acquainted with your body and its problem spots. This may be the answer to your therapist blues.

8. Tip Generously When You Find the Diamond in the Rough

Show your appreciation and it is sure to be expressed during your next rubdown! Once you have a favorite therapist pinned, don’t let them slip away. It will continue to be an enjoyable experience if your long searched for therapist knows they are the “chosen one.” Purchasing a monthly massage package is a great investment for your body once you have your match. My favorite is that they know me, the activities I do and what body aches keep creeping up. Often my therapist is telling me what the massage focus points will be without me even having to say a word. They are right on point. Now that’s a keeper!

The goal is to find a therapist that you trust and have professional chemistry with so you can fully embrace relaxation, which may take a little time being picky. Once you find a therapist that is off the charts amazing, you will know that your search was worth the wait and your body will appreciate your hunt for the best. The right massage therapist is right around the corner. Now off to the spa for you!

Talia Tugman lives in New York City with her nearly new husband. In an effort to be in touch with living a healthy lifestyle in a new city, Talia is sharing enlightened wellness living information with others served in bite size portions on her blog


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