Should You Keep Your Underwear On For Your Massage? Let’s Discuss General Manners And Spa Etiquette
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Attire: What does one wear for a massage, et al appointment at the spa? Personally, I think one should wear what’s comfortable. This might also depend on your plans before and after your massage. Some people bring an extra change of clothes and change. However, for your sessions themselves, attire is a whole other thing. Massages like Shiatsu and Thai require comfortable, yoga-like clothing. No jeans! Your therapist will need to stretch you and you will be contorted into several different positions throughout so yoga-like clothing, shorts or tights are best, although we are trained to professionally drape you.
For regular massages on the table (Swedish, Deep Tissue, Thai-Swedish and/or Shiatsu-Swedish, etc.), no clothes are needed underneath your sheet and/or blanket. This depends, however, on the level of comfort you have with your own body and the therapist working for you. Expect to be handled, while naked, but draped professionally and handled with dignity. Underpants are fine, but may become troublesome if your complaints are for lower back pains, in which case, these could prevent your therapist from accomplishing the task of giving you relief effectively; not to mention that you run the risk of our getting oils all over them and hence potentially ruining them. The sacrum, gluteus, coccyx, periformis, etc., are all involved in lower back/circulation problems and manipulation of these is sometimes necessary to relieve back and/or leg pain. If you wear boxers or panties to your knees (not thongs) during your massage, then we might not be able to effectively get to your complaint spots or target the “solution” spots. We are trained to drape you professionally and will protect your dignity, so get naked, supine or prone under the covering as directed, and let us get to work on those tight muscles.
Once we have brought you in to the massage room, please put your clothes where your therapist invites you to. We walk around the table to work on you and don’t want to trip over your clothes on the floor or have to waste time moving them. Don’t waste time folding them. Hang them up or lay them on the chair, etc. provided. We are not concerned about your attire, except if it becomes a hazard.
Conversation:-Your therapist should do a quick consult with you. I usually do this at the beginning of the session as we get behind closed doors (never proper to do this in the “earshot” of others). This way, I get to focus on you and not talk during the massage. Feel free to ask any questions you have during this time, however, this is not to say I won’t answer you if you have questions during the session. The point is that if I talk with you throughout, then I am not focused on the concern you came in with, and you can’t really relax if your mind is loaded with “interference.”
Have any conversation at the beginning or end of your session, keeping in mind that time between you and the next client is limited. Honestly, I know you didn’t come in to talk, so the only “conversation” I should hear from my client while they are on the table is “less pressure please”…LOL…or the occasional complimentary, “Oh that feels so good,” etc. Your snores and catching your drool are great commentaries as regards how the therapy is going. LOL Any other “conversation” could get your therapist in trouble in more ways than one. Just let us focus on you and your health concerns…and no, I am not paying attention to your weight as that’s not why you are here. Everyone needs loving, therapeutic massages.
In my private In/Out sessions, I have lumped deep tissue and Swedish massage together at the same price because I don’t “jip” my clients. You will know I’m there working with and for you. If you are a “Chatty Cathy”, you waste time getting relaxed and you distract your therapist who wants to commit entirely to relieving your tension, hence defeating the purpose for which you came in (or for which I came to you). If you needed a psychologist, you would have gone there and talked the whole time and they get paid to listen to you. We are not psychologists…although we love you and want to know you are doing awesome on your paths! The other problem with talking extensively during the massage is that the therapist often engages you out of respect and time flies. Then, he or she will feel the need to “rush” to finish the task at hand. While rushing and being distracted from their and your purpose, they might miss some spots, forget an arm or leg, and might leave you feeling incomplete; in which case, you will protest and/or report it and probably withhold your tips. However, it’s not all the therapists’ fault, as they now have all “your stories” and all your business swimming in their heads and that’s why you were unfinished. Please allow us to do that which you have contracted and will eventually pay us to do, which is to give you a therapeutic massage! We’ll do a better job, if you leave “Chatty Cathy” in the car. LOL
Affection:-I have often heard “I love you”, received or have given hugs, etc. outside the door when my client is leaving. That is awesome. I’m a loving Being and you will know it when I welcome you in, or when I arrive for your session at your venue. This is even more apparent when I massage you. Keep in mind that this kind of love is the Christian or Universal Agape love, NOT the “I want to sleep with you,” Eros, love. I understand this to be what you mean when you say it to me and my response is with the hope that you understand too. Touch is one of the most intimate ways of expressing love and you shouldn’t take the massage if you feel/sense that your therapist isn’t going to leave you feeling loved and nurtured in a “godly” way.
That is to say it is unethical to mix business with pleasure, especially in the massage business. I don’t ever want to sleep with any of my clients and I hope they can contain their excitement and not ask me out as long as they are my clients. On this note, I have had clients reach for my hand, leg, thigh, and/or gyrate on the table while I’m working on them. Usually, I ignore the gyration, but will simply move out of reach in the other instances. I ignore this, but it does register that you are um…not classy, and not taking the love from my hands in a professional manner and I probably won’t have you as a client again, if grabbing me is “your habit”. An impulsive “mistake” is fine, but most businesses will ask you to leave and make you pay for the services you started to receive, if the therapist was offended and discontinued working. In another blog post, I compared your massage session to receiving a lap dance wherein you can’t touch the dancer. We are not “dancing” on your lap, but you “get my drift.” Feel free to express yourself. Moan if that is what comes, make faces when I’m not looking, cry, laugh; whatever emotional release or expression is triggered, feel free, just don’t grab for me or any of your sexual parts that are obvious to me. Most of all BREATHE through the experience. Don’t be so afraid of receiving affection that you hold your breath the whole time, and don’t be so “scandalous” that you begin attempting to “share” with your therapist. It’s not that kind o’ show when you are in session with me, so let’s keep things dignified.
Your therapist knows that you are in a vulnerable position, naked with only a sheet separating you from a virtual stranger who is touching you. However, you came in for massage therapy, and that is what is required to accomplish this purpose, so relax. We are professionals here. Tell us if/when we do anything that makes you feel “uncomfortable”… including arousal, in the case of those who feel that the therapist deliberately touched something they shouldn’t have. Many times, your therapist’s hand may slip. After all, we are working with oils on your body. Accidents are possible when things are slippery. Also keep in mind your own frame of mind, personal issues, which your therapist doesn’t know about, and especially your parasympathetic brain and the involuntary responses.
We can and will fix a problem in the room, right away, and if it’s a “slippage”, even if neither of you acknowledge it verbally at the time, the therapist may have made a mental note to be careful and/or apologize. Sometimes you will know this by being alert to how they maneuver, say, around the other boob. LOL…Come on. If they accidentally touched a boob, you will be alert to whether it happens twice and on both, is all I’m sayin’. Don’t wait until after you leave the room to complain at checkout, or call in a day or week later and complain to management while requesting a “replacement service”. Tell us, the therapist, first and give us the opportunity to fix it right there and then and make you happy. We can’t fix it when you are gone from the room. If we don’t fix it on the scene when you mentioned it, then tell checkout, call the manager when you leave and go blog all about your treatment in the press. It is only fair to give the business an opportunity to address your concern, however, before you get pissed off and go do any of this, or black list us and not come back.
I am very concerned whether you are o.k. and feeling relaxed, so I need you to breathe, keep your hands to yourself, moan if you have to, i.e. the natural/involuntary response; but don’t start rubbing your special parts or any other attempt to relieve yourself, as that is “voluntary expression,” which is quite rude, unloving, and puts your therapist in a very uncomfortable position.
Tipping:-Rate your therapists’ delivery and professionalism just as you would a waiter, et al service people. Your gratuity percentage should be based on their performance as your tips go directly to the individual. In general, gratuity ranges from 10% to 25% on the original cost of services and based on how pleased you are with your therapist’s work. Sometimes clients are able to do more and sometimes they can only do less. Tipping manners and rules don’t mean that if you are broke, I won’t do the job. Your referrals could be your tips when you are broke and I am always grateful for more business, especially when referred. Your therapist has spent the last hour or more working hard on your muscles and aiding your overall health. We are usually under-paid for such hard work, especially when you have demanded deep tissue or some other physically challenging therapy. We don’t get paid to do the “heavy-duty” stuff, so your gratuities help to offset our income and attitude, especially if we delivered more than is required by the company.
In my practice, I usually don’t charge clients for using credit cards; however, it costs me at least $5.00 to process these. Your gratuities help to offset this, so if you don’t tip and I didn’t tell you about the extra charge for processing your credit card, then I have just had a $5.00 loss on your service before taxes. What is the value you have placed on your health and have this been magnified in the way I have handled you.
Couples Massages:-If you have a couples’ massage at the spa, this means more cleanup for the therapists. Please get dressed immediately afterwards and remember that your time is up and we need to get ready for the next clients coming in on the hour. Do your hugging and kissing or whatever else elsewhere, and fix your hair, etc., in the bathroom…hopefully, not together. Please, hold off on your “finishing” until you get home or some other place. The bathrooms are usually shared between clients and workers and we may need to go, before we have to get back to that 90-minute massage. I don’t know how many times I have waited and waited well into the time for my next client while a couple is still in the room after we have dismissed them. We usually only have 5-15 minutes between you and the next client and there is a lot to do in that time to be ready to give them the same professionalism we gave you. Don’t think we don’t wonder what you’re doing in there while we are waiting outside with your water/tea. It’s not curiosity, it is irritation or anxiety, since we won’t have enough time to clean up, use bathroom and go get the other client waiting in the lobby. If we attempt the bathroom run while you are still “sprucing,” you might be finished before we return, hence miss the important farewell and courtesy water/tea along with follow-up suggestions. So we wait, dancing in the hallway with a smile. Please be considerate of others, even at the spa.
Jewelry and makeup:-Please do not wear your jewelry to the spa, especially the expensive ones! Leave them in your safe at home or if you wear them, please remove them and put them safely in your purse, etc. I usually have a little bowl where your stuff should go, but it’s not my responsibility to look out for your diamonds! Also, since we have to work with oil, etc., and manipulate your limbs, etc., we get cut, or cut you or break your necklace, etc. or it’s just hard to work on that jeweled body part. Please save us and you the pain and remember to remove these. Also, we can’t help you put these back on after the service either. We have to maintain very short nails as we are in the massage business, hence we don’t have the nails to grasp your clasp and risk ripping our flesh, et al injuries, which jeopardize our health and work. Remember, also, that you will need to lie face down for your massage, hence limited to no makeup is best. If you are having a facial, save the Esthetician some work and time by not wearing makeup, which she will need to remove before doing what she does. This robs you both of valuable time.
Your nails:-Please cut your toe nails before your massages! Therapists run the risk of snagging, cutting, or scraping themselves on your nails! We shouldn’t massage you or anyone else while having open wounds; hence your toenails could become “weapons of mass destruction;” LOL… yes, destruction of the rest of our work day. Even if it’s just a hang nail or a snagged nail, we may forget to clean it up before the next client, then scratch them up with these and that’s never a good thing.
Hygiene:-Please take a shower prior to your massage and wash your feet especially. Remember that you are going to be in a vulnerable position, naked or almost naked, in a room with a virtual stranger. The more comfortable you are in your own body, the easier it will be for you to relax and a shower only helps things. Don’t go to the beach and get sand all over you and then decide to get a massage. We need to make special arrangements for body scrubs and you pay a different price. Oil and sand/dirt don’t feel good for the therapist or the client, so even if you are not “filthy,” please clean up before your service. I sometimes “ceremonially” wrap your feet with warm towels before and/or after service. This is what it is, a little energy movement; and/or I am lovingly bringing you to face the end/beginning of your session. It is not necessarily a washing of your feet.
Lastly, please pay your tab when you arrive, if you must leave quickly at the end, or immediately upon completing your sessions. It is not fair to have me or the staff at any establishment, chase you or invoice you for services you received. There are books to maintain and taxes to pay. We delivered your service at the time of request, so it is only fair that you pay before you leave. If you didn’t bring enough cash, please put the balance on a credit card, but no “I get you next time”. We can’t tell our landlord this or pay short when the rent is due. Please be conscientious and not take these “disrespectful liberties” with your therapist, whether at the spa or as a private client. Equally offensive is the IOU on the gratuities, etc. Just “man up” and pay for the hard work provided you and don’t expect to get anything for free. Some have even ignored the invoices, vowing to pay next time they come back, but haven’t yet scheduled an appointment. This is a very uncomfortable position to put your therapist and/or the business in, and it doesn’t bode well for you the client who will want optimum service every time.
Acknowledge when your therapist does a little extra for you and go beyond what is normal at the spa and/or in your private massage session. The best voice you can give this is through your gratuity. How you treat, pay and tip your therapists is relative to the exchange of energies and what you put into the universe. It also might determine whether you get that awesome therapist again on your next visit or not. I did not hold back from blessing you, so bless me in exchange and continue the circle of loving and respectful giving.
By JL Campbell