Today I am going to share part one of an article about what to expect at your first massage.

What To Expect At Your First Massage by Laura Schocker

Attention, spa junkies: today kicks off the start of Spafinder’s annual Wellness Week when companies all over the country discount prices for their services.

Massage, in particular, may be a favorite this year, as its reputation for being just as therapeutic as it is pampering is gaining steam — a recent Wall Street Journal article, for instance, called out the many benefits of a rubdown, and multiple studies have found health perks that range from decreased back pain to an improvement in depression and
anxiety symptoms.

But as much as we hear about the healthy advantages of massage, there’s no doubt that booking that first appointment can be a little scary — is it ok to specify a gender preference for your therapist?  How many clothes are you really supposed to take off? And how much do you tip?

To de-mystify your first trip, we spoke to Susie Ellis, president of Spafinder, to get her best tips for massage newbies. Read through the advice, then tell us, what did you wish you had known before your first appointment?

Book It
To find a good massage, ask friends for references or look up reviews online.  Feel free to ask questions about the facility to get a feel if it will be a relaxing experience for you. And ask about types of massage — for a first-timer, Ellis suggests booking a Swedish massage, which is relaxing and gentle, while still being therapeutic.

Speak Up About Therapist Preferences
When you’re setting up your appointment, voice any requests about your therapist and feel free to ask questions about his or her experience or technique. Now is also the time to state whether you’d prefer a male or female therapist.

While Ellis says it’s perfectly fine to state a gender preference, she also reminds novices that there’s a draping protocol during the session, which means only one part of your body will be exposed at any given time to ensure modesty.

Be Prompt
Timely arrival is the first step to a relaxing massage. Ellis recommends arriving about 15 minutes before your appointment time so you have plenty of time to get set up — if the facility offers amenities like a steam sauna or a hot tub, you may want to up that extra time to an hour. Showing up late will shave minutes off your massage time, as many places will enforce the same end-time to avoid delaying the next customer. Not to mention, the stress of rushing to keep your appointment has a way of killing the relaxation vibe.

Clean Up
For the benefit of both you and your therapist, take a shower before starting your treatment, Ellis advises. Many facilities have showers on-site but call ahead so you can plan accordingly, and shower at home if not. And if you have long hair, remember to bring something to tie it back.

It’s also best to lay off the perfume, if possible, which can interfere with any aromatherapy meant to enhance the experience.

Turn Off Your Phone
Massages are about relaxation — so make this an electronic-free zone. Turn your phone off or put it in silent. Better yet, leave it in the locker room if there’s a secure, locked place.  Your messages will still be there when you get out, we promise.

Leave The Jewelry Behind
It’s best not to wear any jewelry during a massage — in fact, Ellis suggests not bringing it with you in the first place, so you don’t risk leaving it behind in the treatment room.

‘Go’ Before You Go
Oftentimes people forget to use the bathroom before their massage, Ellis says, which can cut into treatment time if you have to get up later.  (Though if you do need to get up partway through, don’t worry — Ellis says it happens.)

Come back tomorrow to see part two of this article.

massage at aserenity

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