Yesterday we shared part one of this article, today we offer part two.
Meet Your Therapist
Once you’re all set, the massage therapist should meet you and walk you back to your room. At this point, if you’re feeling nervous, it’s completely appropriate to tell him or her that this is your first massage, Ellis says. He or she should leave the room while you remove your clothes, and then knock to make sure you’re ready before returning
to the room.
Take It Off (But How Much?!)
One of the most nerve-wracking parts of a first massage is knowing exactly how much clothing to take off (and leave on). “That’s the big question,” Ellis says.
If you want to do what most people do, take everything off and get under the sheet that’s laid out on the massage table. If you’re feeling more modest, you can leave your underwear on. But either way, Ellis says it’s important to remember that you’ll be covered by the sheet, with only one area of your body being worked on at any given time. “You’re never exposed in front of the therapist,” she says.
Once the massage starts, communicate with your therapist about anything that can make the experience better. Let him or her know if the music is too loud, the temperature too cold or the pressure too hard (or not hard enough). And don’t worry about being rude — the therapist will actually appreciate the feedback. “They really want you to have a good experience,” Ellis says. And remember that nothing should hurt during a massage, so pipe up if something doesn’t feel right.
As far as other types of talking, the protocol is for the therapist to follow your lead — if you want to chat a bit about how you feel or light topics like the weather, that’s at your discretion. “It’s also fine to have a quiet massage without talking,” she explains.
Don’t Rush Out
When your massage is over, don’t feel pressured to leave quickly. Take some time to relax and enjoy how your body feels, Ellis suggests, rather than rushing to change back into your clothes and leap back into life. “Just be with that state for a while,” she says. If there’s a relaxation lounge, consider paying a visit — or just drink some water and find a
place where you can sit and relax for a bit.
Most spas ask you to pay after your service is rendered, so settle your bill at the front desk on your way out. A typical hour-long massage costs anywhere from $50 to $200 and up. Tips are customary, and should tally between 15 percent and 20 percent of the massage price, Ellis says. Some places add the tip on automatically and others require that you pay gratuities in cash, so ask ahead of time to make sure you’re prepared.
If you’re getting a discounted service, the etiquette is to tip based on the original price.
Plan Your Next Appointment
If you liked the facility and therapist, consider booking another appointment — regular massage has been linked to a host of health benefits, including management of anxiety and depression, improvements in sleep and increased alertness.
Weren’t a fan? Consider trying a new place, a different therapist or even a new style of massage.