What is the best setting to get a massage?
Once you have determined what kind of massage you need (relaxing or therapeutic) the next step is to consider what sort of environment should work well in your particular case. Are you looking for one session or many? Are you just passing through, on vacation? Are you a local in need of regular bodywork to recover from an injury? Is there something that you need in order to feel comfortable? Do you need a therapeutic person, or with experience, or who has advanced training, who you can trust with your case?

Also, thinking about these elements can help you make a more clear choice. Here are a couple of settings that you will most likely receive a massage. The top 5 environments that you’d likely receive one. It is helpful to understand the pros and cons of each. Before choosing who to book with, because some cases are more complicated than others. Plus this can help you dial into the right fit faster.

Environments you will likely experience professional massage are:
1. Spas (many shapes and sizes)
2. Medical Offices (clinical office setting)
3. Private Practices (these also come in many varieties)
4. Mobile Massage and In-Home Care
5. Kiosks (at and event or on the fly)n
4. Kiosks (o

Here are some pros and cons of each of these settings. These are generalizations, there are always exceptions. The purpose here is to help give you a better picture of what your options are, in order to best suit your needs.

1. Spas

Spa frequenting is often seen as a luxury, something you do while on vacation, or if we live a lavish lifestyle, spas have been a part of many cultures since ancient times and they come in various forms. If you want a more pampering experience, then a spa will likely deliver that for you. Visits to the spa are kept more for special occasions (birthdays, bridal showers, etc.), or regular treatments for the wealthy, maybe not so much therapy.

If you are in pain and need to be in therapy, a spa may not be the first place you want to look. Further investigation of the services they offer may be required. They oftentimes offer deep tissue or sports massage, however, you may prefer going to an office that specifically addresses injuries when this is the case.

Pros of a Spa:

∙ they offer signature pampering spa treatments like scrubs, wraps, masks, facials, and salon services
∙ you can go as a couple, with a friend, or family member, or in small groups
∙ some are able to get you scheduled for services with little to no notice
∙ if they are a franchise, they will have more than one location

Cons of a Spa:

∙ many times, an hour means 50 minutes
∙ it’s a high-end, high-priced experience
∙ may not develop a relationship with the therapist you work with
∙ likely to be treated more like a customer vs. a client
∙ therapists are more prone to burnout or less attached to the outcome.
∙ if management are not therapists themselves, they may not understand what a healthy workload is; compromising the quality of the work
∙ Some spa employees are expected to try to follow protocol and upsell you with products or add-ons as part of their performance review.

2. Medical Office/Clinic

Medical practices that offer massage include chiropractors, physical therapy, and other integrative pain management medical clinics. The convenience of having more than one therapy in one location can be super helpful for your busy schedule.

Pros of a Medical Clinic:

∙ you have access to other types of medical care or diagnostics
∙ therapist oftentimes have advanced training in therapeutic modalities
∙ if you have specific concerns, especially when it involves injuries, they are able to address them with advanced training
∙ your treatment is often integrated with other therapies and can be monitored by a team
∙ your therapy may be covered by insurance or workman’s comp

Cons of a Medical Clinic:

∙ your treatments may be assigned to the therapist who is on duty, not the one you choose
∙ the environment is clinical which is not always as conducive for relaxation and can lack the finer touches of a therapy space (sounds, calm, beauty, color, and aroma)
∙ in the pursuit of achieving results, sometimes client comfort is forfeited (the “no pain, no gain” approach)

3. Private Practices

Private practices are owned and operated by practitioners. They can be found in professional buildings and wellness centers. They typically consist of one practitioner or small collectives.

Pros of Private Practices:
∙ private practicing therapists are small business owners and are personally invested in every aspect of their operation
∙ they are better able to be more attentive to the relationship, therefore the level of personalized care is usually higher
∙ they are more invested in the therapeutic relationship, getting to know their client’s case, rather than being the next person’s back down the factory line
∙ they have more flexibility with their time, allowing them to ask questions, listen to the goals of the client, and formulate customized treatment plans
∙ if you see them regularly, they get to know you and your body, so you don’t have to explain your history every time and only need to update them briefly
∙ your therapist’s familiarity with your situation allows them to determine what treatments will be the most effective; they can track your progress, and build on that progress
. their environment is more professional than a home is and less clinical than a medical office
. Their space is designed with massage in mind – conducive to healing. the therapists are less likely to experience the effects of burnout because they manage better hours, so you experience more consistently higher quality care (unless they work another job – see cons)
∙ typically P.P. therapists have more experience in the field and/or advanced training because they are in it for the long haul. They live and breathe bodywork and its many facets

Cons of Private Practices:

. Some therapists run their business as a side job, working somewhere else, too, as opposed to running a full-time practice. Which may scatter their focus or spread them thinly (this is definitely something to be aware of)
. If they have an established practice, availability may be more limited

Some private practicing therapists have a developed business sense and entrepreneurial spirit, while others are more on the informal side.

4. Mobile Massage and Home-based Practices (In-home)

Some massage therapists are mobile and can travel to the client’s location (home or office) making it super convenient for the client. While other therapists set up their offices within their own homes.

Pros of Mobile Massage or Home-Based Practice:

∙ in-home, the environment is intimate and personal
∙ if they come to you, you don’t have to travel to and from a location
∙ if you go to them, they oftentimes can charge lower service fees because they have lower overhead
∙ mobile massage is great in certain circumstances, like when you are unable to drive or walk due to injury and/or surgery.

Cons of Mobile Massage or Home-Based Practice:

∙ in the therapist’s home, being in their personal space may feel less professional
∙ at a client’s home, it’s harder to manage all the elements that influence relaxation in an environment (i.e. lighting, sounds, room temperature, music, pets, feng shui, etc.)
∙ it may be more difficult for some to relax in their own home (client and therapist)
∙ more precautions must be taken, because you gotta trust the person you are working with
∙ if they are coming to your home, there is likely a surcharge for travel time/expense, along with the energy it takes to haul their equipment.
∙ with mobile massage, it may be difficult to bring all the tools available in a permanent space (full range of bolsters, heat packs, hot towels, essential oils collection, etc.)

5. Kiosks

Kiosks can be found in airports, malls, natural food stores, farmer’s markets, marathons, etc. They are great for short (10-30 minute) massage sessions. They can be chair massages or on a table, depending on the place.

Pros of Kiosks:

∙ they are a quick fix when on the go
∙ they are a beneficial way to spend time on your lunch break or downtime while traveling
∙ can hold you over until your next scheduled appointment
∙ it’s a good way to sample different therapist’s touch

Cons of Kiosks:

∙ these are for quick fixes and spot treatments only – great for shoulder work, so much for full body
∙ if the massage is performed in a massage chair, access to certain areas of the body is limited
∙ the environment is usually not the most relaxing (loud, bright, and busy)

There are more considerations when choosing a massage/bodywork spot to go to than just looking at the top 3 on Google.

How does one go about benefiting from bodywork’s application? If you’re curious and want to explore this topic, read some of our other blogs: