What about Back Rub places? They are inexpensive and good.

luckycatBefore I became a licensed massage therapist, I used to go to one of those places in my neighbourhood.  You know what I’m talking about, the place with a Yin Yang sign, a lucky cat with a motorized arm, that ubiquitous reflexology chart.  I didn’t know if they were licensed or not.  I didn’t even know they were supposed to be licensed.  Some of the “back rub
bers” I got were good enough; others were so so.  When my neck hurts so badly from working for 8 hours sitting at a computer that I have a severe headache, what do I care?   It was a quick fix.

Have you ever wondered why they call it Back Rub instead of massage?  I learned the reason when I went back to school to be a massage therapist.  It is illegal to practice massage without proper license in New York State.  In other words “back rub”=”we don’t have the license to give you a massage, so we call it something else”.  Whatever you call it, it is a felony.   The simple fact is there is no massage police in New York City.  They would be busted only if they are offering something much more illegal.

But it’s just a massage.

1-backrubYup.  If it’s what you want, it’s what you get.  After a while I realized that every time I went to the back rub place, I was given the same routine massage.  Once in a while, I got lucky and had experienced ones, who might have had some formal training.  It’s like going to a Doc. who doesn’t have the proper medical license because it’s cheaper and it’s just an appendix removal.

What About Day Spas?

Day spas are great if it’s what you want.  I love to get a spa massage when I am on vacation, especially in exotic resort places.   It’s relaxing and you can have your nails and facials done, too, if you want…  The best spa experience I had was in Ubud, Bali.  I was massaged, scrubbed and soaked in a bath filled with flower petals.

What About the Expensive and Exclusive Ones in the City with Beautiful Waterfalls and Multiple Pools?

Great if you can afford to.  I can’t,  so I don’t know.  It sounds great, though.

What about those discount voucher deals?   It’s cheap.

Yup.  It was what I thought and I bought a bunch through Amazon Local, Gilt City, etc.  You are lucky if you get what you paid for.    (You will be required to pay city tax in addition and tip on the original undiscounted price.)  Here is my experience.

  • Massage #1.  60 minutes Swedish massage at an independently owned small spa/yoga/holistic place.  The massage therapist disappeared in the middle of the session to answer phone…. The massage itself was O.K.
  • Massage #2. 60 minutes Swedish/Deep tissue massage at a day spa where more facials are done than massages.  The massage therapist had amazingly good hands, while there were something very familiar about the protocol.  Even though she asked and I told her I had a stiffness in my upper back, she didn’t particularly address it and did a wonderful swedish full body relaxation massage.  I found out that she just graduated from the same school I did and was working as a trainee.  No wonder it was familiar.  I learned that same routine in my first semesters as a student.
  • Massage #3. 60 minutes Swedish massage at a day spa.   Nobody picked up phone.  Left a message.  No return call.  Sent an e-mail, no reply.  Kept on calling.  Finally I got a person.  She said she would call me back.  She never did.  Refund requested.
  • Massage #4.  60 minutes Deep Tissue Massage at a Physical Therapy Office.  The moment the massage therapist touched me, I thought “WTF.”  It was deep and as effective as those coin operated mechanical massage chairs in airports.
  • Massage #5.  60 minutes hot stone massage at a day spa.  The same as #3.  So I still don’t know what hot stone massage is like.
  • Massage #6.  60 minutes swedish massage at a day spa.  The person who answered the phone call told me that the place was closed and instructed me to call another location.  I didn’t even bother to call.

What about those inexpensive massage membership franchises?

Nothing is wrong.  If it’s what you want, you will get what you paid for.  I’ve never tried.  So I can’t say anything about it.

What about the “Spa Castle” type all day spa place in Queens?

I want to go.  Take me there!

What about Massage on Demand in home massage thing?

I tried a service whose name rhymes with SEAL.  Since I have a massage table, I could get discounted deal, which was pretty good for in-home massage.  I liked the quality of the massage and service, and booked a couple of more times.  Every time a different massage therapist came and applied different techniques.  I liked it so much that I bought 12 months membership.  It might be hit or miss, but so far I’m happy.  When they need to schlep a table (30+-bl) to your place, they charge more.

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