The Beauty of Massage

Credit: dMap Travel Guide

Credit: dMap Travel Guide

When I was training at Equinox over the summer, I was lucky enough to get treated to several massage sessions. I don’t know what sort of fitness-massage lottery I won, but when someone asks if I want a free massage, you better believe I’m going to take them up on that offer! I will say, though, that after my training—in which I felt soreness the likes of which I’d never felt before, in which I pushed my body harder, and in which I made my body stronger than it’s ever been—I deserved those massages.

It became my Saturday ritual. I’d take an hour-long group exercise class and schedule my massage for soon after. I’d work my tail off, and then I’d get rubbed down. It was the most pleasant reward for a week of hard work and training. I swore by those massages to help reduce my recovery time and give me motivation for another tough week.

My massage guru, Alicia, rocked. I think I was actually supposed to switch it up and try other massage therapists out, but no way! I knew a keeper when I found her. First, her massages were fantastic. I’d tell her what misery I’d endured that week and where I was sore, and she’d go to work taking care of the problem areas. I always felt like a million bucks when I’d leave, rejuvenated and ready for my next workout.

Now, typically when I get a massage, I want silence. I don’t like to chit-chat. I don’t like to “uh-huh” and “mmm hmmm” while my massage therapist is jabbering away, interrupting my precious time of peace. I want to zone out, relax and not think. I want me and me-only time.

That is, until I met Alicia. Alicia not only took me under her wing and massaged my soreness away, but she had me TALKING. Non-stop. For the entire massage. We’d jabber from the moment the massage started until I was out the door. I’d whine about how sore I was, and she’d empathize. We talked about our love for Olive Garden salad; she showed me a particular hand massage technique that felt amazing (and that I wish I could remember!).  She told me a story about dancing so hard she almost threw her neck out that nearly had me in tears because I was  laughing so hard. I’d leave in disbelief that I didn’t get my silent massage, and that I was actually okay with it! Being the pro that she was, I know she would  have given me silence if I would have shut up for any length of time, but all of our silly chit-chat actually made my massages more enjoyable.

Those few sessions were a welcome reward for a lot of hard work, and if you’ve never had a professional massage, I’m so sorry. Go get one, whether as a treat every now and then, or as a reward for meeting a goal. Heck, make it your goal, and put money in a massage fund jar if you need to. It’s been a few long months now without a massage, and I must say I’m in going through withdrawal. But then a little fairy named Fit Bottomed Jenn dropped a little gift card in the mail for my birthday. A little gift card for a nearby salon, in my new hometown. I may not get to chat with Alicia, but I will be getting a well-deserved (and most likely silent) massage for my birthday. —Erin

And if you’re hesitant about getting a massage, check out Jenn’s tips for getting the most out of your massage!

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  1. I’m envious of your Saturday ritual. I work in front of a computer every day, so my shoulders, neck, and upper back are in serious need of a rubdown. I find that I’m more sore from that than working out! I also think the best type of massage is deep tissue…to really get out those kinks. I once got a gift certificate for a Reiki massage and was so frustrated during the whole thing because the massage therapist only gently touched my back–and didn’t tackle my knots at all!

  2. tish says:

    i’m cracking up imagining someone dancing so hard they throw their neck out. she sounds like a hoot. i’ve NEVER met a massage therapist i wanted to gab with. i think you hit a gold mine there sister!

  3. I think a massage is great and my wife loves them, but I just can’t get into them. We had a couples massage at a great place in VT called Stoweflake – my wife swears by their massages and claims they are the best spa in the world. If they are the best in the world, I am afraid I will not be getting many massages in my life.

    It’s weird, I see the appeal of them, but once I get on the table I don’t have the ability to relax and just enjoy it, I tense up and never fully realize the power and potential of them.

  4. Anna says:

    Isn’t it amazing what a little ritual like this can do for our wellness? Not only does massage work out the daily stress of working, but that calm time is really helpful for the mind’s health!

    You are truly Living Solid (and I’m envious!),
    Anna, Live Solid

  5. Oh I’ve never had a pro massage. Crazy, right? I’m just too ticklish. But it would be nice to meet a massage therapist that is as fun as Phoebe (of FRIENDS) or your Alicia. 😀


  6. Steven says:

    Erin, thanks for the great words on massage! Too many people think of it only as an occasional indulgence, and don’t realize the value of making it a regular part of their fitness routine.

    Incidentally, industry surveys have shown that one of biggest complaints clients have is that the therapist talks too much. If your therapist isn’t chatty, he or she is probably just being professional.

    To Tracey- ultimately the way to fix the knots in your back is to change your posture. Stretch the front of your body and strengthen the back to facilitate this. Check my blog and website for more info:
    Positive Massage Blog
    Positive Massage Therapy

    To Adam- There is a vast range of competence and style between massage therapists, and one thing is for sure: Fanciness and cost have nothing to do with quality of work. Find an independent therapist who offers sports massage and try again.

    To Anna- So true! While massage can be clinical and effective with various muscular and orthopedic issues, removing stress is very healthful by itself.