If you’re in South Florida, hopefully you have chosen me to be your massage therapist! But many of my readers are out-of-state and sometimes finding a massage therapist can be a challenge. These are my opinions based on my time in the industry and as the recipient of countless massages. The forum is open to any comments and experiences you may have had that will help someone find a massage therapist they love.
First, we are not all the same. That’s the beauty of this industry and why there can be so many of us. If you try someone and don’t like them, please don’t give up on massage, try someone else. We all have different techniques, different energy, and different demeanor. You may even find that you see different massage therapists for different needs: you may have an AMAZING sports massage therapist, but see a different therapist for relaxation.
There are only five states that do not regulate massage therapy: Minnesota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Wyoming. All other states have some form of regulation in place. Depending on your state, your therapist will be a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), Certified Massage Therapist (CMT), or a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT). Don’t be afraid to ask about it. In Florida we have to post our license WITH A PHOTO in a conspicuous place. While not a requirement, many therapists are also members of professional associations. I am a member of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Florida State Massage Therapy Association (FSMTA). Professional associations do have certain requirements for you to become a member including the proper number of hours for licensing, continuing education, etc. They can be a good resource for finding a therapist, particularly if you are looking for a specialist in a particular modality (prenatal, Cranial-Sacral Therapy, etc).
There many factors that go into pricing. Membership establishments have changed the industry a great deal. Their business model has never personally suited me, so I have never joined nor worked for a “massage club.” The feedback I have received from clients regarding massage memberships is that once they find someone good, they leave, or the “good therapist” is booked they can never get in. For some clients that are members at some of the larger chains I am the “fill-in” therapist when they are in a jam. Typically, the massage membership facilities offer the lowest prices for massage; however you are in a contract for a specific term. I searched a few of the larger chains for current pricing and contract terms, but could only find introductory rates and nothing more specific.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Day Spa. Here you are paying for amenities: hot tubs, saunas, pool access, robes and slippers, teas and scones… And for a 50 minute session expect to pay over $100 (in some cases WELL over $100). There are certainly times when all we want to do is wander around a cell phone free zone, nap, get a massage, and read magazines. Yes, Day Spas have their place.
Falling in the happy middle are professional outfits like mine. Independent therapists that focus on massage and treating clients on a more personal level. Typically you will not have showers or steam rooms or robes, so you are going for the massage. Many independent therapists offer the option of mobile massage, which you can expect to pay a little more for to cover travel expense, travel time, set-up and take down. I have clients that feel this is the best value anywhere: they don’t have to drive, I clean everything up, they can shower, nap, eat, nap, watch tv, nap… My in-studio clients are equally as passionate about escaping to my studio. That’s why I offer my clients a choice. Sometimes you just need to escape. I’ve found that pricing for independent therapists falls between $60-$80 for a 60-minute session in their studio and from $80-$120 for a 60 minute mobile massage.
This is the point I think most people overlook and then end up being disappointed. Be sure to see how long the sessions are. Don’t be afraid to ask. A Day Spa typically offers a 50 minute massage – but so do many independents. Why? That little 10 minutes is the time they have to get the room ready for the next client. However, by the time you get on the table and the massage actually starts, you’re probably looking at 45 minutes of table time.
My sessions are a full 60 minutes of table time: I start the clock when I first lay my hands on you. The only deviation from this is if a client is late and even then I do what I can to give a client their full session. Yes, I don’t do as many massages with this business model; however, I am able to talk to my clients, to get to know them and their bodies and provide more effective treatments.
This would be the final tool I would suggest using when searching for a therapist. I feel using it in conjunction with some of the other research techniques above (ie checking for their license) is the best approach. The therapist’s website can be a good indication of professionalism and there are sites like Yelp! and Thumbtack that can also give you some insight. When you find that therapist you love, send them some social media kudos, it’s always appreciated!
Feel free to add your comments below on how you found your favorite massage therapist!