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What to Expect in a Massage

Massage Therapy Last updated

  • Written by: Mimi Barre International Day Spa
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Question: I want to go to a spa and have a massage. But I am embarrassed and don’t know what to expect or how to act.

Mimi: That is such a common feeling. See if the following information helps:
Your First Massage Therapy Session: At your day spa or massage clinic, the therapists believe everyone should be able to take advantage of the wonderful therapeutic and stress relieving benefits of massage therapy.

Everyone will be committed to ensuring that every time you visit the spa that you enjoy a caring and healing experience provided by a professional massage therapist.

Greetings: You will be advised to please arrive 20 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time. The Receptionists will welcome you and request that you complete a New Guest Profile where you record any medical history, past/present injuries and other physical conditions that the Massage Therapist should be made aware of. You will be offered something to drink and snacks will be available for you. You may use the sauna or steam room if one is available or perhaps an AromaTherapy Foot Bath will be offered. If you are early enough, and if a shower is available, you may shower before your massage. If a hydrotub is available, schedule a tub session to soften your muscles so the therapist can massage deeply without pain.

The Treatment Room: You will be taken to a peaceful, treatment room where a comfortable massage table covered with crisp clean sheets awaits. Your massage therapist will leave the room to wash her hands while you disrobe to your level of comfort. Some guests prefer to completely disrobe, while some remain partially clothed. Once disrobed, you will lie on the massage table, under the top sheet. Your massage therapist will give you a few minutes for this process and then will knock on the door to ask if you are ready before entering your room.

You will always be draped with the top sheet during your massage session and an additional blanket will be available at your request. Your massage therapist will uncover only the part of the body to be worked on, ensuring that your modesty is respected at all times.

You can expect a tranquil and comfortable environment during your massage. The massage table is padded and a heating blanket may be placed beneath the sheet. There will be relaxing music playing, unless you request otherwise.

Some new guests are concerned about their body image. Your therapist doesn’t care if you are thin, fat, young, old, tattooed, flabby, muscular, or hairy. She is a trained professional and has probably seen it all before. She will expect you to treat her as the professional that she is and not try to remove the sheet or make improper requests or comments.

Assessment Before beginning the session: Your therapist will ask you to alert her if, at any time during the session, a technique or stroke she is using is uncomfortable. Depending on your specific needs or requests, your massage therapist will either perform a customized full-body massage (for general relaxation and stress reduction) or focus on the specific parts of your body that you have requested. You will be offered various unscented and scented massage oils or lotions. They are the highest quality hypo-allergenic massage creams and lotions.

Total Relaxation: Once your massage is completed, your therapist will leave the room so you may re-dress. Your therapist will wait outside the room for you. She will give you a cup of water and let you relax in the Quiet Room. When you are totally relaxed and all your troubles and aches have melted away, you will be invited to book your next massage for about 4 weeks later. The cost of a one hour massage will range from $45 to $185. You can all ahead to ask prices. Ask also what is included in the price. Ask about amenities such as locker rooms, work out facilities, refreshments, steam room, and definitely ask about the training and licensing of the massage therapists. Ask if gratuities are included, or automatically added (as in Europe). A 15 to 20% tip is appreciated, the same as at your hairdresser. For your first visit for a massage, select a location with a good reputation—one that has proven it’s worth over years of doing business.

Mimi Barre is the owner of International Day Spa, 325 Cajon St., Redlands.
Send your skin care questions to her at She and her estheticians are available for personal consultations. (909) 793-9080. Past columns of Ask Mimi are on the web at

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