Spa vs Private Practice Massage

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Spa vs Private Practice Massage

Postby cabenn on Fri Apr 21, 2006 10:22 am

Ok here's my question,

Who gives better massages? I've only been to spa's currently and I am wondering if I am not getting the best benefit from the massage since they typically just ask me to fill out the silly Aveda form asking what sensory experience I want but never really ask what sort of work needs to be done.

Do those in the private practice focus more on the clinical aspect of massage versus the people in spa's who are forced to use certain products and follow corpororate regulations regarding massage?

Are Private practicers more open to modifying their techniques cause they aren't being told "what to do"?

I'm thinking the next time I get a massage I'll choose a private practice to see if there is a difference. My main fear of going to a private practice is not seeing the establishment before setting up an appointment. If all the places looked like BreathBodyworks office I'd never have to worry :) FISH tanks in the office just rock.
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Postby rtamm on Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:41 am

I have worked in both atmospheres. When I worked for a spa, we mainly focused on relaxation massage, and we had all the extras, warm towels, eye pillows, scented oils, etc. We would also push the aromatherpy and hot stone massages, but I would always ask the client "is there anything bothering you today that you'd like to focus on".

In my private practice, I do more therapeutic/deep tissue massage and a majority of my clients come for the healing, therapeutic benefits of the massage rather than just to relax and de-stress for an hour (although they get that too).

I think it depends on what your needs are. Both places can address your needs, but you will probably end up paying a bit more to a spa just because they typically charge more than people in private practice (this is just my experience though).
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Postby AnastasiaB on Sat Apr 22, 2006 6:02 pm

As an LMT I have worked in the office of another LMT and absolutely hated it. Because it was HER office, she felt she had the absolute right tell me exactly how to do what for each client, to walk into the session and kibbitz, etc.

As a paying customer, I have gone to both spa and private practitioners. I much prefer the private LMT experience. There isn't the pressure, obvious or otherwise, to purchase product to take home, the LMTs treat you more like the human person you are rather than the next "number" on the computer screen schedule..... :smt013 I really HATE being called "the 2 o'clock appointment" instead of my lovely name.....

As for private practice offices, they tend to reflect the personalities and sensibilities of the individuals who own them.... as widely varied as the practitioners are... ' have never been in anyone else's practice where I was uncomfortable bceause of the decor, etc.

Good luck with your quest for a great massage.
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Postby Breathe on Sat Apr 22, 2006 7:06 pm

What's more, even a very good massage therapist can have an "off" day. Just ask my 9:30 this morning. :oops:
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Postby ace88 on Sat Apr 22, 2006 8:14 pm

As a client, the massages I have had at a few personal private practices have clearly been better than those that I've had at chiropractic offices. They are less restricted by time and seem more comfortable when they are able to work in their own space, as opposed to someone else's office with other therapists. Of course, I am sure there are exceptions, and like someone said, therapists I guess all have off-days once in awhile.
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Postby Rose of Sharon on Sun Apr 23, 2006 11:57 am

I'm sure it depends on a lot of things. In my area, I won't go to a spa for a massage, but that is because I know several of my classmates went to work for these spas, and they complain that they are required to give the SPA'S massage. There is a set sequence that must be done, every time and for every client, so that the massage is uniform. They do not want it to matter to the clients who the therapist is that day. It is the spa's massage, and the client is paying for the spa experience.

One of my classmates in particular gave awesome massages in class. It's not her I am avoiding. I'd love to do a trade with her - just not where she works. She hates it - she loves customizing her work to the needs of the clients, but was told during the first interview that if the massage gets varied and/or a client starts to insist on seeing a specific therapist, that is grounds for being fired. Requests for a specific therapist are met with a firm, "no, we do not guarentee who will be in that day, much less that person doing your massage".

I'd venture to guess that is fairly normal, but not everywhere. I'm sure some spas allow their therapists to develop a personal clientele - which would mean that the therapists are probably allowed a lot more freedom in the treatment plan. But I KNOW the private practitioner has that freedom!
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Postby mush on Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:39 pm

if i want to hit the spa, i do. i for the service and the day pass to all the amenities.

if i want just a massage, i get that. but private practice is similar to finding someone to cut your hair. got to keep searching until you find the 'right' one.

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Re: Spa vs Private Practice Massage

Postby Texas-gal on Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:15 pm

cabenn wrote:Who gives better massages? I've only been to spa's currently and I am wondering if I am not getting the best benefit from the massage since they typically just ask me to fill out the silly Aveda form asking what sensory experience I want but never really ask what sort of work needs to be done.

Do those in the private practice focus more on the clinical aspect of massage versus the people in spa's who are forced to use certain products and follow corpororate regulations regarding massage?

Are Private practicers more open to modifying their techniques cause they aren't being told "what to do"?

I'm thinking the next time I get a massage I'll choose a private practice to see if there is a difference. My main fear of going to a private practice is not seeing the establishment before setting up an appointment. If all the places looked like BreathBodyworks office I'd never have to worry :) FISH tanks in the office just rock.


Who gives better massages? -- You can't really say, as it all depends on the therapist. Some private practice people will focus more on what you want just as some spa therpaists will. I have worked in both types of places and can only say, I try to do my best no matter where I am. And yes, everyone can have an off day, I think.

If you fear the private establishment, go talk to the practitioner in person first. There shouldn't be any reason why someone would not want to give you a walk through and short consultation first. I'd be happy to do this for a gun-shy client. :)
Last edited by Texas-gal on Mon Apr 24, 2006 8:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby cabenn on Sun Apr 23, 2006 7:35 pm

Yah it pretty much sums it up :) I've found a great hair stylist and been going to her for god about 8 years now. Looks like I'll have to wander around the private practice scene for a bit. Start with a 30 min massage and see if I get a good vibe from the practitioner.

Some pretty good thoughts in here and Breathe I would find it hard that you would have an off day, musta been from carrying all those buckets of water from your water change :P
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Postby Breathe on Mon Apr 24, 2006 8:11 am

OMG, water change day is today, and I'm borrowing the neighbor kid's wagon because I'm hauling 120lbs of water (that's 8lbs a gallon!) But the fishies will be happy. And believe me, I had an off day on Saturday, thank goodness I only had the one client, and she's a regular.

I'm blaming it on the music. :evil: Someone in my last session wanted some yucky elevator music and I forgot to change the CD. Then I was dumb enough to just go with it when I hit the button Sat. morning. The massage was soooo early, (well, for me :oops: ) blah blah blah. Yeah, it sucked. Comparatively.
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Spa/ Private Practice

Postby PennyLMT on Wed Apr 26, 2006 8:39 pm

I worked in a spa that gave us the encouragement to work on our "technique", the only time we needed to be more uniform was with the couples massages- we had our partners because we worked so well and closely it was a simultaneous thing without thought. My private sessions and spa sessions varied very little, except for the relaxing of everyone- there was no strict schedule, they were in their homes, or my friends and family in mine. The problem with too much differing of techniques was: 3 people came in for massages, 3 massages with 3 people later- 1 person was pitching a fit that she didn't get as much done on her extremities as the other person did. 1 therapist uses lightly scented oils- ok by the client- the others didn't. When you have a group they will compare notes and complain about everything- hence wanting free service- that is why it needs to be so much more uniform in the spa setting, it is no one's choice but the demands of the clients. The same goes for all other services in the spas- please don't insist that I sit still for 45 of pedicure, everytime- but that is the standard, as someone may see and question or complain about their service and the length of time...
Just my .02 from a spa manager/employee/ private practitioner.
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Postby hikerman on Tue May 02, 2006 3:37 am

I prefer going to a private residence rather than a spa. I believe most men feel the same. Usually a private residence isn’t as fancy. All I’m after is a clean, warm room for my massage. I don’t need waterfalls, fancy lighting, or aromas. I just want the massage.
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Re: Spa vs Private Practice Massage

Postby JLWmassage on Wed Jan 13, 2010 7:03 am

I thought this is an interesting topic
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Re: Spa vs Private Practice Massage

Postby Jenn@AttunedMotion on Wed Jan 13, 2010 11:14 am

I really think it is less about the setting and more about what you are trying to get out of the massage, and the skills of the therapist working on you. There is a difference in working with a therapist with 1 year of experience versus 20 years, and their preference in offices, pricing and therapy will reflect that. I have worked in spa and private office settings, and my main concern is always that my clients are receiving the bodywork they want. Some places want you to learn a certain routine or protocol simply so that when clients come in, they will always receive the "same" massage. This way you are going to the spa for the certain way they do massage, versus the individual therapists work style. I have also been fortunate to work in spas that encourage me to find my own style and flow of a massage. I try my best to educate my clients on the various therapies that will help them for certain problems, or if they like a certain style of massage I try to incorporate those elements. I think it is more about communication between therapist and client to get the most satisfying massage.
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Re:

Postby JasonE on Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:41 pm

Rose of Sharon wrote:I'm sure it depends on a lot of things. In my area, I won't go to a spa for a massage, but that is because I know several of my classmates went to work for these spas, and they complain that they are required to give the SPA'S massage. There is a set sequence that must be done, every time and for every client, so that the massage is uniform. They do not want it to matter to the clients who the therapist is that day. It is the spa's massage, and the client is paying for the spa experience.

One of my classmates in particular gave awesome massages in class. It's not her I am avoiding. I'd love to do a trade with her - just not where she works. She hates it - she loves customizing her work to the needs of the clients, but was told during the first interview that if the massage gets varied and/or a client starts to insist on seeing a specific therapist, that is grounds for being fired. Requests for a specific therapist are met with a firm, "no, we do not guarentee who will be in that day, much less that person doing your massage".

I'd venture to guess that is fairly normal, but not everywhere. I'm sure some spas allow their therapists to develop a personal clientele - which would mean that the therapists are probably allowed a lot more freedom in the treatment plan. But I KNOW the private practitioner has that freedom!


I've heard of such practices in the past, but have never sought them out. I don't think those are "normal" practices, as they are the minority. None of the massage centers I have been to (nor most that I have heard of) require every session to be the same, nor do they fire therapists that are exceptionally popular. Those practices assume that all clients are identical and that there is no need to ever provide a personalized service. :roll: Even McDonald's knows better than that. (i.e. No lettuce or ketchup, no problem!)

If I could make a wish, I might wish that ALL of our competitors would adopt those same policies. :grin: We'd be SWAMPED and expanding our facility within a month!

Our massage center does an exceptional job of providing a luxurious spa-type atmosphere without the negative aspects of most spas (excessive noise, strange smells, general craziness, etc.), while still providing a personalized massage/bodywork experience. Our MTs are encouraged to get to know their clients, do thorough intakes, customize each session, educate the client as appropriate, and build relationships that will result in a stream of repeat clients and referrals. It's safe to say that all of our MTs have their own "style"... and we encourage them to grow and differentiate themselves as professionals. When customers request specific MTs, we look favorably on that.

If you'd like to experience the best of both worlds (luxury atmosphere and excellent personalized service) together, come see us at Keep In Touch Massage of Eagan. :D
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Re: Spa vs Private Practice Massage

Postby bodyworkseeker on Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:28 pm

I like spas for the atmosphere.
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Re: Spa vs Private Practice Massage

Postby massagechick on Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:59 am

I dont think it really matters where you get the massage but who gives you the massage. The best massage I have had to date was in a spa. You shouldn't limit yourself to just getting private practic massages or you could miss out on a great massage.
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Re: Spa vs Private Practice Massage

Postby jyoti on Tue May 04, 2010 3:55 pm

I'm with hikerman :)

I'm the kind of person who is more concerned with what kind of person the individual therapist is and how accommodating they can be with me, rather than the atmosphere of the facility. I want to know a little bit about WHO is going to be touching me - aesthetic appearances are not so much of a priority, as long as the place is sanitary and relatively quiet. Most MTs I know feel that spa work is borderline abusive to the MT, yet cannot afford their own storefront setting, so many work from their homes or they sublease space from other ppl. I have personally found more atmosphere in an individual MT's space, as spas seem way to institutional and a bit snobby for my tastes.

Any therapist can work anywhere, and any time you schedule with someone for the first time, it's going to be hit or miss. I think this is true for practically every time of person out there (attorneys, doctors, bartenders, teachers, accountants, hairstylists, etc). You may be a fit; you may not--there are no guarantees. Thus, I can't say who gives better massages. What I CAN predict is what others have said - that MTs in independent private practice are much more likely to be able to tailor your massage to YOU and YOUR needs; there is less of a "brand-image" to live up to. They're going to work hardest at pleasing YOU. Since you're not paying for a high-dollar, high-overhead facility, independent therapists usually charge less than the average spa prices for that specialized work.

I imagine that a lot of the people who are freaked out by the idea of going to a non-storefront are those who have never been.

All of that said, I worked out of my home very successfully for the past 6 years, and I am thankful to have moved all of my stuff OUT and re-claim my private living space again. It was awesome not having a commute to work and it was great saving money on a space, but I'm jazzed that my private life can be private again. Well, to clarify, I'm not exactly doing massage anymore either; I pursued an adjacent field, and there is more of a demand for a storefront with my current career than is typically accepted in massage therapy.

Just my ramblings :)
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