Today’s massage industry is ever-changing, sometimes confusing, but always exciting in the choices it presents to the massage consumer.
The CMT, or Certified Massage Therapist, is the most commonly accepted standard for a professional massage provider. LMT and CMP are other standard titles associated with massage professionals. These individuals have gone through many hours of training in massage therapy, anatomy, physiology, ethics, and have had plenty of hands-on training in providing massage.
Traditionally, CMTs have been independent professionals who work from their homes, or rent space individually to provide healing bodywork to their clients. But times have changed, and now the majority of massage professionals work at a spa or other massage establishment.
Most visible these days are the spas and “corporate” massage establishments.
The Spa model provides massage as a part of the overall experience. These tend to be large club-like experiences, with big-ticket prices. They have amenities such as steam rooms and saunas, mani-pedi services, swimming pools, facials and other beauty-related services. They are often part of retreat-like settings, as in Napa County, and other big resort areas. They are like “one-stop shops” for personal services. The bulk of your payment goes to the spa, but the therapist generally makes a fairly decent pay per massage.
The Corporate model is a very structured environment with (typically) 1-hour slots. Some would characterize the massage as very professional, but very cookie-cutter. The better part of your payment stays with the company, and the therapists work very hard for little money. Therapists typically work at corporate massage locations when they are right out of school, looking for work and practice, and until they can build up their list of private clients. An hour massage generally lasts about 50 minutes, as the sessions are usually booked an hour apart. The therapists are typically expected to all give a very similar massage, all within that 50 minutes, and are trained to provide that one-size-fits-all massage every time. The good news: massage is generally very consistent and affordable; and scheduling is seldom a problem. Walk-ins are generally encouraged.
The Body Café is a melding of the private massage therapist with an establishment setting. Each therapist is a trained, experienced massage therapist working together collaboratively with the other therapists, but working independently. The Body Café does not itself make a profit, but rather is mutually supported by the independent professionals who collaborate and provide massage there. The bulk of your massage payment stays with the professional. Each therapist has his/her own specialties and gives a truly customized massage session to each client. The good news: you get the experienced, independent professional. The down side: the therapists work by appointment only; no walk-ins, and you generally have to plan ahead.
When choosing where to receive your massage, inquire as to the nature of bodywork services offered in each establishment. You may even request a brief tour prior to scheduling your appointment. Be specific in indicating the type of massage you are interested in receiving. Decide what sort of massage you are looking for. A quick massage or a full spa experience? A Swedish or deep-tissue massage, or relaxation, or pain management? Prenatal or athletic tune-up? Ask before you book a massage; you can see some of the types of massage here.
At the Body Café, we obviously prefer independent, experienced, therapeutic, ethical, professional massage at reasonable prices. We think you will too.