What could be better than a comfortable, peaceful sanctuary for mom on Mother’s Day? You guessed it—this sanctuary is your session room.
Your session room has to be a place your clients love—a place where clients can simply think about and feel relaxed before they even arrive.
With a little bit of creativity, intuition and a small expenditure, you can design a sanctuary-like session room moms will adore, thereby taking their session experiences beyond the ordinary.
Here, massage industry experts—Jean Shea, Rodella Shastro, Jordan Mariah Reed, Brad Pressman and Shoona Cook—explain how the scents, sounds and sensations of your session room add up to a blissful experience on Mother’s Day.
While looking for a quiet location, make sure the office location is also odor-free. This means that it will not smell like cooking, painting or anything else that might be offensive to your clients.
Burning an aromatherapy candle creates a pleasant scent—but aromatherapy scents mixed with food smells are unpleasant to many people. Try to eat your meals well before your client’s appointment and far away from your therapy room if possible.
When burned on their own though aromatherapy candles can help create a healing environment.
“Burning lavender-scented candles, for instance, can have a relaxing effect, whereas a mandarin aromatherapy candle can help create a calming environment and relieve anxiety. Aromatherapy candles with citrus oils can be used to improve concentration.
“Furthermore, never underestimate the importance of providing clients with an opportunity to take the great experience home,” Shea adds.
“Every time they light the candle,” she says, “whether it was chosen primarily for the therapeutic effect or for the experience, they will be transported back to your treatment room.”
Aromatherapy can be added to a session room in a variety of ways such as through a diffuser, candle or aroma stick to name a few examples. .
Aromatherapy diffusers come in all forms.You can also use cotton balls, tissue or cosmetic pads scented with essential oils to put under pillows, sheets or near the client. This is a more passive method of diffusing because there is not a fan or electrical device used to disperse the essential oils.
A step far above this is a mechanical diffuser. A diffuser might be fan-generated, which can cover either small or larger spaces. Higher-end diffusers would be ultrasonic nebulizers. They work by emitting very fine particles of water and oil into the air and usually cover a large area.
Scents are found in massage products as well, such as creams used for facial massage, and specialty oils. Be sure to ask your clients if they are allergic to any essential oils or other ingredients and offer a sample scent before beginning the session.
First, you need to find a location as quiet as possible. Sometimes, depending on your office location, noise can be difficult—but not impossible—to control.
Insulating windows and doors helps a lot. A draft guard across the bottom edge of the door works wonders to cut down on noise. You can also use a combination of air cleaners with fans for white noise, a window-mounted air conditioner in the summer or a space heater with a fan in winter. A large water fountain also masks noise and is soothing. Of course, playing gentle music on a CD or iPod player creates comforting sounds.
“Music that carries qualities of relaxation, peacefulness, meditation and silence can be of great contribution to any healing modality,” says Rodella Shastro, president of Malimba Records.
According to music expert Jordan Mariah Reed, the right music should help the client feel not only relaxed but also comfortable so he enters a “receiving state.”
You can also have the client choose her own tunes for the session, suggests Brad Pressman, president of Water Music.
“The wrong music during a massage or facial can be detrimental to the therapist-client relationship and could lead to a one-hit wonder with the guest never to return,” he says. “Whatever style is chosen, music will either enhance or detract from the overall guest experience—and it is inherently plausible to have the guest choose their preferred style or even bring their own mix to the treatment room.”
To add a warm feel and help muffle sound in the room, your floor should be carpeted wall to wall or covered with a thick rug.
By using all of these techniques, my clients say they can’t hear any noise encroaching from outside my session room despite the fact cars are driving by, dogs sometimes bark and other people are moving around in my building.
The lighting you choose is also very important. It is useful to have a variety of mood lighting, so you can use bright light while clients change and dim light as you work.
You need enough light to see your client as you work, but the light should be low enough to allow them to relax. A soft, three-way lamp, electric candles or string lights will all help create a relaxing atmosphere.
Lighting trends include battery-operated candles, which means you can put mood lighting almost anywhere safely.
In addition to buying a sturdy, well-made table that will last as many years as you need it, you might want to invest in a hydraulic-lift table. Each client you see has a different body size and requires a different working table height, and a hydraulic table can contribute to your career longevity. A headrest that adjusts in several directions helps provide the most effective session.
Cover the headrest and massage table with lamb’s wool, then add a memory-foam pad on top. Next add a table-warming pad. (Your clients will love you for it, so don’t skip it.) This pad should be used year-round as it warms the muscles and relaxes the body. Use flannel sheets in the winter for warmth and jersey-knit sheets in the summer.
Your table’s linens represent one of the most intimate impressions left on clients. Your client might, upon entering a treatment room, respond to the sight, smell and touch of the linen and blankets.
Wrinkled and worn sheets will evoke images of unsanitary and used linen. This certainly is not the first impression you want. Drape your client in luxurious, soft, clean linens that convey professionalism, luxury and an environment of health and well-being.
Another nice touch is to provide two mirrors: a small one to check makeup and hair, and a full-length size to check clothing. Another necessity is a lubricant warmer, which keeps oil or lotion continuously warm for the entire session.
I provide clients a comfortable chair to sit in when writing out checks to me, and next to this chair, I have a small table for clients to put glasses and personal items on. I keep a carafe of water, paper cups and tissues there as well.
Hang a few relaxing photos and paintings, along with your massage certificates, but make sure not to create a cluttered feel. Hang curtains on your windows for a softening effect. Professionally produced posters that communicate the benefits of massage therapy will also augment your session-room environment.
“By adding attractive posters, you create inviting, relaxing surroundings—a tranquil sanctuary,” explains Shoona Cook, R.M.T., creative director and owner of Fingerprintz, which sells massage posters and other products. “When a client enters your beautiful space and feels welcomed and comfortable, you have enhanced the entire massage experience.
“Clients make a powerful connection between massage and health and well-being when they see poster images and messages about massage,” Cook continues. “By reinforcing the message that regular massage is an important proactive part of their health care, you have empowered clients by the experience.”
I have also covered my session-room ceiling with shear, billowing blue cloth for a cozy, cloud-like feel. This softens the feel of the room and adds another relaxing element.
A small wind chime hanging on the therapy-room door allows you to gently ring the chime to wake any client who may have fallen asleep. It acts as a quiet alarm, waking clients easily rather than jarring them from their relaxed state.
Once you have your therapy room furnished and decorated, don’t make any drastic changes. Remember, your clients are thinking about your room—visualizing the way it looks and how they feel being there—long before their scheduled appointment time.
On Mother’s Day, if clients walk into a room that doesn’t match their vision, it may shock them out of that relaxed state.
As creative massage therapists, you will come up with some terrific ideas to add on your own. Anything you can do to make your clients as relaxed and happy as possible will keep them coming back.
Your clients won’t mind paying a little extra when you have provided a beautiful, stress-free haven for them to visit after a difficult day. The extra time and expenditure it takes is not only well worth it, but it will pay you back again and again—and with a great first impression, you’ll convert your Mother’s Day clients into regular customers.
Sara J. Blazo, N.C.T.M.B., has run a successful private practice incorporating Swedish massage, deep-tissue and neuromuscular therapy in Forest Grove, Pennsylvania, since 1997.