We’re all weary of the restrictions and lockdowns related to the pandemic. Add the hope of recently approved vaccines, and you may find your clients want to be a bit more lax about adhering to your COVID-19 policies.

As much of a bummer as it is to keep on keeping on with those protocols, it’s important for you and your clients to do just that. But how do you stand firm with yourself and with your clients? Here are some tips:

• Remain diligent about cleanliness, said Edin Demirov, a lead massage therapist at Massage Heights in McKinney, Texas–and not just because you’re trying to avoid COVID-19. “Just because COVID may be over in 2021 doesn’t mean we don’t have to worry about staff members getting the flu, or strep throat, and other contagious things that cause us to reschedule appointments,” he said.

With many spas and therapists taking an income hit from COVID-19 and COVID-19-related lock downs, no one wants to get into the disrupted business cycle of rescheduling appointments due to non-COVID-19 illnesses. “Rescheduling appointments continuously is worse for a business than any other hazard out there,” he said.

For many massage therapists, cleanliness protocols mean much more than spritzing down your face cradle and changing the sheets on the massage table. If you aren’t already, use a hospital-grade sanitizer that has been proven to kill any virus (good for more than just COVID-19) within three minutes.

You can use special wipes for this purpose, but Demirov and his coworkers at Massage Heights, a family-owned therapeutic massage and facial services franchise company based in San Antonio, Texas, have found sprays to be the most cost efficient, he said.

They use their spray bottles of sanitizer to spray anything they or their clients have touched in the massage room, including the head rest and the foot bolster.

At Massage Heights we take sanitizing a step further, including Sarah Gleitz, the massage therapy director at one of Massage Heights’ San Antonio locations. We sanitize lotion bottles, door handles, light switches and chairs, as well as, sanitizing hands after touching items in session, washing their own hands and arms before and after each client .

Massage Heights takes sanitation protocols very seriously as you can see from a few of our therapist in the field. Training staff is key to all this and consistency, say Brooke Riley Operations Training Specialist at the Massage Heights Franchising office.

• Stand your ground on using protection. Wearing masks can be a touchy subject, but if your state or the spa you’re working in requires mask wearing, then politely inform clients of your location policy and any state mandates, said Gleitz.

“I also let them know that I, too, want to remain healthy. I have a daughter at home and a husband. Plus, I will continue working on other clients the same day and do not want to spread any germs,” she said. “No one wants to wear a mask while receiving a massage–just like the therapist doesn’t want to wear one. But in order for us to remain healthy, we need to.”

If wearing a mask is optional in the therapy room but is required in public areas, such as the lobby or waiting room, you can have the clients not wearing masks wait in their cars until the lobby or waiting room is cleared of others, then let them know by text, phone call or waving them in that they are clear to enter the building, said Demirov.

Having clear signage about the rules will also help communicate to clients the protocols everyone should be following. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has downloadable signs that provide COVID-19 safety education and are free.

Clients have gotten used to answering those CDC questions about whether or not they’ve had any COVID-19 symptoms or a fever so they expect you to ask those when they come in for an appointment.

Your spa, like Massage Heights, may have additional questions to further protect themselves, their coworkers and friends and family, as well as their other clients. Gleitz and her coworkers ask their clients if they have recently traveled, where they’ve been traveling, and whether, during those travels, they wore masks and if they were in contact with anyone with COVID-19.

Demirov and his coworkers also do temperature checks and have their clients sign liability forms.“We haven’t had any issues with this,” he said. “I think most clients understand it’s for their safety as well as our safety.”

Demirov continued, “We have not had a COVID-related case happen in our store and our members have genuinely appreciated it. We’ve even had a few members that stated they feel safer coming here because of the extra precautions taken. All COVID-related questions are on our basic intake form for now.”

• Communicate. Communicating the importance of getting regular massage work is always a part of the conversation therapists have with their clients, but it’s even more important now, said Gleitz. We living in stressful times, she said, and massage helps ease the body and mind of stress.

• Be patient. Everyone is so tired of the pandemic and the restrictions in place to keep the virus at bay that it’s easy to lose patience, to become fed up and overreact or have meltdowns. Try to be patient with yourself and with your clients during those moments when you – or they – just can’t take it anymore.

Use the tools at your disposal: aromatherapy, calming music, soft lighting, warm blankets and towels, hot stones and oils to help bring down stress and anxiety (yours and theirs).

Take some deep breaths.

“We all have family and friends we want to see, but we want to make sure we are safe and healthy,” Gleitz said. “Just try to be patient. We all are in this together.”

About the Author:

Stephanie Bouchard is a freelance writer and editor based on the coast of Maine. She frequently reports news and features for MASSAGE Magazine.