I recently received 10 minutes of the worst massage ever. This was at a local spa, which has been gradually raising its prices while not providing augmented amenities.
Case in point: This place, which shall remain nameless, now charges a base fee for a “relaxation massage.” If the client wants a “deep tissue” massage, an additional $10 is due at time of check-in.
The problem with this is that the receptionist who scheduled my session couldn’t tell me, when asked, exactly what the term “deep tissue” referred to. “Neuromuscular Therapy?” I asked, “Rolfing?” “Trigger-point therapy?” “Sports massage?” She didn’t know. In light of a lack of explanation, I decided to book my usual one-hour massage without adding on “deep tissue.”
Cut to the session room: I’m face down on the table, receiving something akin to butterfly wings flapping on either side of my neck.
Therapist: “I want to confirm that all you paid for was a relaxation massage. If you want deep tissue, we’ll have to take care of that [read: get more money from you] at the front desk.”
Me: “Can you work deeper? Say, on the far end of the relaxation-massage scale?”
Therapist: “We’re already there. This is all you paid for, a relaxation massage.”
Me: “I’m outta here.”
With that, I left the session room. First, being told that some sort of strange, light touch (not effleurage, not petrissage) session was all I would get for $80 was not exactly a form of “relaxation.” Second, I’ve received hundreds of massages. I know what average Swedish massage pressure feels like, and I know I don’t have particularly bulky or tight muscles that require strenuous exertion on the part of the therapist in order to effect relaxation. (Not to mention the fact that deep work can be performed without strenuous exertion; see Expert Advice in the July issue.)

I asked the front desk for my money back. The receptionist called the spa’s manager at home to tell him there was a dissatisfied customer requesting her money back. He said I should call back when he was at the spa. I haven’t yet; I wanted to first get some input from professionals in this field as to what the term “deep tissue” really means.

Can you tell me?

Until next time!