Getting A Massage For The First Time: First Time Massage Story
Tales From A Spa Virgin
I have a confession to make: until last year, I was a spa virgin. I'd never had a professional massage or even a professional manicure. However, when my friend decided to have her bachelorette party at the Spa Castle in College Point, NY, I got ready to experience my first time at a spa. Getting a massage for the first time was interesting to say the least. Here is my first time massage story.
I admittedly had reservations as I made my way to the spa. i don't like being touched by strangers and I don't often pamper myself. Morever, I wasn't sure what to expect as I received my first massage. Truthfully, I wasn't so thrilled about being groped and buffed by someone I don't know, but I was determined to try something new. Besides, it was my friend's party and I wanted to celebrate -- and who knew? Maybe it would be fun after all.
Spa Castle New York
Types Of Massages
Though there are dozens of types of massages, here are brief descriptions of some popular kinds. Make sure that your masseuse is giving you the kind you requested.
1. Swedish: Swedish massages are typically very gentle and consist of long, gliding strokes and circular motions.
2. Hot stone massage: Here, the masseuse will apply stones which have been heated -- and yes, they are very hot! -- to parts of the body. The heat from the stones is said to balance enegry and release muscle tension.
3. Deep tissue massage: This isn't recommended for beginners, but is often used to help with chronic pain. The masseuse will manipulate the deeper muscle layers and the technique can sometimes be uncomfortable. You might also feel some soreness afterwards.
4. Shiatsu: This is a Japanese technique where the masseuse will use finger pressure on the body, placing the fingers on acupuncture points.
5. Rolfing Massage: This is a complex type of body work that reorganizes the entire body, and is given in a series of sessions in order to be most effective. Rolfers have to be certified at the Rolf Institute Of Structral Integration.
Guides To Getting A Massage
First Time Getting A Mani/Pedi
When I reached the New York Spa Castle, I was surprised by how vast it is. It looks like an upscale hotel, with a huge, sweeping lobby and spacious locker rooms. Those doubts crept back in, though, when we entered the locker room and were immediately -- and it's no exaggeration when I say we'd dipped a toe in -- barked at by some woman wearing a Hawaiian shirt to take off our shoes. We did, and after we'd changed into what we thought was appropriate spa wear -- shorts, T-shirts, sandals, we received another surprise when Surly McSurlyson barked at us to change into the spa "uniform."
Uniform, you ask? Yes. Spa Castle requires all of its attendees to don these monstrocities that consist of bright pink baggy shorts and loose-fitting orange shirts. I think they ordered these from some prison camp. Seriously. Thankfully, they also had more tasteful gray T-shirts (meant for the guys), so I grabbed one of those instead.
Next, we went upstairs to the second level, where they have a food court and several massage areas. This portion of the facility was lovely; the cafe includes standard snacks like burgers and pizza, but they also have a salad bar that features international specialties. The floor also includes several lounge areas, where you can use a massage chair or sit and watch TV on a tiny screen attached to a recliner. I didn't have time to try any of these out, though, because I was off to get my very first mani/pedi!
I was seated in a bizarre-looking chair that had a tub of water attached. After I chose a pale pink polish, my nice manicurist flipped on the massage switch on the chair (cool!) and handed me a copy of In Style magazine (was this a hint of some kind?). She then did all sorts of things to my feet that I didn't even know could be done -- buffing and rubbing and lotioning and zapping with some electronic device. I didn't think my feet were that bad, but I do walk a lot so I guess they're pretty rough. She then rubbed some strange salt concoction on my legs and rubbed hot stones up and down my calves. At first the heat from the stones hurt, but as they cooled, they felt pretty good.
Soon, she was joined by another woman who began to work on my hands. She did some trimming and massaging of those, but they didn't seem to need as much work as my feet. Still, it felt pretty good to have one person taking care of my feet and the other my hands, at the same time, all while I was sitting on this weird massage chair with a tub attached. I felt like a queen!
Once they were done and my nails were all painted a pretty pink, I relaxed and realized I was enjoying myself. "This is nice," I thought. "I can get into this whole pampering thing." After, I picked up some salad bar goods from the food court and had a nice lunch upstairs by the pool. Since my first treatment had gone so well, I eagerly anticipated getting my professional massage, which was to be in a half hour.
How To Give A Pedicure
Tips For Getting A Massage
1. Make sure your masseuse is board certified; check out the credentials before making an appointment.
2. Arrive early. You want to be relaxed, but if you're rushing to an appointment, you're going to be all tense for the procedure.
3. Go to the bathroom beforehand. If you're getting a lengthy massage, you don't want to be stuck and uncomfortable.
4. Don't eat right beforehand. Remember, if you're getting a full-body massage, the masseuse is probably going to be manipulating your stomach region. You don't want to be in pain or well, give off embarrassing gas.
5. Usually you will be naked for the procedure, but most masseuses will accommodate you if you prefer to keep a bathing suit or underwear on. Just let them know that you're doing it.
6. Tell the masseuse if you have any health problems or sore spots on your body.
7. During the procedure, tell the masseuse if something he or she is doing is causing you pain. A little pressure is okay, but you shouldn't be in agony.
8. Don't feel obligated to talk. You're supposed to be relaxing and a good masseuse understands this.
9. Remember to breathe during your massage and keep your muscles relaxed. It will make the experience much more pleasant.
10. Don't hesitate to say something -- or stop the session altogether -- if the masseuse does something that you feel is inappropriate.
11. After the session, get up slowly because you might feel a bit dizzy or lightheaded.
12. Make sure to drink water and rehydrate after the massage.
Massage From Hell
When I returned back downstairs for it, I was introduced to my masseuse, Lina, a polite, tiny, unassuming woman, who didn't look like she could hurt a fly. Little did I know the strength that this lady possessed! She led me down a quiet hallway lined with soft lights to a private, dimly-lit room and turned on some tinkly, relaxing music. I'd been nervous about getting naked in front of a stranger, but before I could protest, she pretty much ripped off my bathing suit top, exposing my breasts. She didn't speak much English, so I pantomimed that I wanted to keep my bottoms on. Unfortunately, she broke my watch when she ripped it off my wrist without asking me how to undo the clasp. She then helped me up onto the table and put a hot cloth on my head. It felt very calming...
... until this lady sat on me! And bent me. And dug her hands wayyyyy into my spine. I'd ordered the Swedish massage since that's traditionally the "gentle" kind, but this felt as if she were torturing me for government secrets. "Tell me if it's too hard," she gently said. "Too... hard..." I managed to croak out.
She toned things down a bit, which was a relief, but then started yammering to me about all sorts of things. She especially liked to give compliments, which was sweet, if a little odd. She kept telling me how pretty my manicured nails looked and how I had a beautiful face and eyes, and how I don't look my age. I wanted to be flattered... but since she was massaging my butt and my groin as she said this, it was a little off-putting.
Just when I began to relax (though it was difficult to do so with her talking so much), she grabbed my hands and began pulling the fingers out so they made a popping noise. She then whacked my back so hard that I lurched forward. "You're so tense," she chastised. "Guuuhhhhh," I responded.
To finish the procedure, Lina got up and uh, stood, on me a few more times. Finally, she began bending my legs all the way back and streched my hands way up behind my head. "OK, that really hurts!" I cried out. "But you need it!" she answered. "You need to stretch!"
At last, my hour was up. As I staggered out of the massaging area, I ran into one of my friends, who had a hot stone massage scheduled after mine. Seeing me, she became nervous about what awaited her. "It's interesting," I warned.
Proper Swedish Massage Techniques
After The Massage
Thankfully, the rest of the day was pleasant. I sampled the various saunas which Spa Castle has to offer, including the cold "sauna" and the color therapy room.
I then joined everyone else in the fabulous rooftop pool/hot tub area, which was unlike anything I'd ever seen. The spa has about 10 little outdoor hot tubs linked together, each section offering something different. One has a waterfall you can stand under; another area has jets that you can turn on to spray your body; another area has warmer water and bubbles. It was fun going from one section to another, trying everything out. The pool area also has a decent snack bar. There, I got a green tea smoothie, which was very tasty.
I swam for a while until a couple of my friends staggered out to me after having endured their massages. The bride-to-be actually survived a 90-minute one, where she was also bent into contortions and then stood on; our other friend, meanwhile, described the hot stone massage as "weird." "These aren't usually what massages are like," I was assured.
Once we left the spa to go to Manhattan, my neck and shoulders began to really hurt. After downing an alcohol and Advil chaser at dinner, the pain subsided somewhat. But as soon as I came home, I demanded that my husband give ma a real massage -- which was so much better than the other one!
I can't say that I regret this experience. I'm proud of myself for trying something new and when I wasn't in excruciating pain, I had a good time. I think I will try a massage again, but this time, I'll make sure that I know what I'm getting myself into!
Spa And Wellness Links
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- How To Get A Good Night's Sleep -- Tips To Fall Asleep Fast
- Rolfing Training at The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration
- Spa Magazine - Spa Basics
- Find Spas | WaySpa
- New York Spa Castle
- Spa Finder