Ahhh. Close your eyes.Â Take a deep breath in through your nose. Now exhale out through your mouth.Â And repeat. There is nothing more soothing and at the same time energizing, in my humble opinion (and as someone who has made studio barre and spin classes a habit over the past few years), than a good solid massage, provided by a professional masseuse who is the proud owner of capable hands and muscular arms. These such extremities can be a hard find, so when I was referred to Sandra at Celadon Spa & Salon as the go-to masseuse with the strongest hands and arms (whose hands I’d met when she treated me to a Body Wrap a few months ago) I had to squeeze in an appointment. Now I don’t know about you, but I tend to zero in on late Friday afternoons to book my beauty treatments, especially when I know my calendar space post-spoil session is BLANK, thus making my next step home and chilling out the rest of the night with wine, Netflix, a book and my puppy. And probably take out Thai.
My challenge has been not only finding the time that is necessary for such maintenance, especially with habitual hard-on-your-body work out sessions, but making the time. Side note: Even if I proclaim on social media “Checking in to a guilt-free maintenance massage moment!” I still am weakened by the overriding thoughts of : “You should be working. You should be writing. You should be prospecting. You should be taking your puppy for her 110th walk of the day. You should be cooking. You should be cleaning. You should be finding a decent man to date. You should be calling your parents and spending time with them. You should be lying on an exotic beach with not a care in the world because you did what you should have done in your 20’s and 30’s and now you are rich and set for life.”
And so on.
As I sipped hot tea and explored Celadon’s newest product inventory before my 90-minute massage with Sandra that late Friday afternoon, all of those sentences paraded through my guilt-ridden brain. I took a deep breath in, maybe winced once or thrice because truth be told, I was actually in pain from not taking care of myself, and shoved the negative thoughts aside, choosing to indulge in the luxurious and aiding next hour and a half of my life.
Sandra is a goddess. I can’t say enough about her abilities and professional mannerisms. I’ve had massage sessions where it’s a Poor Man’s Three Bears scenario: too hard, too soft, and somewhere outside of just right. Sandra gets it because I believe she is not only seasoned, but she listens carefully to your requests then responds, asking along the way if the pressure is right, then she in turn reacts to your body’s reactions, even if they happen quickly and involuntarily. Sandra also knew that even though I asked for particular attention to be placed on my legs, glutes and feet, when she discovered the KNOTS (and do I mean KNOTS) in my shoulders, it was time for a beat down (of course employing the most gentle but effective methodology) on those giant clusters of lactic acid which had been festering for weeks, all the while being ignored by me.
Sandra is truly my new BFF when it comes to masseuses, and yes, I do wish she were here right now as I write this-because ouch my shoulders hurt-it’s already been 3 long weeks since I’ve seen her. But these invaluable massage sessions are not to be taken lightly nor for granted.
Here are a few tips to make the most of your massage:
1) Make the time to work out the physical and mental kinks from life stressÂ at leastÂ once a month. I do recommend more, but if your dollar and time budget allows only once, still make it happen. If you ignore pain, it only gets worse, especially as we age. It’s not about luxury, it’s about maintenance and keeping finely tuned.
2) Do your research on not only the spa, but the menu of treatments, and the staff there. Ask around for recommendations from friends, but be mindful of those who only go once in awhile because they get a gift card. The more serious maintenance crew will give you better feedback.
3) Make sure whatever you are doing right before you show up doesn’t force you to be late and frazzled (there is spa etiquette as well as policy, don’t lose your appointment and have to pay for it because you thought you could do 101 things at once and get across town during rush hour). Perhaps aim your session during a late afternoon when you have nothing going on that night, or during your day off, or if you don’t have a day off for weeks, try to book during “off” hours, like mid-morning or early afternoon. Weekends can be very hectic at day spas.
4)Â Talk to your masseuseÂ about your lifestyle, even how you sleep and how many hours you are in front of computer, commuting, traveling, picking up and holding your children (or dog), any stressful life moments you are facing currently and especially your physical activity, as well as drinking and eating habits. Be very open and honest before, DURING, and after the session. Remember, they are there to ease your pain and help you and yes, they want you to come back again and again. So give them honest feedback DURING the session. No one wants to waste their money or time especially you. Remember, it’s YOUR time and your money!
5) Find the one? Start a relationship with the spa and the masseuse. Be consistent with your appointments, aiming for at least once a month, and if you are happy with her, always request an appointment with her. She will get to know you, your body, likes, dislikes, lifestyle, and if all goes well, will operate like a fine Swiss watch. Your experience will prove to be much more enjoyable, rather than having to start all over again with a new masseuse, which can feel like extra pressure.
5) Tip well! These are professionals in the service industry who are working hard to remove your kinks, pain, and rejuvenate your spirit. (20-25% of your services is standard, but feel free to go higher!)
6) Drink some water before but a LOT of water after. I emphasize the “not as much before” because you don’t want to have to interrupt your session because of a filled bladder (and trust me, don’t try to ignore the need to go when you are on the table. It’s painful!). You get really dehydrated and need to be replenished with liquids (not the adult beverage kind) afterward.
7) It’s not you, it’s me.Â If you want to make it a “Spa girlfriend date” or even with your significant other, do so, arrange it and go have fun before/afterward (drink lots of water before the wine though!) but I love doing ME times. It’s about taking care of YOU, so if you feel that you would be more relaxed sneaking off to enjoy a massage on your own, do it.
8) Can’t stop that guilty feeling? Know you are not alone. So make the massage a REWARD rather than a ROUTINE. That will give you incentive for small attainable goals (So, you finally made it to SoulCycle once? Or five days in a row? Closed a deal? Got that new client? Booked a speaking gig? Earned that bonus? Cleaned out the front closet? Accomplished that art project? Finished your book list? Ran a marathon? Dug yourself out of 30 inches of snow and survived a week of cabin fever with 3 kids? YOU WILL NEED A MASSAGE.) Keep the monthly massage as a carrot and keep your eye on the prize. The feeling will be even better knowing you earned it.
9) Do your best not to be involved with anything stressful an hour before your treatment and an hour after. I know, in a perfect world… but if you put a ring around your calendar on your massage date and call it the Circle of Peace, let nothing enter nor be connected with an hour before and an hour after – meaning intense calls, emails, deadlines, meetings, etc. – you will be calmer for your session. Also, that means the T word: traffic. If you think you might run into some, leave EARLY for your appointment, park and go find a spot for tea and a book, or get to your session early and sit and read a mindless magazine. But if you can, just relax. AND TURN OFF YOUR PHONE!
10) Take it to the next level. If you find a spa that you earns your seal of approval and you decide to become a loyal client, ask about their Loyalty Programs, as well as Referral Programs and Special Events and Private or Early Sales. Even ask to meet the owner if it’s locally owned, like Celadon is (Judith KoritsasÂ is absolutely wonderful), or the manager and talk with them about your excellent experience as well as give valuable feedback. There is a lot of competition out there and the proprietors and managers really want to keep their clients happy and coming back again.
We hope you try out our Punch Partner Celadon Spa & Salon which is located by Metro Center: 1180 F Street, NW | Washington, D.C. 20004 | Phone 202.347.3333
Mon/Wed/Fri: 8:30-6:00 | Tues/Thurs: 8:30-7:00 | Sat: 8:30-4:30
AND … For those of you who still think massages are only luxuries for the spoiled who eat bon bons in bed or ladies who lunch, you are incorrect. Even the Mayo Clinic states on its site that today, they are offered as health benefits for company employees, found in airports, hospitals and clinics. Here are some of the BENEFITS:
“Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It’s increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations. Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.
While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage may also be helpful for:
Insomnia related to stress
Myofascial pain syndrome
Soft tissue strains or injuries
Temporomandibular joint pain
Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often produces feelings of caring, comfort and connection.”