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Massage Today
June, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 06

Building the Ultimate Massage Room

By Terry Russell

We as massage therapists dream of having our own treatment room, especially when we are schlepping our table across town to an appointment. Furnishing our own rooms with the best of the best is a closely held dream and for many, making this dream a reality comes later in our careers.

What to do with that empty nest bedroom? That unfurnished bonus room? That really good deal advertised at the local market for "space available."

When making a list of the items found in your dream massage room, it's always good to include everything you can think of to enhance your practice, as well as everything that will make your life easy. From there, prioritize the items on the list from, "I desperately need," to "I desperately want." Be honest here as there is no room for greediness in your new room.

Equipment and Furniture

Let's take a look at equipment and furniture used in treatment rooms. Keep in mind, at this point these are in no particular order. Starting with the obvious, the table needs to be considered. Is your current table in good shape? Does it squeak, creak, crack or moan? Is it still rugged or do you find it a little wobbly at times? Are the legs still attractive or do they have the used look with scratches and dents? These are the important things. The things your clients see, feel and hear. The things your clients will remember and share with their friends. If your current table is still good, with a little cover make over you can make it look clinic/spa ready.

massage room - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark If your current table has seen better days, then it is definitely time to consider a new purchase. Stationary tables make a great statement on your behalf and do not have to be expensive. Manual adjusting stationary tables are quite affordable and come with many options to fit nearly any budget. This is a capital expense so keep your receipts, record the day it goes in service and share this information with your tax accountant. While adding an electric adjusting option will increase your cost, there are several options to consider while making sure you add the best option for your budget. There are basically three types of stationary tables:

  • Complete Manual Table - all adjustments are made manually.
  • Power Assist - some adjustments are manual and some will offer hydraulic assistance for ease. Adjustments vary per table style and manufacturer.
  • Total Electric - where all adjustments are electrically made.

To decide on the proper table take a hard look at your modalities and see what options would better fit your style. Also, consider not only your current clientele, but the future clients and their needs. A little planning ahead can help maximize your new table.

In addition to the table, a rolling stool works nicely in a stationary room. Again, a few options come to play. Some come with a back, without a back or a removable back. Some manufacturer's give you height options as well. The shorter range stools work better in a pedicure environment, while the taller, more standard range performs better for massage and esthetics. Also available for your comfort choice are round bottoms, square bottoms and saddle seats.

Additional Treatments

Now, on to the fun stuff. The things that before your stationary room were only accessories and that as a mobile therapist you learn to learn without. Stone warmers are a great addition. The six quart will work, but the 18 quart is multi-talented. It can double as a towel warmer if you don't have one and also heat your oils and lotions. A good alternative to stone warmers are the self-heating stones. A pair of these will stay warm allowing you to perform a full massage with just two stones. The beautiful way they charge may intrigue your client into upgrading to a stone massage. These also work great when you only need a stone or two for deep tissue work.

If the budget allows, a towel warmer is an excellent addition to any room and any modality. Towel warmers come with several options and sizes. Basic options include a side open door (like a refrigerator) or a pull down door (like your stove); some have a UV Sterilizer light and a choice of a single or double wire rack option. Towel warmers also come in colors with the most popular being white, chocolate or stainless. Warm towels are a great ending touch for Swedish and a recovery touch in deep tissue.

Oils and Lotions

Now that we have things heating up in the treatment room, don't forget your oils and lotions. There is an option to fit your style by choosing between single bottles, double, triple or quad holder. Also, the unit comes in white, gel colors and stainless. This is a good investment to always be able to treat your client to warm lubricants.

Paraffin warmers allow a nice add-on to earn you extra money and do not take up much space in a treatment room. Smooth the rough hands and heels of your clients, as well as ease joint tension with warm paraffin. This purchase can also go for self-care to ease your over worked hands and to ensure you always have soft hands to work on your clients. Dual benefits to your clients and yourself make this a product to put on the "must-have" list.

Final Touches

Now that you are stationary, why not take advantage of the many bolster sizes and shapes that are available. No longer do you have to make one size fit all. A few different sizes and shapes can make your massage flow smoother and bring even more comfort to your client. Options include, full round, half round, semi round, fluffy and ladies comfort to name a few.

With all the new equipment in the room, now comes the daunting task of storing them neatly while keeping access to them. A trolley or cart is a good supplement to any room. The options are vast with trolleys. The frames are either a lightweight poly, metal or wood. It can come as simple as two shelves and as complex as three shelves, a drawer and a power surge strip. Depending on your needs and space, you can get a trolley that will store your equipment while giving you easy access with a professional touch.

While you are creating the ultimate room for your comfort and ease, don't slight your customer. Be sure to include a hook and clothes hanger for their clothes/robe. A chair is always a nice touch in case they need to sit down while removing their shoes. Consider adding a small tray or bowl to hold their rings, watches, bracelets and necklaces. If room permits, a small step stool is always handy for the shorter or older clientele to help on and off the table.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for your new room. As you settle in the new space, more things will come to mind. The second list could include the expansion phase.

For this initial phase, it's time to prioritize what we have so far. It goes without saying the table comes first. If your table is in good shape then on to the items for the rest of the room. I would suggest the first half of the list be devoted to you and your client's needs and the second half devoted to your wants. At this phase, list everything you can think of. Prioritizing is a personal thing and there is no clear cut solution on what should go where. After you have prioritized the list, set it aside for a day or two, then go back and see if the order you have still makes sense.

Once you have a prioritized list, time to source your potential purchases. Always check with more than one company. Our industry has the luxury of having several multi-line distributors and manufacturers that can offer you competitive quotes. Don't be afraid to ask for a discount. While discounts are not always available, sometimes a company can offer savings, especially on larger orders. Freight and shipping cost are not easily discounted, but always ask for options, especially when talking stationary tables that ship by tractor and trailer. Most equipment quotes are guaranteed for at least thirty days, plenty of time for you to research your buying options. Most importantly, get your quote in writing. This will make it easy for you to compare cost and lead times.

So whether moving into that permanent room for the first time, expanding to a second room or still dreaming of the day you get your own treatment room, dream big, start a list, prioritize and work to make that dream come true.

Terry Russell has been involved in the massage community since 1999. His previous career includes being a full time therapist at Spa Palazzo in the Boca Raton Resort & Club, as well as owning a successful private practice. As the Director of Sales – Schools, Distributors & Franchises Division at Universal Companies, his efforts are now focused on bringing schools, distributors and franchises the best of equipment and supplies with outstanding customer service. For more information, visit


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