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Hi! I have my own massage business but I recently came on at a tiny spa-like setting because it's in the hotel across the street from my apartment, so the location is ideal for filling unbooked hours. All my experience is either mobile therapeutic or sports massage. Although the emphasis on this place is definitely all massage, there are add-ons like facials and scrubs (which I don't do) and the owner advertises it as a spa. We just have one room, so only 1 massage or couple at a time.

I just want to ask spa workers what the setting is usually like. The owner is so obsessive about everything I say and do that I can't actually massage well anymore. Before I ask her to respect me professionally I thought I should make sure I'm not being unreasonable about spa settings.

The owner has reasonable protocols, but she also follows me through every booking and dictates/corrects everything I say and do, in front of clients. Not just protocols, but things like whether I place the client's shoes in the right place before I get the water (I really feel I should touch the shoes, wash hands, then get the water), where I place my materials while I'm massaging, whether I'm holding a pen in my hand while I explain the consent form, etc. During a couples massage, she stopped her own ($85/hr!) massage three times to rearrange my oils, refold the top covering we remove during the massage, put my client's belongings on a different shelf and even re-drape my client. We use eye coverings, but she won't allow me to ask the client if they would like their eyes covered (many don't). She says she doesn't want anyone looking around until it's ok with her, so everyone has to have their eyes covered whether they want it or not. We're not allowed to perform face massage because it would require taking the eye cover off and she doesn't want anyone to be able to open their eyes early. When my client's covering fell off during the neck work he asked for, I let it sit because I was finishing up and I thought it would be distracting to replace it. She again left her own client and replaced the covering while I was massaging. Touching my client during a massage kind of pushed me over the edge.

Is this kind of compulsive nitpicking typical for spa work? I don't mind bruises to my professional ego, but I really draw the line at interfering with my client physically during a massage. I'm not looking for validation, I just thought before I ask her to treat me more professionally I should make sure this isn't just an industry standard I'm not used to.

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I've worked in a spa for 20 years. She is a nut case. I know money is important, but I'd quit immediately.
Most spas have protocols and procedures that establish the ambiance of the business model. Rearranging oils and folding linens is at the owner's discretion, but the client's safety and privacy is your responsibility. I would be deeply offended if during a massage session, an unknown person started touching me in a dark room while disrobed. It could be a threatening experience to some folks. Also, their personal belongings should not be moved without their permission. Yes, I have heard of places where the massage procedure is the same routine for all clients, but the therapist still needs to adapt to the clientl's requests. If not, there is a good chance the client will not return or recommend the spa to others. The spa owner should be able to have protocols that can be reasonably followed by staff and also please the clients.
You didn't mention if you are a spa employee or work as an independent contractor. Employment status makes a big difference over how much protocol you need to follow.

I thought I should make sure I'm not being unreasonable about spa settings.
<snip>

The owner has reasonable protocols, but she also follows me through every booking and dictates/corrects everything I say and do, in front of clients. Not just protocols, but things like whether I place the client's shoes in the right place before I get the water (I really feel I should touch the shoes, wash hands, then get the water), where I place my materials while I'm massaging, whether I'm holding a pen in my hand while I explain the consent form, etc. During a couples massage, she stopped her own ($85/hr!) massage three times to rearrange my oils, refold the top covering we remove during the massage, put my client's belongings on a different shelf and even re-drape my client. We use eye coverings, but she won't allow me to ask the client if they would like their eyes covered (many don't). She says she doesn't want anyone looking around until it's ok with her, so everyone has to have their eyes covered whether they want it or not. We're not allowed to perform face massage because it would require taking the eye cover off and she doesn't want anyone to be able to open their eyes early. When my client's covering fell off during the neck work he asked for, I let it sit because I was finishing up and I thought it would be distracting to replace it. She again left her own client and replaced the covering while I was massaging. Touching my client during a massage kind of pushed me over the edge.

Wow. 

I would say that is *not* normal.  I've worked in a high end hotel spa setting, one high end day spa, and one mid-range day spa.  I have never seen anything like you describe.  I haven't done that kind of work in ages, but I can't imagine it's changed to this kind of managing.

She says she doesn't want anyone looking around until it's ok with her, so everyone has to have their eyes covered whether they want it or not.

This is my favorite ^.  Without knowing for sure, I'd assume she's got some OCD issues.

I guess she's croak if she met some of my clients.  I even have a few who get so animated, they pop up during a session and start talking with hands and feet!  ;)

My advice: run, don't walk (!)... unless you must have the job, or think you can live with it.

"bold expression of individualism" --->  ooohhh!  I love your wording!!!!

I hope you can find something you love.

As a side note, I have clients who travel to Hawai'i.  Send me a note with your info sometime, and I'll try to send people in your direction.  :)


You can also post anything you want on this "old" thread (http://www.bodyworkonline.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=16350&...)... it won't hurt to have your information there as well, if you want it public.



No, that behavior is NOT normal.  For lack of a better word, she sounds like a frustrated, incompetent manager using you to release her personal tensions, and keep you subservient.  And she's scared and jealous of you.  You're younger? and prettier?  and have a better touch? It's either jealousy or she doesn't trust your skills.

Have that talk with her, if you can stay calm and rational while she gets red and screams This is MY spa, if you don't like it, leave!  Is she does willingly submit to a constructive conversation, make it plain that you are a competent professional with a license and everything and deserve respect: I do know the regulations regarding client draping, etc.  If the eye coverings are due to too much light in the room from outside, suggest hanging black sheets over the windows.   

You prolly will move on sooner rather than later.  Good luck.

Gary W Addis, LMT said:

You're younger? and prettier? and have a better touch?  .

I didn't see anything in the posts that suggested an age difference, the therapists "looks" or that the owner thinks she has a better touch.  

Pueppi, your personality shines through: you need someone to disagree with, and again, you appointed me. 

Seems you'd have figured out by now that your opinions are of no consequence to me. 

I didn't post the comment to, or about you, Pueppi.  As I remarked, it's either the owner's irrational jealousies or inner fear that she herself doesn't measure up-- or, perhaps due to personality faults the owner doesn't get along with anyone she deems to be a competitor. 

The gist of my comment was about the rudeness and controlling nature of her boss.  So, as I wrote this it occurred to me that, yes, you do have much in common with the spa owner.

???  Huh ???   :shocked:

I believe your premise suggests that you think the OP is likely to be "younger and prettier" than the spa owner.   However, since it wasn't mentioned (and I never considered it), I was surprised when I read it. 

Maybe your experience as a male therapist is what caused the scenario to be considered as a primary issue.  If it's what you think, then that is your truth. There is no need to lash out when something you've posted is noticed.  

"Constructive conversation" can be had if you will stop assuming that any comment I make, which may seem to you that it is in disagreement with yours (or someone else's) opinion, is a direct and personal assault.  My thoughts on the words you write have nothing to do with your person. 



Pueppi, you made an assumption which was an open criticism of me; I responded to it. 

For your edification, I made no premise, thus, the question marks after the questions.    Shall I repeat once again my comment that you find so objectionable?  "You're younger? and prettier?  and have a better touch? It's either jealousy or she doesn't trust your skills."  Reiteration for those with poor reading comprehension: The owner is jealous of either Laura's looks or her demonstrated skills....OR she doesn't trust Laura's skill level and feels that she must closely monitor Laura's work till Laura proves her value to the practice.  (The lady maintains a successful practice, correct, Laura?  So the attitude struck with you isn't merely a reflection of a bitchy personality.) 

Pueppi, when I am addressed directly with a comment questioning my professionalism, I rightly infer that it is a criticism of me or my knowledge.  The first comment you made to this forum months ago was (as is still your modus operandi in every thread you address), a point by point implied criticism of another massage therapist's description of one of his client sessions.  



Pueppi Texas said:

???  Huh ???   :shocked:

I believe your premise suggests that you think the OP is likely to be "younger and prettier" than the spa owner.   However, since it wasn't mentioned (and I never considered it), I was surprised when I read it. 

Maybe your experience as a male therapist is what caused the scenario to be considered as a primary issue.  If it's what you think, then that is your truth. There is no need to lash out when something you've posted is noticed.  

"Constructive conversation" can be had if you will stop assuming that any comment I make, which may seem to you that it is in disagreement with yours (or someone else's) opinion, is a direct and personal assault.  My thoughts on the words you write have nothing to do with your person. 

Laura: did you provide the owner with a full body demonstration massage before she accepted you as an associate?  Or was the couples session you complain about considered by her to be a test?  If so, the relatively minor corrections were intended to be constructive guidance. 

But this thread was meant to be entertaining, you say?  IDK, it seems to me that all respondents, incl Ms Texas, took the posting to be a serious request for serious, constructive advice. 

Why do you consider MY comment to have been "fairly sexist" when a search of threads posted to the forum will likely find a few threads about therapist-therapist jealousies within and outside a practice.  Hey, it exists!  We massage therapists are colleagues across all modalities; but we are also competitors...with the practice across town; and within practices we compete with the therapist in the next treatment room.   The best manual therapists engage in  personal, private competition with themselves, taking pride that every massage given is the very best the client has ever received. 

Laura said:

We're both old and ugly.

I'm at a loss for a response to this fairly sexist version of female professionalism. The second post was regarding individuality and probably has more to do with my area's strong traditionalist culture than a cat fight. And was meant to be entertaining, I'm not too cut up over it.

Gary W Addis, LMT said:

And she's scared and jealous of you.  You're younger? and prettier?  and have a better touch? It's either jealousy or she doesn't trust your skills.

Have that talk with her, if you can stay calm and rational while she gets red and screams This is MY spa, if you don't like it, leave!

Gary W Addis, LMT said:

The first comment you made to this forum months ago was (as is still your modus operandi in every thread you address), a point by point implied criticism of another massage therapist's description of one of his client sessions.  



This is a bold-face lie. 

The problem is you are looking through glasses of anger and hatred.

You got upset about this post: http://www.massageprofessionals.com/forum/topics/clients-who-want-d...

You got in a tizzy over my posts in this thread: http://www.massageprofessionals.com/forum/topics/how-does-the-minim...

And, you got your feelings hurt when I had a discussion with Gordon (of which he certainly didn't have an epileptic seizure about):  http://www.massageprofessionals.com/forum/topics/a-typical-experien...


The funny thing is, your getting all upset when I respond to a comment you make in a thread is interesting at best, since you end up doing the exact same thing.  Your rules work for you, but they aren't ok for anyone else.  You like to chime in.  Most people do.  That's why there are forums. However, unlike you, I welcome your chime but dislike your spew and vitrol.  It makes sense that we all add in our two cents, even when we may disagree with each other.  We are able to see the many facets of ideas, thoughts and suppositions that way.

Oh yeah... and I didn't say exactly what I was thinking.  But the OP did.  Your comment appeared to be sexist.  If Gordon had suggest that to you in any way shape or fashion, you would have fawned all over him about it.   

There is something to be said for your deep rooted hostility against me.  Obviously I push your buttons.  It's too bad you can't work past that.  I am still more than happy to be on good terms with you.  But, you have to let some of that anger go to meet in the middle.

Gary, my friend. You do get a little over heated in here. It takes a certain amount of courage for some to write online here in these forums. You defend yourself well, and that probably intimidates others from commenting in here? Seems like hardly anybody does. But there is really nothing in any of these posts that should get anybody upset. Unless perhaps things get personal.
When I write in here, everything I say is the truth. And when others in here doubt what I say, it does bug me. But I never, or rarely feel angry. Ive got to many other problems in real life to deal with then somebody doubting or disagreeing with what I say in here. I did feel angry when, a long time ago, someone comented that I was damaging the minds of young therapists by what I was saying in here. Lol. Someone, not to long ago, said some really mean things about me on my thread. But she took them down an hour later.
Anyways, if someone disagrees with me ,or even gets angry with me about something I say in here. I might defend myself some. But I will just carry on. And it's all there for everyone to read and make up their own minds. Nothing is worth getting angry about in here. When it comes right down to it. With all the different systems, modalities, and philosophies in our profession ( both Eastern and Western). I doubt if there is much agreement on anything except that we care about our clients/patients. Anyway, I may add to my thread tonight? I did some of my best work ever, and I got it on video.

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