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Building Your Massage Therapy Room: Design and Equipment

by Allen B. Ury

If you have your own massage therapy business, you will likely have the opportunity to design one or more massage therapy rooms. If you work for an existing studio or franchise, you may still be able to customize the room in which you work. Use what opportunities you have to create an environment that optimizes the massage therapy experience and gives you the tools and flexibility you need to provide the best possible service.

Here are some guidelines for creating a massage room that will benefit both you and your clients:

Size. At minimum, a therapy room needs to be large enough to accommodate a standard massage table -- 85 inches long (including head cradle) by 30 inches wide -- as well as at least three feet of space around the table for you to move around in. That means your workspace must be 13 feet by 8.5 feet at minimum. Add a few extra feet both length and width to accommodate shelves, chairs, counters, a sink, etc. In short, you need between 120 to 180 square feet to create a practical, comfortable working space.

Sound Proofing. If possible, sound proof the room to make it as quiet as possible. Certainly don't choose a space that is close to a busy street, freeway, railroad track or other source of disturbing noise.

Temperature Control. Your room should have its own independent thermostat. You want to keep your room at a "neutral" temperature, one that is neither too hot nor too cold for your clients.

Flooring. Your clients will be getting on and off your table in their bare feet, so your flooring should be wood or vinyl tile. Don't use ceramic tile (too hard and cold) or carpet (to easily stained). Add a soft area rug to provide additional warmth and comfort.

Lighting. Your therapy room should be windowless so you can easily control the amount of light within. If the room has a window, install shutters or blackout curtains to minimize outside light. Light the room with soft incandescent bulbs on a dimmer switch. (Modern compact fluorescent bulbs may be more energy efficient and eco-friendly, but they can't be effectively dimmed.)  During a session, you will want the light to be low enough to totally relax your client but bright enough that you can still see what you're doing. If you would like to use candles, put them in areas where you're not likely to knock into them during your work. And only use unscented varieties (see below).

Storage. You need enough shelf space to have all the equipment you'll need during a therapy session -- lotions, oils, towels, stones, etc. -- close hand. Use an outside closet for bulk storage needs. Install hooks and have hangers available so clients can easily hang their clothes up before their therapy sessions begin.

Decor. Paint the room in neutral earth tones. Avoid bright or dark colors. Hang some nature-themed paintings or framed posters. Add a few natural accents made from wood, stone, fabric and/or wicker. A few nice throw pillows can deliver the right message at a very low cost. Avoid decorating with "hard" materials like metal or glass. Small counter-top fountains or similar "energy" elements can provide additional atmosphere. Some therapists like to hang reflexology charts or Eastern Medicine-themed diagrams to add both credibility and a hint of exotic romanticism to the room.

Furniture. In addition to your massage table, you should have a comfortable chair in which your clients can sit while changing. Also have a small chair or stool on rollers you can use during your sessions.

Music. Music is a major component of most massage therapy sessions. Equip your room with a small CD or portable digital musical player and some good, compact speakers. Have a variety of spa-style albums on hand so you can customize your music to suit your clients’ tastes.

Scents. Keep your therapy room smelling fresh and non-medicinal. But don't introduce strong aromas unless you're specifically practicing aromatherapy. Many people are sensitive to specific smells and may even be allergic. When it comes to scents, err on the side of caution.

Building the perfect massage therapy room need not be expensive. By choosing the right materials, colors and accessories and blending them in the best combinations, you can project an image of luxury without breaking your bank.

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