Like me, dear readers, you might be naturally curious about what people talk about when you aren’t present. When it comes to massage therapists – the folks who tend to our aches and pains, help us achieve tranquility and calm, and see more of our bodies than the average bear (unless you are often a nude bear, in which case, kudos!) – you may be especially curious.
Having recently immersed myself in the world of massage therapy, consider me an amateur anthropologist who can shed some light on this matter. Based on a purely unscientific exploration, I found that several themes emerged in recent conversations at our favorite holistic wellness center, the massage therapist’s natural habitat. In addition to the usual concerns party to any human (hopes and fears, love, death, House of Cards plot twists, WMATA shutdowns, the statistical probability of a zombie apocalypse, etc.), this is what the bodyworkers at Freed Bodyworks talk about when you aren’t on the table:
Playlists. Music creates an emotive experience, but exactly what kind of emotive experience is a science that occupies a lot of bodyworker brain space. They signed up to rub bodies, not DJ. This results in some understandable occasional anxiety. The hope is that you don’t really notice the music playing during your session, or if you notice it, to only notice it in a good way. Massage therapists can spend hours (HOURS!) debating nature sounds and jazz and sitars and cymbals and which Pandora station provides the most relaxing tunes that sound the least like Enya. A good playlist is hard to find, and it’s a topic that never seems to exhaust itself.
Fuel. Bodywork is a labor of love, in that it is loving but also laborious. One must hydrate the hustle. Pretty much any massage therapist can speak at length about how much water they consumed, how much water they want to drink, how much they love their water bottle, wondering where they left said water bottle, and pining for a coffee shop closer to Freed (for coffee, not water, but the theme holds). Secondary to talking about water consumption is talking about protein intake. Peanut butter. Beans. Almonds. Canned tuna. I could be wrong, but my impression of massage therapists is that snack time is all the time.
Tools of the trade. From bolsters to oils to foam rollers, massage therapists are really jazzed about the tools they use everyday to support your sessions. And don’t get them started on sheets! Unless you are Tom Haverford or work the Macy’s bedding section, you probably don’t care about linens as much as bodyworkers.
You (but not the way you think!). As someone who, er, never got around to shaving her legs last year, I used to be convinced that massage therapists were as aware of this as I was. But you know what? They aren’t. In the ten months I spent at Freed Bodyworks, I never once (not a single time, dear readers!!) heard a massage therapist comment on how anyone’s body looked. Bodyworkers don’t care about your body hair, whether you showered today, if your feet are smelly, or how squishy or firm various body parts are. This might be because of Freed’s unique commitment to radical inclusion and ensuring that all bodies feel welcome. Or it might be because massage therapists see so many bodies that your particularities are just as notable as someone else’s. Or it might be because frankly, my dears, they don’t give a damn. Don’t get me wrong – they DO talk about you; at least, they talk about your muscles, joints, tendons, and other such things. Bodyworkers regularly shoot the breeze about abdomens, jaw muscles, fascia, pectorals, quads, the psoas, how to spell “psoas,” and when they first learned to spell “psoas.” They talk about your body in a way I found truly remarkable: they are invested in coming up with ways to better understand your body and what it needs.
Now you know the truth, dear readers. Next time you come in for a session, tell your bodyworker that you know everything, and assure them that if you hear any bird chirps while you are on the table, it’ll stay between the two of you.