If you’ve been making good on resolutions to yogacize daily, run at 5 a.m. or bench press twice your body weight by summer, perhaps it’s time to reward that self-abuse with a massage. The going rate for an hour’s rubdown at Kings County spas is anywhere from $80-$120, but our task was to find massages for $50 and under, preferably for an hour. It turned out that most of the deals we found were at Asian places. In the event that you are a massage noob, we’ve comprised an “Asian Massage Styles” mini-guide.
Tui Na: The massage therapist kneads, rolls and brushes areas between each of the joints and stimulates acupressure points. Acupressure points are the junctures of energy pathways in the body (combination of the words “acupuncture” and “pressure”).
Qi Gong: A style of massage that places emphasis on breathing and movement exercises. Similar to Tui Na in that it makes use of applying pressure to certain points and rolling/grasping/kneading techniques.
Thai Massage: The massage therapist uses their hands, knees, legs and feet to move one into a series of yoga-like stretches.
Keep in mind that at most of these places, no frills is the operating principle. Paper screens and curtains separating massage tables are standard fare, as well as tables lined with paper towels. But at the end of your work (or out-of-work) day, your shoulders are knot-free and your wallet’s only slightly lighter.
Best Chinese BodyWork, 1615 2nd Ave Fl 1 (between 83rd St & 84th St) New York, NY 10028
30-minute bodywork massage/$30
Tai Shuang Spring Resort, 820 54th St., between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, Borough Park
Thai style massage – 60 minutes (including choice of facial or oil treatment)/$25
Foot or upper body massage – 60 minutes/$28
Qi Gong Tui-Na Salon, 655 Manhattan Ave., between Bedford and Norman, Greenpoint
30 minute massage/ $26
60 minute massage/ $50
Summer Day Spa and Bodyworks, 351 Flatbush Ave. at Park Place, Park Slope
60-minute Tui-Na or Qi Gong massage/$48
With so many massage types or “modalities” out there, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which one is right for you. Each massage modality is unique and uses different techniques to best address the needs of the patient. One common trait you will find amongst the Asian modalities is that they are performed with the patient’s clothes on, unlike Western “Swedish” massages, which use oils and are done without clothing. Find out more about the different styles below and click on the links to watch short video demos of each, performed by Pacific College faculty experts.
Swedish Massage: This is the most commonly practiced form of Western massage. If you’re going to a spa, they will offer Swedish massage. It uses a variety of techniques to relax muscles by applying light, moderate, or deep pressure to muscles and bones, and increases the range of motion at joints and promotes blood circulation to the heart. The main purpose of Swedish massage is to increase the oxygen flow in the blood and release toxins from the muscles. If you’re looking for a relaxing massage to help you unwind, you can’t go wrong with Swedish.
Shiatsu: (Japanese from ‘shi’, meaning finger, and ‘atsu’, meaning pressure) is a traditional hands-on therapy originating in Japan. There are two main Shiatsu schools: one based on Western anatomical and physiological theory and the other based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Shiatsu is an evolving form, and its various styles incorporate (to differing degrees) aspects of Japanese massage traditions, Chinese Medicine practice, and Western anatomy and physiology. This modality is usually performed on the floor and uses pressure points, applied through the fingers instead of the entire palm, so pressure may feel more firm. Shiatsu has been used to treat a wide array of conditions including headaches, insomnia, injury recovery, and more.
Thai Massage: This style of massage involves stretching and pressure point techniques along theoretical energy channels. This form of bodywork is usually performed on the floor, and the client wears comfortable clothes that allow for movement. It’s known in Thailand as “nuat phaen boran”, literally “the ancient-manner massage”. Thai massage uses a lot of deep stretching and yoga-like poses, so it’s often recommended for people involved in sports, dance, etc. whose muscles need some good stretching.
Tui Na: This is a form of Chinese manipulative therapy often used in conjunction with acupuncture, moxibustion, fire cupping, Chinese herbalism, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong. Tui Na is a hands-on body treatment that uses Chinese Taoist and martial art principles to bring the body to balance. The practitioner may brush, knead, roll/ press and rub the areas between each of the joints (known as the eight gates) to open the body’s defensive (wei) qi and get the energy moving in both the meridians and the muscles. Tui Na works well for someone with an illness, someone with lower back pain, or just regular everyday built up tension.
Reflexology: involves the physical act of applying pressure to the feet and hands with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on a system of zones and reflex areas that are thought to reflect as a map on the feet and hands, with the premise that it can affect all areas of the body through reflex responses. If you’re looking for a full-body massage, this is not it, but reflexology is more than a foot massage, it improves circulation throughout the body, and is a popular choice of complementary therapy amongst cancer patients, according to a study in the American Cancer Society journal.
All of these techniques have beneficial qualities to offer, so if you’re in doubt as to which one to try, there’s no harm in trying them all and seeing for yourself which one fits you best. You can find all of these styles, at discounted and affordable rates, at the Best Chinese Bodywork.
There’s nothing like a new haircut, massage, sauna, exfoliating facial or fancy pedicure to help you shed some of those wintry dead skin cells and look your best. And though spa treatments might cost you a couple crates of 3 Buck Chuck, sometimes you just have to do as Tom Haverford says: Treat. Yo. Self. Here are our few of favorite spas, barbershops and salons, and as always, suggest a few of your own in the comments:
Spa Castle (via Facebook)
SPA CASTLE: This famous Queens spa is pretty much a palace of luxury, boasting saunas, spa rooms, pools, massages and all-around hedonistic wonderment. For $35 on a weekday and $45 on a weekend, you get all-day access to the indoor and outdoor pools, saunas and showers. Individual services like sea salt body scrubs ($110/35 minutes) at their Lavender Beauty Spa or Korean-style body scrubs ($50-$250), healing stone therapy massages ($160/90 minutes) and hand-and-foot massages ($70/60 minutes) cost extra. Best of all, they’ve got an Acqua Beauty Bar on hand, where you can order a beer or cocktail and hang out in a warm pool for a while—just be sure to avoid the steam rooms while you’re drinking, or you might find yourself losing your senses for a few days.
Ohm Spa, via Yelp
OHM SPA: Ohm Spa’s got a bevy of refreshing treatments to choose from, and the spa’s friendly technicians and casual atmosphere makes every massage and manicure all the more pleasurable. They’ve got a particularly soothing pre-natal massage ($145/60 minutes) that’s designed to alleviate back and hip pain and kick up circulation in pregnant women, in addition to deep-tissue, Swedish, sports and shiatsu massages. And for the chemical-conscious nail polish addicts out there (it’s a real thing, we swear!) the spa offers special manicures and pedicures using antioxidant-rich, vegan and chemical-free polish and products.
Persons of Interest, Smith Street (via Facebook)
PERSONS OF INTEREST: This modern update of the classic barbershop is a laid-back spot to stop in for a shave and a cut, with friendly barbers and hip music piping in over the shop’s speakers. Prices fall somewhere between those at neighborhood barbers and at fancier salons, since both the Carroll Gardens location and the newer Williamsburg outpost offer $40 haircuts, $40 shaves and $15 beard trims. But you leave looking fresh, and, if you take them up on the free Brooklyn Lager they give out, feeling pretty fly too, which is a definite plus.
Persons of Interest is located at 82-84 Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-218-9100,personsofinterestbklyn.com) and at 299 Smith Street between Union and Sackett Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718) 858-5300, personsofinterestbklyn.com). Follow them on Facebook.
DRYBAR: Muggy summer might not be the best time to rock super-sleek hair, but this blow-dry chain will keep you from looking like the Bride of Frankenstein, even in the toughest temperatures. The cutesy cocktail-themed names for their signature styles—the “Mai Tai” for beachy waves, the “Up-tini” for a topknot— might be a little much, but after the stylists coerce those curls you’ve been overgelling for 15 years into something that resembles straight hair, well, you’ll forgive yourself for paying $40 for a hairdo named after a drink. Other perks? Glasses of wine pre-blow-dry, home blowouts ($95) and a range of products and styling tools for sale to help you keep up the look.
Dry-Bar has a number of locations in Manhattan. See their website for details.
PURE QI REGIMEN SPA: Yes, deep tissue massages are painful, and yes, your masseuse will probably remove your muscle from the bone (or at the very least, it will feel like he/she does). But after an hour of getting your body beaten and twisted into some kind of submission, you will spend several more hours, days and maybe even weeks walking around in a euphoric daze, and from that day on, you will never, ever bother with some pansy, touchy-feely gentle massage again. Upgrading to deep tissue at Pure Qi will run you an extra $10 ($45/40 minutes, $60/60 minutes, $90/90 minutes), but spring for it anyway, and your shoulder muscles, the ones you thought were forever twisted thanks to hours upon hours of working watching Netflix at your desk will be eternally grateful.
Pure Qi Regimen Spa is located at 268 Driggs Ave between Eckford St and Leonard St in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (718-383-3822, pureqispa.com).
MERMAID SPA: Russian bath houses don’t exactly feature the same frills as a typical NYC luxury spa—you’ll find no frou-frou candles or hand-towels crafted into swans here, and the hit massage treatment involves getting beaten in a boiling hot steam room with an olive branch. But for a $35 day pass, you can sit in several steam rooms of varying temperatures, sweat out your toxins and jump into an ice cold pool to cool off, an age-old Russian remedy to get your circulation going. For the adventurous spa goer, try the aforementioned (light) olive-branch beating, called a platza treatment ($40); the spa also offers regular full body massages ($55-$80), plus they’ve got a restaurant serving borscht and other Russian delicacies to fill you up post-sweat-and-dip.
Mermaid Spa is located at 3701-11 Mermaid Ave in Sea Gate, Brooklyn (347) 462-2166, mermaidspany.com).
Blossom (via Facebook)
BLOSSOM IN ASTORIA: This Astoria spa is one of the city’s best neighborhood nail salons, offering friendly service and stellar manicure/pedicures that don’t break the bank. A regular manicure runs $8 and a regular pedicure runs $15; they also offer French manicures ($12), tip sets ($35) and O.P.I soak-off gel manicures ($24) that come with free soak-off removal and last about two weeks. Other deals: Pamper Me manicures ($25), which include crystal exfoliation, a sea rock bath, and a marine masque, along with a menu of massages and waxes, all done in the spa’s clean, cozy and charming space.
Blossom is located at 22-04A 31st Street in Astoria, Queens (718-278-2324, blossominastoria.com). Follow them on Facebook.
via Butterfly Studio on Facebook
Butterfly Studio: Your local chapter of Supercuts might be great for a quick trim, but if you’re looking to lop off lots of locks or you’re tired of botched highlights, this Flatiron salon provides stellar hair services if you’re willing to spend a bit more for a quality cut and color. The second-floor salon features a comfortable waiting area complete with a zen-like fountain and complimentary red and white wines. Once you’re properly buzzed, one of the skilled stylists whisks you away to a comfortable leather seat for your desired treatment.
Ladies haircuts start at $105, single processes color runs $105-$180 with highlights starting at $157; gentlemen’s haircuts start at $84. While some high-end salons feel scene-y and too cool for school, Butterfly Studio has a decidedly relaxed and convivial vibe, perpetuated by the friendly and low-key staff. If you want a killer cut in an unpretentious atmosphere, you’ll find it here. (Nell Casey)
Butterfly Studio is located at 149 5th Avenue, 212-253-2100
Uni K Wax: If you’re planning a trip to the beach for Memorial Day or beyond, you may need to, ahem, de-fuzz before baring your semi-naked flesh to other sun seekers. Whether you’re a lady looking to tidy up the bikini line or a dude with some extra back bristle, stop in any one of three Manhattan locations for a relatively pain-free waxing experience—really! The center uses their own formula of wax made with the resin of pine trees, beeswax and other natural ingredients that removes hair quickly and easy—even in the most sensitive of spots.
Ladies can get their bikini line done for $23, with full Brazillians running $45; dudes —yes, dudes!—can get the same treatment for $35 and $69 respectively. The center also does all manner of body hair removal, from eyebrows ($17-25), back ($27-50) and legs ($55-65) and every other conceivable place that hair grows. (Nell Casey)
Uni K Wax Centers are located at 553 3rd Avenue in Murray Hill, 212-481-2777; 13 West 18th Street in the Flatiron, 212-255-5561; and 1626 3rd Avenue, 212-369-6888
Mario Badescu Skin Care Salon: If the celebrity testimonials aren’t enough to convince you, the thorough but inexpensive facials most definitely will. This Midtown East staple of the beauty scene has been exfoliating and moisturizing a dedicated following since 1967, when Romanian-born chemist Mario Badescu brought his botanically-based skin care products to the city.
The basic European Facial, which costs just $65, includes a detoxifying steam, a gentle cleansing, a light face and neck massage, extractions and a personalized treatment mask depending on your skin type. Add-ons like an Herbal Seaweed Treatment (extra $35), with antioxidant vitamins and trace minerals, and a skin-calming Ginkgo-Collagen Treatment (extra $30) offer even more benefits for your city-wracked epidermus. Plus, manicures are just $15 when scheduled with a facial, so you’ll leave the spa with a glowing visage and some shiny nails.
The sparkling white interior is clean without feeling antiseptic and the knowledgeable and friendly staff will put any first time facialers at ease. In addition to the facials, the spa also offers massages, body scrubs, waxing and make-up application lessons. They also sell the full line of MB products, so you can keep your skin shiny and blemish-free in between visits.
Mario Badescu is located at 320 East 52nd Street, (212) 758-1065
The Massage Therapy Certification and licensing process is very confusing in the US. Certification is different than licensing. Each State has different licensing requirements and there are still a handful of states that don’t have any requirements. There is no true National Certification that means you can practice in any state. There is something called the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) and they offer a few different exams, but it does not mean that if you take their exam that you can practice in any state.
Each state has different requirements to become a licensed massage therapist. You will need to fulfill the requirements in the state that you want to practice. Even though many states use the same exam that is offered by the NCBTMB, that still does not mean you can practice in any state. The title of this certification is misleading.
To be able to provide massage therapy as an employee or start your own massage business you will need to be licensed to do massage in your state. Going to massage school you will most likely get a certificate of completion of the massage program but that does not allow you to call yourself a certified massage therapist.
It does mean that you need to complete the requirements for massage licensing in your state which may include becoming Nationally Certified by the National Certification Board or Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Up until recently, massage therapy certification has been offered only by the NCBTMB. This organization was developed by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) in 1992.
There is also currently another exam that is being accepted in some states. It is offered by theFederation of Massage State Boards. It still does not mean that you can practice in any state. The Federation is making headway in getting more states on board with having an alternative to National Certification.
The NCBTMB is a very controversial political topic in the massage profession. In some places the NCBTMB exam is often being required as a prerequisite for getting a job but this certification may not be all that it is supposed to be. It does not guarantee that a massage therapist will be knowledgeable or competent to do massage.
While the test is offered by the NCBTMB, you also have to pay extra to obtain the title of Nationally certified massage therapist. Most people do not renew their certification after their initial membership as it really does not do much in the way of getting you ahead in the profession.
To become a massage therapist in the US, you will need to find out what is required in your state or in the state you want to practice. Each state requirements vary in things like the number of total hours of education as well as the number of hours of classes in certain areas. Most often it requires some type of certification and passing massage school and a test.
For example two states can require 500 hours of training but they may require a different amount of hours in a specific topic like anatomy or pathology so you will need to take the extra training.