Tipping is a hotly contested issue in massage therapy. Some massage therapists depend on gratuity to make ends meet. Some think tipping is altogether inappropriate for our profession. Others just find the whole thing awkward.
Where do I fall? It depends on the setting. When visiting a spa spa, unless they have an actual no tipping policy, your therapist is probably making an awful lot less than what you’re paying for your massage, and you should really (pretty please) leave a tip there. Private practice is a different story and varies from one massage therapist to another. When I’m working for myself, I fall into the “tipping is never expected, but always appreciated” camp. What does this mean? It means that I do actually find money useful, and tips are a great way of saying “thank you,” and I appreciate them, truly, but it does not hurt my feelings or offend me in any way if you don’t leave a tip. I don’t believe in hidden costs, and I don’t love feelings of obligation around money. If you’re in the habit of tipping for massage and if it makes you feel generous and warm and fuzzy, do it! But if you’ve set aside your $100 for your massage, and that’s what’s in your budget, or if you just feel weird about gratuity as a thing, don’t fret.
Working at Sacred is a joy. I do work part-time at a spa, and it’s usually lovely, but practicing massage at Sacred? With all of you awesome people? With the candles in the room and the community right outside the door? In the very studio where I do my own moving meditation? Well, that’s just about as good as it gets. Showing up and giving me the opportunity to do work I love is a gift in and of itself. If you really liked your massage and you like doing the gratitude thing, here are some alternatives to leaving a tip:
- Tell a friend. Maybe they want a massage, maybe I’ll just bump into them, and they will say “omg, I hear that you are amazing.” Either way, it will make my day.
- Write me review. I’ve used online reviews for years to find decent coffee in faraway lands, to make my way to Julia Child’s favorite tacos, and even to find my own massage therapists. But I’ve been a little slow to put my own practice on there, and I could use some online love. You can do it here.
- Get a gift certificate for your nearest and dearest. Holidays are coming. Massage is the best present ever. For real.
- Come on back! We can set up a series for you at a discount. By the time your last (essentially free) massage rolls around, the investment will have paid off long ago.
- Stay for a yoga class. It doesn’t benefit me financially in any way if you stick around to sweat it out at Sacred, but it might be good for you, and I ♥ self-care.
Of course, you don’t have to do any of these things. You can just show up and be you. That works too.
what an amazing post indeed. while tips are good, those who are in the profession to truly impact, help others and make a difference value the 5 points you mentioned even more. i know that when i was practicing medical massage, i would appreciate nothing more than three things.
1) telling you it was beneficial and seeing the difference in my patients
2) telling others
3) coming back for maintenance
there was nothing more self satisfying than this
i am glad you wrote about these in depth. thank you