Have you ever wanted to get a massage in your own home but couldn’t find a therapist who would do it, or do it for what you consider a reasonable rate? Every therapist has their own reason for either not doing house calls or for the size of their fee if they choose to do them. Today I’m going to give you the most common reasons why a massage therapist might not do any house calls or why they charge so bleeping much if they do.
Let’s get this one out of the way first. Massage therapists are in business not only to help alleviate pain and stress but also to pay their bills. In other words, it’s our job. For every hour we spend massaging someone in their home, we spend about 15 minutes bringing our equipment into the house and setting it up, another 15-20 minutes packing it all back up and taking payment. Plus, we have to factor in the amount of time it takes to drive to your house and back to our office. That means it takes us roughly 2 hours to do a 1 hour massage. For that reason, many therapists charge double their normal 1 hour in-office rate.
I cannot tell you how many therapists talk about kids disrupting the massage. If they’re loud, it’s a distraction for everyone involved. If they keep running into the room, knocking on the door, or yelling questions through the door your muscles are going to tense up instead of relax, plus it makes it very difficult for us to focus solely on your body and how it’s responding to the massage. If the therapist can’t focus because of interruptions or distractions, you’re not going to get their best work. Not even close. We don’t like it when we can’t do our best work.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all kids are a distraction. I’m just saying that we have no way of knowing ahead of time if they’re going to be, and some therapists don’t do well with loud voices or frequent interruptions while they’re working.
Therapist allergies aside, there are other reasons therapists may not do house calls in homes where there are animals. Pets can present many of the same distractions that kids do, albeit in a slightly different way. They also present two additional distraction issues. First is their curiosity or desire to be near you that causes them to jump up onto the massage table during the session, and inevitably lay on a part of the body that we haven’t massaged yet. Second is their impeccable ability to be underfoot at just the wrong moment, causing us to trip and fall, sometimes onto you. Good times.
But they can also present a problem that kids generally don’t, namely destroying our equipment. Therapists have had their shoes and equipment peed on, chewed on, and outright eaten. This does NOT make us happy. Equipment is expensive, and it’s not enough if a client is willing to pay to replace the item if we have to go to 3 other homes that day with our massage table upholstery chewed up, our carry case smelling of urine, or with our credit card reader in the dog’s stomach.
There are so many other distractions in someone’s home that it’s impossible to name them all, but the most common are: phones ringing, dryers buzzing, doorbells sounding, TV or video games being played loudly in another room, and the sounds of conversation or even arguments in another part of the house. It’s amazing how un-relaxing it can be when these distractions are going on during your massage.
Outside: When the therapist has to park on the street, it’s important that any stairs leading onto your property or porch be in good repair. It’s crazy how many times therapists arrive to find that the stairs are actually crumbling, are sloped back toward the sidewalk or front walk, and/or don’t have handrails. We’re often carrying well over a thousand dollars worth of equipment when we come to your home. If we can’t ensure the safety of our equipment, we won’t do it.
Inside: “I thought it’d be nice to do the massage in the master bedroom suite. It’s on the third floor. You don’t mind do you?” Yes. We do mind. Carrying a 22-30 pound table plus linens, supplies, and music up 2 flights of stairs is not only very difficult, it’s also hard on our body. For those of us who are short, it’s even harder. Don’t even get me started on your spiral staircase. Yes, it’s beautiful; but the difficult job of getting our table up those stairs just became near impossible. You don’t mind if we knock the swag off your banisters or scuff your walls do you?
Therapists who do house calls will ask potential clients if they have a space big enough in their house for the massage table and room to work around it. It’s not unreasonable to ask for a 10′ x 5′ space. Sadly it’s all too common to be shown to an area that’s only 3′ x 6′. Yes, the massage table fits (barely), but in order to work on you in that small of a space we have to contort our bodies in ways that 1) don’t allow us to do our best work and 2) can actually cause us pain and/or injure us. Not cool. We love what we do but if we break our bodies working in too small a space we can’t keep doing it.
Driveways: You may drive a ginormous SUV or Jeep and therefore not sustain any damage to your vehicle, but some of us drive normal sized cars and big ruts either force us to damage our undercarriage or to leave our car at the street and schlepp our equipment up your driveway by hand to prevent damaging our car.
Sidewalks: Carrying our equipment over uneven surfaces is not only difficult, it’s a great way to hurt ourselves and damage our equipment.
There are no shortage of stories from therapists of being asked for “special treatment” while doing a house call. Creeepers and pervs (what we call the folks who want something sexual as part of their massage) LOVE us to make house calls; there’s no front desk to be able to identify them and no other therapists around to come to the therapist’s aid should s/he call for help.
There are also no shortage of stories about therapists who do a house call and are either raped or murdered by their client. For this reason, some therapists do house calls by referral only. If they don’t have someone who will vouch for you, they won’t do it.
Now I’m in no way saying that one of these scenarios is present in every house call. Not at all. I am saying, however, these things happen with enough regularity that they are one of the many topics that therapists discuss in online forums. We discuss how to handle each of the above situations, whether a therapist over-reacted to a situation, etc. With all this attention on them, it’s no surprise that most therapists carefully weigh the pros and cons of doing house calls before deciding whether to offer them or not.