Do you have a busy life and just can't find the time to get that much-needed massage in? Then no need to worry, you can now order your massage on-line, through burgeoning mobile service, Urban Massage. Gymbox members can get 10% off all treatments for the next three months. Just click here to claim your discount. We asked our head of social media Lulu Le Vay to test the service on your behalf.
I am very fussy when it comes to massage, and very skeptical about some of these apps that you can order anything from pie and chips to a handyman to put those shelves up. Such is modern life, so one has to embrace it – my only issue is the quality of the service, and if you will get value for your hard-earned coin.
I was immediately attracted to Urban Massage as it's the first service in London I've encountered where you can order an on-demand massage to your home (there are also office services available). My life is hectic. As well as heading up the social media for Gymbox, I'm also a journalist and DJ, and am squeezing in a full-time PhD. I spend hours writing at my desk, or dashing about town fitting in meetings, and am on my feet DJing for up to 8 hours during busy periods. I also train 4-5 times a week – running, swimming and spin classes. My diary is all over the place, so having a service where I can simply book in a time that works for me, and I don't need to travel anywhere, is pure bliss. Sounds good on paper, right? But does it live up to the hype?
I booked therapist Christopher to come to my flat in deep south London last Saturday afternoon, the only window in my schedule that week. I had booked a sports massage and added a note that I preferred a hard massage. I had the option of a male or female therapist. Some women might prefer a female therapist, but gender is never an issue for me, just as long as they're good at their job. It's important to note that all the therapists have had a thorough background check, so your safety is assured.
I had just been out for a 10k run, and not had a massage for three months. In addition, I'd been on a writing deadline for three weeks solid, so my poor body was crying out for attention. Literally crying. Christopher arrived on time, and had a fold-up massage table under his arm, and a smile on his face. I felt at ease immediately, and after a quick chat and some background health info, I was down to my undies and on the table under a towel (it doesn't take much). Christopher had also brought music and a heated blanket for me to lie on. Yes, a heated blanket! Each therapist is different, and when you go to book a massage on the website/app, you can access their details, so you can find the one that's right for you. Just like Uber, you can also see the ratings of your therapist.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Christopher has a mixed approach to massage, and has studied a wide range of techniques, mainly inspired by Thai massage. He has also studied, and practices, acupuncture, moxibuston and yoga. Christopher assessed my whole body when he first arrived (without me knowing). He watched the way I walked, my posture, examined my skin and how I was in my body – if I was in pain or happy in myself. He said he could tell that I was active, and through talking to me was able to get a background of my endless hours at a desk and all the other pressures that I put on my body.
He started by applying broad pressure through myofascial release, which is a technique that's different to normal massage stroke as it pins and separates bigger groups of muscles that might have adhered together through over-use (especially for athletes, cyclists and runners). By doing this Christopher was able to diagnose what the tissue was like underneath, if the muscles were engorged with blood. He then was able to do repetitive deep swirling pressure strokes, rather than holding a pressure at a point. Through this approach he could get the blood and waste products functioning. He also did some assisted stretching – he rotated my hip joints in different directions, crossed my foot over the other knee, and did a hip stretch. By moving the joints in multiple directions he was able to wake up the surrounding muscle groups. He then did some cupping, which although I was anxious of, was really effective. My back is often sore from being on my feet for hours DJing, so cupping is able to increase blood circulation as it pulls on the skin and sends blood locally, and repairs any damage. Christopher finished off the treatment by climbing on my back (you don't have to have this if you don't want to!) and used the Thai technique of pinning down both glutes with his knees and pushing away with his hands that created spinal traction. It was intense but felt amazing!
By the end of the 60 minutes I felt Christopher had really listened to my body and what it needed, even though I might not have known what it was myself. There were moments when the pressure he applied was so intense I couldn't speak, and the deep release was not just physical, but emotional, too. It's important to remember that we are so in-tune with our bodies on an emotional level, massage is vital to not just our health, but to our sense of wellbeing also.
Christopher was excellent at explaining what state my body was in, and what areas needed more focus (apparently my muscles and overall fitness is in the top 3%, that alone was enough to put me in a good mood for the rest of the day), and he was able to give me some tips for what I could do at home – such as foam rolling in front of the TV, and he encouraged me to start doing more yoga.
Give your body what it deserves, book yourself a treatment and get 10% off.
T&Cs: Exclusive to GymBox members. Offer redeemable online at urbanmassage.com/gymbox. Offer applies to any treatments available at time of use and is valid until 31/05/2016. Offer cannot be used against any other Urban Massage promotion(s). No alternative, cash or otherwise, to the stated amount. This marketing communication is directed and valid for London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh residents. Urban Massage reserves the right to withdraw this offer at any time.