The Complete Guide: Massage Room Starter Kit

Oh yes, your massage room your little slice of peace and serenity that is a representation of who you are and what your massage business is about. When it comes to setting up you’re massage room it really doesn’t take a lot to get started but there are a few things you need right away and other items can wait till your massage business is more established and your funds are better.

You may be on a budget but you need to be sure you are presenting your massage business in the best light.

Don’t get me wrong I love hand-me-downs but when it comes to your professional massage business, you need to take that serious and buy professional grade massage gear.

When it comes to the small decorations go with what feels right but when it comes to the staple pieces, it needs to be professional equipment all the way!

When determining the feel you want to display in your treatment room that’s 100{52b16a40bdef839be06e08eb8273b306e5347bd39e49b1e9b9a0e489352200ea} you’re call. In my last office I had two rooms so I sub leased one of the rooms to another massage therapist and our rooms were polar opposite. As I am a medical massage therapist my massage room had muscle charts, trigger point charts and other medical visual aids to help educate my clients.

In my friends massage room, I was actually blow away with what she had done with the place. When I walked into her space for the first time, I was transported to an oasis. It was colorful but not to busy, she had fabric on the walls, and crystals and candles for days. She was a Reiki master and her massage room displayed that all the way.

If you are on a budget when first starting out that’s ok, start with the important stuff and everything else will come later. You massage business will not succeed without the right massage table so let’s take a look at your options.

It starts with the massage table!

Starting your own massage practice is a low maintenance inexpensive business but it does take a small upfront investment, after you have the larger pieces then you only need to worry about getting clients.

Your massage table should be the focal point of your massage room. Yes, the colors on the walls can play into people moods and you need some decorations so the space doesn’t seem empty but if you have a sub par massage table then it doesn’t matter how nice your room looked or how great your massage is.

I have been on some BAD massage tables and it drives me nuts! I honestly don’t understand how a massage therapist thinks a cheap table with starchy sheets would be acceptable? Trust me, I love a bargain and I live on a budget just like everyone else, in fact when I started my massage business way back when. I used cheap hand -me -down stuff because that’s all I had at the time, so no judgment here.

I only want to share my story in the hopes it helps your massage business get off on the right foot so you don’t experience the same growing pains as I did. Moral of the story is, if money is tight spend it wisely and only focus on the important stuff. If you can’t afford anything else in the beginning spend your money on a nice portable massage table or if you feel you will be in the same place for awhile, then I recommend a stationary table.

Stationary tables are so much better when working with different types of bodies.

With a sanitation table they are typically wider and longer then a portable table and they are far more sturdy as well. Again, if you are on a budget when you first start your business and you are still in the growing stage. That means you will likely be doing promotional events around town and at different businesses. In that case if you can only afford one table I would go with a portable massage table.

When I opened my business I only had my Earthlite portable massage table and when I did anything offsite I would have to break my table down and load up my stuff and away I went.

When you start your massage business you have to be hungry and willing to hustle to get your name out there. I couldn’t afford paid adverting so I had to get out there and hustle, so that’s what I did.

I have been using the same Earthlite portable massage table for 14 years, after a decade it has minimal wear and tear, in fact I just used it yesterday for an out call and it works great!

An Earthlite portable massage table will cost more then other portable massage tables but it’s worth it to me.

Since my portable massage table is so old I could not find the exact one, as we all know styles change but the portable massage table displayed below is extremely similar to the one I have been using for many years. This is the Earthlite Premium Portable Massage Table Package Spirit, everything on this table is just like mine except the weaving of the wood under the face cradle, which that is more for looks then structural importance.

Once I established my brand and I built a strong following I didn’t need to leave the office as much so at that time I invested in a stationary massage table and I was in love!

Stationary massage tables are the logical next step in your massage business, they are stronger, bigger, practical, and look great! You can either go with an electric or non electric massage table, it is totally your preference. When I bought my stationary massage table I went with the Master Massage 31” Spamaster Series LX.

Yes this is not an Earthlite product but I liked the reviews, I liked the look of it, and the price was right. I have been using this table for several years now and I an still happy with my choice. Check out the video below for a walk through of the table and it’s features.

 

Master Massage table in depth look:

 

Electric massage table:

I do love my Master massage table but I have had my eye on upgrading to an electric lift massage table. I work with so many different types of bodies in the same day that an electric massage table just makes sense.

This is especially true as I am experimenting in more advance movements and trying different styles of massage to help lessen the burden on my body.

After 14 years of massage I need to make my job as easy as possible so I am always looking for modalities and or massage equipment to help me effectively give a great massage but not kill my body in the process.

I have not purchased this yet but I really like the EARTHLITE Electric Lift Massage Table ELLORA. The Ellora comes in two options and I haven’t purchased yet because I am torn. Maybe you can help?

The manual lift is similar to the stationary massage table I have currently. My clients really respond well to having the back lift option as it helps with sinus drainage after being prone for most of the massage.

So I think I would like to keep that feature but the flat electric massage table is a good choice as well. The flat electric table is what we used when I worked for Massage Envy so I am familiar with this type of table and I liked it quite well, ugg choices.

Electric massage tables are an investment but I believe I am ready to shell out the coin for a great massage table. If you have been a massage therapist for several years and you don’t plan on changing careers anytime soon then I would invest in a electric massage table for the sake of your body.

For this particular table you have several options of color to choose from as well as length options and of course you have the option to have a raised back or flat option. Not gonna lie, I have been looking at this table for sometime.

I just need to bite the bullet and order it! If you are interested in learning more about the Earthlite electric table click here.

Massage Table Fleece pads:

Now that we have covered the three types of massage table, now we need to dress our massage tables. Once again, don’t skimp on this stuff your massage table is so important to get right. You want your client to lay on your table and say “oh yeah” not “oh no”, so here are the basics of what you need to set your massage table up for the first time.

Once you buy these items, they will work for you for many years so don’t be afraid to spend a little here, this is investing in your massage business trust me, this matters!

OK, in my opinion a massage table feels cold if you don’t have a fleece barrier between the table and sheets so I highly recommend a fleece liner and a table warmer as well.

It doesn’t matter if you live in California or Indiana, once a client gets relaxed their blood pressure will drops and they will become cold.

I leave my warmer on my table year round so that at anytime if a client get cold I can turn the warmer on and in a few minutes they are nice and cozy again.

The fleece liner I went with also included a face cradle liner, it is important to have a liner on your face cradle for comfort but it also sanitary, keeping bodily fluids or makeup off your face rest.

This is more relevant if you have a cloth memory foam face rest like I do. If you are using the leather face rest that came with your table a fleece liner isn’t as important but still feels nice.

I current use the Earthlite massage table fleece pad which included the face cradle cover. I went with this massage table pad because it goes the entire length of the massage table. I hated at Massage Envy that our table pads stopped right at the neck line and you could feel that through the massage sheets. See picture below for comparison:

This image on the left is what I am currently using, and this is called the full-fit design. The fleece pad on the right is your standard massage table fleece pad and as you can see the pad does not go the full length of the massage table.

I also do not care for this design because the pad likes to shift around when the client flips over, and over time the elastic band stretches out.

The fleece liner on the right is cheaper but it is not worth the few saved dollars in my opinion. Also the liner on the left has so much more cushion to it, it’s pretty much amazing! To read the specs for yourself and make the best informed decision click here.

Massage table heating pad:

I don’t care what climate you live in, if you are giving a good massage then your clients will get cold because you are relaxing them, therefore there heart rate will slow down and they will get cold. You have a few options when it comes to a massage table warmer. Most massage table heated pads will have a timer on them which some can last for 1-8 hours and others have a 90 minute max timer. 

The heating pad I went with has no timer, I chose this specifically because I wanted to set my room up so I could use a Bluetooth smart outlet so I could turn my towel warmer and heating pad on before I got to work, just in case I was running late for whatever reason.

Massage table warmers that have timers on them require you to manually set the warmer each time you use turn it on.

I have a small child so I am constantly running late so I needed a back up plan for the days I was running late and I wanted the table to be nice and warm for my first client.

I live in a state that gets COLD in the winter so a warm table is a must. Bluetooth powered outlets are awesome, with one swipe on my phone I can turn everything on in my office before I even enter the building. I loved these little things so much I even use them at home at Christmas time so all my pretty lights are on when we walk thorough the door.

Massage table heating pads are a no brainier in my opinion, this is what I bought and I have had no problems with it in 4 years, Bodywork’s choice massage table warmer:

I do recommend having both the fleece liner and the table warmer since you can not wash the table warmer it’s best to have a bearer between the client and the heating pad.

If you do decide to get this heating pad then I strongly recommend getting the Bluetooth outlet adapters so you don’t leave the office for the day then 3 hours later ask yourself, “did I turn that off”? It’s no fun, trust me. Another great table warmer is the therapist choice deluxe table warmer.

These are what we used at Massage Envy and the timer on these last up to 8 hours so you don’t have to worry about messing with it throughout the day. Great product, We had no trouble with these at my clinic and we used them 7 days a week and they lasted forever!

Massage table face cradle pillow:

MT’s often over look face cradle pillows since one comes with their table but I think we can do better than that. For example, I have been using the same memory foam face cradle pillow for several years and MY CLIENTS LOVE IT! For a face cradle pillow it may seem pricey at $65 but if you think about it, that’s one massage and the pillow is paid for.

I have two, one for my portable massage table and one for my stationary table. I think they are totally worth it and you should take a look at my video listed above to see what a memory foam face cradle pillow looks like.

If you go with this cloth face rest then you need a liner to place over it. The fleece pad I mentioned earlier comes with a liner or you can buy it separately.

You can get pretty fancy with your face cradle pillows if you want to, you can buy cooling gel covers that clients with migraines would enjoy, or if you still want memory foam but you don’t want cloth. Then check out this leather memory foam face cradle pillow with a 10 year warranty by Massage Naturals.

Massage table sheet sets:

When getting your massage room ready for business you might be inclined to use a cheap pair of twin size sheets you bought from Walmart.

That can work for a period of time but eventually you will want to upgrade. If you do go the Walmart route be sure to buy at least 300 thread count and go with a darker color.

As a general rule, dark massage sheets are better in my opinion, light colors will show oil stains and if you have hard water the sheets will discolor quickly.

Also if you are just buying twin size sheets please don’t go crazy with patterns. You may have a colorful personality but that doesn’t need to be displayed with your sheets.

You are running a professional massage business so keep you massage room looking good. When you start looking at massage tables sheet sets you will see you have a few options; may have a variety of colors to choose from, then you have to make the decision to go with fleece, microfiber or satin sheets.

Fleece massage sheets are nice in the winter but it has been my experience that fleece sheets take forever to dry and after time their shape changes then they become unusable.

If you are using a table warmer that should take care of any clients warmth needs. Also something to note, if you have a client who get hot flashes or just runs hot in general then fleece might not be a good choice for them.

It is far easier to turn a table warmer on and off per the clients request then have sheets you can’t change once a session begins. If you are worried that the table warmer will not be enough you can always keep a fleece blanket on stand by to add some extra warmth as need be.

Once I realized fleece massage sheets were not for me I tired a set of microfiber brown sheets and I liked them quite a bit.

In fact, I liked them so much I purchased 20 sets, not all at once but at this point I have 20 sets, all brown as I like the darker colors for sheets. I usually take 4-5 appointments a day so 20 was a good number for me so I don’t have to do laundry everyday.

The massage sheets I use are called, Therapist’s Choice Premium Deluxe Microfiber Massage Sheet, 3 piece set. They come in a variety of colors but again I use brown and that works for me.  To check these out and more massage sheets, click here.

I really would stay away from white or cream colored sheets, yes they look nice and spa like, but OMG you will have stains for days!

The sage green sheets are fine I have a set of those and yes they are lighter but they still hold up fine.(I feel like every massage therapist has a set of sage green sheets, it’s cause we are earthy people)

Massage table blankets:

When it comes to the top blanket for your massage table you can really get anything you want as long as you don’t have a lot of excess fabric hanging off the ends.

Excess fabric could lead to a tripping hazard but it also looks frumpy, a simple throw blanket is usually the perfect size and you can pick those up anywhere.

Again, pick a solid color, nothing to heavy and not to thin. I recommend having at least two top blankets so you can rotate then for washing.

If you go with a blanket that is specifically made for a massage table. That’s great, here are some ideas of what’s available for your massage room:

Quilted massage table blanket:

 

Waffle Weave massage table blanket:

Fleece massage table blanket:

 

If you’re feelin fancy:

Massage stool:

Now that you have your massage table set up it’s time to move onto the rest of the room. There are a few small items that are  important to have in your massage room to make your job easier. And make the massage that much more enjoyable for your client. So nexts up, massage stools.

Massage stools are pretty basic, they can get fancy but personally I have used expensive chairs and I prefer a standard massage stool. I purchased a cream colored stool to match my stationary massage table. To read the specs of this stool click here.

Other massage stool include:

  1. Raised back
  2. Folding chair
  3. Saddle stool

As you can see you have a few options available to you when it comes to massage stools. If you are traveling a lot, then a folding chair is really nice to have. If you have your own office or you do massage from home a stool with wheels is my preferred option.

Towel warmer:

If you have your own office or even an at home massage business, then a towel warmer is something you should look into. I don’t care what time of year it is, I always start a session with a hot towel.

Hot towels are a nice addition to provide your clients, it helps brings your hands up to temperature so first contact with the client is warm and calming. 

If it just you, a small towel warmer will work just fine, mine can fit 8 towels and that is plenty for me. As you can see in the picture below I have a rubber mat under my towel warmer. The warmer does not leak but when you open the door some condensation will fall from the inside door.

This is normal and not a problem but the stand I am using is wicker so I didn’t want any water getting onto the stand. If you place your towel warmer on a non porous surface then you will not need anything like what I am using.

If you are sharing a space with other massage therapist and you do not plan to have a towel warmer in each treatment room. Then larger towel warmers are available for shared spaces.

You may also benefit from having a larger towel warmer if you plan to specialize in hot stones massage, aroma therapy or if you plan to do any body scrubs which will require more towels per session.

At this point it may seem like your massage room to-do list is never ending but we are almost done, hang in there!

Massage oils and creams

When you were in your massage program I hope they would have exposed you to many different types of massage oils and creams. Creams and oils are entirely different animals and they can change your massage strokes completely. A massage therapist will quickly determine their preference to one or the other so it’s important to get a feel for what out there.

Once you have determined your preference you will find there are endless options available to you in the sub categories or oils and creams.

I prefer cream and that’s what I use 90{52b16a40bdef839be06e08eb8273b306e5347bd39e49b1e9b9a0e489352200ea} of the time but if I am doing a hot stones massage or aroma therapy I will use oil. My preferred cream is Soothing Touch unscented  with Jojoba, I buy the 64 ounce and that last me about 2 months.

When I worked at Massage Envy we used, Bon Vital all purpose massage creme. I liked this massage creme just fine but I wanted a product I could pump straight from the container so I needed a massage cream that was not as dense.

I prefer using the pump method (illustrated to the left) versus using a wooden spoon to manually scooping creme out of a large 5 gallon bucket into my smaller tube.

I still recommend trying both cream and lotion to see which you like better, lotion is a bit watery but makes for a great all purpose massage product. Creme is a great product for deep tissue work and a little goes a long way. Creme like the Bon Vital is thick enough to put a dollop on your forearm for back up creme once you get started with your session, which is what I did.

Some massage therapist will argue that creme is a bit oily and stains sheets so keep that in mind when trying it out. Massage lotion washes clean and I have had no trouble with it staining sheets or have I had any complaints from my clients.

It is also important to experiment with different massage oils. Massage oil is not my favorite because I primarily do deep tissue, sports and medical massage, so oil isn’t appropriate for my type of massage.

I do however use oil when giving a hot stones massage, oil helps the stones glide perfectly over the skin in a wonderful rhythmic motion.

When giving a hot stones massage I use Bon Vital Rice Bran Oil, it’s inexpensive and works great! Since I don’t use it everyday the 64 ounce jug I buy last forever. When trying oil for the first time start with a little, you can always get oil. The last thing your client wants is to feel like a greased pig after a session so start with a little then add more as needed.

Also consider ending your treatment session with a hot towel to wipe away any excess oil, clients appreciate this and it’s a great way to end the session.

I also recommend have a tube of Biofreeze handy, I don’t charge extra for this since I only use a little per client as needed. I have been using Biofreeze since I started my massage career and in my opinion it’s one of the best products out there. There are a few other pain relieving creams and gels to consider, click here to see other massage creams and tips on how to make more money as a massage therapist.

Sound machines

Even when you have music going I have to have a sound machine going at the same time. The white noise give you that steady flow of continues sound so when the music changes from one song to the next your client will not even notice.

Sound machines are inexpensive and another must have for any massage room. I especially love my sound machine on days my neighbors are having a conference and being extra noisy. For less then $40 it is absolutely a must have, even if I had a perfectly quite space I would still like the white noise but I sleep with a fan so I think white noise is soothing.

When looking at sound machines you want non-looping which means whatever sound you select, it will keep going uninterrupted.

The white noise machine I have only has the static white noise I would like one that has different sounds as well. Believe it or not but I have had clients ask if I had water noise or birds sounds in the past.  Something like the Aurola White Noise machine would be perfect for any massage room. It’s non-looping continues sound with 17 different settings to choose from.  Ok guys, we are almost done now, keep reading!

Muscle & Trigger point charts:

This next section is optional but I would recommend it to any massage therapist but if money is tight this is something that can wait.

I have to have visual aids in my massage room, for many clients it is difficult for them to explain their pain and having something they can point to, helps. I personally like having my trigger point chart as it’s a great reference for me when I’m having a brain fart about certain trigger points.

Muscle charts are nice as well, every office I have worked in always had muscle charts, the look professional and clients like looking at them.

Recap:

When setting up your massage room for the first time it truly doesn’t take much and you can always add to it as time goes on. When I was in school I was so excited when I got my first portable massage table and I couldn’t wait to set up my massage room at home. Money was tight for me at that time, so that’s why I wanted to create this guide to help you as you build up you massage gear collection.

First and foremost you need a portable massage table, 2 sets of sheets, holster and massage cream or oil. In this article I highlighted the Earthlite Premium Portable massage table spirit, but this is an expensive portable massage table. It’s totally worth it as it will last you many years to come but if you need something a bit more budget friendly then check out my review of my top 5 portable massage tables that are easier on the wallet.

Don’t over complicate something that is so simple. As you set up your massage room, keep it simple and focus on the important pieces first. My first massage room was in my parents basements and I had nothing. Now I have so much massage gear I’m currently giving things away to massage students.

I hope you found this helpful as you start your journey as an independent massage therapist. I would love to hear about your massage rooms and items that are a must have for you. Thanks again and good luck…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:
0

Written by 

After 13 years of massage therapy I have learned so much about the body and I want to share that knowledge with you. I will highlight a variety of products that are ideal for all types of bodies for personal use. I hope my insight will help you better understand your pain so you can take back your life and start living again!

14 thoughts on “The Complete Guide: Massage Room Starter Kit

  1. Wow, the next time I go for a massage, I will pay more attention to detail.  

    There is a lot that goes into a massage room.  I have to say though I’m not the guy for the fancy table set up LOL.

    I do go for massages about once a month and do enjoy them quite a lot.  In my job I lift people a lot and in my off time I’m at the gym all the time.

    I go to a place that is very reputable and was referred there by a few people I know, but I don’t like the feel of the sheets.  They are scratchy and I’ve never had the nerve to tell them.  Now I think I have enough information to maybe mention that.  I go on Wednesday next week.

    1. The little things matter. I tell massage therapist all the time not to skimp where it counts and the massage tables definitely matter

  2. There is nothing better than a soothing, thought reducing massage.  I love the rooms with light colors and spaces that make me feel like I am in the tropics some where.  It is no doubt important to have good equipment.  I pay good money for my massage and if I have to lay on plywood and use towels that feel like sand paper Im not going to be very happy.   This is great advice for those starting out.

  3. I read this information with my daughter because she’s currently in training for massage therapy and is considering her options as far as renting her own space or joining a company as an employee. She likes the idea of setting her own hours and thinks she will make more money on her own, but there’s greater security with a company that is currently offering her a position and they will supply most of what she needs. 

    I didn’t realize that she would need so much to set up her own massage room, but she wasn’t shocked. Do you think there is value in new massage therapists working through a larger company first? Or do you think it’s suitable for a young girl to jump right out on her own? This detailed list of what she will need and how to select quality products will definitely help if she goes the solo route. There aren’t many companies in our area offering a paid hourly position for her skills, so she is thinking hard before turning it down.

    1. It can feel overwhelming but you don’t need everything at once. To begin all you need is a table, sheets, cream, and a warm body. Starting your own massage business right out of school might be tough unless your daughter already has a presents in the community. If massage jobs are scarce I would recommend talking to a sports club or chiropractor and see if they have a need to a massage therapist. I will say people tend to think working for a company equals job security it does not. Even when you work for a company you need to network and build your client base. I hope this helped. Please feel free to ask me anything 

  4. Thanks for a truly interesting and informative article. You have made me realize how important having the right equipment is to allowing the client have the most enjoyable massage. One question I have is the face cradle cover and how often this is changed. I am not a massage therapist but have always wanted to go to school for this. Thanks again for a great website.

    1. If you are referring to the face cradle covers that comes in direct contact with the client, then you need to change it after every session. If you are referring to the fleece cover for the face rest then about every 2-3 days depending

       Thanks for the question 

  5. Great post and very informative.

    I’m not in this branch of massage, however I know somebody who wants to do it, but he is a bit afraid since he has no clue what he needs. 

    The only thing he knows is the massage table and chair, but as I see the other points, I really have to show him this post before he does something stupid or he forgets very important things.

    Thanks for sharing this, you saved somebody’s career!

  6. This is very good information for anyone getting into the massage business. Thank you for sharing your experience in this industry. I must say you are the first one i have heard recommending dark sheets, most people prefer light sheets as they show that you are clean and neat but your explanation as to why to choose the darker ones makes sense.

    What is your opinion on having scents from scented candles or burning incense? Didn’t see you mention this, is it necessary?

    1. Yep dark sheet are my preference for sure. As far as scented go I would only use true essential oils in a treatment room. I say this because some people might be put off by a fragrance you love and it would take away from their experience. If you want to dabble in aroma therapy I would recommend checking out barefut essential oils. They offer a wide variety of essential oils at a great price point. Hope that helps

  7. I have a friend who is a massage therapist and her studio is amazing. She has two massage tables, one is stationary and one is portable as she goes to her clients’ homes. Like your friend, she has crystals and candles placed strategically throughout the room. It really gives her space a nice ambience and feel. And her choice in music is superb. These little touches make such a difference!

    I love the color of your stationary table, and who wouldn’t love an electric massage table, especially paired with a fleece liner and heating pad – heaven! Thanks for the detailed post. It’s interesting to learn all the equipment massage therapists use. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *