It sounds perhaps beyond belief (for a Thai Massage therapist and teacher), but until I was thirty-nine I had never ever received a massage or given one. Moreover, I found massage, spa and wellness, and so on, something for women only. Something feminine.
My idea was that a guy doesn’t get or need a massage. At best a man would give massage, like the typical image of a big, strong guy throwing you on a massage table and “torturing” you, somewhat like the classic, gravely exaggerated picture of a massage in a Turkish Hammam.
It was until I took a sabbatical year in 2009, heading for Southeast Asia, that I first received a massage. A Thai Massage in Bangkok, the second day after my arrival there. In fact, it was a girlfriend who insisted I take one.
To be honest, I didn’t really like it. It was a one hour Thai Massage session and, well, you can imagine, that I, not having had a massage before, was not that comfortable with it. On top of that, Thai Massage is quite different from “normal” massages, so, this bending, stretching, and the like, made me feel extra awkward.
So, that was that, I did my girlfriend a favor. Done. But two months later, this same girlfriend wanted to take a Thai Massage training course in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. A bit unwillingly, I joined, just simply because, well, I didn’t want to really spoil her fun.
The rest is history, as the saying goes. I fell head over heels in love with Thai Massage and it meant a total switch in my career and life.
Funny enough, later in my therapy practice, I sometimes also got “that kind of men” as clients. The kind that is sent by their partner to have a massage — a bit unwillingly entering my practice, sullen, sort of defensive, sometimes even telling me that they just came because their partner said to do so.
It always made me laugh (silently inside myself), but I often could quite well connect with those men and break the ice by telling them my story — about my reluctance and resistance at first of having a massage. Nevertheless, it’s clear that most of my clients (I would say about 75%) were always women. And that counts for both the treatments I gave and for the training courses.
And maybe it has to do with more openness to touch, closeness, and caring, or cultural role plays, I don’t know really, but, and this doesn’t count for my practice only, the majority of Thai Massage clients, students and practitioners are generally female.
In any case, for what it is, life is miraculous. I sometimes still can’t believe I thought massage is something for women only. What a total narrow-minded idiot I was. I’m thankful that life showed me new ways in a very unexpected fashion.