Tucked away in an inconspicuous location on the Redcliffe Peninsula is a little slice of tranquility called 'Aurora Wellness.
Suffering from a condition known as manhood which regularly subjects me to random testosterone driven impulses that have been known to involve motorbikes, my gym and a lot of protein heavy foods, I've rarely given the time of day to day spas, facials, massages and the like. I've had one or two, but they'd never inspired me to make them a part of my life.
Recently, after a particularly stressful few months at work, my body and apparently my emotional state were showing signs of wear and tear. A friend organised a visit to a place she said would "fix me up". She put a business card in front of me with a time and address, and told me she expected a full report.
I whinged, moaned, complained about my ruthless schedule and a few nights later found myself in Rothwell at a local convenience centre, standing outside a shop front wondering what the hell I'd gotten myself into.
First impressions weren't great.
The little shop has some beautiful art on its window that says all the right things, but it's location is... pretty mundane. Squeezed between a butchers and a hair salon it seems totally out of place. When you add to that the fact I had forgotten to eat lunch, I was more interested in the lamb shanks advertised in the butchers window than feeling "healed and nurtured".
Girding my loins and ruthlessly squashing my hunger pains, I stepped inside and immediately forgot all about those lamb shanks and how awesome they would taste with some buttery mashed potato!
When you walk into Aurora Wellness you feel like you've stepped into another world. That's a cliche, but it's true.
It's not the expected Buddhist and spiritual imagery that you see or the smiling receptionist who invoke that, it's the complete absence of chaos. There was a subtle, sandalwood scent in the air, gentle music playing and a complete and total lack of anything even remotely related to the world outside.
I was greeted by a serene looking gentleman who led me from the small reception area to a gently lit room that contained some nice furniture, an oil burner that was cranking out something that smelled amazing, and a massage table draped in towels.
I was told to undress and remove any jewelry and lie down on the bed covering my backside with one of the towels. I immediately went bright red - thank God the lighting was probably dim enough to disguise that fact - and asked if I needed to get totally naked? I was assured I could leave my underpants on which was a relief. You can laugh at this, but for a guy it's a real concern... I was seriously worried some part of me would... respond... to the massage in a way that might be a little embarrassing!
I pulled my footwear off, immediately praying the oil burner would out smell my work boots and socks, took my necklace and rings off and then stripped down to my boxers... vaguely horrified that I was wearing ones with a giant Superman 'S' on the front. Between the smelly boots and superhero briefs I was starting to wonder if these people had any idea what they were in for!
I should note here that I've always had an interest in spirituality and world religions, but I admit that that interest has never extended to massage or other ancillary practices that help the mind, body and soul. I had had a massage before to see what all the fuss was about and had been left unimpressed. I'd been to a fantastic day spa in Texas and had the most awesome foot massage in the world, but even that hadn't convinced me of anything.
So, I was a barely willing participant.
A few minutes later a lovely older lady knocked on the door to ask if I was ready.
I probably need to add here that the reason I hadn't been impressed with my previous massage was because it did nothing much at all. A woman had oiled me up and run her hands all over my body for an hour, and while that felt good it didn't exactly relax me. I kept asking her to get in deeper to my muscles, but she just couldn't do it.
Looking at the lovely older lady standing in front of me, I didn't hold out much hope for my muscles getting the work out I knew they craved.
At the start of the whole thing, the lady asked me if I wanted a light or deep massage. I told her I wanted it as deep and freaking agonisingly hard as she could make it. For those of you who don't want to feel like every muscle in your body is being punished for daring to ache on you, Aurora Wellness do (I am told) do a gentle, soothing massage - but they also do the really satisfying, deep, muscle melting massages I now know I love.
The lovely older lady smoothed some nicely scented oil on my back and shoulders and I prepared myself to be unimpressed.
Oh hell was I wrong! My freaking GOD! It was amazing.
Before I knew it, incredibly and unexpectedly strong fingers were working out every knot in my body. THIS was a massage.
Because I was nervous at the beginning I'd been chatty, but after 10 minutes I didn't want to talk. I wanted to bask in the light of the warmly glowing salt lamp, breath in whatever the hell the aroma coming out of that oil burner was, and dance in between agony and ecstasy!
All too soon an hour vanished. I was covered with towels and told to sit up when I was ready and to drink as much of the water that was provided as I could. When I asked about the water, she told me that massage can leave some people feeling queasy, because it can release a few toxins. Water will help pass the toxins and take away any ill feeling.
I did as I was told, and waited to experience this thing every woman I know raves about, called a facial.
Once again, I was not disappointed. I'm a guy who shaves his head by choice. When I reached my mid thirties I decided baldness would hit me at some point and I decided to beat it to the punch. Having someone massage my scalp while smearing stuff all over my face was just amazing. I now know why my dog loves me massaging behind her behind her ears so much! If I'd had a tail I would have wagged it!
The facial, like the massage, sped by all too quickly, and before I wanted to be told to get dressed, I was being told to get dressed.
I was again told to drink lots of water, and once fully clothed was bid farewell by the truly gracious staff.
I cannot sing the praises of Aurora Wellness enough. I now recommend them to everyone.
I can't say with any certainty if massage and facials will become a regular part of my life, but I can say I would like them to. I am happy to admit I am a convert.
Aurora Wellness is located at Shop 2A, 455 Anzac Avenue in Rothwell (opposite Bunnings). It's well priced, your private health care (if you have an option for massages) will cover the cost, and the staff really seem to care about you and what you want out of the experience.