... a dreamer, freelance writer, massage therapist, naturopath, mother & drop-out social work student living, working and writing in the Blue Mountains. When not occupied with the real world, she writes fantasy.
From the chic, upbeat sidewalk of Oxford street, Paddington, we enter the clinic. Spic, clean and decorated with plants and vases of flowers, it's newly refurbished and sunny in the foyer. Like anyone about to enjoy a massage, we're excited.
The concept behind Massage Envy's business strategy is also exciting. Making massage more mainstream and accessible, the franchise the first of its kind outside of America - offers a new concept that brings regular massage into the realm of affordability by giving a discounted rate to those who sign up to a monthly membership.
Sign up for a monthly membership for $79. In return, you get a one-hour massage treatment or facial of your choice and an unlimited number of massages or facials every month at a reduced member rate.
To give an idea of the savings: members can enjoy a 60-minute massage or facial for $69, while non-members pay $109. A member's 90-minute massage costs $110 compared to $150 for a non-member, and so on.
The beauty of it is that you can do as many or as few massages as you want. So, if life ends up too busy or a big bill comes in, there's no requirement to pay or do anything beyond the $79 monthly fee. You can also accumulate massages, so if you end up too busy one month, you can save your massage for another time or even pass it onto a family member or friend to enjoy.
It's a pricing schedule that rewards loyal, return customers with a significant discount. It also encourages us to get more massage in our lives.
Helen, a marketing team member and receptionist at Massage Envy, compares the benefits of regular massage to going to the gym. "If you go to the gym once a week it's not as good as three times."
She says problems such as muscular injuries, stress and aches and pains - are better treated by regular massage, at least once a month.
Massage Envy currently have clinics in Paddington and Lane Cove, but are expanding within Australia.
They offer deep tissue, aromatherapy, prenatal, remedial and relaxation massage, facials (including microdermabrasion and specific treatments for blemishes, ageing or dry skin) and special treatments to address inflammation and injuries like carpal tunnel pain, tennis elbow, chronic neck pain, ankle and knee injuries.
All treatments can be claimed on health funds, provided your health fund covers you for such treatments.
However, it's not necessary to be a member to treat yourself here. Customers can also opt for a one-off massage or facial at the non-members price. Those who are new to the service can enjoy a very tempting special introductory price. At the moment Massage Envy is offering introductory 1 hour massages or facials for the price of $69.
And the good news is they're open 7 days a week starting either 9 or 10am (depending which day it is) and closing 7pm (8m on Thursdays and Fridays).
Helen suggests booking two to three days in advance especially for weekend visits. It's also possible to send your request via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
On your first visit, you'll be matched up with a therapist trained in your treatment.
After filling out our forms, my partner and I are taken separately into a relaxation area to go through our needs with Helen. She then explains our requirements to our therapist.
We're shown around there's a couples room, toilets and several treatment rooms. The rooms themselves are clinic style with self-adjustable beds and music.
My therapist provides the kind of firm massage I like, but also checks in on the pressure ensuring it's to my liking. As a trained and experienced massage therapist myself, I can tell she's well-trained in the profession and she tells me she has five years of experience in the industry.
While these days it's possible to score a bargain Thai massage at many a venue, the commitment of signing up means you're more likely to make time and space in your calendar for it.
It's a scheme that suits some but may not suit others who don't like being locked into anything. And, as with all things, finding the right therapist for your needs is key to your satisfaction with the service.
As I exit the clinic, and walk down the street on a shopping expedition, I'm feeling energetic, my muscles ironed out. I'm convinced a regular massage might be a beautiful idea.
New kid on the block - Massage Envy is in downtown Paddington.