After the hefty price tag of tuition and school loans, the cost of purchasing massage equipment may seem overwhelming, but if you start with the essentials and purchase optional equipment as your cash flow increases, the initial expense of starting out as a massage therapist will be easier to cover.
What equipment is considered essential for a massage therapist? Basically, there are four pieces of equipment needed to start out your career:
- Portable Massage Table
- Massage Oil
- Massage Linens
- Bolster Pillows
1. Portable Massage Table
Renew Portable Massage Table Package
A portable massage table is the biggest investment you will need to make as a new massage therapist. Even if you plan to work in a spa or office with massage tables already supplied, having your own massage table will give you the flexibility to practice on friends and family and to earn extra money on the side by offering on-site massage. For the best deal, look for a massage table package that includes a face cradle, arm rest, and massage table bag.
Most students start out with a massage table, then purchase a portable massage chair later on. If you’re strapped for money (along with the majority of recent massage graduates), you might want to follow suit. You can often find a cheap massage table (cheap in price, not in quality) that includes the same features and quality as the more expensive brands.
This still leaves you with the option to upgrade to a more expensive table later in your career, although you just might discover that the “cheap” massage table you purchased to start out your career is just as high quality as the more expensive massage tables on the market.
2. Massage Oil
If you’re starting up your own business, buy massage oil in bulk. If your employer provides massage oil, you can purchase it in smaller amounts to use on the side for word-of-mouth clients and friends and family.
3. Massage Linens
Massage Sheets and Face Cradle Covers
As you have the money, invest in quality massage sheets. You’ll need enough sheet sets for two full days of massage. That way, even if you don’t get the laundry done every day, you’ll still have enough sheets to get by. Twin bed sheets work in a pinch or if you can’t afford to invest in massage sheets just yet.
If you plan on using the face cradle, remember to keep face cradle covers on hand. You can find reusable covers or disposable covers or, in a pinch, you can make your own headrest covers.
If the temperature in the room is on the cool side, you’ll also need a light blanket or two to keep the client warm.
4. Bolster Pillows
Massage bolsters are important for positioning and client comfort. If you need to pick and choose your essential equipment, use regular bed pillows until you can afford bolster pillows.
To save on laundry and the cost of bolster covers, use a pillowcase or slip the bolster underneath the bottom sheet. It takes a little fussing to arrange the sheet over the bolster, but this trick saves you money and laundry. You can also try arranging the bolsters underneath the sheet before the client gets on the table and then moving the bolsters slightly as needed after the client gets situated.
That’s about it for essential massage equipment! Depending on your needs, you might want to add a few more items to the list. Some therapists consider a massage stool to be an essential piece of equipment. If you don’t purchase a stool right away, put it at the top of your list of future massage purchases. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes after a full day of massages!