Some Good, some not so good... depends on what you can withstand
Pros: extremely supportive staff, all supplies and work shirts provided, use of spa, beautiful philosophy and theme, can bring in personal clients on discount
Cons: out of touch middle directors, barely enough time to wash hands and use restroom, expected to do "firmer" massages all the time
The ambiance, philosophy, training, all supplies provided, and some benefits, and fringe benefits, (like use of the spa), are welcoming. Free bananas in the staffroom were a plus. Available computers for us to check our schedules/clients were provided, expected to be used, and helpful. We could (at that time) bring in our former personal clients on a discount, which I never used, but served others well. Use of the spa and one free massage a month was a plus. I only used that once, because after my shift, I really just wanted to go home.
It would have been nice to have baffling to absorb outside noise, or other clients' conversations; sometimes we could hear conversations, and some clients think it's our fault, or we were expected to turn up the music or take action, which of course we are going to try to do if it's a problem; occasionally, we have to knock on the door or wall to give a friendly reminder that voices are to be kept low. The other clients can think that is stifling... and results in a problem. I was trained to give massages, not to be an ombudsman, but we were catapulted into that position anyway. More stress on us. No extra pay. Here's another story for you: One very busy Saturday, where the men's side was turned into the "totally silent spa" and the whole spa only open to women until about 3pm, I was making a quick beeline to either use the restroom or pickup my next client. A lady stopped me and asked me to get another pair of slippers for her since hers were too small. I wasn't sure where the shoes were, since I was not a spa attendant, but summing it all up, – more... I told her that I'd be happy to quickly get the spa attendant for her, and that I'd be right back. "But why can't you get them for me?" she wailed. I immediately asked her for her shoe size, got a reply, and turned to go find someone... fast. It was then that her friend realized that my name tag stated I was a massage therapist, and chided her friend, and tried to stop me. I countered "No it's okay, really..., I'll be right back"... figuring I'd be late anyways, so I may as well do the right thing and enjoy myself in the process. I went to the usual women's side, thankfully got a kind exchange from a sweet attendant (they really all were), and headed back. The ladies were full of apologies, I told them no problem, just wanted them to have a wonderful experience, but so was I full of apologies for being late when I went to greet my client. Politeness, doing what's right, and giving our best were always the rules of the day. Like Disney. Regardless. The clients are usually clueless as to US and what our lives are like. Again, no extra pay. Just be aware of it.
We were often trained in special techniques, and came equipped already with certificates and licenses in massage; the daily management staff was VERY supportive and friendly, but the higher directors (not the owners) lacked proficiency and understanding of day-to-day workings (like the stories above), such as the fact that 10 minutes between clients is never the norm or enough for us to rejuvenate and return refreshed for the next client to get our "best" or for us to feel centered; it is more like 2 minutes, a rushed 2 minutes, because clients who are now very relaxed, and are there to saunter through the day, cannot and should not be expected to jump off the table at the end of the massage; they saw little need to change that to be respectful to us as therapists or people. I was really shocked at that ignorant disposition after the niceness that welcomed me in. As massage therapists who are physically working, we are expected to take care of our bodies, and are taught in school to be careful, stretch in between, and drink water, thus need to have time to do these things, especially use the restroom, in between, but there was barely enough time to do that, let alone wash our hands, which is a CDC requirement. There is antibacterial hand gel in the rooms, which we were told can replace the washing of hands, with which I disagree. In fact, it burns the skin, and can cause worse problems in the long run. If I was a client, I would want that person to use soap and water before working on me. Because of the beating my hands took from heat, oil, soaps, and chemicals, my skin broke out in a rash of dots in certain places, not to mention being stressed at not being able to go to the bathroom if it was going to run me late, and being hungry and thirsty. Even though there were different levels of massages, we were expected to always give a "firmer" massage, and some clients would switch it up on us and ask for it deeper and try to not pay for it. We could inform them it was more, but sometimes, they squabbled. It was very trying and tiring.
Getting back to nourishment, I tried to eat a good meal before or grab a bite of protein bar in between, but it is just not practical, because on the busy days (which were a blessing for the business overall), there was no time to even breathe. I saw fellow therapists eating burgers at 8:15 am. One lady did Cokes all day. That's not very healthy, and does not lead to wellness, and here we are catering in the wellness business. What a satire. Add to that the changing of sheets and prepping the room for the next client. If it is switch time between shifts, that adds to the rush. It ran smoothly, but only because we "ran", i.e., moved our butts to make it happen. It was very stressful. Thankfully, we all did our best to be supportive. The dim rooms and environment mimic dusk, which cause the body to produce melatonin, which in turn causes sleepiness, so we were often tired. I would try to remedy that by spending time outside or in the bright break area if I did not have a massage.
Because we all shared and understood the same predicament, we as "groundwork" staff were EXTREMELY supportive of one another, and everyone really pitched in to make the whole work smoothly and like clockwork. Because of proprietary B.W. training before our job began, we were all on the same page when it came to etiquette towards clients and mostly each other.
Another thought: I was paid at least $5 more per massage at another company I had worked for in the past. An additional thing I think was funny/odd is that they began an incentive program where we would be paid more under certain circumstances (like a repeat client within a specified time frame); most of us did very well, in fact so well, that they figured they were paying us too much, (as we are motivated to work well anyways); so then they scaled it back. "Tsk, tsk, can't earn too much..." was the message. I wouldn't want the company to go broke, but it was a test for them, as much for us, maybe a test to see our performance under such circumstances. I was grateful to be doing the massages and have the work, in spite of the drawbacks mentioned above, but I think they could have paid more. Not everyone tips, because the charge overall is expensive and mainly goes into overhead, and some clients believe that we are paid well and do not need tips, which is false.
If you share the same name with an existing staff, you are expected to choose a different name from theirs, like a nickname or something, so tips can go to the right people. And with tips, it is trust, which can be broken. I wonder how many tips don't get to the right people, because the front desk staff may not deliver them properly, though during my time there, all I could do was be grateful that supposedly I was getting my correctly delivered tips, and trust the ethics of the desk staff. I never had a problem, but others think they did. The most thoughtful clients maybe understood this, and gave us tips right after the massage. The laundry staff were incredible people. They were often seen fixing the wash/dry machines and improvising better ways to help us help the clients. Amazing staff.
A lot was expected of all of us, and most of us did our best to deliver. The owners and creators of B.W. (top people) are very gracious and thoughtful people, and once a year, treated ALL the staff of ALL locations to some sort of gala event. I truly wish them well, in spite of whatever suffering I underwent; but I see no need to subjugate myself to it again because of the tremendous toll it takes in its overall effect. I would not recommend working for them unless you are a Viking or a masochist. – less