The Fitness Zone

Responding to Difficult Situations in the Massage World

Apr 02, 2015 | by AIF

Once upon a time, in a modern day town, a Massage Therapist sits waiting for her client. He’s late. She checks the clock again and thinks, oh well, it’s cutting into his massage time.

Eventually there is a knock on the door, so she stands and puts on her welcoming smile. He enters, not apologising for being late. She ushers him to the reception where she asks him to take a moment to fill in a health history form. He sighs and says it’s silly, an can’t they just get on with it? She patiently explains that is important for him to fill in the form, so she can determine if it is safe to be massaging him today. He grumbles, but begins to fill in the form. As he finishes, she thanks him and reads through the form. They discuss what he requires in his treatment today and make a plan to provide him with a relaxing full body massage.

Then the therapist asks to take his payment. He gets annoyed. “Why on earth would I pay before the treatment? What if you’re no good?” Again patiently and calmly she responds, sir this was in the policies and procedure document I sent to you earlier in the week when I confirmed your appointment. She pulls out his signed electronic copy to show him. The policy also states if he is running late for his appointment, he would only have the remainder of the time for the full price. He’s fuming. “Well no one reads those stupid things anyway. This is ridiculous”. He makes a comment about really needing this, and hands over his money. She thanks him and shows him into the treatment room, explaining how far to undress to and how to get onto the table safely. She steps out and closes the door behind her as she goes to wash her hands. In her head, she’s thinking, hmm this guy is a bit challenging.

She knocks before entering. He says he is ready on the table. He hasn’t listened to her instructions on how to get on the table and he has removed his underwear, which she said to leave on. She quickly adjusts his draping and begins the treatment.

For a while, it goes ok, until he starts making inappropriate comments. “Why aren’t you dressed in less? Hurry up and get to the good part”. She says, “Sir this is a strictly non sexual massage”. He gets annoyed. “What the hell, everyone knows massage is just code for sex!” She quickly steps away from the table and says, “Sir, your session is now over, please get dressed and I’ll show you to the door”. He gets angry. “How dare you?!’

She steps out of the room to wash her hands and returns to the reception area. He storms out of the room in a towel, and demands she finishes the treatment. With no hesitation she reminds of policy and procedure document he had signed and refuses to. “Sir, you signed a document for a strictly non sexual massage and I will not continue”. He shouts and demands his money back, but she refuses, and again reminds him of the document he’d signed. He fumes, stalks back into the treatment room, hastily gets dressed and huffs out the door with some comment about you’ll never get business in this town. She sighs as she makes a note to never take a booking from that client again!

Here we’ve seen one of the worst possible clients! The client was late, rude, refusing to adhere to policies and procedures, didn’t listen to instructions and finally the client expected more than just a massage treatment. And even though, we don’t usually see all this in one client, we do come up against these challenges from time to time.

My advice:

  • keep your cool
  • be patient
  • stand your ground
  • document everything
  • maintain professionalism

Listen to this, and you’ll be just fine in the big bad world of massage!



The Australian Institute of Fitness
The Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) is the largest and longest established fitness training organisation in Australia, with dynamic training methods and expert course coaches nationwide - spanning fitness, massage and nutrition. The AIF qualifies more fitness professionals than any other provider in Australia, as well as offering a broad range of continuing education courses (CEC), upskilling resources and partnership programs for existing industry.

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Disclaimer: Where Certificate III in Fitness, Cert III/Cert 3, or Fitness Coach is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Fitness, Cert IV/Cert 4, or Personal Trainer is mentioned, it refers to SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Program™ is mentioned, it refers to Fitness Essentials and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Plus+ Program™ is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Massage or Cert IV/Cert 4 is mentioned, it refers to HLT42021 Certificate IV in Massage Therapy. Where Diploma of Remedial Massage is mentioned, it refers to HLT52021 Diploma of Remedial Massage.