Male or female…hmmm…

By Lori Beyard

Most of therapists are comfortable with receiving our massage from either a male or female therapist.  Let’s explore a number of variables that may sway a client’s gender choices.  I for one prefer a male therapist.  This is not to say that one is more capable than the other.  It has just been my experience that a male therapist can often give deeper pressure than most female therapists.  That being said, I know a couple of teeny, tiny, female therapists that can make me squirm and make me scream “UNCLE!”.   Maybe it is because guys don’t spend as much time wondering about the where and why for’s, but simply get in there and get the job done.  Since I am so comfortable with a male therapist, I often am flabbergasted when a client comes in and is uncomfortable when a male therapist comes out to get her for the appointment.  The same can be said for the male client who is booked but is not happy when a male therapist comes out to get him.  We, as therapists, often forget, or don’t think about issues that the client may have.  Let’s think about a few possibilities:

1.  If it is a female who is a “female preferred” or a “female only”, the choice may be because of a past abuse.  This may be, but not limited to, a father, husband, ex-husband, ex-boyfriend, etc.  This would be very understandable if we only knew the story behind the request.  Unfortunately, we usually don’t, nor are they inclined to tell us in most cases.   It may also be something as simple as the fact that they may be uncomfortable with their body image.  I SO get that.  Women therapists would be more inclined to understand a weight issue, or a cellulite problem, or an “I just feel fat and do NOT want a man to see me half naked” issue.  It may even be something like having large breasts from age or “life.”  Been there, done that (I am not 20 anymore)!!


2.  If it is a male who is a “female preferred” or “female only”.  Well…it can be really easy to just assume he is not comfortable with a male touching a male.  Do not always make that assumption.  I will never forget when I was doing my externship back when CCC still had the massage clinic in the area behind the front desk and it was called “Lasting Impressions”.  I went out to get a male client and was heading toward him to shake his hand and introduce myself.  He took one look at me and said, “Oh no, no, no, no. My wife would shoot me if she knew I had received a massage from a female therapist.  In my mind, I was saying, “You have GOT to be kidding me!  There is not a woman sitting in this lobby!”  If you think about it though, you have to respect the guy.  His wife was nowhere in sight and yet he still respected her enough to honor her wishes.  So, years later, I now say “Awww, how sweet”, while still thinking “You have GOT to be kidding me!”

3.  Many clients are concerned that the therapist is judging them.  I can only tell you my perspective as a massage therapist when I’m working with my clients.  I don’t care what gender you are.  I don’t care if you are overweight, thin, have cellulite, are old, young, hairy, bald, whatever (but please don’t come in with dirty feet J).  When I go into a room with you and I finish your interview, I come in and start your massage and the only thing on my mind is what do I feel muscle wise.  What do you have that I can fix in this session?  How can I help you to feel better, relax or whatever?  You are my blank canvas and I am the artist.  How can I paint you better or paint the picture you would like to see after our session?


If you have never had a massage by a therapist of the gender you are worried about, here is my suggestion to you.  Book a 30 minute massage on just your back, neck and shoulders.  See how you feel afterwards.  If after that 30 minutes, you just cannot stomach it, then you know the next time you book, do so with the verbal request to have “female only” or “male only”.  Never, ever put “no preference” or “preferred” anything unless you mean it.  No one wants you to drive all the way from Timbuktu to get a massage you don’t want.

So take charge of your massage.  It starts when you are booking your appointment.  The receptionist is usually VERY busy and may forget to ask if you have a preference.  TELL them before getting off of the phone.  We can never make the assumption for you.  You MUST speak up.  I always hear the phrase “Empowered patient.”  Well, be an “Empowered massage client”.   Tell us your preference.  And…if you are brave enough to understand, try a new approach.  You never know.  You just may find the therapist that is just right for you regardless of their gender.  They may just be the one to get you back to good health.  The ultimate goal!!

Venting Challenge:

Have you ever had a massage that you tolerated because you did want to speak up?  Or have you received a massage you just didn’t know how to make it better.  Please tell us your story!  It’s time to vent.

Finally, come on by our massage clinic at Clary Sage College 3232 S Sheridan Tulsa OK.  We’ll do our best to make sure you never have to vent again!!!!!  Or call (918) 298- 8200 and book your “preferred” massage.



30 thoughts on “Male or female…hmmm…”

  1. Very well written Lori! I can not convince my hubby to get a massage from a guy no matter what!!!! Then he complains that “WE,” women, are just not strong enough….duh!!!

  2. I have never had a professional massage, But I have had a massage during lab that I tolerated because I did not want to hurt their feelings. At the same time I understand that this is a learning experience. Also feedback is a good thing, and that everyone needs to speak up so we can all get better. I for one will begin to be more vocal about my massages from now on.

  3. I agree with Erika. That was a very well written blog. Congratulations Lori.
    As far as massage is concerned, I really appreciate when someone tells me if they liked or not and what was about the massage that could be better for them.
    Having a male therapist might be a plus when it comes to trigger points or better pressure, but a female therapist can make you feel relaxed and comfortable, easier to talk to. So there is always a plus. Just don’t be afraid to speak up.

  4. I have not run into the problem of tolerating a massage, the young lady that professionally massage me was very good and communicated well (she graduated from CCC :v)). And I did try getting a massage from the gender I am apprehensive about (just because of commitments I’ve made) and it was not a bad experience. I would suggest trying to branch out and try different people.

  5. I can recall two times that I have received a massage (before I came to school for MT) that I was not happy with but didn’t have the guts to speak up for. The first was shortly after my daughter was born. The hospital gave me a packet of coupons and other things, one of the coupons was for a massage at a local health and wellness spa. I booked the appointment and when I got there my therapist turned out to be a man. Up until that point I had never had a massage by a male therapist. The massage was really good however there were several times that he used excessive pressure and it hurt, but of course me being the type who doesn’t want to complain, I just grinned and bared it. The other time was a female who just didn’t give me any pressure at all. I think it is funny how people think that men are always going to give a stronger massage than women, and in this case it was true, but the thing is that is not true at all. I have had massages since being in school that the women were the ones giving me tons of pressure. I would say as much if not more than the men.

  6. I have only had massages by female because that is just the way it was. I don’t have a hangup about having a male therapist in fact now that i know about massage, i’m looking forward to it. Ian Wood lives where i’m from and sometime i’d like to get a massage from him because i felt very comfortable. I don’t have a weight hangup. I’m 230 lbs and i’m ready for a massage.

  7. I personally don’t have a preference for what gender massages me. But I’ve never had a professional massage from a male therapist before. I have noticed that most people prefer a female therapist, and didn’t really understand until after reading this article… so in that way it really opened my eyes! I have also “tolerated” a massage because I didn’t speak up. I guess it’s because I expected the therapist to know what she was doing because she had the education and she obviously didn’t. Since I’ve started massage school I’ve learned to be more comfortable with voicing what people can improve on and what doesn’t feel good. Thanks for the awesome post Lori!

  8. i have “bit my lip” so to speak a few times myself. I’m a vary tender person and so often i have to tell a therapist to use less pressure. In class i tolerate a little more pressure then i want to, mostly because i want to see if the deeper pressure will help me be less tender over time. But on occasion someone will just go to deep and make me jump. And once after having someone do this i asked them to lighten up and they told me to just breath threw it. I had a bruise over the weekend from it and now I’m discouraged from wanting to work with them. They have done great in the past but some times it just takes one bad experience to turn someone off from you.

  9. when it comes to an professional massage therapist, i am not picking on the gender as long as they can do a excellent job. I do agree that most male therapist to tend to be able to get deeper and work out knots that some female ones can’t. I would be sure to ask when setting the appointment ahead of time that you ask for which therapist you prefer to have. This way your not tolerating someone and uncomfortable through out your entire massage.

  10. I have never had professional massage prior to coming to CCC.Personally I don’t really mind being massaged by either male or female so long as they’re doing a professional job. In most cases I do prefer females and I would also never allow a male to give me a bare glute massage, like it was demonstrated in last Monday’s lab demo.

  11. I have not been massaged by anyone other than another student. I cannot think of a time when I just couldn’t stand the massage. But I speak up just like the rest of us do with each other, to help improve each other as massage therapists, and I believe we all, for the most part, doing a pretty good job. 🙂

  12. I have only received a massage from a student and she was female i didn’t have to tolerate anything i was fantastic i have yet to receive a massage from a male but i’m sure ill enjoy it just as much!

  13. I have had two massages outside of school, both by women, one was a very relaxing Swedish massage and the other was a short rough sports like massage. I had to speak up in the sports like massage because of how rough she was being. but the first massage was so relaxing i felt like a brand new person after it.

  14. I can definitely see why some people are apprehensive about letting the opposite gender massage them. Either they feel that the therapist is not going to give them adequate pressure, they have made commitment promises to their significant others, they have body image issues, or even other issues that weren’t discussed. I couldn’t care less who massages me, as long as I feel they know what they’re doing and have been properly trained (if I am paying them). I do feel that the therapist should give you a brief overview of what they will be doing. I’ve went in to one thinking I was going to get just a reflexology treatment and it ended up being a full blown massage with just an emphasis on reflexology. It was odd/scary to me because I didn’t know what was coming next. I would’ve been okay with it and not shocked had I known beforehand exactly what was going to happen.

  15. I remember my first massage it was at C.C.C. I was nervous and scared but my first massage was by Jasmine Chavez which was my mentor. She gave a very good massage and after my two weeks of being there I nervous and scared again because a male which was Marik Velet had to give me a massage but he also gave a very nice massage I had no complaints on either massage. They had nice pressure and was very fluent with their moves. They both told me to relax and after 10 minutes into the massage they dint have to tell me that anymore.

  16. I have never had a LMT give me a massage just the girls in class. But I don’t keep my mouth shut, I am the first to say if there is too much pressure or not enough. I make sure to try and tell the person working on me where not to apply deep pressure then every where else you can apply deep pressure. I think everyone should speak up because if you don’t we cant do our jobs better the next time.

  17. I’ve had several massages outside and during class. I’ve never felt like I was simply enduring the massage but there have been several times that I felt like I was enduring a cycle of strokes on a particular area. This was largely the result of extremely inconsistent pressure. While I have not spoken up every time, I have certainly become more vocal. I’m with Daniel in that we don’t help anyone by simply enduring. Great blog!

  18. I’ve had several massages which where not what I would consider a good massage. I would express my need for a certain area to be focused on. It would seem that I said the exact opposite. Just like any other profession, you have people that want to do a good job and some that are just there.

  19. I have had many massages, while i was overseas. A few time I wanted the Massage Therapist to go deeper into the muscle. I wasn’t able to speak the native language to tell them to go deeper.

  20. I feel really comfortable with my male classmates giving me massages, but on the outside I would probably prefer a female MT. I have always preferred a female doctor and even a female dentist. Just me.

  21. I have always thought I would prefer a male massage therapist because I thought they could give better pressure but being in this course I have learned that women can apply plenty of pressure as well. The Clary Sage Salon said that they started out with a male massage therapist and a lot of clients that called in said they would prefer a woman massage therapist, so we all do have our own differing preferences.

  22. I have lots of massages all have been good experiences. I have only had to tell the therapist a few times to change the pressure. I never allow it to continue if i dont like the pressure. I always speak up so they know how to keep me as a client. I like all therapists male or female i am not the descrimnating type of person after all its only a massage!

  23. I have never had a massage by a male. There were not any males in my class. I don’t think that it would bother me at all to have a male give me a massage. I do however see why in some instances where it could get uncomfortable for the client. I would never think of judging or saying anything to a client that would prefer a male over me.

  24. I really like this blog. It’s hard sometimes as therapist to see the other side of things. When I get a massage I really don’t care male or female but I can see now why someone else may prefer male or female.

  25. The worst professional massage I have ever received was the worst because the lady used way too much oil. I felt like I was drenched from head to toe, it was even in my hair. My hair looked greasy and nasty when I left and I had just showered before I went there. Because of that I try to make sure not to use too much oil on people.

  26. When I first started getting massages, I was scared to get a male therapist because I was not sure how they were going to treat or touch me. I then started getting girl crazy about having hair on my legs and didn’t want to embarrass myself. I now have had several massages by men, and almost prefer it that way. I usually like deep tissue and they seem to be able to apply more pressure. It also depends on their level of expertise. Not all men are powerful so don’t think they are stronger than women. There is a student here at Clary that has the best deep tissue massage. I have only gotten a shoulder tease from her, but I am waiting for a real full body. She is doing her externship and I think she knows who I am talking about. lol…I am striving to be a wonderful, powerful deep tissue therapist. So all in all, I am comfortable with both male and female.

  27. If a therapist has knowledge of what muscles are where, whether you are male of female, they can make you wince and help you with your pain. I continually study muscles, their actions and location. You can make someone think you have been a therapist forever, but better yet, you can help their pain, which is why they come to you 9 times out of 10. I have been to therapists and wanted so badly to guide their hands! Even my own husbands!

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