Having spent a month out here in this busy city that is Hong Kong, I am feeling more than physically depleted. Everywhere you go it’s hustle and bustle, even getting on and off a train it seems to be a case of survival of the fittest. If you don’t push and shove your way through then you may as well just stay at home, because you ain’t going anywhere!
Needless to say then, that when I received an invite to go try out the Massage Services at Zhen Foot and Body Massage in return for a full review, I jumped at the chance because I am most definitely in need of some “Zhen”
This relatively new Spa is located in Central, Hong Kong just a short walk from the MTR Station.The concept behind the Zhen Spa is simple. Their philosophy is to create an environment where everyone gets to experience the life of an emperor. For more information check out ZHEN Foot and Body Massage on their Facebook Page here.
So what was my experience like? Read on to find out.
Apologies in advance on the poor quality photos, I had to use my iPhone to take these and the lighting in the salon wasn’t too great.
3.10pm: I arrive at the Spa 20 minutes early as the place was a lot easier to find than I thought it would be. The building was clearly sign posted and it was just a short 5 minutes walk from the station. I expected to have to wait a while since I was early however the receptionist was very friendly and sat me down right away to explain the treatments and gave me set of garments to change into. So far so good.
3.30pm: I was brought over to the open space where they do the foot massages. The room was clean, spacious and dimly lit to create a relaxing and tranquil ambience. The chairs were really comfy and evenly spaced so that you are never too close to the person beside you. However, the salon was quiet Today with only two other ladies enjoying their massages. One lady was fast asleep whilst the masseuse was working on her feet – good sign, it must be super relaxing…
3.35pm: As I got comfy in my seat I was then offered a beverage of my choice, they had a nice selection of hot drinks ranging from different types of fruit and herbal teas. I opted for a Lychee and Green tea blend which was perfectly soothing and refreshing
3.40pm: The masseuse approaches, she grunts then pokes my legs to signal me to place them up on the bench in front of me. Okay so she wasn’t the happiest of all ladies, but I guess totally understandable, if I had to rub peoples feet for long hours, I don’t think I’d be smiling very much either. Anyhow she starts to prod around for a bit and then tells me to relax, she said she could tell that it was my first time by how much I was tensing. Lol.
3.45pm: After a short foot scrub which left my feet feeling really soft and smooth, the masseuse brings over a small, wooden bucket filled with warm water and a sprinkle of rose petals. I was told to immerse my feet in the water for a few minutes before they proceed with the massage. It was a pleasant few minutes, nice and relaxing. Little did I know that this would be the calm before the storm…
3.50pm: After drying my feet the masseuse wraps up my legs with warm towels, meanwhile she goes off to fetch me another warm towel and cushion thing to place around my neck.
The masseuse begins to work on my left foot first, she started off nice and gentle and I began to relax and prepare myself to drift off to sleep like the lady beside me, but then suddenly I felt this earth shattering pain ripple from the tip of my toe and passed right through me. I wanted to scream out in pain but I really didn’t want to disturb my now fast asleep neighbour.
I smiled through my tears and tried to let my muscles relax but my god it was painful. However, pain is normal for reflexology treatment and you will reap the benefits afterwards, so the masseuse reassures me.
“ Relax, Relax” the masseuse repeated… I AM TRYING! I thought to myself.
4pm: Ten minutes of working on my foot and calves later, she begins to work her way up towards my thighs. I was literally clenching my fists at this point because not only am I extremely ticklish in this particular area but also, it seemed that all the masseuse wanted to do was to focus all her energy there. I was in between fits of giggles and tears. I was just confused, am I in pain? Am I being tickled? What’s going on!!
4.10 pm: Phew! One leg done, I can now relax. Not for long though, because unfortunately I have two legs. The masseuse lifts away the towel on my right leg and I took a deep breathe… I can do this!
That woman next to me is still asleep? Surely not? I’m starting to think she’s actually passed out from the pain.
4.30 pm: Another painful 20 minutes later I was glad that it was over. I was really proud of myself for sitting through that without crying, or at least not out loud. The masseuse then wiped away any residue oils on my legs with a warm towel and I really started to feel those benefits she was harping on about. The muscles in my legs were tense and stiff when I sat down but now they feel lighter than air. In fact when I went to walk on them I felt them give way a little bit. This is a good sign, I think?
4.35 pm: It’s time for my full body massage, I’m glad for an actual relaxing experience after all that pain. As I led on the table waiting, my heart sank as the same foot masseuse enters the room. Oh crap, her again! More pain to come. Please god! Please help me through this. I felt my entire body tense up, which prompted her to utter those words again, “relax” she said…
She placed a towel over me and started to massage me over the towel. I wasn’t really expecting this as I expected that there’d be some sort of oil involved? Anyway she started on my left again, this time she did not ease me into it. She kneaded, pinched, and prodded me with all her might (and weight.) The friction between my skin and the towel caused some sort of carpet burn sensation and I bit my lip in agony. I prayed for it to be over but it seemed to go on for forever.
As she put all her weight on to my lower back I remembered through my excruciating pain, something that I had watched in a documentary. According to some studies, swearing can help reduce pain, I started to recite all sorts of obscenities in in my head, even mouthed a string of F words. Nothing helped.
At one point she asked me does it hurt? I said yes, very! She said okay, giggles a little then continued with what she was doing, promising that this is what will make me feel good later.
She asked me which part of my body felt the most tense. Shit! I didn’t know what to tell her. Is she going to focus on that area? I panicked and said my neck, logic being that it’s a smaller surface area, hence less to do right? No… BAD move, all I have to say is OW OW OW!!!
After my back was done, and at this point I was wondering if it was broken, she starts on my arms. All was well until she bends and stretches my arms behind my head. As she pulled away with all her strength I felt a tear roll down my cheek.
“Would you like me to your front?” No thank you was my answer, just my head would be fine.
Fine it was not. How can one small lady have so much strength? When she pushed her fingers into the side of my head it felt like she’d gone through my skull and was now poking my brain. Her hands started to make their way down towards my shoulders before finally landing on my collarbone. Christ almighty, what is she doing? I said no the front. I was now quaking with fear, I had no idea how much this next part was going hurt. Turns out very.
“I’ll do the front because it’s better if we do, otherwise this whole process wouldn’t be so good.”
I literally couldn’t bear the pain, there was no hiding it from the masseuse, it was written right there in my face. “You are very tense here, she said” I felt like telling her that it’s because she had her index finger wedged in my chest.
5pm: It’s over. She turns the light on and leaves the room without saying a word. Is she finished? Is she coming back? Huh? I’m confused.
I wait a few minutes and put my sweater back on. I walk out to the reception to find the masseuse with a glass of water for me. The receptionist was once again lovely and asks me how my experience was. I said everything was ok, thank you and she then proceeds to give me my masseuses details, informing me of her name and that I can come back to her for another session next time. At this point the masseuse over hears and says ” I don’t think she’ll want to come back to me, I hurt her so much” Hold up, was that a taunt? Did she enjoy watching me squirm?
Anyhow, I don’t think that I will be going back for more anytime soon, but having spoken to a few relatives (HK locals) I have learn’t that some of them actually enjoy the pain and prefer their massages this way. So I guess people with a better pain threshold than me may love this treatment, however being the big baby that I am, I don’t think it’s for me.
I did a little research behind this massage technique and I read that these sessions can have certain health benefits for the body such as:
- Improving circulation and boosting metabolism
- Help with weight loss
- Reduce fluid retention
- Eliminate toxins
- Improve immune system
So if you fancy a good detox session then I’d recommend Zhen, however if you are after more of a relaxing spa day then I suggest you stay clear of a Lymphatic Massage.
*Please note that the above is based on my personal experience. Everyone deals with pain differently and my threshold may be significantly lower than others. So don’t be put off by my account here, I mean that lady beside me was fast asleep, so I can only assume that she found it a much more pleasurable and relaxing session than I did. Zhen charges $228 for their 50 minute signature foot massage and $360 for their 45 minute Lymphatic Massage. The prices are very reasonable considering their location, I think it’s worth a try if you think you can cope with the pain. I suppose no pain no gain right?