Lots of things make me feel weird about my body. Instagram. Bras that don’t fit right. Kale. The war on skinny jeans. Goop. Bikinis. Dropping my phone and making an involuntary “unnhh” when I bend over to pick it up. Still, when I walk into Freeze & Float Spa in River North for the $299 Signature Lymphatic Duo treatment, I had no idea how weird it was about to get.
I’m greeted by Gabby — young, blond, fit, and full of life. She escorts me to the locker room and tells me to take off all my clothes and put on a disposable thong. The last time I wore disposable underwear, I’d just given birth. While I hope the Signature Lymphatic Duo will be a more relaxing experience, as I struggle into what’s basically a tiny modesty square on paper strings that almost snap when I tug them over my hips, I’m surprised to find my current anxiety about the future feels strikingly similar to being handed a newborn.
In the treatment room, Gabby has me disrobe so she can paint me with magnesium spread. Let me be clear: Even though Gabby is a delight, I wasn’t prepared to reveal all my quarantine chub to her in such a well-lit room. But I smile through gritted teeth while she kneels at my crotch and paints my thighs. Once I’m slathered in the housemade compote, Gabby wields a roll of black plastic wrap and makes quick work of mummifying me before inserting me into an infrared sauna, where I tune the Pandora station to Fresh Air and dissolve into a puddle of existential crisis.
Just kidding, I’m still alive when Gabby releases me from the sauna 30 minutes later. She cuts the “charcoal osmotic wrap” off me and, with my sweat still glistening, encourages me to take a naked selfie so I can see what I look like before massage therapist Lana gets her hands on me. I try to beg off but — kids these days — Gabby insists.
Having your ass rolled out with a wooden rolling pin is something to be weathered more than enjoyed. Lana is “sculpting” me with a variety of wooden tools to “dissolve toxins while assisting in the breakdown of cellulite, reduction of swelling, and improving body tone.” As she’s working on my belly, I think that for all the talk of toxins, what this treatment really seems to be about is squeezing every ounce of water from your body so you can look as thin as possible. This might be useful if I were attending a Playboy cover shoot, rather than going home to bed. When it’s all over, I think I’m supposed to be studying my thighs in the after selfie and congratulating myself on how lean they are now or relishing the fact that I woke up three pounds lighter. But instead I feel the weight of a society that tells women we need all this rigmarole to rid our bodies of toxins when perhaps it’s wellness culture itself that’s making us sick.
14 thoughts on “What It’s Like to Get a $299 Massage”
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I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing this treatment and it’s one of the BEST in Chicago. The goal of the treatment is not to achieve a thinner look but rather to relax and detoxify the system. The staff at Freeze and Float is awesome – describing a female staff member as “young, blonde and fit” is incredibly condescending & demeaning. Unfortunately, the tone of this article is more a reflection of the author’s body image than the actual treatment itself. Do yourself a favor – and try it out!
I have tried this service and it sped up my recovery process tremendously. Lymphatic drainage is not a joke and your “wellness culture” comment is absurd. The wooden tools that you mock help relax tense muscles, help heal the grave soft tissue damage and break down the scar tissue. They feel heavenly especially on muscle knots. And by the way, Gabby is studying neuroscience with a primary focus on the research of the nervous system. You would know that if you spoke to her but instead you chose to bash her for no particular reason.
As an Infectious Disease and Research Physician, I would have to disagree with the writer. I recommend lymphatic treatments to all my patients on a regular basis. This treatment is beyond body image or any physical aspect of what the writer is trying to portray. VERY MISLEADING. I am shocked Chicago Magazine has failed to fact check. It seems the writer lacks any credibility/knowledge to write an article reviewing a treatment that has been used and recommended by healthcare professional for centuries. Just as the cardiovascular system plays an important role in our bodies, so does the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is vital to maintain fluid balance in the body, fighting disease, and ridding the body of toxins. The lymphatic system, made up of organs, ducts and nodes, is responsible for moving lymph throughout the body, aka “body’s messenger system”. It maintains fluid balance and defends against disease. Lymph is the fluid and protein squeeze from the blood. The lymphatic system drains that fluid, lymph, from tissue ultimately returning the cleansed fluid back to the blood. Lymphocytes, produced in bone marrow, help the body fight disease along with white blood cells and are transported with the lymph fluid. Since lymphocytes are instrumental in fighting disease it is important that the lymph system is functioning properly and flow is unobstructed. Flow can be blocked due to illness, inactivity, surgery, and injury. Lymphatic massages eliminate blockages in flow and improve the body’s messenger system.
I would like to say I’m extremely disappointed how little knowledge this Author has about the Therapeutic benefits of lymphatic massage. As a Practicing Physician it’s a medically proven fact that lymphatic system plays a central role in the body’s immune system, proponents of lymphatic drainage suggest that this form of therapeutic massage can help treat a variety of health conditions. Lymphatic drainage was initially developed in the 1930s by Danish physicians Emil and Estrid Vodder as a treatment for lymphedema
This Author needs to first educate herself about the basics of what she is writing about, instead of making it a comical, body image, vanity thong peice. Extremely disappointed to read this @chicagomagazine
Thanks so much for the post.
Nice and helpful post for me
Dear ADRIENNE GUNN, I think you’re being a bit melodramatic 🙂 What you’ve described is just about every massage experience.
Your body-positivity & comfort/confidence in yourself should not reflect on the massage services you received. This massage is one of the finest experiences offered in Chicago.
I am sorry that you feel that you got a “ bad” service and I think that you missed the point of the service. While a benefits of the treatment include smoother skin, decreased cellulite, movement of water weight the service is primarily intended to initiate movement of toxins Traditional massage focuses on muscle manipulation while this lymphatic focused massage has a different focus and purpose. Perhaps you were expecting more of a traditional massage experience? I too have additional “padding” and “ chubbiness” and never felt that the staff was judging me/ my body and have always been professional in their interactions. Agree with the above reply, your feelings about your body image belong to you and say nothing about the quality of the service provided. Perhaps you should see doing a service like this as a way of respecting and caring for your body and self- remember that your body is your oldest friend and needs love and caring as only can give it. I hope you didn’t make any additional appointment/reservations- leaves more room on the schedule for the rest of us!
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