This Article Appeared in the Telegraph Weekend Section on 7/3/2009
Angus Watson / Telegraph Weekend © TelegraphMedia Group Limited 2009
The ability to deliver a decent massage is both magnificent and magnanimous. So I was fascinated to see what a day's massage course could achieve. Gateway Workshops teach diploma courses UK-wide in the pampering arts, so their beginners' course is serious. This is no tabloid newspaper, "heat up your partner for love" thing. You learn proper massage, not foreplay.
Our course was in Clapham, south London, from 11 to five. Our teacher, Marc Innes, a 45year-old former paramedic turned masseur and massage instructor, was waiting. Other delegates were Sue, a masseuse learning how to teach massage, Linda, who runs first aid courses, and Anke, a German woman who works for Enjoy England. There are never more than four students in anyone class. Typical attendees include couples, friends, and people aiming to soothe elderly, rheumatoid relatives.
Marc radiated calm confidence during the opening talk. First was health and safety. We were to learn a gentle, all over body massage known as holistic or Swedish massage, because deep tissue massages from untrained hands can damage. You must be careful, we learnt, when massaging diabetics, pregnant women, and people with conditions such as eczema and skin fungus.
We heard of the positive ways massage affects your skeleton, digestion and muscle tone to your lymphatic system, circulation, breathing and mind. Well possibly. My jury on complementary ("not alternative!" said Marc) medicine is out, but I do know massages feel blissful, and are better for relationships than watching television. Anything else, I reckon, is a bonus.
The lesson began. Anke and Sue were wrapped in towels, with only the active massage area exposed. They lay on massage beds, and Linda and I set to work under Marc's instruction. Oil is essential. We squirted 50p-sized splodges of grape seed oil onto our palms and rubbed hands to warm it. Any oil will do, says Marc, including recession-busting options like Mazola. We learnt three overarching holistic massage techniques - effleurage is gliding strokes, petrissage is kneading and tapotement is hitting. There are various manoeuvres for each. Most were easy. Some, like the petrissage "picking up" (co-ordinated double hand kneading, like stuffing sheets into a top-load washing machine), required concentration, rhythm and practice.
After lunch, we applied our new skills by giving partners a full massage - arms, hands, legs (back and front), feet, stomach, shoulders, neck, face and back. Just for arms, for example, not including hands, we mastered nine techniques.
Learning the moves was deeply satisfying. Giving a reasonable holistic massage is easy, but not immediately achievable: I don't think you could learn from a book. Both my partner Anke and I were cack-handed initially, but, in time, we got it. Success flowed from rhythm and confidence.
After learning the moves on Anke, it was my turn to be the dummy. So the final part of the course for me was an hour long massage. That wasn't too taxing. Afterwards, we were euphoric. Perhaps it was a result of being massaged all day, but really I think it was the joy of learning a new skill so comprehensively.
Gateway's massage course for beginners, available throughout the UK, costs £130.
For that and other courses, see www.gatewayworkshops.com or call 0333 121 0742
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11th March 2009 Telegraph Media Group Limited (TMG) grants You: a non exclusive, non transferable, non sub-licensable in the UK only licence to use TMG’s article 'Getting a handle on top massage' by Angus Watson Telegraph Weekend 7 March 2009 (Content) for reproduction in the website Gateway Workshops only (Permitted Use).
We are featured in the Daily Express 23rd October 2009
Massage the Years away - By Rebecca Barnes
Thursday October 22, 2009
We are fascinated by anti-ageing. Open up a magazine and you’re likely to find an article on looking younger, while chemists’ shelves groan under the weight of anti-wrinkle products.
However for every person willing to spend vast amounts of money and time on their looks there’s another looking for a cheaper, less extreme alternative.
As a beauty writer in my late 30s I have a professional as well as personal interest in holding back the years for as long as possible. When I came across a treatment that promised to lift and firm the skin using facial massage I was more than curious. I also discovered that someone like me, with no massage experience whatsoever, could learn this treatment on a one-day course.
The Natural Face Lift Massage course claims to be “facial rejuvenation without surgery” and “facial acupuncture without the needles” and is ideal for both beginners and experienced therapists. It merges complementary techniques from Indian and Japanese facial massage, along with facial acupressure, reflexology and lymphatic drainage.
The massage works by relieving tension in the muscles and giving them a lift. There is also a belief that when the muscles have space to relax potentially harmful toxins can be released. Added benefits include a toning and tightening of the connective tissues and facial muscles.
There were five other students in my group including a reflexologist, a beauty therapist and a corporate massage therapist . We were handed a pack containing useful information, including contra-indications, insurance and step-by-step instructions.
After introductions and a brief chat it was time to get to work. Already slightly intimidated by the calibre of my fellow students I was further brought down to earth when our tutor Cathy Alderson said my nails were too long for giving facial treatments. Oops.
The treatment was broken down into stages and we each had the chance to perform and receive each part of the massage before moving on to the next stage. With so much information to absorb it required concentration as well as co-ordination and was initially a little overwhelming. Thankfully we were encouraged to give feedback to ensure the correct pressure and technique was being applied. The course finished with a run-through of the whole massage . The person I massaged ended up snoring so I must have been doing something right.
We all left the class glowing and my face felt firmer and tighter. I was buzzing as I went home and couldn’t wait to give my unsuspecting husband the full treatment.
As most people learn this massage for professional reasons I asked Cathy to devise a quick and effective regime I could follow at home. This takes no more than 10 minutes and having performed it daily for two weeks I can report my skin looks brighter and firmer.
The Natural Face Lift Massage course costs £150 and is available across the UK and Ireland. Details: gatewayworkshops.com.
1. Place both hands on to forehead so your fingers are almost touching. Massage forehead using small, circular movements. Continue from the centre of the face out over the cheeks, chin and jaw line. Repeat using firmer pressure.
2. Place hands in the same position and massage from the centre of the forehead out to the hairline along the side of the face. Do this three times.
3. Place hands along the top of the forehead, just on the hairline. Using your fingers, push upwards lifting the whole forehead. Do this three times.
4. Moving in a circular motion, use your middle fingers to apply pressure around the eyebrow area and under the eye socket. Repeat this three times.
5. Using your thumb and index finger, gently pinch and roll the skin on the following areas:
From the centre of eyebrows to the end of each eyebrow.
From either side of the nose, working under cheekbones out across cheeks to the edge of face.
From the middle of the upper lip to the edge of the lips.
From the chin along the jawline out towards each ear.
6. With palms facing down and alternating hand strokes, pat briskly under the chin for 30 seconds. Then briskly pat one cheek, followed by the other cheek, with firm upward movements. Pat the forehead area briskly.
7. Using the pads of your fingers, tap quickly and firmly all over the face from forehead to chin then back to the forehead again.
8. Finish by gently patting all over the face from the forehead to the chin.