Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Blanche-ing to Remember: An Experience in Masochistic Massage

As I wind down my recovery from Ironman Miami 70.3, I am eagerly anticipating an upcoming massage to help flush my muscles and refresh my body.  Much has been written and studied about the positive effects/benefits of deep tissue massages as part of an intensive training/racing schedule.  Since I am only a dabbling triathlete (now half an Ironman) and not an expert of any kind, I won't repeat any of that here.  What I will share with you is the story of my first time with the infamous Blanche of the South Miami, FL Massage Envy. 

Blanche is well-known amongst my training group (the Tri Locos) for delivering extreme amounts of pain that we somehow view as pleasure.  Here's the recap I sent to my group after my first Blanche-ing:

Recap originally written on Thursday, August 4, 2011
After all the emails, warnings, and words of wisdom, I headed to my “Blanche-ing” with a calm confidence. Surely there couldn’t be that much pain involved. It’s “just a massage,” I told myself. I will never utter (or even think) those words again. As I type this, the mild throbbing on my legs and back remind me of what transpired in that dark room on Red Road.

If ever a t-shirt is made celebrating the infamous, charming, delightful, yet mildly sadistic Blanche, it should feature one of her favorite lines. “It’s not that bad,” she tries to convince you, as she presses her thumbs (yet again) into a singular strand of muscle and tissue, one that you not only didn’t know existed, but whose sensitivity you were also entirely unaware. As she pulls, twists or bends your limbs in unthinkable ways she again reminds you that “it’s not that bad.” Your body begs to differ.

I’ve had several massages before, some even claiming to be deep tissue. None of these prepared me in any way for today’s experience. From the moment I shook Blanche’s hand I knew it was on, her firm grip a sign of things to come. I consider myself to have an above average threshold for pain and I have no shame in admitting that Blanche tested me on this for over an hour.

As she kneaded and pressed, and contorted my body in ways I didn’t know possible, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I thought massages were supposed to feel good and relaxing. Why did I feel like I was getting a workout, especially when all I was doing was lying on a table? I continually reminded myself that surely this session was not about immediate rewards and that it will feel good later (can someone tell me when that is supposed to happen?). When the stretching came, my body desperately wanted to put up a fight; surely I didn’t need the same force she uses on her football players. I soon realized (and she assured me) that I was no match for the 200lb (she said it not me) woman standing over me and I did my best to relax my body and take it like a champ.

Through it all Blanche’s easy going, funny, and upbeat personality guide you through the torture. Despite her seeming masochism, she is actually quite endearing and reminds you that she is doing to for you. To help you. To fix you.

Lastly, I must mention the music. The musical backdrop to this experience was somewhat disturbing. The calm and serene background music in the room seemed ill-fitted to the carnage actually occurring on the table; I think I’ve had a Clockwork Orange type of recalibration to The Soothing Sounds of Nature. They need special Blanche music, hard rock or heavy metal. It should be turned on as soon as your face touches the head rest, a hint as to what comes next. At least that way I won’t have flashbacks the next time I’m near a waterfall or hear crickets.

In the end, I took it like a man, limped out, and assuming it will feel as good in a day or two as it felt bad today, I’ll be heading back for more.

If anyone has a massage story, horror or otherwise, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.


  1. Blanche has left massage envy. Do you know how I can get a hold of her?

    1. Methodology: I've heard that Blanche has relocated to the Miami Lakes Massage Envy location.

      Good luck tracking her down.

  2. What a bummer! I don't have any way to reach her, have you tried calling Massage Envy?