Best Massage for Freaks, Queers, and Non-Conforming Bodies
Nothing takes the relaxation out of a massage like the feeling you’re being judged. Too many people who don’t fit the norms of the mainstream spa industry—which is often marketed and tailored to white, straight, fit, vanilla, cisgender clients—don’t seek professional bodywork because of a bad experience, or fear of a bad experience, with a judgmental or uneducated practitioner. Oh, that every massage studio could be like Freed Bodyworks. Founded by genderqueer massage therapist Frances Reed, the Hill East wellness center opened in 2013 as a practice built around the needs of clients with non-conforming bodies, identities, and lifestyles. Every element of the Freed experience speaks to radical inclusion, from the blank space on the intake form for a client’s preferred gender pronoun to the fat-positive expandable massage tables. Are you a man who wears high heels that cause knee trouble? A woman or trans man who wears a chest binder that hinders proper breathing? A sub who can’t take off her collar before getting on the massage table? A person whose body doesn’t conform to one of two narrow gender categories? Freed’s practitioners won’t be shocked or demand explanation. (And if your repetitive motion injury comes from your nightly spanking practice, you don’t have to pretend it’s from swinging a baseball bat.) Earlier this year, following a bang-up fundraising campaign that mobilized its growing army of fans, Freed moved to a new, larger rowhouse space just a block up the street from its old spot. Its bigger digs include a room for yoga classes, wellness seminars, and massage workshops; it’s also added shamanic healing, Reiki, and psychotherapy to its menu of services. It’s telling that the majority of Freed’s clients don’t even choose the studio for its refreshingly inclusive philosophy and practices—they come because Freed’s therapists just do damn fine work.