You're never too young to indulge in a massage

Published October 2, 2006

If you regard massage therapy as something for older people with aches, pains and fat wallets, think again.

Therapists kneaded the backs of 35,000 customers at Massage Envy's two salons in Palm Harbor and Tampa in about a year. Surprisingly, 53 percent were 40 or younger, 23 percent were 30 or younger. Only 8 percent were 60 or older. About two-thirds were women.

The chain plans to open in St. Petersburg this month, Brandon in November and Citrus Park in early 2007.

The Phoenix franchisor, which aims to be the first national massage therapy chain, works like a health club. For $49 a month, members get one 60-minute massage plus an unlimited number more at $39 each. Clubs are open seven days a week and 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. weekdays. Appointments are supposed to be available on short notice.

"We think it's become a generational thing," said Rich Dunning, area developer for Florida's West Coast. "We're making massage less of an indulgence for younger people and more of an affordable convenience."

It's also means 51-year-old Dunning, once a stressed-out Intel chip salesman, gets a massage every week now.