It was a tough assignment, but someone had to do it, so on Saturday morning I duly presented myself to sample a free Swedish massage at Phoenix, the “Centre for Wellbeing in the Heart of Leeds”.
Oxford Chambers, with its imposing doorway and position right next to the Town Hall, has always seemed a bit of an intimidating place, but thankfully Phoenix is very easy to find, being the first door you come to when you walk in off the street. I was greeted by Gill Trevor, the Manager, and founder of Phoenix. I’d read from the Phoenix website that Gill’s idea of fun is taking ‘two dogs out for long muddy walks in the hills’ so I wasn’t surprised to find her rosy cheeked and healthy looking.
Gill had a successful career in marketing with O2 before she changed direction in 2007 and completed a Diploma in massage, reflexology and aromatherapy. She became the Manager at Leeds Wellbeing Centre, and set up Phoenix when that closed last August. There are lots of private concerns cashing in on the stresses of modern life, but Phoenix is different in that it’s a charity, and money made from the various treatments is used to subsidise cheaper treatments for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.
The massage itself was rather wonderful. Viv is a French woman who like Gill moved from an unfulfilling career to do something a bit more hands on (sorry couldn’t resist it). I was unsure about whether to have music, but was reassured ‘no dolphins’. In fact the music was really nice and added to the overall effect. I’d like to say more about the massage itself but my mind kind of disintegrated into a mushy pool and now I just have vague memories of soothing pleasantness and wellbeing. I do remember the surprising pleasure of having hands and legs kneaded – those neglected parts of the body that do most of the work and get very little credit were well pleased to get a bit of attention.
Phoenix do a range of related treatments – aromatherapy, reflexology and Reiki, as well as the various forms of massage – remedial, sports, workplace, Indian Head, Swedish back, Swedish full body, Swedish with hot stones (!) An hour’s session costs between £30 and £40 and would be a good investment at that although still out of range for many of us, but you can get reduced costs if you have a physical or mental health problem, by getting a referral from your GP or key worker, or even by asking Phoenix directly. On the evidence I’d say it’s definitely worth trying out. Costs then descend to as low as £7.50 for a session, which is definitely top value for the kind of treatment I had.
Phoenix also hire out their therapy rooms, so if you’re in the business and want a nice central location, check them out.
If you’d like to support the project, Phoenix are having a fundraising Charity Ball at the Hilton Hotel on 11th October – described as ‘Black Tie with a hint of sparkle’. Ring 0113 234 0818 or e-mail Caitlin@phoenixhealthandwellbeing.org.uk for more details.
As a footnote, according to Wikipedia, archaeological evidence of massage has been found in many ancient civilizations including China, India, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Rome, Greece, and Mesopotamia. Dating from BC 2330: The Tomb of Akmanthor (see above, also known as “The Tomb of the Physician”) in Saqqara, Egypt depicts two men having work done on their feet and hands, presumably massage. So massage has stood the test of time. It’s worth a try.