Are you feeling achey in this cold weather? Have you spent way too much time hunched over your phone recently? Recently, we had the chance to interview Alexandra, the owner of AlexMassage. She does mobile massage in Leiden and its surrounding towns, and we knew immediately we had to let you know all about her business, about how getting a massage at home works, and of course, about the best parts of her job.
“Carrying a massage table up those dutch stairs saves me from going to the gym”
Who is Alexandra? The expat behind AlexMassage
We figured you might want to know a bit more about the face behind AlexMassage, so let’s introduce Alexandra. She arrived in the Netherlands ten years ago to pursue a one year masters in English Literature, and never left. Probably not an unfamiliar story for most of you expats and internationals reading this. She also did a second master in Contemporary Dance Studies at Utrecht University, and as part of that she was able to live in India for six months.
“I believe we need to balance the human body and I see massages through the lens of rebalancing.”
There, she learned about Ayurvedic medicine, and studied under an Ayurvedic doctor. For those of you who don’t know, Ayurveda is an ancient Hindu medicine, which focuses on balance and natural remedies for general complaints. This has really influenced Alexandra’s practice, and she says it helped her to understand the body in a new way as well. That’s something she has incorporated into her massage: “I believe we need to balance the human body and I see massages through the lens of rebalancing. Some people need more energy and others need to release energy… the principle of rebalancing what has fallen out of balance on an individual level is really important. It comes with practice and is difficult.”
Before making her massage business a full-time occupation, Alexandra taught at the American School and freelanced as dance producer at Korzo theatre, while massaging as a hobby on the weekends and evenings. She has also done a bunch of travelling, having lived in four different countries, and traveled through over forty: working as a divemaster, or with horses, doing dance research, getting another sailing qualification, or just backpacking for adventure.
When she’s not massaging she’s busy hanging around theaters in The Hague, or windsurfing if weather permits. Currently she’s learning to play the Indian sitar. You’ll definitely find something interesting in common to strike a friendly easy-going chat with Alexandra as she’s setting up her massage gear for you.
Mobile massage in Leiden: how it all began
So, how did this mobile massage business begin? It all came down to fed-up flatmates, hilariously. Alexandra massaged friends, and then they told their friends, and soon she was almost running a massage business from her student housing. Her flatmates got a bit uncomfortable living inside a massage salon- “My flatmates weren’t the happiest!”- and so Alexandra developed the idea of driving to each client’s house and giving them the massage there. She is the first and only mobile massage business in Leiden, and best of all, the business grew organically over time, through word of mouth mostly. Not only did Alexandra create the business, she also created the demand for something completely new to Leiden: massage at home.
Mobile massage in Leiden: why getting a massage at home can be the best thing ever
One of the things Alexandra explained to us was why massage at home can be so much nicer and more effective than going to a salon. First of all, you’ll feel much more comfortable and relaxed because you’ll be in your own home, which just feels that bit more private and cozy. You can play your own music and set the lights or candles, as well. And, most crucially in the cold Dutch winters, you don’t have to go outside straightaway after your massage! No biking through the rain for you: instead, you can melt onto your couch, and stay in that post-massage bliss for as long as you want. Alexandra believes that physical and mental comfort is paramount to deep relaxation.Your own home is the perfect environment for the sustainable well being you can experience through this deep relaxation.
Another obvious benefit is the amount of time you can save. Even if you live relatively close to a massage salon, you’ll still waste at least half an hour going to and from the building. But when a masseuse comes to your house, the only time you need to take out of your day is the amount of time you are getting the massage for.
There were two other benefits Alexandra mentioned to us, which struck me as not so obvious. First of all, you know exactly where the money you’re paying for the massage is going- straight into that massage. It’s not paying rent for a salon, it’s just for the experience itself.
Furthermore, a massage at home is really suited to people who might work from home, or perhaps stay at home with their children. Alexandra has clients who have massages while their babies are sleeping, for example. And if you work from home, you can get a massage at any point in the day- what a perfect way to have an extended lunch break, right?
Mobile massage in Leiden: how does home massage work?
You probably have questions about how home massage works, given that it’s a good deal less common than getting a massage at a salon. We asked Alexandra to explain exactly how it works, so we can let you in on the details. First of all, massage beds: obviously, you don’t need to have your own. Alexandra always has two with her in her car, and she’ll bring one into your house and set it up. This only takes five minutes (we can confirm, we’ve seen her do it). Alexandra also has her own sheets and towels and pillows, so you don’t need to worry about any of that either. And you can choose from her selection of oils as well, to make the experience even more custom. And for those who wonder about her getting up all that gear up the narrowest winding Dutch stairs, she says it actually saves her time – because she doesn’t have to go to the gym!
“People initially tell me what they want and where the tension is. But then I confirm this with my hands whilst asking them about their lifestyle to try and assess where the imbalance has come from.”
Then, the massage truly begins. Alexandra creates a makeshift curtain from the blanket so you can undress in privacy. She covers you with the blanket, leaving only the massaged area exposed, while you lie there comfortably cushioned with extra pillows. You can tell her where it hurts, if you’re feeling pain, or just that you want a massage for relaxation. Then Alexandra will begin the massage, and she’ll be able to feel where there is tension in your body. There is always a lot of communication between her and the person getting the massage in the first session, as she figures out what works for the customer. Feedback is always really welcome, she says. “People initially tell me what they want and where the tension is. But then I confirm this with my hands whilst asking them about their lifestyle to try and assess where the imbalance has come from.”
The nitty-gritty of mobile massage in Leiden
Now, we’re getting to the good stuff. Alexandra is available to do massages seven days a week, til 8pm each day. So, if you’re working from home, you can get one in the middle of the day, but if you’re out at work from 9 to 5, you can still enjoy a relaxing massage anyway. Alexandra does a variety of massages: she can do pre and post natal massages, massages purely for relaxation, or massages to help you out with a specific complaint. She’s also certified in sports massage and lymphatic drainage massage. In all her work she uses an integrative approach, meaning that she draws from all her techniques to deliver customized treatment for every individual.
As Alexandra is based in Leiden, she delivers massages for people who live nearby: Leiden itself, as well as Katwijk, Leiderdorp, Leidschendam, Oegstgeest, Rijnsburg, Sassenheim, Voorhout, Voorschoten, Warmond, Wassenaar. For places such as Noordwijk Voorburg, Zoetermeer, or Alphen aan den Rijn there is a €15 delivery charge.
And as for pricing, a 60 minute massage costs €60; a 90 minute massage costs €80, and she does a special deal for couples, where both get a 45 minute massage, for €100. For our readers there’s also €10 discount off your first session – just copy the code AMLDR2020 into your booking request.
Why home massage with Alexandra is particularly suited to expats
Life as an expat can be difficult, we all know that. From the sometimes upsetting directness of Dutchies to making new friends to getting used to a new system, there’s a lot to deal with, especially in the beginning. It can be really helpful to take some time for yourself when you’re going through this: and there’s no better way to relax than to get a massage, we all know that.
A massage can give you space to unload all your problems, and with Alexandra, there’s the added benefit that she is also an expat, so she’ll really understand how it feels.
Finally, most massage salons in the Netherlands work in Dutch- which of course makes sense. But as an expat, it’s not always easy to communicate or feel relaxed around all those weird g-sounds. Also, trying to figure out lots of websites in Dutch to find a suitable massage salon might be a bit daunting on top of the daily hustle and bustle of expat life. So the fact that Alexandra works in English and has her website and social media in English creates that extra level of connection you want from your massage therapist.
Running AlexMassage: the best parts of mobile massage in Leiden
We asked Alexandra if she had any stories of people for whom regular massages really made a difference- and she absolutely did. One of her regular clients is an expat who moved to the Netherlands to do her PhD. As is unfortunately very common among PhD students, she struggled with depression and burnout and felt like she would not be able to finish what she started in the Netherlands. She tried lots of things before coming to Alexandra. Around the time of her first massage, she started taking a more holistic view of her wellbeing- eating well, exercise, meeting friends more often. That, in combination with massages, really set her up to do well in the final stretches of her PhD.
But there were other benefits too: Alexandra’s client found that she always had great ideas while having a massage- many of us experience this while we’re taking a shower, but it was during a massage that it happened for this client. Within a year, she had finished her PhD and had also launched a successful start up company, bringing her great ideas to life.
For Alexandra, these sorts of success stories are the best parts of her job. And people are always delighted to see her, she admits shyly- after all, their massage has arrived! Most of all, though, Alexandra really feels like she’s helping people in a very practical way, and that’s really fulfilling for her.
Have you ever had a massage at home before? Let us know how it was in the comments below.
Feature image: Ivaylo Kirov/Supplied.