National Holistic Institute 5900 Hollis St., Suite Q, Emeryville, 510-547-6444 ex. 141 NHIMassage.com
A typical hour-long therapeutic massage these days runs about $60, not including a tip. There is, however, one place in the East Bay where a fifty-minute rub costs only $35, and tipping is prohibited. Yes, there is a catch: The masseuses are students at the National Holistic Institute. But, hey, how bad can they screw up? It's just a massage. It's not like going to a dental school and letting a student trainee wield a drill in your mouth. All you have to do is check out NHI's Web site for available hours, then call and schedule a time. It's a good idea to arrive ten minutes before the appointment in order to fill out some light paperwork. They also ask you to fill out a questionnaire after the massage is done. There are limitations at NHI that you don't experience at a spa: Regular clients can't specify which masseuse-in-training they want to see. You also won't find out if you're getting a Shiatsu or Swedish massage until you get there. The massage area itself is not private, and other people are getting worked on the other side of a cloth partition. Still, the chirpy-birdy music is soothing, and it's surprisingly easy to slip into a massage coma once the session begins.