FOR us men, getting a massage is a little like yoga.

It’s something most of us don’t do, but probably should.

Much like: flossing, buying flowers, foreplay, following washing instructions, fishing, gutting, reading poetry, taking heed of recipe quantities, building something from wood, learning to dance, learning to iron, eating before we go out and drinking a pint of water when we get home, building a fire, planting a tree, unhooking both clasps of a bra, saving, investing, crying, admitting we’re wrong and regularly inspecting our testicles.

Without sounding too much like a sadomasochistic line from Fifty Shades, for an hour and a half I was teetering precariously on the right side of pleasurable torment.

Ryan Giggs claimed yoga saved his career. Jane Dowler of Evuna and The Yoga Lounge regularly holds yoga sessions for entire rugby teams who also get massaged a fair bit.


Ashley Guthrie of City Spa Escapes describes her Thai massage as “Yoga for lazy people.”

How so?

“Because my hands, knees, legs and feet are used to move you into a series of yoga stretches. Only, I’m doing all the hard work.” Sounds ideal.

And if Giggsy and twenty stone muscle bags of gruffness can regularly do yoga and be on the satisfying side of a massage, can’t all us blokes?

Man yoga, or ‘Broga’ though, is for another time and another story, but the massage thing can be dealt with now. Because it’s next door to our office and as far as assignments go, it’s one of the better ones.

‘David can you go lie down for an hour and a half during working hours and get massaged by a lovely young lady?’ I’ll check my diary but shouldn’t be a problem.

Beats staring at a huge waste dump in Salford.


Ashleigh trained in Thai massage the ‘propa’ way, in Thailand.

“I first discovered Thai Massage when I travelled to Bangkok last year. I visited Wat Po temple where Thai Massage is believed to have been developed by Jivaka Kumar Bhacca, physician to Buddha.

“I found a London based college running a trip to Thailand to study Thai massage so I jumped at the chance. I spent nine days at Wat Po Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School which was founded inside Wat Po in 1955. If I was going to train anywhere then I figured it should be from the best.”

Now I’ve been to Thailand, and I’ve had a fair few Thai massages, all above board of course. In fact, you can barely walk down the street without someone offering you some form of ‘massaaaaage?’

A lot of those folk also have Adam’s apples.

Wat PoWat Po

But it’s a tad impersonal over there. Except for the time I paid for a foot massage and the only guy within a mile came out from a door at the back and started sensually oiling up my feet up while staring into my eyes. But that is a memory I’m attempting to repress so the less said about that the better.

In Thailand they’re fully aware that you’re a tourist, and that you’re probably leaving tomorrow. After all you’ve got places to go, tigers to stroke, Sangsum to drink and scooters to dent.

They know it’s a one off, they know you’re not coming back, they’ve got you in and they’ve got your money. So you get bent this way and that, stick that leg over there, that arm the other way, slap you about a bit, stomp on your back, stick a foot up your arse and send you on your way.

Granted, it costs about the same as a bag of chips but for the most part, it’s an ordeal.

Well this wasn’t like that. It was actually pleasurable. Something that up until this point, I’d never thought possible from a Thai massage. Usually you’re waiting with trepidation for the crippler crossface.


It was much more personal, more caring, rigorous yet somehow serene. So why get it done?

“For centuries Thai Massage was performed by monks as a component of Thai medicine”, Ashleigh explained.

“I’d recommend it for those that want to improve flexibility and a general feeling of wellness. I use muscle compression, joint mobilisation and acupressure (pressure points) during treatments to both relax and energise my customers.”

Here are some of the common health benefits associated with Thai massage:

- Stress reduction

- Improved circulation

- Lower blood pressure

- Increased energy

- Help with flexibility and range of motion

- Detoxification

- Promotes good posture and balance

- Helps arthritis and back problems

- You get to lie down for a bit with no bother

But what’s in it for us men, specifically?

“It’s not just an athletic thing, although it does certainly help the sporty types or the gym goers” said Ashleigh.

“More men are becoming aware of the need to take care of their skin and bodies. They’re moisturising, grooming more, looking closely at what they eat. Some even come for tans or for waxing. Regular massages are just another step in maintaining good overall wellbeing and appearance.

“I market City Spa Escapes to both men and women because I believe we all share similar life stresses. Although the men can take a bit more pressure which I quite enjoy.”

Ashleigh certainly put my flexibility to the test, but it was never excessive. Strenuous at times but never strained, it was a feeling akin to that first big stretch of the morning, holding an ever-so-slightly-too-hot cup of tea or walking after an EasyJet flight.

The moment Ashleigh stood on my buttocks was a revelation.


Without sounding too much like a sadomasochistic line from Fifty Shades, for an hour and a half I was teetering precariously on the right side of pleasurable torment.

Alas, there were no handcuffs.

So why go to Ashleigh at City Spa Escapes?

“Massage is my passion, it’s the reason I got into the spa business and pursued it as a career. I specialise in many different types of massage including sports which I link into the Thai massage. Mine’s a bit of a hybrid Thai massage. I’ve taken everything I was taught in Thailand and added a few bits of my own for a more thorough and pleasurable experience.”

I’d always been fairly cynical when it came to this ‘centring the mind and the body’ and ‘energising’ oneself. I say ‘fairly’, I carried the same amount of cynicism as Victor Meldrew, Malcolm Tucker and Ian Hislop sat around a Ouija board with Colin Fry.

But post-massage I felt great, the next morning even better. I positively sprang out of bed warbling "Good Morning, Good Morning" with a skip in my step like Gene Kelly. I'd have skipped to work had my drainpipes and bow legs allowed me.

I felt lighter than an ant steering a water biscuit boat with a sail made of lettuce through a sea of clouds. I was floating like a butterfly… still stinging like a pea.

Follow David on Twitter @david8blake

Thai massage at City Spa Escapes lasts 1 hour 30 mins and costs £65.

City Spa Escapes also offers an extensive range of beauty treatments including tanning, waxing and manicures. See here.

The full price list can be seen here.

Call Ashley on 0161 832 9770 or email