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    Masseuse leads the good life

2006-03-10 08:25

Wang Xinrui's family strongly objected when she decided to train to become a foot masseuse.

"My family thought it was indecent to make a living by massaging people's feet," said the 23-year-old girl from Luoyang, Henan Province. "Back home people would immediately link foot massage with some dodgy business at Karaoke places."

But she heard from a friend that she could get a salary of more than 1,000 yuan (US$123) and decided to give it a try. That's much more than the 100 or 200 yuan (US$12-25) she used to get as a restaurant waitress or shop assistant at home.

To her surprise, on the first night she arrived at a foot massage training centre at Xinxiang, she got a foot massage from her coach.

"It was a bit awkward but I felt quite comfortable having it," she recalled. "I came to think that if I can use what I learn to improve my client's health, then that's not a bad job."

Before long she was chosen as a receptionist in a foot massage centre at Tuanjiehu in Beijing. Later she decided that she still wanted to become a foot masseuse. So again she went for training at a training centre in Huairou.

The training was military style. The trainers were retired soldiers and for most of the day they went through typical military training such as running, practicing alignment and physical exercises to enhance their physical capacities.

One special exercise is doing push-ups, and supporting the body in the same posture with two fingers or three fingers. The exercises are designed to increase the strength, especially that of the hands and arms.

"I couldn't stand it at first, but gradually it was easier, and at the end of the training it felt like playing," she said.

After the training, Wang, and most other women masseuses, could do 300 push-ups, and men could do 500.

Besides that, they watched TV programmes about foot massage and learned to do foot massages in the evening for each other.

"It was quite hard I had thought it was comfortable to be a soldier," she said.

"But I felt especially good because it was like formal military training.

"Besides, I felt physically sound and healthy after the training, and more physically capable."

Wang has become the most popular masseuse in the massage centre, and earns the highest salary. She massages an average of five pairs of feet a day, which brings her 7,000-8,000 yuan (US$864-988) a month.

She finally got her family's approval after she showed them where she works in Beijing. But she tells other folks at home that she works in a factory, because they would never understand how she could earn so much being a masseuse and not doing anything improper.

The worst pair of feet she massaged belonged to a customer who had athlete's feet.

"They were full of blisters, the worst ones had already festered," she recalled. "But even that can be cured after doing foot massages for some time.

"Some feet stink terribly," she revealed. "But we only smell it at first. Now we have grown used to it and no longer smell it. You don't smell it if you concentrate on your work."

Most customers are polite. Some who are not are the "drunken ones." When asked impolite questions, Wang will tell them: "we only offer foot massage, nothing else."

Wang has learned to treat her customers as "children."

Foot massage is especially good to improve functions of the stomach and intestines. It also works to cure neck problems and headaches. There are cases in which people with diabetes and urinal problems are cured after regular foot massages.

Sometimes Wang thinks about doing something else. But she cannot think of anything that can earn better money. Now she has introduced her younger sister and brother to the massage centre.

"The boss takes us shopping, to play golf and eat at luxurious restaurants," she said. "It feels rather good working here. I'm happy, and I can bring my customers health."

(China Daily 03/10/2006 page4)


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