First Time Buyers Guide: Portable Massage Tables For Students

In massage equipment by KellyLeave a Comment

When beginning your career as a massage therapist, you will need to gather a few things before starting your journey as a massage therapy student. You tuition will likely include your books, scrubs and massage tables will be available for use in the classroom only. Some massage program have the option to include a portable massage table in your tuition.

When starting out, money can be tight so it may seem like a good deal to have the cost of your table included in your tuition but you end up paying so much more in the long run, so I recommend buying a massage table for around $200 and that will get you started.

Your massage therapy program will likely charge you two to three times more than the table actually cost, when I looked over the breakdown of my tuition fees after I graduated I saw that I was changed close to $600 for my portable massage table. I looked up the table one time and saw if I would have bought it from the company directly it would have costed me under $300. 

14 years ago Amazon was not a thing let but now pretty much anything you need for your massage career can be purchased through Amazon.

Down the line when you start to explore different modalities and tools you will need for that particular skill. Example, tools for scraping or other specialty items made especially for massage therapist, you may be interested in visiting Massage Naturals. 


Used Portable Massage Tables:

If you don’t have the money I recommend you trying to find a used portable massage table that is in good condition that is something that can get you by while you’re in your massage therapy program.

If you do decide to buy a used massage table make sure there’s no rips, make sure the table feels sturdy, make sure the table doesn’t smell, and so forth. If you are buying used, don’t pay over $100 it’s just not worth it otherswise. 

(This is a example of what NOT to buy when looking for A USED portable massage table online)

This is a short-term solution to get you through school, every now and again you’ll find a used massage table on craigslist or Facebook, preferably you’re going to want to buy a brand new table which seems like it might be really expensive and some are but it doesn’t have to be.

There are several great options out there that you can buy for around $200.

Portable Massage Table Features:

Things to look for when buying a portable massage table;  in the short term as a student it doesn’t  matter what kind of table you get as long as it’s sturdy and portable.

If you’re wanting to get your massage therapy career off to a good start I would suggest getting a portable massage table that’s of good quality with great reviews to back it up.

Although many portable massage tables are similar there are a few variations that you’re going to want to consider when purchasing your portable massage table.

Most portable massage tables are around 28-31 inches wide, you’ll have between 2 -3 inch of memory foam padding, lastly you will want to look at the weight of the massage table. Light weight portable massage table are a must when you are a massage student or someone who plans to do a lot of traveling massage.

Lightweight portable massage tables will be around 30 pounds and the heaver portable massage tables will be in the 40 pound range.

One more thing to consider when choosing the right massage table for yourself is whether you want a metal frame massage table and a wood-framed massage table?

Metal Framed or Wood Framed Massage Table:

It is my experience that metal frame massage tables are not  great quality. Not only are they not great quality but they’re usually the same price as wood if not more. I also don’t like the look of the metal. It just looks cheap in my opinion.

Not only aesthetically are they not pleasing to the eye, after while a metal-framed massage table will to start squeak and that actually can happen pretty early on in the massage tables life.

So in my opinion I would stay away from metal massage tables all together.

There’s a few places you can look for massage tables online. The number one best place to buy a portable massage table would be on Amazon.

On Amazon you’re going to find the best variety, you’re going to get to read all the reviews, and if your a prime member you’re going to get free shipping, it’s just all around a better purchasing experience.

If you are anti Amazon you can go to There you’ll find anything and everything you need to become a massage therapist but I will warn you it is my experience that Massage Warehouse is typically more expensive than other big online shopping sites for massage gear.

Also they have a flat $5.99 shipping fee so it doesn’t matter if you buy one cream holster for $6 or you buy $700 of massage gear you’re going to pay that $5.99 shipping fee every time. So if you do make any purchases through massage be sure that you fill your shopping cart up with everything that you need because it’s going to cost $5.99 regardless.

I’ve been a massage therapist for the past 14 years and in the beginning our school always push shopping at, not knowing any different that is what I did.

Years down the road got a little smarter and start shopping around and and now I get just able everything on Amazon. 14 years ago Amazon didn’t exist so our options as a massage therapist were limited, but not today!

Portable massage table options:

When you start looking at portable massage tables you will have a couple of colors to choose from, most popular colors: 

  • black
  • purple
  • teal
  • burgundy
  • navy blue
  • cream

For the current price of the table listed above, please click here

Honestly it doesn’t matter what color you get because you’re going to put sheets over the table anyways so I wouldn’t  spend too much time worrying about the color. My only true opinion when choosing your table is that darker colors hold up better over time.

Down the road if you plan on doing sporting events or other promotional events you will not use sheets at that time and people will see your table.  Again, this really isn’t a big deal just make sure your massage table is safe and study. Pro tip, if you plan to do a lot of sporting events I would recommend purchasing a arm rest that hangs just under the face rest. 

Athletes love this feature, I have one on my main table in my office, I never take it off, people really enjoy it. Some tables will include it if you buy a package, others you will have to purchase it separately. Either way it is not very expensive and I think any massage therapist could benefit from having one.

What will you’re portable massage include:

In general most massage table will include:

  • Traveling case
  • Face rest and cushion
  • Leg bolster

The travel case will be a soft zip up case with a over the shoulder strap, it can feel a bit awkward to carry long distance, you can upgrade to a hard case with wheels if you like. I defiantly recommend this if you plan to travel as your primary business, or  you can buy a wheel cart for your massage table if you prefer.

Between the two I recommend the hard case, it makes traveling so much easier and it protects your table from the wear-and-tear of lunging around. If you are attending a massage therapy program that requires you to bring your own table to class everyday (this is not common but does happen). Then I would consider upgrading your case sooner then later.

The face rest is standard and does not change much from one brand to brand another. It will either be all plastic or all metal. The face rest cushion will match the color of your table and be made with same foe leather the body of your table is made from.

Down the line I recommend upgrading to a memory foam face cradle, they are amazing and your clients will love it!

The bolster you will receive with your table will also be the same color as your table and made from the same foe leather as well. It will likely come with a full round bolster, other options for bolsters would be half round or the gumbo round plush bolster which is what I use. 

I think the full round bolsters raise the legs to much and makes it awkward for the client and the half crescent are pretty much useless. I love the plush larger bolster personally and my clients really like it as well. Again, it comes down to your preference. your table will likely come with a full crescent bolster so try it out then decide if you want to upgrade.

Light weight portable massage table.

Another thing to consider when buying your portable massage table is the weight,  most portable massage tables can weigh anywhere from 30 to 60 lb so that’s a pretty big difference if you have any kind of lifting restrictions.

Most tables are going to be about the same, Metal Frames are lighter than wood frames typically, but again I’m not a fan of the Metal Frames because I do not think they are as sturdy.

They make noise and again I don’t think they look good.  That is totally up to you, it’s your table just make sure when you pick a table that has great reviews. 

You also want to pay attention to how much weight your table can hold. Portable massage tables max weight  is usually around 450 pound

The best light weight portable massage table

The best light weight portable massage table on the market right now is made by a company called SierraComfort. This light weight portable massage table is exactly what I am talking about when I say you don’t need the bells and whistles but instead you need a study reliable table that provides exactly what you need to start your massage therapy career.

The cut out in the middle of the table is there to give you the option for your clients to lay face down and use that for a face rest instead of the regular face cradle. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t think that’s a feature that’s really necessary but as you look at tables online you will see pretty much all portable massage table’s have that option.

The weight of the Saloniture is only 31 pounds which makes this table externally portable. Other features that I like about the this table include the arm rest under the face cradle. If you look at that picture you will see on each side there are arm extenders. I am a big fan of these for lager clients and if you do sporting events, they allow you to place the clients arms in a few different potions. This is not only a perfect starter table, this is a table that could last you many years. 

I believe this portable massage table would suite anyone’s needs whether you are just starting out or you are needing to replace your old one this is a great table. The weight limit on this bad boy is 450 lbs, one draw back with this table is that it does include a leg bolster but it is small so I would definitely invest in a larger bolster for the comfort of your clients.

For more information about the SierraComfort light weight portable tableclick here!

I do recommend you upgrade to the jumbo bolster by Earthlite, my clients love the larger bolster versus smaler ones. I hate getting a massage when someone has a crappy bolster, it takes away from the session. The Earthlite  bolster come in 9 different colors, click here for availability.


How much should you pay for a portable massage table?

So we’ve covered color, we’ve covered size, now let’s talk about price.

A portable massage table is going to run you anywhere from that $100 range up to $700.

When you’re starting out as a massage therapy student you do not need to get a table with all the bells and whistles, in fact I do not recommend you get a massage table that has all different kinds of attachments and features you’re not even sure you’ll  use.

You might find in your career that you’re going to focus more on Swedish massage and so you’re not going to need certain features that somebody who plans on doing a lot of deep tissue massage would potentially need.

Possibly you will want to specialize in pregnancy massage so you might be interested in a portable table that has the ability to incline the table so your clients will fee more cozy and can take the pressure off their backs. Maybe you will include enhancements that require arm rests so you can do different kinds of wraps or skin scrubs.

My point is, in the beginning you likely will not know where your career is going to lead you so stick with the basis for now then when you have a better idea of your direction then you can spurge and get the really cool massage table with all the bells and whistles. It wasn’t till I started my own massage therapy business did I get the massage table of my dreams. 

 My recommendation is to pay no more then $200-$300 for your first portable massage table.

If you buy a different table down the road don’t think your first table will go to waste. I still have my first portable massage table after 14 years.  At this point it has seen better days since I have done a lot of traveling with it but I think it’s held up pretty well.

The leather on the sides are starting to come off but as I previously said I don’t travel much with it so it just sits in the closet at this point. I still do events every now and again but for the most part I have my office and I’m quite content to taking my clients in my private practice.

Where to buy a portable massage table?

The first place I would look for a reasonably priced portable massage table would be Amazon. If you are anti Amazon, you can take a look at these places as well, I have purchased from all of these places at one time or another:

  1. Massage Naturals

You’re need a few more things to get started as a Massage Therapy Student:

You don’t need a tone of extra equipment when starting as a massage therapy student, but I do suggest you get a few more things in addition to the portable massage table because you will need them sooner then later:

  1. Holster for your cream
  2. cream
  3. oil
  4. At least two sets of massage table sheets preferably dark colors.

Massage therapy students like to get the white or cream colored sheets and I just don’t recommend that. They do not hold up over time, I only use dark brown sheets in my office. With the dark brown sheets you don’t see oil stains or makeup on the sheets it they don’t stain as easy and they look good in my option.

I’ve never had cream sheets I live in Indiana and we have hard water so there’s no way I would spend that kind of money on sheets I know it just end up getting nasty looking in the long run. Also when it comes to sheets you have three options fleece, polyester or Satin.

I personally recommend going with satin over fleece but polyester are nice as well but they tend to be more expensive. If you are traveling fleece sheets might be nice in the winter time but if you’re like me I have an office so I have a table warmer on and I like the lighter sheets so I can  regulate the temperatures. 

My top blanket is a light fleece blanket and in the wintertime I have a heavier blanket that I can put on top if my clients prefers but I like the satin sheets because once you’re in the middle of a session you can’t change the sheets in order to regulate the temperature if your client starts to get too hot.

Not only that in my experience fleece sheets, after you’ve washed and dried them several times the shape of the sheets changed and they just become weird and unusable.Two years ago I switch to only using satin sheets, I bought 20 sets of dark brown satin sheets and I’ve been using those ever since.

Final thoughts:

I think when you’re starting out as a massage therapy student I wouldn’t try to over-complicate things and I would just focus on the program. Down the road there’s going to be more things you’re going to need and more things you’re going to want to learn but in the beginning as a massage therapy student I recommend you get a nice starter portable massage table, a holster, cream, 2 bottles and at least two sets of massage table sheets.

I hope my 14 years of Massage Therapy experience can be of help to you in other questions you may have as you enter the massage therapy industry. If it anytime you have a question about portable massage tables or anything related to massage therapy schools, massage therapy styles, or starting your own massage therapy business please feel free to leave a comment.

I’ll be more than happy to answer any of your questions to the best of my ability. I hope you found this guide useful and once again thank you for visiting my website. I hope that I can be of assistance to you on multiple fronts as you start your career in this awesome industry of massage  therapy!

If you would like to read more about the best portable massage tables and the varieties out there please click here for more details.

Finally, if at anytime during your massage therapy program you feel overwhelmed or experience anxiety leading up to the EMBLEX exam, check out my post about what you need to pass the EMBLEX in 2018

Thanks for reading , please feel free to leave a comment below!!

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