POD Brighton: A massage chair unlike any other

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Our modern lifestyles mean that wellbeing, both physical and mental, often takes a back seat. Trying to fit in time for yourself whilst juggling a busy work schedule with family life and socializing, not to mention the constant distraction of social media, is incredibly difficult.

How often have you thought to yourself whilst working from home hunched over your kitchen table, “I really should do something about my back pain,” or, “I feel like I never give myself time to properly relax”?

Well let us introduce you to POD, which could just be the answer to your problems. Nestled in the smart new Hanningtons Lane area of The Lanes, POD is Brighton’s all new, boutique massage chair studio aiming to “change the way we improve the health and happiness of our modern, on-the-go lifestyles”. But don’t be fooled, these aren’t the kind of massage chairs you might have seen in airports or shopping centres. These are cutting-edge, high-tech massage pods capable of giving you a bespoke, personalized massage that clients have said “feels like you’re being massaged by 5 people at once.”   

“These are the first chairs in the world that have a double-roller mechanism,” POD founder (or “Podmother”) Alex Collinson tells me. “All other chairs have one roller that just tracks up and down, up and down.” 

“What this means is, with our chairs, not only are you getting double coverage, but these rollers work together and are able to massage you in a much more sophisticated and nuanced way. The chairs also have air bags which run through the shoulders, neck, arms, back, hips and legs. So for example, if you were to do our Limbo programme which is about mobility through the lower back, waist and hips, the airbags will work with the rollers to create a gentle rotational twist through the spine and then a deep stretch. Tech like this has never been seen in Britain before!”

And it doesn’t end there. These pods auto adjust to your body, meaning you get a massage that fits you.

“At the beginning of the massage, the chairs measure you and adjust accordingly. They’re not just “one size fits all”, they’re constantly moving and adjusting to fit your body,” Alex tells me. 

“They also have some really high-tech foot rollers, meaning you get 20 minutes of reflexology with every massage as well. So much tension can be released through the feet, so this feature really is super beneficial. People love it!

“We’ve got lots of different programmes at POD. Lots of people who have been working from home find they need our “Scruff” programme, which works predominantly your neck, shoulders and upper back. Some of the programmes focus more on mobility, some on stretching and some on deep tissue massage.”

The high-tech pods are made by a company in China that set itself the goal of creating the best massage chair in the world.

But can these chairs really compare to a session with a therapist?

“Whilst you could never say it’s the same as having an hour with a therapist in the way the process works, you fit so much more in in 20 minutes with POD because you’re getting everything,” Alex says. 

“Of course it’s not going to be for everyone, some people will always prefer to go and see a person, and that’s completely fine. We just want to help the people who that doesn’t work for for whatever reason, whether it’s cost, time, or simply not liking being touched!” she adds. 

“Massages with therapists are expensive and take up a lot of time. In contrast, a 20 minute session at POD costs just 20. We really want it to be an affordable thing that busy, working people can fit into their weekly routine. It’s an easy way to take a bit of time out for yourself.

“Our sessions are experiential as well – we pair your message with different styles of relaxing meditative audios – sounds of nature for example. We know all about the huge mental and physical benefits of regular massage, and at POD we think pairing them with these meditative soundtracks just takes them to the next level. We’re also looking to introduce extra features like heated eye masks and CBD patches over the next few months.”

Still skeptical? Don’t be. After my conversation with Alex, I tried out a POD session, and it was incredible. I couldn’t believe how good the massage was – it wasn’t at all pokey or uncomfortable like bog-standard massage chairs. I could feel the rollers adjusting to my body shape and getting deep into my muscles. The person who said it’s like having five people massage you at once was spot on. With the gentle sound of lapping waves in my ears, I felt myself completely switch off for a blissful twenty minutes. I didn’t want it to end. 

After having its grand opening delayed for a number of months because of lockdown, POD finally opened its doors to the public in June, and Alex admits that she and her business partner have been “a little bit surprised” at just how popular their idea, born out of a discussion over a glass of wine in a pub, is proving to be. 

“We’ve been unbelievably busy since opening, partly because we can offer contact-free, completely COVID secure treatments. We’re not a massage parlour in the traditional sense, so we were given special dispensation to open alongside all other non-essential retail in June, which helped us massively,” she says.   

“We’re already starting to see the same faces come in week after week. It’s a lovely thing, seeing people with genuine mental and physical issues telling us they have really noticed an improvement in how they feel after doing one of our programmes. As well as appealing to people visiting Brighton for the day, we’re really hoping to build a strong community of regulars around POD.”

POD studio in Hanningtons Lane.

During our conversation, I get the impression that the idea of “community” is central to POD’s philosophy. The company seems genuinely committed to drastically improving people’s wellbeing, to the extent that they have even chosen not to go down the social media route when it comes to promotion, because they don’t want to “bombard people with more stuff to take in.”

“I think it’s fair to say that in a lot of cases social media contributes to people feeling stressed and anxious,” Alex says. “We really don’t want to be a part of that. We want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem!”

“We will have pages for some content and for people to leave reviews, but we don’t want to bombard people with posts all day long.

“So for us, it’s going to be all about finding ways to reach out to the local community, going out and speaking to businesses, groups and individuals. I’d love to see us really involved with community based activities. I just want people to know we’re here to help them, and we’re going down the old school route to get the word out!”

They may be taking a different route to most startups, but that certainly doesn’t mean POD’s founders aren’t ambitious. The company is hoping to turn the studio into a strong franchise model over the next five years, and sees POD eventually operating in every major UK city. Desk workers and meditation lovers – watch this space!

Book your session at https://www.elevateyourday.co.uk/

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