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Bargain bodywork: A $55 Tui-Na massage in Murray Hill

This month’s Bargain Bodywork adventure takes us to Murray Hill, where Asia Tui-Na Wholeness (ATW) serves up some surprisingly good mid-priced massage. (It’s possibly where Gwyneth Paltrow had her highly chronicled cupping treatments done, as well, according to the center website. But very possibly not.)

In fact, there were no celeb sightings at ATW, which occupies a niche economic bubble—better than bargain basement Tui-Na places yet not on par with the higher-priced places staffed with Swedish Institute grads. An hour here costs $55 (or $62 by credit card).

I’m pretty sure I would have seen, or heard, the Hollywood set if any were here. Treatments take place in the massage equivalent of office cubicles, with floor-to-ceiling curtains separating the “rooms.”

But the place is clean, thoroughly unobjectionable, and stands apart from Tui-Na places south of Canal Street by asking you to fill out an intake form about your general health—an attention to detail you certainly won’t find elsewhere. (But like its siblings downtown, there’s a break room where therapists drink tea and eat in full view between sessions.)

Dr. Yun Li practices acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine at ATW.

Still, the quality of ATW therapists draws regular clients from around the city. One, who regularly treks from Tribeca, was so confident in the bodywork he’d received here that he gave the acupuncture and cupping services a go for a herniated disc last year. The treatments alleviated the pain, though he still needed physical therapy.

Speaking of pain, strong massage is a mainstay at ATW. You may be slightly bruised, like a female client reported, but you’ll leave without a knot in your neck. My recent experience bore out the necessity for a high pain threshold, but my therapist toned down the pummeling when I spoke up. Her massage did the trick. My right shoulder, bearer of handbags and a toddler, feels much less creaky.

Since not all therapists here speak English, make a point of mentioning to the receptionist, who doubles as translator, how much pressure you can handle and the areas that ail you. Tui-Na practitioners typically spend about half the appointment on the neck and shoulders. So, if you want your lower back massaged or foot reflexology, you’ll need to find a way to ask for it.

The takeaway: While the treatment was on par with Chinatown Tui-Na, the surroundings and experience were certainly a step up.

Asia Tui-Na Wholeness, 37 E. 28th St., Suite 800, NY, NY, 212-686-8082.

Have you ever tried Asia Tui-Na Wholeness? Please share your experience, here!