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In Sore Knead

I’m all for the relaxing spa getaway for a sumptuous, lingering massage, but sometimes, especially during the workweek, I’m aching for a quick fix. I gave Zubio Massage Studio in Crocker Galleria a whirl the other day, despite prior reservations about the seemingly random “seated massages” I’ve spotted people getting on their lunch breaks at a mall kiosk or inside an airport terminal. My gut instinct is always a) I doubt I’d feel very relaxed getting massage so out in public like that and b) hmmm, what exactly are the credentials of these people selling Mc-Rubdowns at the bargain rate of a dollar a minute?

Zubio happens to be tucked away on the bottom level of the Galleria in its own space, with frosted glass dividers separating its clients for semi-privacy. Spa music (think rustling trees, ocean waves and chirping birds) plays overhead. And as owner Sam Keller—a former project manager at World Bank turned entrepreneur—assured me before my service, the entire staff  are licensed therapists who are given months of added training in the art of Japanese acupressure.

The massages come in increments of 10, 20  and 30 minutes and range from $12 to $42. Buying a membership will get you discounted rates and you can book an appointment online even just 10 minutes before you show up if slots are open. In just 20 minutes, without having to disrobe or even take down my hair, I sat facedown in a massage chair and let my stress melt away. My therapist, Adam, focused on pressing and kneading pressure points along my back, neck, arms, hands and scalp to relax my muscles, beating out the stiffness and soreness throughout my body built up after working at a computer all day.

Is this, indeed, the next Starbucks of massage? Keller certainly hopes so. He’s already planning to open three more locations in the financial district in 2008. “Ultimately I wanted to transform massage from an expensive and inconvenient luxury you might only get on vacation, or something only the wealthy could afford,” says Keller, “to something reliable, accessible and affordable.”

Zubio Massage Studio, Crocker Galleria, 50 Post St., 415-861-4746