One of the most unique experiences of visiting the Blue Lagoon is the in-water massage. Suspended in the soothing warmth of a private section of the Blue Lagoon, you float on the tranquil waters of one of the wonders of the world during a massage experience.
Ólafía Jensdóttir began working at Blue Lagoon in 1996. By then, the water’s healing powers had been researched and formally recognized, and had given rise to a line of skincare. A clinic had also been built on the shores of the lagoon. Psoriasis patients came there for treatments that were based on the curative properties of geothermal seawater and the medicinal radiance of ultraviolet light therapy. Every Wednesday, Jensdóttir, who had been trained as a massage therapist, would administer bench massage inside the makeshift clinic facility.
In January of 2000, after the remodel of Blue Lagoon, Jensdóttir received a call from Magnus Jakobsson, a Blue Lagoon employee whose primary responsibility was first aid training.
“He called me one day,” says Jensdóttir, “and asked me, ‘Can you come and massage a lady who wants to have a massage in the water?’ And so I came over and sat on the steps of the lagoon and did just a little massage. Maybe ten or twenty minutes. And then I went home.”
Though the woman had been sitting upright as she received her massage, Jensdóttir instantly recognized the possibilities enabled by transposing the techniques of indoor bench massage to the outdoor arena of the lagoon’s rejuvenating warmth and the mesmerizing beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Several weeks later, Jakobsson called her again with a similar request. The fundamental challenge of an in-water massage was figuring out how to give a full body massage in the water. Administering massage while sitting on the steps just wouldn’t do justice to the vision that had taken shape in her mind.
“I remember that when the first lady came and I sat on the steps and massaged her shoulders, I remember thinking, ‘This is so incredible.’ Because I was so fascinated with all nature, all the elements. And this had it all: earth, water, fire, air, and space.”
Several weeks later, Jakobsson called her again. Magnea Guðmundsdóttir, Blue Lagoon’s Director of PR, wanted to offer this emerging form of massage every Sunday.
“I would sit on the steps,” says Jensdóttir. “It was Sundays for one or two months. But it grew and grew and then it was all days. And all of this made me very excited. I wondered how I could make it better. I wanted to do more. I wanted to be able to do a full body massage in the water. But I was unsure how. I was trying different ideas, experiments with floating, but none of it worked.”
Then one day, after she had finished a yoga session at home, she looked at her yoga mat and a question entered into her mind: Could this be used as a floatation device for in-water massage?
“And I took it with me to the Blue Lagoon and I put it in the water and went to take a shower. And I decided that if it was floating when I came back from the shower, I would try to use it for making people float. And that was the real beginning of in-water massage.”
However, Jensdóttir still had a few challenges to overcome. The weather in Iceland is notoriously unpredictable and Jensdóttir did not want to limit these experiences to times when the weather was compliant. In order to overcome this, she used a blanket. This allowed the person being massaged to float and also remain comfortable no matter the weather.
“With the introduction of the blanket, I felt I was getting closer to my goal,” says Jensdóttir. “But I still needed something for people to lay their heads on. So I took an inflatable armband—a baby floaty—and cut it in half and tried that and I felt that this was another piece of the puzzle. I was improvising the whole way.”
This new form of massage, which was undergoing incremental enhancements catalyzed by Jensdóttir’s creativity, became so popular so quickly that additional therapists were hired specifically for in-water massage. And Jensdóttir quickly shared the technique with her colleagues.
With the extraordinary rise of in-water massage at Blue Lagoon, the concept soon outgrew its location. Thus, a new location in the lagoon dedicated solely to the in-water massage was created.
Today, Jensdóttir still lives in Grindavík. She is a practitioner of Polarity Therapy. Though she’s no longer a massage therapist at Blue Lagoon, she is proud of the legacy she left and marvels at Blue Lagoon’s meteoric ascent as an epicenter of Icelandic travel destinations.
Have you received an in-water massage at Blue Lagoon? Let us know in the comments below!