As we talk about in the workshop, the absolute best place to give and receive a massage is on a massage table. They are designed to make giving a massage much easier and healthier, and are far superior to beds, etc. especially if you are trying to get any deep work done.
Here are some suggestions on what to look for when purchasing your table and you can jump to the bottom of the page for some recommendations.
Built in Comfort
There is a trade off between price and "comfort upgrades" that I do not always feel is worth paying. I am willing to pay a little more for quality padding but not much. Usually I would rather buy an after market foam padding topper for my table as well as a separate table warmer (vs a built in warmer). The vinyl is almost always covered, so don't get too caught up in that selection. Stay within your budget and you can add more comfort as time passes.
Most of the massage tables that we use in our workshops are 30" wide, and that is a pretty standard measurement for your average massage table. If you took the workshop then you probably have a good idea if this is a good width for you. If you have not actually given a massage on a professional table then I really suggest that you find a way to take a table or two for a test drive before buying one!
My bias is for a wider table for several reasons. Many of them relate to my massage practice and the fact that I work on a lot of different body types. I would rather have room to spare then have
my clients almost falling off the table. I also bend and twist my clients a lot, so I like to have room to do that and I get on the table with my clients for Thai Massage, Shiatsu and other
dynamic techniques...a 30" table does not provide me with enough surface area to do these things comfortably. So I use a 34" table which might be overkill for many of you, but just right for
others (think of Goldilocks and her new friends).
My suggestion is to find your sweet spot somewhere between 30" and 34" and remember there are trade-offs. Wider tables cost more money, are heavier, are
harder to reach across for some people and can be hard to find accessories for...but they sure are comfy!
How much weight can your table hold? Make sure it is 50 pounds more than the combined weight of you and your partner (especially if you plan to get on the table for any of your work). Also, Working Weight is a much better measurement than "static weight" or simpler terms like "capacity". If you are not sure which they are quoting, ask.
Some tables offer Reiki end panels, which allow you to get your knees under the table when sitting on a stool at either end. Just remember that this design is not as stable as the traditional design so you will want to make sure of the quality and build of the table and it's stated capacities.
There are high-end tables and low-end tables. There are companies that offer good warranties and some that don't. I will list a few of the obvious ones in a moment. Do your research, check out the reviews on the company and the tables. One thing to think about is how much you plan to use your table. I have given several thousand massages on my primary table, and I am sure it has several thousand left in it. You may not put as many miles on yours so you probably do not need to spend as much....So when asking questions make sure that you tell the seller that you are a consumer and not a professional therapist.
There are established high quality manufacturers like Oakworks, Earthlite
and Custom Craftworks which I would recommend for professional therapists (and couples with expensive tastes and large budgets) and
then there are good quality tables in the middle like the ones that Costco sells (great warranty here) and some clients have told me great
things about the lower priced tables and customer service at Best Massage.
Last but not least is Craigslist and Ebay. There are great deals on both of these (more so on craigslist if you are a good negotiator). Make sure you check the seller rating on Ebay and follow safe practices on Craigslist. One budget table seller on Ebay that I have had good experience with is ValueMassage.