I found a great way to relax on a budget: Sit in store display massage chairs with no shame!
Today I bought a small massage machine called the iNeed (clever name). Rather than splurging on multiple massages per month, I figured I'd try this out as an investment that costs less than the price of one massage session ($59, Brookstone). The iNeed kneads the knots out of my neck and shoulders perfectly, comes in 5 fun colors, and is accessorized with a handy travel tote. I used it for 3 straight hours and found that indeed, I need the iNeed.
A month ago I spent 45 minutes at the Ala Moana Brookstone sampling two chairs. I started with the OSIM iMedic ($1795), which reclined in a near-sleeping position and offered basic options for a full body massage complete with leg air bags for added pressure. I actually preferred the OSIM iMedic over the higher end OSIM iDesire ($4,495). The genius of this latter chair is that scans the size, shape and weight of your body for perfect acupuncture pressure, has arm rings to put pressure on hands and forearms, and memorizes customized preferences for 4 members in your family.
I also went to the Ward Center Brookstone and tried out the OSIM iSymphonic. It didn't compare with the other two models. It's marketing point is that it massages you to match the beat of in-chair music. My critique of Brookstone chairs in general is that I feel they are built for one particular consumer in mind--broadly built men. The size and placement of the rollers and kneeders are ill placed for the female body and particularly for petite framed women.
With this in mind, I find that the Panasonic Real Pro Elite 3222 ($3,499) is the chair that I would recommend. After selecting a $1.00 book from the Shirokiya 'Bookstop' I walked two steps over to sit in this chair for a deep tissue massage. As a petite, the fit of the chair and height of the kneeding rollers fit my body size very well. The pressure was perfect and I loved the variance in massage techniques. You won't be bored during each timed massage session--there is always something new this chair is doing: rolling the lumbar area, putting pressure on your arms, tightening your shoulders, kneeding your lower back and neck, vibrating your legs, and tapping your shoulders. Cheaper than the Brookstone with a more comfortable feel...the "Pro Elite" gets my vote for the best massage chair.
Shopping Tip: With your purchase at Brookstone, a $20 gift card will be mailed to you for your next in-store purchase. A tid-bit to help you can strategize your Brookstone purchasing.