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Massage Today
December, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 12

Spa Letters

By Steve Capellini, LMT

Author's Note: The Spa Letters column features news, personality profiles, trends, and plenty of professional possibilities for LMTs in the spa industry. The style is epistolary, meaning the articles are letters to a fictional massage therapist friend of the author.

Dear Lou,

So, you've experienced the benefits of herbal wraps firsthand now, by going through your own personal mini-detox program right there at the spa. Great idea! I think more spa therapists should put their own bodies on the line. It shows your spa guests that you really believe in what you're doing, and it can inspire them to experience it for themselves.

I remember once at a spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, I received a clay detox treatment from a gentleman in his 70s who exuded vibrant health. He told me he constantly took advantage of the spa's employee discount program to receive treatments, and that when he was off work, he spent a lot of time meditating and playing on the golf course. He was the most relaxed, content and inspired spa worker I've ever met, at an age when most people yearn for retirement. In fact, he said he could have retired, but the atmosphere in the spa was so alluring that he chose to keep working.

A Book's Worth of Information

Of course, herbal wraps are not the only treatments that can offer profound benefits, and you've got your work cut out for you in the months ahead as you learn the ins and outs of such esoteric matters as thalassotherapy; Ayurvedic body wraps; mango body scrubs; and more. Remember, though, this is the type of job that most people dream about having. Like you said, it's not too hard to feel grateful each day when your life revolves around making people, including yourself, feel better and achieve heightened levels of wellness.

It would take me an entire book to write about the benefits of all the services offered at your spa. In fact, I did write a book about it, didn't I? That's the subject of The Royal Treatment. I know someday you'll get around to reading it, if you can just tear yourself away from those mysteries for a few hours. There are a number of good books on the subject, actually, all of which can help both professionals like you and the general public understand the plethora of treatments available. Check out Julie Register's list of such books on the spa site,

Keep the Heat On

Some of my favorite spa therapies include paraffin baths (great for therapists' hands between treatments, too), fango mud wraps, stone therapy and hydrotherapy.

Do you notice one thing in common with all of my favorites, including the herbal wrap I wrote about in my last letter? That's right, they're all heat treatments. For me, nothing beats heat when it comes to spa therapy. I've been known to drive thousands of miles to reach remote hot springs in the wilderness, just to experience heat direct from nature. You take something unremarkable, like a river rock, then heat it up, and it becomes a therapeutic tool of remarkable power.

I'm sure you have your own preferred spa treatment protocols. The challenge is to identify them, elaborate upon them, then offer the fruits of your enthusiasm to the guests who come to you for treatments.

An Idea

I have an idea that I'd like to recommend to you: First, make sure you get permission from your spa director; second, start to take advantage of where you are and, over the coming weeks, make your own list of the top five spa treatments your spa offers, and then personally experience every one of them, getting fellow employees to join you in the process if you can. Finally, create your own personal resource, be it a one-page handout; a mini-brochure; a page on the World Wide Web; or something that you can personally offer the guests you come in contact with - something that shows them how much your care about their well-being, and how you believe in the spa's offerings for your own personal wellness. If you don't want to write this information down, that's OK. At least you'll have it in your mind (and in the cells of your body), so that when guests ask, you'll be fully prepared to answer them.

Enthusiasm + Caution = A Safe, Successful Spa

There's one caveat here: as you recommend your favorite services to the guests, remember that what you consider nirvana might be a nightmare for someone else. Even though I love the herbal wrap, for example, I know there are people out there who would pay good money not to get wrapped in steaming hot sheets. You've got to keep contraindications, both physical and psychological, in mind as you create and grow your personal resource guide for spa therapies. There is, in fact, some rather mysterious equipment used in some quirky spa treatments today that even you or I might think twice about experiencing. You've told me you have some of this equipment at your own facility, such as the puzzling fire-hydrant type spigot in one of your wet rooms.

So, the next time I have time to write, I'll tell you about some of the treatments that aren't seen much anymore, even though spas often still have the equipment, usually a leftover from earlier spa incarnations.

Until then, take care,

Steve Capellini, LMT

Click here for previous articles by Steve Capellini, LMT.


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