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Massage Today
July, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 07

The Five Seasons of Spa: Summer

By Robin Zill, LMT

Author's note: This five-part series is designed to explore the language of nature as it relates to the spa experience.

"Summertime...When the Living Is Easy"...NOT!

Summer is the season when life and business are in full bloom.

If your business has been well-planned and tended, the garden is thriving: the soil is tilled and nourished; there is plenty of water; the sun-to-shade ratio is perfect; and the bouquet of color bursts forth, ripe with foliage and fruit. The best of what nature has to offer has been given to you because of your vision and hard work. The harvest is around the corner.

In the ousia (oo-see-ahh) philosophy, summer is considered the time of full bloom, the time of flowering. It is the time when things are in full swing and the senses are filled with wonder. You have made it through the long winter season when your planning began, and the spring season when vision took roo,t as you built and finalized your space, treatment menu and staff selection. The season of summer at its best is fun, rewarding and beautiful.

But the hot summer sun can be blistering. It can mean draught, unexpected insect infestations and weeds. Summer can be the season when many new business owners find themselves running on empty. That is why taking a vacation and slowing down just a little can be the best thing for you and your business. But how can you afford to?

How Can You afford Not To?

Any spa owner will tell you that the opening of a spa (or any new business) is a multidimensional feat. It is like a rite of passage. A new spa owner has counted the cost and made many sacrifices - so have those around him or her. Most new spa owners are tested on physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels. By the time the spa opens, they have lived a lifetime. This needs to be acknowledged and honored.

From the spa business perspective, the ousia key word for summer is maintenance: maintenance of the vision, maintenance of the people and maintenance of the systems. This is the time to review planning and profit expectations, and decide if the staff you selected is the team that will take you forward. Are the treatment programs working optimally? Taking time to review, refine and tweak your systems will save you endless hours of frustration and stress down the road.

I know, I know - you don't have time. You are too busy putting out fires. I rest my case. Whether it is reviewing profit margins, coding in the computer, cleaning up protocols and staffing policies, such as dress codes and tardiness, or making simple clarifications and refinements, it needs to be done. It can make all the difference to the bottom line at the end of the year. There is definitely pruning to be done. It is time to hoe and strengthen the growing plants, remove the suckers and pinch the leaves. Poor team morale or treatment programs that do not sell or are not easy to perform need to be revisited. Listening and communicating with staff to refine your business structure is imperative at this point. Neglecting this proper pruning can leave the garden fruitless, with little more than weeds to show for all your hard work and vision.

Summer season maintenance also means maintenance of your own personal health. Maintain your own health and vitality so you can maximize this incredible growth period. Treat yourself to spa services; pay special attention to your diet, exercise and sleep patterns. Review the pace and rhythm of your life schedule. Do you have enough time with your spouse or significant other, children, friends... yourself? Taking time to stop, reflect and balance by dipping into the fifth season of spa - the integrated center - is critical.

Most people I know in the spa industry, at least the harbingers, chose this industry because it offered them more than a job. The spa industry has the opportunity to create a career path that enhances an integrated lifestyle. Many of us have also found that the lessons are never perfectly clear to our deeper path: One often experiences the "chaos" before the "light." Tapping into the fire energy of summer will help to energize your business.

In closing, I share a quote from one of the oldest books ever written, the I-Ching, or "Book of Changes." The I-Ching is based on living in the moment and embracing the constant of change in the universe and our lives. The following trigram, Ch'ien, the Creative, comes to mind when thinking about the season of spa hot summer:

"If you are alert to the Creative, you will meet with good fortune now ... Frantic activity is not in order ... be open and receptive to the Higher Power, allowing it to guide your actions ... To overextend yourself, or require that of another is to create an undesirable imbalance ... Act in accordance with that which is highest and best within you, sublime success that comes from the depths of the universe is assured .... Great good fortune. I-Ching"

- Brian Browne Walker

Click here for previous articles by Robin Zill, LMT.


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