Friday, June 22, 2007
I've been having a back and forth conversation via blog posts with Andrew Moorhouse, the blogger who writes about spas from the male perspective at the Great Spa Search.
Andrew was nice enough to follow up on the story I suggested he read in Dayspa trade magazine about how spa operators are trying to attract more men to indulge beyond a hot shave with a beer chaser. Andrew asked for comments on the article and as I was trying to make the comments thingy work it really got me thinking expanding on the-post-that-never-materialized idea. So here are some thoughts:
The author of the Dayspa You've Got Male article quotes a stat released this year by ISPA, which states that 31% of males are currently using spas. I think that this stat is correct but misleading. It all depends on how you define the word spa. These days the term is used so loosely that we don't really know what the place is going to look like and what its vibe is until we arrive. You may be envisioning tranquility and quiet ambiance only to find something else entirely.
It would be interesting to know if the quoted 31% includes MedSpas as well, which is a very different beast. I check and see. In the meantime, nail and hair salons are now attaching the word spa their business names. But aside from the one that are true hybrid venues and do offer bonafide spa treatments such as massage, that stat is likely ramped up because of researchers' lack of specificity. So do your own research—ask your Q's to get your A's because I doubt this naming trend is going anywhere fast. And check in here frequently as I continue to elaborate on treatments that you may have heard about but are not so clear on what they do as to what they are.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I love that Andrew Moorhouse has started a blog specifically to get men in on the spa action. I also like that this blog is not about collecting “for-male” spas, which are becoming more common and have a particular shall-we-say aroma of testosterone infusing them. Male spas feels like a misnomer to me. The one's I've seen, which I admit are limited to local places, serve beer and seem more like stylish barber shops, which provide a great service if you are in need of baby stepping your way to the real thing. But Andrew's blog is about enlightening men on the benefits of the concept of spa-ing, which knows no gender. (My partner is definitely in touch with his feminine side and though he gets massages by a male therapist who has a private practice, I can’t imagine him going to a spa—without me.)
In fact, Andrew’s blog, the Great Spa Search, is right on target, maybe even ahead of the curve, and hits a perfect pitch because he's picked up on a big issue that has spa owners scratching their collective heads about. DaySpa, a spa trade journal, ran a cover story in the June 07 issue called “You’ve Got Male: How to attract more men to your spa.” So congrats, Andrew. That's good blogging!
Andrew is located in Australia so if you are planning a trip there, or live there currently, he is collecting Melboure-based spa faves. It’s good to have someone do the research for you, isn’t it?
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
It sounds like a 60s dance, doesn't it? I remember hearing a lot og buzz about, but no one really seemed to know what it was. I finally tried it a couple of years ago, and then wrote a story about it in 2005. At the time it was difficult to find locations that offer it because it requires a pool. When I tried it I immediately fell in love. It’s become increasing more common at destination spas and seems now to be a must-have in all spas with pools.
So what is it?
Harold Dull, a California-based Zen shiatsu practitioner, developed it in the 1980s. Zen shiatsu is a Japanese pressure-point massage technique, so basically this is a water massage. With so many ‘fusion’ treatments out there I was a bit skeptical. But I shouldn’t have been; in the right hands it’s divine.
Get ready for a four-foot deep dedicated pool set at around 95 degrees. Entering it feels like dipping into a warm bath. You’ll be asked to put on floaties around your calves and to rest your head on a fiber-filled pillow, which my practitioner occasionally swapped out to under my knees and neck, leaving her arms free to move me around while keeping me supported. You don’t have to know how to swim, but if you have a fear of water it might be harder to give in and allow yourself to be moved about in the water; the key is to relinquish resistance to what will ensue, which is floating along in a sort of ballet between you and your practitioner. This will give you the deepest state of relaxation that you might ever know. (You’ll also be asked various questions about your personal psychological issues that could unknowingly open up past traumas.)
Once in the pool you’ll be cradled in the practitioner’s supportive arms as she moves you, body part by body part, to and fro, like a hypnotic rhythmic swaying that lasts about an hour. She might move a single leg or arm, stretching it while listening to your body's response to gauge how far she goes. The shiatsu is employed intermittently, finding pressure points with her fingers, or sometimes with her whole hand.
With ears submerged it becomes even more ethereal; breath and heartbeat are amplified and in harmony with the swoosh of the water. She and I struck such a flow that I lost all sense of time, and I wasn’t quite sure if it was she or I initiating the movements. A peaceful ambiguous water dance.