Shy about Going to a Health Spa?

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If you are shy about going to a health SPA, you are missing out on one of the best stress-busters I know. But, new to spas once myself, I know that first-time feeling of awkwardness. Take it from me, your body, mind and spirit will purr like a Swiss watch if you take time out for regular massage, an occasional herbal wrap, a mineral water soak, a back facial. For many CEOs, spa treatments are a routine entry in their appointment books. They know that weekly trips to the spa "iron out the wrinkles in your soul."

So what's holding you back? Are you concerned that you will have to:

-strip down in front of strangers
-be massaged by a man
-feel like a dummy

Or, odd as it may sound, are you put off by the eucalyptus-scented atmosphere spas have created to please you? Here are some useful ways to ease your way in:

* Choose a neighborhood spa; pick up a brochure and request
a tour

* Make an appointment to go with someone--another
newbie to giggle with or an old-timer to show you the ropes

* Sign up for something simple, a pedicure or neck and shoulder massage

* Pretend you are doing research for an article (that allows you to play innocent and ask questions)

Discovery time! Soon after you have tested the waters at your neighborhood spa, your confidence will surge and your anxieties will vanish.You're learning that:

* You won't be stripped down!Spa personnel are skilled in using sheets and thin blankets to drape you, wrap you, and/or keep you warm.

* You're not alone if you feel claustrophobic with steamin your face, when wrapped up tightly like a burrito baby,or when your eyes are masked with cucumber-soaked pads.

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* Massage practitioners receive rigorous training fortheir certification.

* Spa professionals are genuinely "good" people whose reward is making you feel that all's right with your world.

* You can request a man or a woman massage practitioner.

* Men are being increasingly catered to: how about apedicure in front of a TV set showing Monday Night Football? A back facial?

* Tip baskets or envelopes are usually in plain sight--at the reception desk, in the changing room, or in the treatment room. (Tip for good service just as you would in a restaurant.)

* You are in charge at all times.

* You can surrender on your own terms,in your own time.

Some spa treatments, like salt scrubs, are invigorating. Most massages, on the other hand, leave your body in a sublime state of peace you might not have felt for a long time or ever. Your attendant will leave the room quietly when your time is up, allowing you to return to reality gradually, on your own. Some people are so thrilled by the sense of wellness they feel that they opt for a weeklong vacation at one of the many spa hotels, retreats and resorts that abound in California.

Some offer tough fitness programs. Some leave you alone to pick and choose what you want to do. Some lavish you with tip-to-toe pampering. Yes, some have a lot of "attitude"--relax and enjoy it. There is no "best" spa. Like coffee shops and restaurants, it's what you have a taste for at the time, or what your goals are.

So get up from your computers, stop gardening, forget that unrealistic self-imposed deadline, and follow my advice. You will soon join the legions of working adults who think that spa treatments should be covered by their health plans.

***

Written by Laurel Olson Cook
Opening up the world of day spas, country retreats, hotel facilities and posh resorts to newcomers and old-timers . Author: Wine Country Spas of California.

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