Awkwardness needn’t be part of spa experience
January 9, 2007
Enchanting music and spicy aromas succor the mind as massaging hands enable the body to descend into a tranquil state.
But to achieve this spa paradise, first-time spa attendees may have to overcome some initial awkwardness.
Questions may arise about being in a room naked and alone with a stranger. There may be embarrassing parts of one’s body that he or she may not want to show off. Any of these issues, however, are usually put to rest by qualified therapists.
"I think that’s the misconception. I don’t think there’s an awkward moment," said Jill Martin, Grand Summit Spa and Health Club manager.
Mindy Kimpland who first stepped into a spa Thursday morning found that any discomfort was diminished as soon as she walked into her room.
"I was just calm," Kimpland said about her first experience at Mountain Body located at 825 Main Street. "The way the room smelled was relaxing. I’m high stressed person and this relaxed me, I even fell asleep."
Recommended Stories For You
Kimpland had no preconceptions about what would take place.
"I didn’t have any clue," she said. "There was privacy, and (the therapist) explained everything and he gave me the time I needed. Everything I did was whatever I was comfortable with. The people were so friendly."
Helping customers relax is what many spa owners aim to do.
"The more comfortable they are going to be, the better experience they will have," said Jackie Olson, part owner of Mountain Body.
A therapist is a client’s guide into this world of pamperdom.
"Customers check in and someone will give them a tour and they will get in a robe and are greeted by a technician," Martin said. "They are never left alone to figure it out. From the minute they walk in, they are taken care of. It should be relaxing from the get-go."
Sometimes Martin said there is a hesitation among few customers to throw their clothes off and get onto the table. But it is all done in privacy.
"They are robed and left in the room alone to get in the sheets," Martin said. "They don’t disrobe until they are in their locker room."
Mountain Body is similarly dedicated to guiding customers through what they will be experiencing. Olson and her staff will guide the customer through the spa, explaining to them the products to be used and serve them lemon water or herbal tea. They will also ask about any prior health problems, injuries or other medical conditions.
Before a massage, the therapist will ask questions regarding what the customer may be feeling or what may need work specifically.
"Therapists are trained to talk and find out what they are looking for, for the therapist and clients to be on the same wavelength," Olson said.
Customers shouldn’t be afraid to let their therapist know what they want, even during the treatment received.
"It’s not offensive for (the therapist) if a customer says ‘Please work deeper,’" Olson said.
While Mountain Body encourages people to disrobe, the technicians will never pressure anyone into something that would make them anxious.
"We tell them to disrobe to your comfort level, it makes it easier," Olson said. When someone does disrobe, they will be covered with a sheet. Only the part worked on will be exposed."
When the client is left alone to climb in the sheets skin-on-silk, the therapist will leave the room and knock on the door before re-entering.
But what if an individual is embarrassed to show the part exposed? What if there is a deformation or any other list of things?
"They need to know that everyone is self conscious," Martin said. "It’s a normal hesitation."
Plus, the people working in the spa aren’t judgmental.
"For the message therapists, it’s part of our work. A body is a body," Martin said. "Everyone is different. When you are on the table you are dealing with muscles, skin, feet and hands, and it’s not looked at like a problem."
The therapists and estheticians are licensed professionals and treat their job as such.
"It’s like going to the doctor," Martin said. "Everyone is self-conscious. I just look at it as a body and I’ve been trained to look at muscles. They are trained to treat the ailments. I think, as a whole, a technician looks at it in a professional manner."
There may be certain areas that need work below the waist regarding sore muscles and injuries. Clients should expect similar professionalism in that area.
"If there’s a groin problem, there’s way to drape the private parts to work on that problem," Martin said. It’s completely draped and the guest can help. A lot of people for the first time will leave their underwear on. The gluts are a big muscle, that’s all it is."
New customers shouldn’t think their extra cellulite is something a therapist hasn’t seen before.
"It may be new for (the customer), but most schools have a clinic where they are doing a handful of clients a week. By the time they are in the profession, they have conquered those issues," Martin said.
With the many customers they work with afterwards, they won’t remember the cellulite either.
"They may remember your neck was tight, but they are going to do a lot more people," Martin said.
"If you go to a professional place in a good area with a good reputation, you may be surprised how relaxing it is and you’ll forget about it in the first place."
Most spas follow guidelines to guarantee a sanitized area as well. Anti bacterial soaps, hospital-grade disinfectants and hot-water washing machines promise that.
"We do a lot of laundry," Olson said with a smile. "Sanitation is very important."
Many of the people who work in the business, do it because of a love of serving other people. That usually carries over into the work they perform. Olson said she has worked on many people who do not have loved ones close by and the treatments are beneficial to them in a way beyond just physical aches and pains.
"A spa’s about rejuvenation," Olson said. "As humans, we’re about touch. To have people touch you with no threatening ties and to be cared for in that way is important."
Olson stressed that the work at a spa is not about anything sexual. She said her spa often receives calls from visitors requesting something that has nothing to do with facials and foot treatments.
"It’s not anything construed as sexual," Olson said. "It’s therapeutic in nurturing, caring and giving. It’s great to come to work with people who are happy. It’s a great way to spend your day. It’s a great payoff for helping someone."