Spa & Wellness

Wellness means you live in a state of optimal health, well-being, and vitality, and you invest money, time and energy in the things that help you achieve it. That includes a good diet, exercise, and treatments like massage and bodywork that keeps you functioning at your best. Wellness makes our lives richer and more enjoyable.

These wellness spas usually require that you stay at least two or three nights to get the full benefit. Some require a longer stay. Prices at destination spas usually include all meals, classes and some spa treatments.

Traditionally, resort spas offer spa treatments alongside golf, tennis, swimming and other leisure activities that take advantage of their location (skiing, hiking, beach-time). Everything tends to be a la carte, rather than the all-inclusive approach taken at wellness spas

Recently, though, the lines have been blurring. Some wellness spas are calling themselves spa resorts to show up better in search. Some resorts and inns calling themselves destination spas even though they don’t match all the traditional criteria, like extensive fitness programming and education. And resort spas are taking on the characteristics of wellness spas, even to the point of adding integrative physicians to the staff. Your best bet is to decide what you’re looking for and see who offers

The People At Wellness Spas:

Wellness spas have a spirit of camaraderie. You’re with like-minded people who share your interest in health. Many have a small number of guests at any one time and you can get to know people even if you go by yourself. Small groups go on hikes, take exercise classes, and share tables together. There is usually a high staff-to-guest ratio, and staff is enthusiastic.

The Food At Wellness Spas:

Wellness spas serve healthy food exclusively, but there are different philosophies. Some wellness spas are geared towards weight loss, with restricted calories and strict portion control. Others have an all-you-can-eat philosophy. Many don’t serve alcohol, while others serve wine with dinner. While destination spas emphasize healthy, whole foods, it might not necessarily be organic.

Most resort spas offer some healthy menu options alongside fine dining. They will usually have a well-equipped gym and depending anywhere from a few to a full schedule of wellness classes. They might charge for the wellness classes or they might be free. They might have an access fee for the gym and spa if you don’t have a treatment scheduled.

Most types of bodywork share similar goals, such as relief from pain, improved physical functioning, more freedom of movement, a balanced mind, and a heightened sense of body awareness, vitality and well-being. They also stress active participation in your own health and wellness

In order to practice massage therapy you have to be a licensed massage therapist (LMT) in most states. This includes Swedish massage and its various forms, including deep tissue massage, medical massage, sports massage, aromatherapy massage, hot stone massage, pregnancy or pre-natal massage, and even chair massage.

On the other hand, some bodywork modalities, such as Feldenkraise Method and Alexander Technique, have a completely different yet extensive training program that doesn’t require a massage therapy license. Brennan Healing Science is a four-year program in energy work that earns you a Bachelor’s in Science in Florida.

On the other hand, anyone can become a Reiki master in a short period of time. The symbols and hand positions are easy to learn, and the ability to perform the treatment is passed on via an “attunement” from another Reiki master. In most states, you have to have a license in order to place your hands on someone, so the Reiki master might also be a licensed massage therapist (LMT).

There are also different levels of training for various modalities. Someone practicing Thai massage may have learned how to practice it in their native land, learned it in a few weekends, or spent month studying overseas with a master.

A person performing bodywork may or may not be a LMT. If someone calls themselves a bodyworker, ask what kind of training they’ve had, in what modality, and what you can expect during a treatment.

Formal training, years of experience and natural gifts are all important in choosing a massage therapist or bodyworker. Getting a personal recommendation is probably the best way to proceed.

Why Get Bodywork?

Many people turn to regular massage and bodywork because of chronic pain. You may find that it takes a variety of bodywork methods and practitioners to create lasting change. One practitioner or method might take you to a certain point, and then it’s time to try someone or something else. In many ways it’s your own path of healing, and you have to direct it yourself.

Many people find that it can take years, even a lifetime of regular care, to fully achieve and maintain the benefits of massage and bodywork. Getting one massage at a resort once or twice a year may be relaxing, but it is not going to undo chronic pain or keep your muscle tissue supple and responsive.

Bodywork is a broad term for many different kinds of therapeutic touch, including massage, acupressure, Rolfing, Shiatsu, Feldenkraise, Trager, Craniosacral Therapy, Reflexology, Reiki, and many more. There are almost 300 massage and bodywork methods, according to the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, a membership organization for massage therapists and bodyworkers.

Bodywork includes ancient healing techniques such as Shiatsu and Thai massage, along with modern methods that are often named after their creator (Rolfing Structural Integration, The Feldenkraise Method and The Trager Approach.)

Bodywork ranges from very gentle energy work where the therapist uses light or even no touch, as in Reiki, to sometimes uncomfortable modalities such as Rolfing Structural Integration. In classic Rolfing, a series of ten treatments uses physical manipulation of fascia to release old holding patterns and misalignments that are responsible for much of our chronic discomfort and pain.