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Planning Retirement Online

What is a Spa?

December 2012

Health SpaThere has been a big change in our lifetime - after all, how many of us remember our parents going to spas when we were little?

Initially spas were little more than natural water holes where an abundance of minerals and other natural elements encouraged people to dip in and “take the waters” for health purposes. The Romans were keen on spas and started the idea of spa towns such as Bath. The Greeks went a step further by developing thalassotherapy (bathing in sea water as a therapeutic treatment) and hydrotherapy (using water to treat specific ailments) and over the years the concept has continued to develop.

Today men and women of all ages regular visit spas for relaxation and health reasons, but what exactly does it mean? Some spas seem to offer quiet bathing and peace while others seem to base themselves around a bewildering range of specialised therapies and treatments.

There is no clearly defined definition of the word spa although the American based International Spa Association say a spa is a “place devoted to enhancing overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body and spirit.”

Under that very wide umbrella, today in the UK and indeed right across the world you can find a spa that offers a treatment or range of treatments that can fit exactly what you are looking for.

There is no official classification or grouping, and you really have to use your judgement and research to find the best spa for you.

Some specialise in well-being treatments, focussed on your overall feeling of wellness rather than looking beautiful. These can be really relaxing as part of the well-being treatments usually include anti-stress ideas such as Indian head massage, floatation hydrotherapy, amomatherapy and Reiki.

Beauty treatments are often included in main spas - after all, looking good helps us to feel good about ourselves. These treatments can include being massaged or scrubbed, wrapped up in possibly mud or seaweed or even plastic; or other specialised treatments involved magnets, brushes or lights. Facials, hair removal, pedicures and medi spa treatments such as botox, body polishes and tanning are often offered.

Some spas will specialise in a specific area such as anti-ageing, or detox and these can offer a range of treatments to improve health as well as appearance aspects.

Fitness spas are a more modern facility and again offer a mixed range of treatments and activities but often include classes such as pilatus, aqua aerobics or yoga meditation.

And spas are not only for women. Today more and more spas are introducing specialist treatment geared for men - deep tissue massage, steam rooms and hammam, mud treatments, the list is extensive and still growing.

While the word spa conjurs up luxury, today increasing numbers of more utility spas are opening, still very comfortable of course but smaller and geared towards the treatment rather than overall luxury. These can be in small high street located spas or small areas associated with specific locations such as health clubs or hotels. And of course there is an enormous selection of wonderful spas right through the spectrum up to total luxury day and destination spas. Weeks and weekends away can be booked in luxurious overseas spas that offer some truly exotic treatments to make you feel better about yourself and look great.

Once you get into spas, it is easy to understand why some people become spa junkies! There is always a new experience and another treatment to try!

The best way to find out about spas today is of course via the internet. There is a very good resource under The Good Spa Guide UK which gives a host of tips, advice and information covering the whole UK; but just google through various spa words (spa treatments, day spas, anti-ageing spa treatments and so on) and you will be sure to find something that could work for you.


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