The lights are low, the music is soothing and the treatment is decadent.
Moving effortlessly around the body, a therapist can perform a spa treatment that will leave a client feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
The therapist can also feel revitalized. Our goal as massage therapists is to facilitate the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
I like to approach this self-care and relaxation from all angles.
Spa Services Relax You & the Client
The addition of spa services and treatments to your massage practice allows your body and mind necessary recovery time from the physically demanding work of manual manipulation. You can rest your body and increase your pocket book with spa treatments. It is also a way to enhance your menu of services to encourage client retention.
When I was working in a very busy five-star hotel spa in Chicago, I felt myself approaching burn-out at one point.
I spoke with another therapist at the spa, and he suggested changing up my routine. Start the massage with the feet, for instance, start the client supine, or add a spa treatment. I was excited about the last suggestion he made.
I started really up-selling our spa services and add-on treatments, like the scalp treatment, back facial, foot treatment and mini facial massage.
These treatments really helped to reinvigorate both myself and my clients. In my experience, most clients are very open to suggestions of alternative treatments, especially if they cater to their needs.
According to the International Spa Association, client visits to spas as well as their spending at the spa has increased in 2016, which indicates a strong upward trend. In fact, spa visits were at the highest rate since 2010.
A study conducted last year in the UK found that the number-one reason people return to a spa or establishment was due to receiving a memorable experience.
This study found that memorable experiences included “the rediscovery of self, feeling of connectedness, recharge for positive emotions, self-reward through escapism, and experience of noncommercialized local products and attractions.”
Creating these memorable experiences through your massage and a combination of spa therapy will increase your rebooking and retention of clients, thus prolonging your practice.
Spa Services are Therapeutic
Over the years, I have encountered many massage therapists who feel like they are not a “sales person” and therefore do not want to sell any products or add-on services.
If our goal as a massage therapist is to facilitate the body’s natural ability to heal, wouldn’t you want to offer everything you could to assist that process? I do too, which is why I love selling spa services and products to clients.
There are therapeutic qualities to mud, seaweed and salt; these are the main ingredients in most spa treatments. Spa therapy treatments can provide relaxation, rehydration and even analgesic effects.
Clients like to try new things.
They also like buying things they believe are exclusive.
When you are able to offer clients services and products that work for them and they see results, they will return. It builds the therapeutic relationship.
New products and services present them with a variety of ways to alleviate their ailments. Offering products to your clients that will help prolong the relaxation you have provided them will keep them coming back for more.
Treat yourself with the same loving luxury you treat your clients by receiving spa treatments.
This will offer you ideas to implement in your practice as well as help you find products that you feel are effective. When you offer these to your clients you are enhancing the experience. It no longer feels like sales.
Spa services can have therapeutic qualities. Knowing these benefits helps us better serve our clients.
In the end, I want my client to walk away happy and feeling good. I also want to walk away refreshed and energized. Using spa treatments in my practice has also offered me therapeutic qualities.
Several spa treatments are extremely easy to administer to a client and take very little physical effort. Depending on the products used, the therapist may also receive the benefits.
Using a dry brush to sweep away dead skin cells, as well as stimulate both the nervous and lymphatic systems, requires virtually no physical effort on the therapist’s part.
Dry brushing allows the products to penetrate deeper and create a more lasting restorative effect.
This practice is used less frequently in spas today so the addition of it to your practice will create a more distinctive experience for your clients. Dry brushes are very inexpensive and widely available from spa suppliers.
Offering different forms of body wraps can be incredibly soothing to the muscles as well as the skin. A typical wrap can be done with or without a shower facility. Here is a basic full body protocol without utilizing a shower:
- The client wears spa underwear. The table is layered with a heating pad, bottom sheet, thermal blanket, large sheet of plastic (used specifically for body treatments), and a top sheet. The client will be laying directly on the plastic. Set to the side is a heated blanket to be placed on top during the wrap.
- Begin with an application of a mixture: mud, clay or seaweed, that can be blended with various ingredients depending on the desired results. The therapist can use a body brush, similar to a paintbrush, or their hands, to apply the mixture. This requires very minimal effort and no pressure. The goal is to paint the surface of the body with the mixture.
- The large plastic sheet is pulled up and wrapped around the body.
- A thermal blanket is then pulled up and wrapped around the body.
- A heated blanket is placed on top. The purpose is to heat the body and encourage the elimination of toxins through the pores.
- During the next 20 to 25 minutes, the therapist can perform a decadent scalp massage, foot massage, or walk the client through a breathing exercise or guided meditation.
- Remove the heated blanket, remove the thermal blanket and finally the plastic. Using hot towels, wipe off the mixture. This usually requires one hot towel per body part and possibly two for the back.
- Apply a lotion or balm to the body to lock in the effects of the wrap. Here the therapist can incorporate a few massage techniques with the application.
The whole treatment ranges from one to one-and-a-half hours and requires very little effort on the therapist’s part.
The result for the client can be a dramatic decrease in stress, increase in relaxation, as well as increased elasticity and suppleness of the skin. If the therapist uses their hands to apply the mixture, the healing qualities of the mud, clay or seaweed and other ingredients will also affect the therapist’s hands.
This treatment does require a few extra products and supplies. However, the cost of this can be reflected in the charge for the service.
Body scrubs are a fantastic way to exfoliate, invigorate and rejuvenate the skin and the lymphatic system.
Various products can be used for scrubs: sea salt, Himalayan salt or sugar, combined with a carrier oil and essential oils or herbs for the desired effect. This treatment can be performed with or without a shower.
The therapist applies the scrub to each body part and then promptly removes it with a hot towel. The table set up can include a large bath sheet or towel that the client lays on during the scrub.
After the scrub is complete, the towel can be removed and a massage or other treatment can be performed.
The application of the scrub requires a little more effort than a wrap. However, it is still less physical than performing a massage. Scrubs can be applied to the whole body or on various areas as an add-on treatment.
A refreshing foot scrub or cleansing back scrub can be a wonderful low-effort addition to a massage session. The scrub mixture will have a cleansing and exfoliating effect on the therapist’s hands. This is a great way to keep your hands soft!
Scrubs can be found already pre-mixed or you can create your own blend specific to your client’s needs. This customization will make your client feel special and provide a more personalized experience.
Paraffin treatments can be used on a few areas of the body to induce deep-heated relaxation as well as soften the skin.
This treatment is also effective for relieving symptoms of arthritis symptoms, hypothermia, as well as Raynaud’s Syndrome. In a spa setting, most clients prefer paraffin applications to the hands and feet.
The wax is applied in a liquid form; the client places their hand or foot in a container filled with the melted paraffin. Once the client removes their hand or foot from the paraffin warmer, the area is put in a plastic bag and a warm dry towel can be wrapped around it to retain heat.
The client rests for about 15 to 20 minutes or until it cools. The therapist simply grasps the plastic bag and slides it and the paraffin off the hand or foot. This is probably the easiest spa treatment for therapists to add to their services. Paraffin and warmers can be purchased at any good spa supplier.
Expand Your Client Base
Spa services and treatments are an excellent way to expand your practice, your knowledge and your client base. Creating a memorable experience for clients will keep them coming back for more and will encourage referrals.
The addition of spa services and treatments also takes the pressure off your body increasing your longevity in the massage profession. The only thing that is guaranteed in life is change. Embrace change in your practice and watch it flourish!
Rebecca Pollock, L.M.T., B.C.T.M.B., has been a massage therapist since 1997 and a massage therapy instructor since 2006. She ran Chicago College of Healing Arts for two years, was a committee member two years, and was school outreach specialist for five years for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. She is a member of the American Massage Therapy Association, president of Southwest Chapter, and is the educational standards chair of the Florida State Massage Therapy Association. She is a consultant for approved providers.