While they remain distinct entities, the massage and spa industries are very much intertwined with each other. Massage has always been, by far, the most popular service on spa-treatment menus, and spas are one of the leading employers of massage therapists. At the same time, many massage-therapy practices offer a wide range of spa treatments, from body scrubs to hot-stone massage. As further evidence of the spa-massage connection, Massage Envy, a popular massage-therapy franchise, recently launched its own line of spas.

For massage therapists, adding spa treatments to your service menu can be a great way to diversify your business, attract new clients and increase revenue. There’s a high demand for spa services, and the International Spa Association reports there are now more than 32 million active spa-goers, with roughly 160 million spa visits in 2008 alone. So if you’re looking to enhance your massage practice with spa treatments, now is definitely the time to do it.

Getting started

One of the most exciting things about complementing your massage business with spa services is that it’s so easy. At first, it might seem like you’d need to invest lots of money on spa equipment and add extensive new treatment facilities, but that’s not the case. Many popular spa treatments can be performed in the same room as your massage services, without doing any remodeling or buying a bunch of high-priced equipment. To get started in the spa business, all massage therapists really need is a selection of spa products, a few basic supplies and some hands-on skills.

Most spa treatments are extremely easy to learn, and if you’ve graduated from a reputable massage program, you should have no problem mastering them in a short amount of time. Even better, you can learn nearly all spa treatments via home study courses. There are a vast array of home study programs that teach spa-related courses, so you can quickly become skilled in the spa business from the comfort of your own home.

Additionally, many of the leading spa home study programs qualify as continuing education (CE) credits, which means you’ll not only gain valuable new skills, but you’ll also satisfy your certification and licensing requirements. Just make sure you check to see if the classes you choose are approved by your licensing board and/or professional association.

What to look for

When selecting your home study courses, you’ll obviously want to select the program that teaches the spa services you’re most interested in. However, it can sometimes be difficult to choose which ones to learn, since there are so many spa treatments available. Some of the most popular treatments requiring minimum equipment and investment include hot-stone massage, body scrubs, body wraps, facials, aromatherapy and reflexology.

Outside of learning how to perform the treatments, the best home study courses will also offer a broad range of knowledge about the spa service you’ll be offering. So when selecting your courses, look for those that also cover such topics as contraindications, sanitation, treatment protocols, therapeutic benefits and marketing techniques.

Finally, to ensure you’re getting the most value for your money, do some research to find the most qualified and reputable instructors before enrolling in any course. Because many spa techniques are relatively cheap and easy to perform, there are quite a few low-quality home study courses out there, produced by those looking to make a quick buck. But by checking on an instructor’s credentials and experience, you should be able to distinguish between a high-quality program and one that’s more of a fly-by-night operation.

Chris Towery is the former associate editor of MASSAGE Magazine and is currently a full-time freelance journalist. He has written hundreds of articles for more than 20 different magazines, newspapers and custom publishers. Much of his recent writing has been for the complementary and alternative health-care industry. To contact Towery, e-mail cmreuben@yahoo.com.