Archive for the ‘Spa Reflections – Experiences, Rituals, History’ Category

All About Foot Spas

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

We attentively moisturize our faces, lovingly manicure our hands, condition each and every strand of delicate hair, but for all the devoted care we lather on our physiques, goodness gracious…what about our feet? Why do we ignore them so? It’s not like we use them for hours a day, or that they’re burdened by the weight of our bodies, or that they get us from here to there and back again. Or anything like that.

With these words, we intend to make feet a touchy subject. As in, “it’s time that we learn to touch our feet.” Because underneath our ankles sit two little chapped heels, ten little squished toes, and a couple of soles in desperate need of some TLC. And so we present, your guide to the wonderful world of foot spas. Which will start with…the act of not leaving your house.

That’s right! Did you know you essentially live in a foot spa? (Or, you will in about three sentences.) Like so many spa treatments today (think ThermaSol’s in-home steam shower systems), pampering your feet can easily happen from the comforts of your casa. Let’s start with the most basic part of foot care: the soak. It’s what every pedicure begins with, and there’s a reason. Soaking one’s feet – a practice that we should all employ much more often than we do – is the first step in relieving our poor peds, and giving them a chance to relax and recharge. Power up a warm water soak with a cup of Epsom salt (or, as scientists like to call it, magnesium sulfate – a compound ideal for its toxin-clearing properties and effectiveness in increasing circulation and minimizing joint pain) and let your toesies chill (well, in warm water) for up to 15 minutes.

And like other spa treatments, infusing your at-home foot soak with essential oils (lavender, a natural pain reliever, and wintergreen, which provides an organic anesthetic quality, are amongst the most popular) will increase the benefits and effectiveness of your foot soak. Follow your sole bath with a generous slathering of moisturizer (you know, with that bottle of foot lotion you got in that gift pack that one time that’s been sitting under the sink for two years…it’s time to break that sucker out!), and wrap your piggies in a clean pair of breathable cotton socks. And tomorrow, you’ll be walking on sunshine. For real.

Ready to go beyond the basics? Bling out your home foot spa with a pumice stone (cheap, light, and available at almost any drug store) and a tub of shea butter (remember: buttered toes, not buttered toast), to take extra special care of dry heels and callouses. And if you’re really serious about putting your best foot forward and creating an ideal in-home spa experience, a portable heated foot bath (make sure it makes bubbles!) is well worth the splurge.

But sometimes, our precious peds need more than just an Epsom bath. And for that, it’s time to delicately strap on your comfiest shoes and turn your toes over to a professional. Brick and mortar foot spas – practices solely devoted to foot care – are amongst the hottest new businesses popping up around the country. Dedicated to the art of reflexology, foot spas go beyond the pedicure to help rejuvenate tired walkers. Outfitted with unique foot-friendly chairs (these are not your typical massage tables, but instead nap-inspiring loungers dressed with uber-thick cushions, allowing you to recline while giving your technician total toe access), foot spas typically offer herbal treatments and invigorating reflexology massages. Warning: those who have ticklish feet need not apply (seriously, it’ll be more discomfort than enjoyment). But if you can handle the sensation, your feet will forever thank you. Reflexology induces pressure points, relieving our insteps and in fact our whole legs.

So as we enter a new year, and dutifully make our resolutions, why not add “Take Better Care Of My Feet” to the list? (Because chances are you already have “Be More Active” on there and, well, happy feet make for happy exercising.) Give your tootsies the loving care they deserve, at home or under the toe-telage of a foot pro, to make every step count, comfortably.

The Korean Spa Experience

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Traditional Korean spas, also known as “Jjimjilbangs,” are trending right now in Los Angeles. These full-service spas offer facials, resting areas and even dining rooms. But what makes these hot new spas different from your average ones?

Korean spas are well-known for having a variety of multi-temperature spa rooms. Each dome-shaped room has a different theme and is equipped with a thermally insulated chamber that produces different temperatures – like an oven. In addition to the traditional sauna room, there is usually a hot steam room, as well as unique rooms featuring charcoal, red clay, salt and jade. These rooms feature walls plastered with their respective minerals in order to convey a sense of Zen and keep customers relaxed and stress-free.

Because most Korean spas are open 24 hours a day, they are appealing to a wide variety of people. Customers can range from stay-at-home moms to business men who just got off work. These hours are also appealing to young adults (the fastest growing customer base) who are looking for relaxation after a long night of partying.

The biggest difference between Korean and Western spas is the lack of privacy. While the sexes are separated, all the rooms and areas inside the spa are public. Guests can access and enjoy all of the facilities whenever they want, even if the specific room is occupied. Because of this openness, it’s common that customers arrive in groups and spend an entire afternoon or evening at the spa. Korean spas are popular “girls day out” destinations, as friends can catch up, relax and pamper themselves with scrub massages, facials and manicure sessions. Without the premium of private treatments, the cost of Korean spas is also significantly cheaper than that of traditional Western spas.

If you’re looking to try a Korean spa, they’re popping up all over the USA – especially in Los Angeles. The most popular LA spas are located in Koreatown – Wi Spa  and Crystal Spa. Of course, if you’re looking for absolute privacy, nothing beats a residential steam shower. Companies like ThermaSol produce high-quality steam generators that can be used to turn your existing shower into a steam shower, giving you a 24/7 customized steam experience and a perfect day at the spa.

 

Steam of the Century: The Roman Sudatorium

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

When in Rome…steam as the Romans do! As we explore the history of steam, we journey back to ancient Rome, where the Roman baths weren’t just a place to get clean— they were a way of life. As a gathering place for relaxation and socialization, the typical bath also served as a community center, a fitness center and even a performance venue. The Baths of Diocletian, the grandest of public baths, covered 32 acres and could accommodate 3000 bathers at a time.

Each bath was built around three principal rooms: the frigidarium (cold bath), tepidarium (warm bath) and caldarium (hot bath). The caldarium was designed to open the pores with hot, steamy air that could go well above 100 degrees F. The floor was directly above the hypocaust, a below ground furnace. The hypocaust would heat the floor and air, which would run through the hollow walls before escaping through the chimney. A round basin called a labrum held cold water for pouring upon the bather’s head before or she left the room.

Some Roman baths also included sudatoriums or “sweating rooms.” These vaulted rooms provided patrons with a moist steam bath. The sudatorium was made from square bricks and featured a suspensura, a raised floor slab that was heated underneath by the hypocaust. Hot air passed through through the walls lined with terracotta flues, allowing steam to circulate throughout the room.

While the Romans may have preferred a social steam bath, today’s modern steam showers offer a more private oasis. No matter what century you’re in, steam has always been an essential source of renewal and relaxation.

Steam of the Century: The Greek Laconia

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

In this ongoing series on the history of steam, we journey back to Ancient Greece, home of some of the first steam rooms. An ancient Greek steam bath was called a laconia, which consisted of a circular room with a large domed roof. The laconia was heated up with fires underneath the floor or rocks heated in a fire and placed in a tray in the center of the room. Patrons or workers would pour water on the rocks to create steam, sometimes adding aromatic herbs for therapeutic enhancement (and for some ancient aromatherapy)!

While the laconia sounds like a modern day sauna, the use of steam for promoting good health is hardly a new invention. In 450 BCE the Greek historian Herodutus wrote that the Greeks used steam to induce sweating as a form of bathing and to maintain good health. Today’s home steam showers are a great way to get the same health benefits as the Greeks. Thought to support the respiratory system, steam inhalation can help allergy sufferers and relieve sinus infections. And of course steam produces the major benefit of full-body relaxation. No matter what century you’re in, steam plays an important part in staying healthy!

Steam of the Century: The Tradition of the Russian Banya

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

While steam showers seem like relatively modern advancements, they have a rich history with deep cultural roots. Many qualities of today’s steam showers can be found in the Eastern European tradition of the banya, or Russian steam bath. Dating back to medieval times, the banya is a cultural staple and one of Russia’s oldest traditions. Each village contained a banya as a place for cleanliness and bathing and was overseen by a guardian spirit named “Bannik.”

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The History of Steambathing: A 5,000 Year-Old Tradition

Friday, May 18th, 2012

History of Steambathing

Talk Spas recently stumbled upon an old ThermaSol steambath traveler’s guide from 1983. Besides the thrill of taking a trip down 1980s bathroom design memory lane, we were excited to come across an article about the history of steambathing detailing its orgins dating back to Ancient Greece. We thought it would be a fun piece to share with the Talk Spas readers. Below you will find the text of the article for your reading pleasure.

Steambathing goes back over 5,000 years to the time of ancient Greece. Back then, the leisure class traveled days and weeks to hot springs and spas where geothermal underground waterways created their own natural “steambaths.” Like the Romans, and American Indians who followed, these ancient aristocrats went to great lengths to find these wonders of nature. Why? Because it was well worth the effort! For one thing, the gentle, moist steam vapors relaxed them in a way that no libation or physical stimulation could. The steam seemed to penetrate their very souls, and gave them both instantaneous and long-lasting relief and comfort. But in addition to merely feeling good, even the early Greeks were quick to notice that steambathing seemed to have tangible physical and therapeutic advantages as well: muscular aches and pains as well as symptoms of respiratory ailments such as deep coughing and congestion were relieved, if not actually cured. Indeed, before long going to the steambaths literally became known as “taking the cure.”

As word of steambathing spread through the Empire, so did its popularity. And so an indulgence that was once reserved only for the aristocracy became sought after by the common man as well.

Now, 5,000 years later, the benefits of steambathing are still in high demand. Health spas throughout the world tout steambathing as a key…and often central…part of their programs. Why? Because what was true 5,000 years ago still holds true today…steambathing is the ultimate indulgence, in both physical and psychological terms.

Today, steambathing is recognized for many specific physical benefits. It deep cleanses the pores and rids the skin of embedded dirt, thus aiding the treatment of acne. It penetrates the respiratory system to relieve hacking coughs and croup. (If you’re a smoker…or prone to frequent chest colds…you’ll immediately appreciate this benefit. And if you have children, you know that doctors frequently recommend “steaming” as a way to break up congestion. You’ll doubly appreciate our recessed steam heads which are specially made to receive medicated scents which aid bronchial congestion.) Steam also dilates the blood vessels to help relieve headaches and hangovers. It warms and soothes aching muscles, joints and tendons. And it helps restore a healthy glow to sallow complexions. But most of all, a personal steambath just plain feels terrific!

Of course, Thermasol wasn’t around 5,000 years ago, but we are the world’s oldest and largest manufacturer of personal steambaths. In fact, Thermasol literally invented the category of personal steambathing in 1958 when David Altman, the President and Founder of Thermasol, was commissioned to create a personal steambath for a private residence on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. In 1971, after 13 successful years of supplying homeowners and health clubs with the world’s finest steambath equipment, Thermasol decided to install steambaths in hotels. Not surprisingly, the idea caught on immediately: travel weary guests started insisting on Thermasol-equipped rooms when they made reservations, and hotel owners responded by offering more and more Thermasol units in their rooms. In fact, hotels and motels are converting to Thermasol at such a fast rate that it is impossible for us to keep this traveler’s guide up-to-the-minute…always ask for Thermasol when you check in, even if your destination isn’t listed in the guide. Truly, Thermasol is “changing the way the world bathes!”

Now that we’ve explained how and why steambathing got so popular, we hope you’ll enjoy your Thermasol room even more. If your room isn’t equipped with Thermasol, we suggest that you call the front desk and ask if any Thermasol rooms are available.

Some more pages taken from the traveler’s guide (click on image to enlarge):

thermasol fits every lifestyle

If you cant set a timer, you can operate a Thermasol Ultima Spa.

Our whirlpool works wonders too!

The information on this website is not intended to replace the advice of your Doctor. Please click here to read the Disclaimer. ©2012 Talk Spas

Full Circle: From Ancient Swedana to Modern Steam Showers

Friday, December 30th, 2011
Swedana

Swedana steam therapy

Steam therapy dates back thousands of years to numerous ancient cultures all over the world, among the oldest being India. Though we’ve made technological strides in the “steam” field, all the way up to the most modern steam showers designed and manufactured by companies like ThermaSol, it’s always fascinating to look back.

Swedana is an ancient Ayurvedic healing technique that was first mentioned in holy Indian texts. Still practiced today in India and spas all over the world, the treatment involves sitting in an enclosed, herbal-infused steam box or tent for around 30 minutes. The custom herbal preparations, created by an Ayurvedic physician, stimulate oxygen flow through the body as the steam opens up the pores and triggers the body’s natural sweating process.; once the pores are open, deep seated toxins can be released. Other immediate benefits of swedana include: enhanced skin, increased circulation, ease of muscle pain, and a state of relaxation. In Ayurveda, the larger purpose of swedana is to relieve excess doshas from the body – one of three bodily humors that make up one’s constitution – establishing a state of balance that promotes general health.

Building upon the knowledge of ancient cultures that utilized steam therapy on a regular basis, today we have modern steam shower manufacturers who bring a high level of design and technology into peoples’ homes with their products. ThermaSol, the leader in the steam shower industry, offers customers the only 100% digital networked steam systems in the world – the safest and most reliable technology. They go the extra mile, offering customers a combination of quality and value, with standard features like: FastStart™ Technology, providing steam in seconds; whisper quiet functionality; constant steam at a constant rate, meaning no interruptions in steam; all metal controls with advanced PVD lifetime finishes; superior style, including matching controls, remotes and steamheads in traditional and contemporary styles; a lifetime warranty; and all the green benefits of steam.

Modern steam shower by ThermaSol

Modern steam shower by ThermaSol

Steam therapy, in combination with an overall healthy lifestyle, is a method of achieving and maintaining a state of well being that has been proven over the course of thousands of years. With modern steam shower technology, it’s also a method that is easy to bring into the home bath environment.

Relaxation Quotations: Wise Words to Inspire Wellbeing & the Spa Lifestyle

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
Massage

Spa Relaxation

There’s nothing like a good, solid quote to help inspire you to do good things; and if that quote happens to inspire you to rest, soak in a bath or relax at the spa, all the better.

American poet Sylvia Plath, known for works like Winter Trees and The Bell Jar, once said, “There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.” Undoubtedly, anyone who has spent a half hour soaking in a tub or relaxing in a steam shower knows the rejuvenating effects of a bath on the body and mind. In fact, Captain J. A. Hadfield, a writer who wrote The Psychology of Power, among other books, said, “This art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of energy in our great men.” Now who of you out there couldn’t stand to engage in some restful activity, dismiss a little extra care and worry, and enhance your energy level? Especially those of you who feel extra work pressures? Dr. Joyce Brothers, a world-renowned psychologist and television personality, has said, “No matter how much pressure you feel at work, if you could find ways to relax for at least five minutes every hour, you’d be more productive.” That means stepping outside, breathing some fresh air, massaging yourself or exchanging massages with a coworker, or a plethora of other relaxing activities to divert your attention from the stresses of your job to the betterment of yourself. Natalie Goldberg, an author on Zen practice, said, “Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important.” Remember that the next time stress is telling you to work late rather than pay a relaxing visit to the spa.

Perhaps nobody extolled the virtues of relaxation better than physicist Fritjof Capra, who said, “During periods of relaxation after concentrated intellectual activity, the intuitive mind seems to take over and can produce the sudden clarifying insights which give so much joy and delight.” Could there be a better reason to draw a bath, turn on your steam shower, or make an appointment at your neighborhood spa today?

Spa Theft: Watch Your Credit at the Spa

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

identity-theft

A visit to spa is always one of luxury, pampering and peace of mind. Or at least that’s what we thought. Recent headlines in the news have made it abundantly clear that the spa can be a magnet for unsavory criminals who are seeking to steal from the often well-heeled clientele who pay big dollars for high-end treatments. Often times, it’s the spa owners themselves who are doing the stealing.

It wasn’t long ago that a Granite Bay, California spa owner was arrested on suspicion of identity theft, grand theft and, fraudulent use of an access card. The owner was brought to the attention of authorities by way of forty customers who had filed complaints about double and triple billing after visiting the spa. The owner was also accused of charging customers for products and services using two non-existent companies. Another case of spa theft targeted celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Cher, Anne Hathaway, Melanie Griffith and Liv Tyler – the latter was allegedly hit with $200K-plus in fraudulent spa credit card charges over a five month period. The spa in question was one located in Beverly Hills, California that specifically catered to wealthy celebrities who make prime targets for crooked spa owners. Celebs often have several handlers who comb through their finances and incorrect charges can easily go undetected for months, or even forever.

Celebrity or not, it’s a good idea to do as much research on a spa as possible, utilizing the services of organizations like the Better Business Bureau before heading in for services and offering up your card for payment. And of course, monitor those credit card statements on a regular basis so you don’t end up with $200K in charges like that aforementioned starlet.

Top 10 Spa Don’ts

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

man-getting-massage

Like a fine cigar lounge or a posh country club, a quality spa requires that you adhere to proper etiquette. This ensures that you, your therapist and other patrons are comfortable at all times during your visit. To get you started, the following is a list of things you should never do at the spa:

10. Bring children and leave them unattended.
9. Skip your daily (we hope) shower before arrival.
8. Forget to tell your therapist about any product allergies you may have.
7. Talk loudly in public spaces.
6. Expect a sensual experience when you’re there for a therapeutic massage.
5. Wear heavy perfumes, deodorants or other fragrances.
4. Freak out when asked to take your clothes off.
3. Skip out on your appointment without calling.
2. Show up drunk. You’d be surprised how many do…
1. Leave your appointment without paying a proper gratuity.


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