Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Founding the Spa as We Know It July 19, 2012

Filed under: beauty,Spa Services — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
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I always think it is important for women to find female role models in the industry they work in.  Luckily for me since I work in the beauty industry I have a plethera of female role models to choose from.

Recently W magazine published an article about Deborah Szekey, the founder of the luxury spas Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico and the Golden Door in California.  Rancho La Puerto really can be called the first modern spa since it was the first spa to emphasize wellness, fitness, and health not just beauty treatments.  Way of ahead of her time in terms of her philosophy about diet, exercise, and healthy living, Szekey endevoured to educate those who came to her spas in how live a clean lifestyle for better health.

Sezeky’s life reads like a movie and how she ended up founding the spa is fascinating:

Deborah Shainman was born in Brooklyn to parents who ate a diet of raw foods; her mother, a nurse, was vice president of the New York Vegetarian Society. The family spent summers at health camps in the U.S. and abroad, where they were hosted by the Hungarian scholar Edmond Szekely, who lectured on the importance of natural living. When Deborah was 16, she worked as Szekely’s secretary. A year later, in 1939, she married him—but when he received orders to return to Eastern Europe and participate in Hitler’s war effort, the newlyweds, both Jewish, headed instead to Mexico, where they settled into an adobe house in the middle of a small vineyard.

Since Szekely’s acolytes were already used to traveling to his camps, Tecate became just another exotic spot where they could set up tents, stay for a week, and live a communal existence, pitching in with the gardening and cooking when they weren’t hiking, playing volleyball, or taking dips in the nearby Tecate river. In the afternoons, guests gathered outside Szekely’s hut for his talks—on everything from responsible sun exposure to the dangers of pesticides and cigarettes, pronouncements that at the time had the air of prophecy. Since Szekely had a number of expat friends in Los Angeles—there was a large Hungarian presence in Hollywood, including the founders of both Paramount and ­Twentieth Century Fox—showbiz types like William Holden, Barbara Rush, Kim Novak, and Burt Lancaster started to make the trek.

By the fifties, the importance of exercise was catching on, but following through occasionally presented a problem for better-known actors. “Kim ­Novak had a wonderful hourglass figure,” Szekely says. “But one day she told me, ‘­Deborah, it’s so hard exercising with people looking at my big bottom. I’m beginning to get a thing about it.’ So we opened the Door.” With its serene Japanese-garden setting and an 18-guest capacity, the Golden Door provided ideal privacy for actors to shape up for their next film role.

“In those days, nobody had trainers,” Szekely says. “They didn’t even know what a massage was. So they’d come and spend a month—and they worked—and the studio paid for it.”

(From the article Mother Nature from W magazine)

Even though Szekely recently turned 90 she has absolutely no intention of slowing down.  A very active volunteer and advocate for social justice Szekely lives life at full speed:

At age 90, the only pills she takes are vitamins, a little something for her thyroid and a B12 shot every month. She is living evidence that 90 is the new 60, and energy-wise, she shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, those who know her well say that on the occasion of her 85th birthday, she announced that she intended to only age one year in the next five and, by all accounts, she aced it.

“I can’t be 90,” she exclaimed, “My schedule is the same as it was when I was 60!” She eats no red meat or chicken and follows a diet “as close to nature as possible.” Four times a week, she does pilates and her weight has stayed steady at 118 to122 for decades. While we’re checking her vitals, her blood pressure is 104/62 and her cholesterol, 193 (not fasting).

About the only thing that raises her blood pressure are the actions of agri-business and Big Pharma and the government’s support of programs that have fueled the country’s obesity epidemic. Her Wellness Spring initiative aims to raise $10 million by collecting $10 each from one million people. The money will be used to fund lobbying efforts to counter those of businesses that she argues are poisoning and killing Americans with fast food and a culture that “considers watching TV an activity.”

(From Happy Birthday Deborah Szekely, Godmother of the Wellness Movement Huffington Post)

I can only hope that if I get the chance to live to 90 I’ll have Szekely’s health, clarity, and energy.  What a great inspiration to us all!

Sources and Further Reading:

Image from W magazine

 

A Moment of Zen: Finding Your Favorite Massage May 5, 2011

Filed under: Spa Services — askanesthetician @ 6:08 am
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I’ve written about facial massage before in this blog but never about a full body massage.  In my mind I divide spa goers into “facial clients” and “massage clients”, and I find that clients really do have preference when it comes to spa services and that they stick to their preference.  Rarely do I find that skincare clients get massages and visa versa.  Truthfully when it comes to spa services I am a “massage client”.  I would be more than happy to get massages daily if I could afford it (and had the time for it).

 Recently I came across a fun article in Travel and Leisure magazine called Great Massages in Unusual Places in which the author recounts some of the highs and lows of receiving massages all over the world.  I also liked how the article included a history of massages:

History of Massages

Circa 2300 B.C.: Weary Egyptians embrace reflexology enough to depict it on their tombs—perhaps ensuring a foot-rub-filled eternity.

Circa 400 B.C.: Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, writes about the physiological effects of “rubbing.” Without specifying parts of the anatomy, he concludes that “hard rubbing constricts, soft relaxes, much rubbing thins, and moderate thickens.”

50 B.C.: Julius Caesar gets massages for his neuralgia—he was said to have been “pinched” every day (a practice continued by Italian men on public transportation).

1813: Per Henrik Ling, a Stockholm fencing master and gymnast, is credited with developing modern Swedish massage.

1868: Ling’s place in history is challenged by Johan Georg Mezger, a Dutch practitioner who classifies massage techniques, using terms such as effleurage (stroking) and petrissage (kneading) that nobody on a massage table cares about, so long as it feels good.

1895: J. H. Kellogg promotes “The Art of Massage” from his Battle Creek Sanitarium, in Michigan. Not to mention Corn Flakes.

1922: Reiki, an ancient Tibetan practice, is discovered by Japanese businessman Mikao Usui. He and his disciples, known as Reiki masters, claim healing powers even without touching—their hands hovering over the body like low-flying aircraft.

1928: A French chemist, René-Maurice Gattefossé, uses lavender oil to heal his burned hand. Aromatherapy is born, and forever after “aromatherapy massage” costs more.

Today: Ashram-style austerity is back, with the rise of detox and weight-loss spas and even “bikini boot camp” programs. What does it mean for sybarites? You now have to earn your end-of-day massage.

There are so many different types of massages that one can receive.  If you want to dip your toe in the water (pun intended) and have never had a massage before try reflexology since the only part of your body the massage therapist will be touching is your feet.  Finding the right massage therapist for you might take a bit of trial and error (and a few bad massages), but once you find that right therapist you’ll be delighted (and more relaxed).  My personal favorite kind of massage is a Thai massage which involves the therapist using their body to manipulate your body; you remain fully clothed and the work is done on mats on the floor of the massage room.  This is a very different type of massage if you have only had European type of massages in the past, but I highly recommend it if you’ve never tried one before. 

 

 

 
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