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Apr 13, 2015

AMTA’s Annual Conference Spa Track Review by NHI’s Student Life & Career Coordinator, Chamara Pittman

It’s not often that my friend world and professional world collide, but since indulging in Spa Life for the last three years, I have found my soul sisters. Our love for all things related to sugar scrubs, Vichy Showers, massage and saunas led us to decide on a sisters’ weekend disguised as the AMTA California Annual Conference in San Jose last month. AMTA offered two tracks: a medical track and Spa track. Perfect. Almost.

We encountered a few bumps in the road and timing didn’t allow us to do all we wanted at the conference. Miyah and I opted to do just the panels (Medical and Spa) while Debra jumped all the way into the Jacuzzi taking the spa life demo class and attending the spa life panel. The spa class was taught by Angie Dubis. Her focus was to help students increase revenue within their own private massage practice. So she taught a spa treatment that could be practiced anywhere. The tools needed were a massage table, sheets, wet hot towels, thermal blanket and Biotone Micro Buff Body Polish. She ran out of protocol sheets, but here’s essentially what she did:

1. She placed a thermal blanket underneath the cotton sheet on the table and then began the client supine

2. Next, she used the Biotone body polish and worked it in to the client beginning with the feet and worked up using circular motions. For demo purposes she only did the legs.

summer jam series (1)


3. Once she reached the thigh she suggested incorporating lymphatic draining techniques using fan feathered strokes.

4. Once the body polish had been applied to all areas of the body in this position she then wrapped the client with the thermal blanket, cotton sheet, and top cover blanket.

5. After wrapping with the top cover blanket the client looked like a seal. At that point she began doing stretches with the client. Our demo client was quite flexible and so Dubis was able to stretch the client’s legs over their head.

6. Next, the body was unwrapped in sections and hot steamy towels were used to wipe off the product. She suggested heating them up in a crockpot for your office or take them on the go and heat them up again at the client’s home.

7. Lastly, a balm was used to massage the client, in this case body butter.

I must say the education at National Holistic Institute definitely prepares you for spa life. The procedure was very similar to the class and procedures taught at NHI during the spa segment. During one of our breaks after lunch, we all sat around at the pool at the hotel listening to Debra’s description of the class, and we of course couldn’t help but launch into our own brainstorming session. So here are some tips we came up with to make this work for mobile

1. The use of an insulated bag or a thermos for mobile massage to keep towels hot and avoid having to use client’s appliances. The towels lost heat during the demo, but you need HOT towels. They help melt the sugar and well…they just feel amazing after a scrub.

2. We all agreed that the total wrap is too messy for inside the home. In our own private practices we all scrub and wipe as we go or work it out with a client to take a shower after the product has been applied. Hint: Have the client use maybe an old sheet for the application, wrap them in the sheet when done and send them to the shower. While they are showering place new, clean sheets on for massage.

3. Lastly, Debra suggested they just come see her in the wet room where she works…sorry Debra you can’t steal my clients. But Miyah and I are overdue; we may come see you.

The panel discussion involved several spa owners and massage trainers for larger chain spas. It seems as though spa professionals constantly have to defend themselves and I don’t think that this panel was any different. Spas are designed specifically to help clients gently transition into deeper structural or therapeutic work without pain or fear. There are reasons for those jacuzzis, saunas, wetrooms, soothing music and lemon and cucumber water – they help clients with what they suffer from most- STRESS. The panel spent plenty of time on this topic. One subject I had hoped to hear more about was what spas are doing about trying to find certified therapists. At this point there are more jobs than available therapists and it was more than apparent based on the fact that they all made a plug for therapists to apply. While the subject of pay was glossed over, regional mangers from Massage Envy as well as Burke Williams both stressed their ongoing efforts to provide therapists with ongoing massage training, employee incentives beyond pay and an opportunity to grow with their companies.

While the Spa Life segment did not present anything new for us, it did allow us to reconnect with colleagues in the industry. It caused us to think about ways we can better serve our clients with the services we offer. It made us appreciate all that our NHI education has given us. And more importantly, it brought us closer together. It’s great to have work you love and love the folks you work with.