They want your body

Specialized spas are tailoring their offerings to appeal to discerning consumers

Inspirations

December 25, 2005|By ELIZABETH LARGE | ELIZABETH LARGE,SUN REPORTER

It's a cutthroat world out there in the $50 billion global industry that specializes in relaxation, wellness and tranquillity. If you're a spa owner, you have to differentiate yourself.

One of the top trends in 2006, say the professionals at Spa Finder, an Internet resource, will be the specialty spa: Spas for men, medical spas and connoisseur spas, where you find unusual, trend-setting programs. They are all hot right now; and it looks as if they will continue to be.

Not sure what we're talking about? Here are three examples:

The guy spa

FX Studios, 11270 Pepper Road, Hunt Valley, 410-771-1500

We won't use the word metrosexual, but men are more interested in spa services than they used to be. FX was designed for guys, and several Ravens players and local news anchors are clients. But women have discovered they like the services and amenities, too. Those amenities include individual rooms for haircuts as well as massages, free neck and sideburn trims between haircuts (bangs for women), and shoeshine stations. Services range from a men's Brazilian wax (!) to reflexology.

FX also bills itself as the first and only cinematic spa and salon. There are 16-foot movie screens (this month's 16 offerings include Pirates of the Caribbean and Scrooged) and liquid crystal display TVs with Dolby surround sound.

The medi-spa

Studio 921, 921 E. Fort Ave., Federal Hill / Locust Point, 410-783-7727

When Studio 921 says it's a full-service salon, that means something quite different than it used to. Once hair salons started offering massage and skin care, the next step was probably inevitable. Studio 921 is one of the new medical spas, where clients can get acupuncture, laser hair removal, micro-dermabrasion and Botox treatments as well as hair coloring and manicures. A facial plastic surgeon and an internist are on staff.

Studio 921's emphasis on wellness includes a fitness package with the Merritt Athletic Club next door, which combines an hour of personal training, a sports massage and an express facial. Not into fitness? Indulge yourself with a luxury European facial.

The connoisseur spa

Farashe the Day Spa, 5570 Sterrett Place, Suite 105, Columbia, 410-964-1500

All-day spas promise to transport you elsewhere, but Farashe, which means "butterfly" in Arabic, is truly a getaway from traditional spas. The decor is a mix of Indian and Moroccan, designed with feng shui principles. The owners believe cosmetic services like hair styling and nails should be separate from relaxation and holistic treatments, but you will find the usual facials, massages and body wraps.

But beyond Swedish massage, Farashe offers exotic treatments from India such as henna painting, an ancient cosmetic and healing art, and Shiro Abhyanga, an ayurvedic method of scalp massage. We're not sure what that last is, but who cares? It feels good.

elizabeth.large@baltsun.com

SPLURGE OF THE WEEK

SPRINGING FORTH

It was only officially winter four days ago, and we're already thinking about spring. Specifically, splurging on some little luxuries from Giorgio Armani Cosmetics. Shades for spring, we hear, are sheer and pastel, complemented by a bold lash line. Soft, nude lips will look freshest.

The Giorgio Armani line is available at Saks.

RETAIL PRICE: Eye Mania (eye shadow quad), $55. Lip Mania lipsticks, $25; Lip Shimmers, $26; Fluid Sheer and Luminous Silk Foundation, $55 each

EQUIPMENT CHECK

ENGAGE IN SOME ACTIVE SITTING

Oh, those aging baby boomers. As they hit 60, they're spawning a whole slew of exercise equipment designed specifically for them. The new Resistance Chair exercise system from Continuing Fitness gives what the company calls the "mature market" a complete cardio, strength training, balance and flexibility workout.

The Resistance Chair requires no assembly and stores easily. You can order it by calling toll free 877-368-6800 or at continuingfitness. com.

RETAIL PRICE: $229.95

WINTER EXERCISE TIPS

STAY MOTIVATED

Let's face it: it's hard to exercise in the dead of winter. If you're having trouble, here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.:

Think about all the good things exercise does -- fights the winter blues, helps you sleep better and increases your energy.

Buy a workout DVD or tape. Pop it in and learn tai chi or work up a sweat with step aerobics.

Walk the mall. Just don't stop to shop.

Try to make housework or just walking up and down stairs an aerobic exercise.

Buy exercise equipment. There are rollers, for instance, to turn your bike into a stationary one. Free weights are good, too.

Join the Y, a health club, or an indoor pool.

WEB WATCH

LiveHealthier.com

Some of your New Year's resolutions will probably involve living healthier. If so, a new Web site, launched this month, may help. LiveHealthier.com offers personalized health, nutrition, exercise and motivation plans. The site is based in Maryland (the founder, Mary Moslander, lives in Rockville), and is advertising-free -- always a plus.

Members subscribe for $5 a week. For that they get health programs specifically tailored for them, a social network and the advice of registered dietitians, certified personal trainers and other health professionals. You can register for a free 10-day trial at livehealthier.com.

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