Pampering and purifying the body dates back to the royal kings and queens of yore. Till recently it was limited as extravagant indulgences of the rich and famous. But today’s hectic lifestyles and increased purchasing power has people from all brackets of the society indulging in spa treatments – be it to relax and relieve the rising stress, anxiety and exhaustion, heal all kinds of ailments and restore good health or simply to pamper oneself and look good!

Focus on the wellness industry was never this high. Globally, it is a $255 billion industry and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, “Massage therapy is expected to grow faster than average between now and 2016 as more people learn about the benefits of massage.”

With more and more hospitality businesses offering spa and massage therapies to gain customer satisfaction, the demand for fully trained therapists is mounting steadily. In fact, as per a FICCI-PWC 2011 report, wellness services in India will require 6,00,000 additional skilled personnel over the next five years!

What it entails

Spa and natural healing is a kind of holistic treatment for the body, mind and soul. There are beauty treatments, rejuvenation packages, therapeutic cures (back pain, arthritis, insomnia, and depression) and even rehabilitation therapies.

The work of spa therapists is quite interesting and varied. They perform skin-care and aesthetic services like facials, manicures, pedicures, makeup, nail treatments, electro-therapy, etc. There are body treatments - body wraps, body scrubs and reflexology and above all massages with medicated oils/creams/lotions/gels, aromas, stones, etc. to ease stress, alleviate pains and revitalise clients by giving them a sense of pure bliss.

Getting there

Several institutes in India (especially Kerala) offer professional courses in massage and spa therapy, ranging from 3 months to a year and more. Students gain knowledge about the human anatomy and physiology along with the various massage techniques. They learn to administer body polishing, body wraps, cellulite treatments and hydro/heat/stone/aroma therapies. Specific massage movements, pressure points and muscle stimulation are also included. There is hands-on training and aspirants can opt for specialised training in say – Thai, Swedish or Balinese massage, Ayurvedic techniques, reflexology or even beauty treatments.

Complimenting it with alternative healthcare practices like acupressure, acupuncture, shiatsu, chiropractic, yoga or Ayurveda will definitely be an added advantage. Or they can opt for additional courses in nutrition, personal training, etc.

Some opt for apprenticing under qualified therapists while some top spas/salons offer on-the-job training as well. Keeping track of latest trends and constantly updating one’s knowledge will enhance ability and efficiency.

Is it for you?

Career in spa and massage therapy is not for everyone; certainly not the shy or restless ones. You need to fully believe in the healing power of touch and have ready hands coupled with the ardent desire to help people feel better. It’s a person-centred job and strong interpersonal and conversation skills go without saying. The intense physical demands mandate good health and fitness. Maintaining high standards of personal hygiene, grooming and safety measures is essential as well.

Again, spa therapy is all about customer satisfaction - making professionalism, graciousness, respect and consistently excellent service quite imperative.

Job prospects

Spa therapists can choose from a plethora of job options in five-star hotels, beauty salons, destination/day spas, resorts, clubs, fitness centres, slimming clinics, Ayurvedic clinics, etc. There are growing opportunities in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres, and even corporate offices as many organisations are offering massage facilities as an employee perquisite. Then there are very lucrative prospects in sports teams and sports medicine clinics. Aspirants can opt to do house calls, freelance, work on commission basis or even set up their own facility. Starting salaries are around Rs.10,000 per month and based on qualifications, experience and type of employer it can go up to Rs.1 lakh over a period of time. Getting a retainer arrangement with top spas, salons or hotels is extremely worthwhile. Once a therapist builds a quality reputation, both fees and clientele are bound to swell! Growth options range from spa trainer, supervisor to manager as well. On balance, spa therapy is one of the fastest growing service industries with hot jobs and tremendous growth potential.

Payal Chanania

faqs@cnkonline.com

Where to study?

VLCC Institute, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad (39 cities) - www.vlccinstitute.com/

Shahnaz Husain Training Institute, New Delhi, Mumbai and other cities- www.shahnaz.in/

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Ananda Spa Institute, Hyderabad -www.anandaspainstitute.com/

International Spa Academy (ISPAA), Kerala - www.ispaa.com/

Orient Spa Academy, Jaipur, Kerala, Ahmedabad - www.orientspaacademy.com/

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