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A health spa is a fitness and wellness center with an emphasis on improving health through spa treatments and healthy activities. Health spas may offer a variety of services, from water therapy to exercise classes, all geared toward relaxation and promoting healthy living. Although they may seem like a recent trend, health spas have existed for thousands of years, dating back to a time when certain natural springs were thought to have healing properties.
Throughout the history of human civilization, water has long been a symbol of purification. Ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Celtic societies all used ritual baths not only for cleansing the body, but restoring health and purifying the spirit. Certain warm springs, such as the waters at Bath in England were thought to have healing properties. Pilgrims would travel for thousands of miles to bathe at a particular spring believed to cure illness.
Today, the ancient tradition of ritual and health-oriented bathing is continued at health spa facilities. Unlike beauty spas, health spas often are geared toward overall fitness and wellness, as well as spiritual cleansing and relaxation. In the busy modern world, many people use health spas as a means of stress relief to help balance their daily lives.
Services offered at a health spa may vary extensively from place to place. Some rely on an existing spring for a natural source of hot water or cold water, while others simply pipe municipal waters into spa grounds. Water-based treatments such as steam rooms, saunas, whirlpools, and baths are a major part of any health spa.
In addition, many health spas offer a variety of spa services geared toward relaxing and improving the body. Massage therapy, skin and body improvement treatments such as facials and body wraps, and specialty baths are all common services found at a health spa. Some spas may offer combination packages for a full body experience, or special treatments options for couples and bridal parties.
Since the philosophy at many health spas promotes total body health, many offer exercise and fitness facilities to increase physical well-being. Classes, such as yoga, dance, and Pilates, may be available for both groups and individuals. Some may also offer traditional workout equipment, including weights training machines, treadmills, stationary bikes, and free weights.
Health spa etiquette may be confusing to spa novices, and may change from spa to spa. Certain areas may be co-ed, while others may be reserved for one gender only. In some spas, certain areas are also clothing-optional. It may be wise to consult staff members regarding any questions about proper attire or rules to help create a relaxing environment and avoid a potentially embarrassing situation.