My first ever spa retreat! I have had back massages before but a full spa retreat package and the pampering and revitalizing was so new to me. It really was a wonderful day in itself but it also shifted my perception: my head was clearer and more focused in the present moment than it has been for a long time and I got inspired to take even better care of myself.
The excursion started with unattended, water therapy time: a quick shower, a wonderful warm and strong whirpool, frolicking in the pool, and trying out the steam room. When I saw the itinerary, I did not think that there was enough time for me to really enjoy all this in 50 minutes. But I really did enjoy. They encourage us to come early to change and get lockers so we were at water therapies at 1pm sharp. The whirpool and steam room aren’t to be indulged in for more than 10-15 minutes each so there was actually plenty of time to enjoy everything.
It was my second time in a whirlpool, after trying it last month on a Caribbean cruise (I have to write a post on that exquisite experience too) and it is just amazing. Not much more to say about the whirpool and jets besides the fact that it feels so damn good. After this though, the pool felt chilly but I got used to it quick and the water was indeed quite nice.
I don’t know how to swim so their shallow, small pool was perfect for me to walk around in and increase my comfort level with floating and waving around my arms and legs. I have improved though, since during the Caribbean cruise, I did this with a life jacket always on and, this time, I only relied on a small floating board and stayed close to the edge. Unfortunately, building comfort level and trust in the water is a lot harder as an adult than it would have been for me as a kid. I will keep up the baby steps and check out the local community pool. At least I believe that I am never too old to stop learning new things.
Last came the steam room which was intense. I would have toned down on the lemon essence but otherwise it was good. I do need to practice sitting still and quiet though which is always a bit difficult for me. A steam room is really not a bad place to practice some meditation and staying present. It felt a bit stuffy until I tuned in to each of my senses to notice that I was doing quite alright.
Some internal water therapy: the staff regularly offered fruit-infused water or a variety of teas to keep me hydrated. It is so important and they actually inspired me to keep myself hydrated today. I hope this positive effect lasts more than a day.
The lady who did my massage was really good and we were quite chatty once I got started on my adventures as an accountant and her on her love for travel and exotic animals.
I am quite ticklish so I have to explain at the start to most therapists and they can be very firm with their touch which helps. I don’t know one type of massage from another but I like it when they stretch my limbs or just shake me up. It feels so good after. My muscles do hurt from it today, but a good kind of hurt which also reminds me that I should exercise more.
It was not the first or even second time that a physical therapy professional has sensed how my body suffers from my desk job or recommended that I commit to doing yoga. In future, I would also like to try a massage with hot stones, which was a part of my pedicure later in the day and a surprise hit with me.
Facial, Pedicure and Manicure
It was my first time for all three of these revitalizing experiences. I asked a lot of questions and the lady was good about answering them all whether I was asking for advice or to understand all the steps in the process.
Facials: I take pretty good care of my face but it is a bit dry. In the past, it was recommended to me that if I do not have any specific issues then I should avoid too many facials. I did have my blackheads removed this time which was quicker and less painful than expected. Other than that, the facial covered all the basic steps cleansing, toning, exfolioation, steaming, moisturization (not necessary in that order). I have a pretty good facial care routine and I occasionally apply a store bought or, even better, homemade mask. That is enough for me. I do not see myself needing facials too often. One of the best parts of the facial was that while whatever was applied on my face needed time to do its magic, I got a scalp massage. I highly recommend those because it is most relaxing and stress relieving.
Pedicure: Feet do a lot of work and can use a little extra love and care. My feet are pretty dry so I did not expect that the lady doing the pedicure would say that the condition of my feet was pretty good. But I am indeed better than the average woman about wearing shoes that are more comfortable than fancy. I required a little extra time with the pumice and exofoliation but the results are amazing. I need to rethink my routine for taking care of my feet. Ideally, a monthly DIY soak and scrub and then pedicure service once or twice a year.
Manicure: I don’t like the short square shape of my nails too much but that is the result of childhood nail biting. At least I don’t have the habit anymore. For the same reason, there was quite a lot of cuticles to trim. I have tried that at home myself before but didn’t care for the activity. It is okay if someone else does them. Cuticle removal and properly shaped nails does improve the appearance for cleanliness and professionalism. Along with a pedicure, I can see myself indulging in a manicure a few times a year at a local salon.
About the Elmwood Facility
I know there are many a fancier places out there but Elmwood Spa suited me just fine. This particular retreat was $418 after tax (Canadian dollars). The location is tucked in nicely within the heart of downtown Toronto in an old building renovated wonderfully. This trip was in honour of a birthday and an anamoly as my first time but, if I go again in the future, I would like to find deals or discounts. The environment and relaxation is best enjoyed as a day or a package (both alone or as a group activity) and I wouldn’t find myself dropping in here just for a massage or any individual service. Overall, I would definitely recommend Elmwood Spa. The staff is helpful, pleasant and hardworking. I imagine the experience would be very enjoyable as a break from the chill and darkness of the Canadian winter.
- Get out there and try more new experiences.
- Drink more water.
- Start doing yoga; at least once a week would be ideal.
- Take better care about keeping my skin moisturized and exfoliated, especially hands and feet. Once a week would be a good start.
- Learn more about the type of massages so I can figure out what I find most relaxing and beneficial.
- Accept that daily care for myself and my environment is too hard. Make time for occasional massages, facials, manicures and pedicures to keep up and feel good.
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