Professional male athletes are, by necessity, keenly tuned in to their bodies, but they’re also prone to injury, soreness and pain—which, through a variety of athlete-targeted services, a spa can help alleviate. “Common complaints for athletes include IT band syndrome, lower back pain, plantar fasciitis, and foot and ankle pain,” notes David Abookire, a sports and injury specialist, and director and owner of Boulder Therapeutics in Boulder, Colorado. “Treatments such as sports massage, which emphasizes the lower back, legs and glutes, can be part of a good maintenance routine.”
When treating athletes, Abookire calls on techniques such as myofascial release, and neuromuscular massage, works on posture and anomalies in the movement path, and addresses imbalance of muscles/range of motion. To attract and retain these clients, he recommends offering treatment packages and aligning with sports centers, physical therapy clinics, yoga studios and chiropractors. “Men aren’t used to getting care—they might seek help reluctantly, and only when something’s wrong,” says Abookire. “But with athletes and their frequent injuries, there’s a real need—and these clients won’t just visit you once a year; they’ll visit 10 times.”
Indeed, spas across the country are tapping into this lucrative and loyal market. Here, DAYSPA presents five diverse services (one which might surprise you!) that have hit a sweet spot in many an athletic male clientele. —Tracy Morin
Spa: Habitude Salon and Spa, Seattle
Service: Sport Manicure ($34+) /Sport Pedicure ($61+)
Key Benefits: “Just as proper footwear is an important consideration for athletes, the condition of their nails and feet is crucial,” explains founder Inez Gray. “Short, smooth toenails are essential to ensure that no pinching, cutting or ingrown nails occur during activities, and calluses can be prone to infection and cause long-term issues if not addressed.”
Ideal Client: Football Players: NFL stud Tim Tebow is known to book regular manicure and pedicure appointments to keep his digits in tact.
Treatment Highlights: The manicure includes the basic protocol of nail shaping and filing, along with an arm massage with buffing if desired. The Sport Pedicure boasts a therapeutic warm footbath; nail clipping and shaping (with extra attention to cuticles and any calloused areas), an exfoliating polish, and a foot and calf massage.
Selling Points: Male clients get the full “manly” spa experience in a testosterone-friendly environment: robes, slippers and furniture that accommodate their larger frames, for example, and a locker room fully stocked with guy-appropriate products and tools that appeal to men.
Spa: Willow Spa, Santa Monica, CA
Service: Willow Enzyme Bath + Athlete’s Stretch ($166/ 105 min.)
Key Benefits: The dry bath (filled with wood shavings, rice bran, and fruit and vegetable enzymes) naturally heats to about 120 degrees to provide a host of benefits: cardio (a session offers the equivalent of running one mile), injury prevention, shorter recovery time and overall body detoxification.
Ideal Client: “The Enzyme Bath is great for athletes in any phase of training, offering repair and relaxation while stimulating the healing process and protecting muscles,” explains co-owner Wendy Reeves.
Treatment Highlights: Because the dry heat opens muscles on a deeper level than does steam, the post-bath stretch can also reach deeper. The Athlete’s Stretch, which utilizes Thai massage techniques, can include the Foundation Stretch (lower body), the Summit Stretch (upper body) or both.
Selling Points: Before treatment, athletes receive a 15-minute foot soak and massage to unwind.
Bonus Points: Clients love the comfortable loungewear: Pants and tops instead of traditional robes, which make both sexes comfortable in common areas.
Spa: Magic Hands Skin & Body, Westfield, NJ
Service: Noninvasive Body Realignment ($90/ 60 min.)
Key Benefits: “The reiki and oils are great for helping relieve pain; moist heat relaxes sore muscles; and the service boosts the immune system and the client’s frame of mind,” enthuses owner Lora Condon.
Ideal Client: Baseball players--the service was inspired by an injured Derek Jeter.
Treatment Highlights: The service includes a raindrop treatment in which essential oils are applied to the spine and feet.
Selling Points: The service comes with no side effects or adverse reactions and is gentle enough to book on a weekly basis.
Spa: Miraval Resorts Spa, Tucson, AZ
Service: The Athlete’s Massage ($230/ 80 min.)
Key Benefits: The service benefits both pre- and post-activity clients by stretching out connective tissue, opening and releasing the fascia of muscles, opening up joints, providing greater range of movement and enhancing flexibility.
Ideal Client: Outdoorsy athletes who engage in hiking or mountain bike rides.
Treatment Highlights: The massage also incorporates Arnica oil, which is noted for its anti-inflammatory properties and bruise-healing benefits. “Many active folks experience lower-body injury or strain, and with Thai and deep massage, muscles all over the body get a tremendous amount of work,” explains Simon Marxer, spa director. “This service both prevents injury, and aids in recovery after activity.”
Selling Points: Marxer recommends, when dealing with male athletes, focusing on the outcome or impact of treatment; drawing attention to male-friendly features (Miraval, for example, extols its men’s hammam); associating with a local cycling team or running club; and providing an educational component, such as having therapists explain the physiology behind what clients are feeling (hence, therapists should have a general knowledge of the workings of the musculoskeletal system).
Spa: Stript Wax Bar in San Francisco
Service: Wax treatment for all parts of the body ($10- $75)
Ideal Clients: Swimmers and Cyclists
Key Benefits: “Cyclists, swimmers and runners all benefit from waxing because it can increase their athletic performance, speed and agility; many cyclists even find that a smooth surface allows their wounds to heal better if they fall off their bikes,” says founder and owner Katherine Goldman.
Treatment Highlights: Stript offers Brozilian and Mini-Brozilian treatments for swimmers who want to tame their “Speedo line.”
Selling Points: Education is key: During appointments, technicians discuss the benefits of waxing as opposed to shaving (i.e., removal of hair from the root with longer-lasting results than shaving).
Bonus Points: Since the San Francisco location is directly across from a gym, the wax bar offers discount cards to attract male athletes.