In my last article for the Manliness Kit, I debunked some myths about grooming stereotypes for men and women. Then, as if the stars had aligned, I was invited on a stag weekend that involved a day at the spa.
Having never been to (or considered) a spa day in my life, I was flummoxed.
So, as any sensible person would, I asked my most trusted advisor – Google. And apparently, “more guys are getting pampered to look and feel their best,” according to this study reported by Mashable.
I’m definitely into looking and feeling my best, so I threw caution to the wind and joined my mates for a spa day. Here’s what I found out.
Not all man-spas are created equal
Google promised me that spas are trying to lure us men-folk in with a dedicated compliment of treatments. Behold, the manliest of spas: beer baths, where you sit in your beer instead of drinking it.
If I’m honest, that kind of thing is lost on me (what a waste of beer). So I was pleased to find the Malmaison’s Well Groomed Man packages included more classic treatments – a facial, a massage and a manicure, as well as full use of the steam and relaxation rooms.
It’s very quiet at the spa
It’s almost eerily quiet. But it does add to the relaxing experience. Everyone speaks in hushed tones at the spa. There’s a lot of sitting about in between treatments, spent in the steam room and relaxation room.
Top tip: phones and spas don’t go, so bring a book or magazine for some quiet entertainment. And exercise your indoor voice; your fellow spa-goers are also trying to relax, and probably don’t want to hear you and your mates dissecting last night’s boozy adventures.
Then there’s the spa music – like elevator Enya, only with birds and streams added. I won’t be putting it on a mix tape any time soon, but it makes for a nice atmosphere.
The importance of a manly-cure
I’ve always thought I take good care of my hands – I trim my nails like a gentleman, instead of gnawing them like a beast. Why pay someone to do it? But apparently there’s more to it than this.
There’s cuticles to trim, sharp edges to be filed, potions to apply, and so much buffing.
I’d never have gone in for a manicure before, but I can’t say I’m not impressed about my lovely soft hands. My nails are all shiny and tidy too. Unlike some other “manly” treatments (ahem), one can flaunt the wonderful results and feel fabulous about it.
It also felt nice to be … pampered, for a little while. I can understand now why it’s a weekly or fortnightly occurrence for some of the ladies in my life. 30 minutes out of the day just for me? Yes please!
Everyone should get a massage
The concept of lying, naked, in a warm room while a stranger touches you seems odd. I’ve never been able to get my head past that.
But in the spirit of the stag weekend, I hopped on the massage table for the first time. And I wasn’t actually naked – they let you keep your boxers or swimming shorts on, and use towels to keep your modesty.
It was weird to begin with. I was very concerned about my bodily functions, the positions of my arms, having an itchy nose. But after maybe ten minutes (it’s hard to keep time), I started to forget about just about everything.
The combination of the massage, the warmth and the floaty music was nice. It felt like that zone between waking and sleeping.
Afterwards, the therapist leaves you for a little while before sending you back out to the relaxation room. And it felt like I was floating. Since, I’ve felt the benefits – I’m a little looser in the gym (and other areas).
This is definitely something everyone should indulge in at least once, if not on a regular basis.
You can still get a facial with a beard
A facial is part of the male grooming package, but I was worried I wouldn’t be able to take part because of my glorious beard. Fear not! There’s still three quarters of my face and some neck on show.
And, as the therapist informed me, the forehead and nose are usually the most problematic areas anyway.
If you’re not bearded, the best advice is to have a shave the evening or afternoon before a facial. Shave in the morning, and your skin might be too sensitive for some of treatments. Too far in advance, and some poor therapist has to rub their hands on your sandpapery face for the best part of an hour.
Top tips for the man-spa
As the intrepid explorer I am, I feel obliged to pass on my key learnings from this experience so you too can go forth and relax.
- Be timely – you’ll likely be collected from a specified area for your treatments. Aim to get there five to ten minutes early.
- Be prepared – our group chose to wear swimming shorts for the day. If you’re unsure, call in advance and ask what’s standard at your selected spa.
- Be clean – if you’ve been steaming before your treatment, it’s courteous to have a shower in between. It also ensures the products work best.
- Be bold – it’s your treatment. If a gentler massage would be more relaxing, say so. If you’re not sure whether you should be wearing boxers, ask.
- Be committed – this is relaxing time. Turn your phone off.
- Be respectful – remember, in common areas, everyone is trying to find their Zen. Loud conversations may not be welcome.
- Be appreciative – tipping isn’t expected, but it is appreciated. You can tip at reception on your way out, to save carrying cash around the spa.
Are you convinced?
Tweet me at @OfficialSILB – I want to know about your experiences as a man at the spa.