Exhale Spa seeks to transform its clientele inside and out. The founding team of fitness professionals and aestheticians sought to create an environment where they could empower visitors with pampering spa treatments, invigorating fitness classes, and lifestyle education, helping clients attain a sense of control and holistic balance. Now with 19 locations across 11 cities, Exhale Spa and its signature services have earned mentions in numerous national publications, including People magazine, the New York Times, and O, The Oprah Magazine.
Exhale's signature Core Fusion classes incorporate dance-inspired stretches, yoga poses, and Pilates exercises into total-body workouts that build long, lean limbs and sturdy abdominal muscles over time. For an even more varied workout, the instructors introduce boot-camp techniques, cardio exercises, or multiplication tables to select sessions. Yoga classes present a similar amount of breadth and variety, drawing inspiration from a number of introspective and physically oriented styles. To help hasten physical transformations, nutrition and wellness coaches teach attendees about the impacts of diet. These sessions build an awareness of healthy eating habits through custom meal plans and by teaching clients how to identify the edible parts of a fruit basket.
Many of the center's traditional spa services seek to inspire confidence. Facials pamper and refine skin using everything from green tea and fruit extracts to microcurrent technology, and mani-pedis revitalize digits before glazing nails with a vibrant new coat of color. Bodywork treatments look beyond physical relaxation and focus on holistic concerns. Massage therapists can use Eastern or Western modalities to soothe overstressed musculature, and acupuncture treatments and reiki sessions jump-start natural healing processes by encouraging the free flow of inner energies.
When Kate Danta opened P.B. Yoga & Healing Arts, she envisioned more than a simple yoga studio. Her holistic health center would offer both Pilates and yoga classes that explored different types of practice along with a range of wellness services such as massage and acupuncture. Kate is a holistic health practitioner, a massage therapist, and a yoga instructor with 30 years of experience, herself, so she was in a unique position to make her dream become reality. Rather than doing everything herself, Kate assembled a staff of certified massage therapists, naturopathic healers, and yoga instructors to add their knowledge of Svaroopa, Kripalu, and Kundalini yoga to the studio's repertoire.
Visitors to the holistic studio can choose to better their bodies and minds by choosing to attend classes or visiting one of the staff's variety of physical and spiritual healers. During yoga sessions, instructors lead students through guided relaxations, breathing techniques, and yoga poses to help clients build flexibility and relax deep spinal muscles. Pilates mat classes are taught by an experienced instructor who sold her thriving studio in order to move to San Diego and join the staff at PB Yoga and Healing Arts to challenge clients' muscles with small isometric movements, which work to improve posture and protect the back by building strength throughout the core. The studio also has a Pilates Specialist whose background includes the New York Ballet Co. She works one-on-one with the help of the Gyrotonic equipment and the Pilates Reformer. The studio's on-staff licensed acupuncturist specializes in sports medicine, and can relieve chronic pain by carefully placing needles in strategic points along the body. Clients can achieve spiritual balance with visits to a Sunday morning meditation class facilitated by an ordained Zen Buddhist monk, Tenshin; who also teaches the Tai Chi classes. The center also offers sessions with an on-staff practitioner who can deliver both psychic readings and spiritual counseling to help clients reach inner peace.
Bodies twist and arch through space in a series of progressive rotations. Participants cycle their shoulders, leap into crouches, and even swing club-shaped weights that resemble a clown's juggling pins. Watching a Circular Strength Training class at Chrome Fit might call to mind scenes of a mesmerizing circus performance, but the intent of the workout is anything but laughable. Rather, its dynamic actions help to broaden range of motion while simultaneously building muscle.
Circular Strength Training is one of five specialized classes led by Chrome Fit's coaching team. Though they utilize different tools—including gymnastics rings, kettlebells, and yoga techniques—they all have a holistic focus on increasing poised and powerful mobility. Their practical applications range from reducing chronic pain and competing in marathons to, in the case of TACFIT sessions, learning to tackle and safely recover from the crisis situations faced by police, military, and emergency personnel.
Owner Sheri L. Covey and her staff supplement these group classes with private personal-training sessions, as well as customized duo or small-group seminars. They adapt their instructions to suit clients of all fitness backgrounds, instead of simply telling newer students to watch the older ones until they feel ready to lift the same weights. Through boot-camp and corporate-wellness programs, they also encourage achievements in a more general community setting, drawing from the entirety of their class curriculum to plan varied drills.
When Earthbody looks to hire new massage therapists and licensed aestheticians, it doesn't consider recent graduates?rather, it's looking for people with years of training and experience beneath their belts, and who still love what they do. It wants people who are healers at heart, able to lavish each client with skillful services and attention. Each detail at Earthbody has been carried out with similar mindfulness?from the spa's own line of organic body and facial products, all crafted in small batches in San Francisco, to little luxuries such as heated and infused foot towels and complimentary tea service.
To set the mood, the staff lights soy candles and tea lights, which burn cleanly so that even those with allergies can breathe easily. Surrounded by this soft glow, aestheticians renew skin with facials or treat bodies to massages that not only make muscles feel great but also uproot deep-seated tension. After each session?be it a couples massage or hot-oil Indian scalp treatment?the staff can compost, recycle, or launder everything used during the sessions. Dr. Shawn Goozh, a licensed clinical psychologist, also offers somatic-psychotherapy sessions that use bodywork to deepen traditional psychotherapy.
The staff's attention to detail hasn't gone unnoticed by the media. "This intimate Hayes Valley spot is more healing center than mere day spa," writes the San Francisco Bay Guardian. "Therapists are trained in several modalities and develop custom sessions for every client, including consultations before and after treatment." In 2010, SF Weekly named Earthbody its pick for best day spa, citing its "ecological sustainability and ancient holistic rites."
While all good doctors are thorough, Dr. Babar Rao takes the detection of skin cancer a bit further than most. As a pioneer and international authority on dermoscopy and confocal microscopy—two techniques that afford him highly magnified 3-D views of skin-borne lesions—Dr. Rao is able to discern with great accuracy whether epidermal aberrations require biopsy. His 20 years of experience as a pathologist and surgeon, as well his numerous publications and research projects, provides him with a deep understanding of advanced treatment methods, including MOHS micrographic surgery.
This knack for high precision also extends to his clinics' cosmetic offerings, carried out by his cadre of physicians across three state-of-the-art facilities. The team minimizes wrinkles and discoloration through a range of minimally invasive treatments that includes Botox and chemical peels, and also banishes unwelcome stubble or glued-on sideburns with laser hair removal.
Dr. Rao and his staff's expertise also reach abroad in their effort to give back to communities. Dr. Rao spearheaded an effort to open a burn center in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, which has significantly reduced the mortality rate for major burns, and his staff holds free cancer screenings both locally and in the Dominican Republic.
To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, ?She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.?
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand?s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.