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.
Tova Yaron brings 40 years of international skincare training to her full-service health and wellness spas. Tova has spent her time perfecting her skills in the beauty industry before opening Tova Day Spa in early 2000. Less than a decade later, she established a second location in The Fairmont Hotel, where her team pampers clients from all walks of life—including locals, tourists, and celebrities such as Jon Lovitz, Carrie Fisher, and Jay Mohr.
From within the tranquil spa, aestheticians keep skin radiant by employing 11 types of facials along with a roster of skin enhancements—from an exfoliating peel to wrinkle-reducing LED light therapy. Antioxidant-rich ingredients such as green tea and Dead Sea mineral mud draw out toxins during body wraps, and a complimentary scalp massage squashes tension and errant thought bubbles. The staff also tends to nails and coifs, and combines many treatments for full-day spa experiences. Between sessions, guests can make use of the spa's luxurious facilities, which include men and women's locker rooms, relaxation lounge, heated whirlpools, steam rooms, and sauna.
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."
Though threading has been among Asia’s most popular depilation methods for thousands of years, it only recently made its way onto the service menus of Western spas. The ancient practice has shown signs of becoming more of a spa mainstay, however, thanks to an eco-friendly process that also manages to stay on good terms with sensitive skin.
For evidence of threading’s rapidly expanding popularity, one need not look further than Brow Shapes' Eastern-inspired treatment menu. When not sculpting brows into precise arches, the spa’s artists rely on their attention to detail to draw henna tattoos that depict flowery swirls, geometric patterns, or extremely detailed public-transit maps. The spa also features a variety of facial massages, each of which can be customized to relieve pain, aid in relaxation, and improve skin tone.
The staff at Healing Arts Institute instructs aspiring therapists in body work that aims to eliminate pain from the center of the body. Anatomy and physiology classes, classrooms with full-length mirrors, and more than 1,600 square feet of space help interns learn body mechanics. A vast understanding of the body’s inner workings help them as they move from classroom study to the school’s onsite spa, where clients can schedule massages with them or with the school’s experts. Student interns complete over 200 hours of training, and while beginning interns perform gentle Swedish-style massages, more advanced practitioners can quell injuries with their handiwork. Regardless of style, all of Healing Arts Institute’s clients depart from the massage clinic feeling more relaxed than a sloth traveling through a speed trap.
Healing Arts Institute also has a community-acupuncture clinic where a licensed acupuncturist, not a student, inserts needles into several clients at once. Clients lie back in recliners and rest while the needles go to work. Because the acupuncturist can treat multiple people at a time and no private treatment rooms are used, community acupuncture costs less than private acupuncture. It is also the type of acupuncture commonly used in Asia.
Find reviews and articles on outdoor activities, attractions, things to do.