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.
Though they don't serve food, the professionals at Healing Arts Massage & Wellness Center do oversee a buffet. Their Massage My Way package lets clients pick from a menu of enticing modalities and add-ons, including aromatic essential oils, warm stones, and hot towels. This muscle-sating feast functions as just one draw to the relaxation haven, where practitioners believe that massages should be a recurring investment. To help encourage repeat visits, they've also created special services such as the Island Escape, a tropical-themed treatment that adds mango-scented oil, coconut-lime foot-massage butter, and a scalp massage to Swedish or deep-tissue kneads. Visitors can even pose for a custom airbrush spray tan to complete their beachy, stress-relieving session.
Of course, guests can also elect to keep appointments simple with a single modality. In addition to classic massage styles, the calming techniques of craniosacral therapy and the pinpointed pressures of reflexology alleviate the body's more focused tensions. Licensed acupuncturist Robin Kohler often pairs her trade with massage appointments, striving to correct energy imbalances within each physique.
The center has fostered restfulness for more than 20 years and exclusively employs licensed massage therapists rather than relying on students or friends who give very encouraging back pats. Situated a mere three blocks from the ocean, its locale mirrors the serene atmosphere behind its doors.
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.
Though threading primarily deals with hair removal, the real focus of the service is the skin. Many depilation methods extract unwanted strands, but leave skin irritated and subject to wrinkle-producing tugs and yanks. Threading combats these unwanted effects with a 100% cotton thread that loops and uproots unwanted hair, eliminating the need for chemicals that can cause breakouts and require the placement of hazard stickers on faces. Beauty By Thread’s expert technicians wield strings with the utmost precision, creating sultry eyebrow arches and removing hair from upper lips, sideburns, or infringing hair lines.
Threading leaves brows expertly shaped for up to three weeks, and the staff also offer Lizette Mineral eyebrow-makeup kits, which combine 10 shades of water-resistant powders and six stencils that allow clients to maintain beautiful looks at home. Clients can also add an exotic touch to their look with the shop's showcase of ankle bracelets, bangles, and tiaras instead of filling out the endless paperwork required to adopt a pet tiger.