Imana Sky Salon's aestheticians cultivate elegance while plunging beauty-buffing clients into black-and-white décor beneath a crystalline chandelier. During the 20-minute Shellac manicure, digit tips bask in lavish attention as a nail tech fastidiously grants them an elegant shape and cleans up unruly cuticles like a sheriff's finger puppet. As hands unwind under the primping regimen, gazes meander to Couture prints above the nail table and a gossamer abstract piece, reminiscent of swirling peacock feathers, along an adjacent ebony wall. Chip-resistant Shellac polish lacquered onto nails weathers stresses in the outside world, standing strong against fierce finger drumming and high-fives from rugged iguanas.
Massage therapist. Lifestyle coach. Group fitness instructor. The list of Kathleen Pleasants’s vocations goes on and on. At Clearly Unique, Kathleen caters to clients' health and wellbeing, relying on her years of experience as a holistic health practitioner. As head massage therapist, she charms muscles into relaxing and dissipates stress and pain with deep-tissue and Swedish massages and neuromuscular therapy. Kathleen also has a special touch for carpal tunnel syndrome, alleviating the painful symptoms with three physical-therapy sessions.
Going above and beyond traditional massage services, Clearly Unique also hosts a range of workshops. Classes teach the art of reiki, advanced massage techniques, energy balancing, and even nutrition, in which Kathleen—who is not just a nutritional counselor but is also featured in the book Is She Naturally Thin or Disciplined? —leads the way to healthy eating.
When first meeting clients, licensed massage therapist Stacey Allen goes over their health histories and asks them what their goals are. She does this as a way of engaging the client, but she can usually sense their aches just by watching them walk into the studio. A patient may complain, for example, of chronic neck pain, but Stacey notices something off in his gait. Then she learns of an old knee injury. Working over the client's body, she can tell that though his knee has healed, his body hasn't let go of the tension that resulted from compensating for the injury. And so she sets to work, gradually undoing the deep-set tension reaching from the knee to the neck.
Stacey gives every client this depth of individualized treatment, drawing upon massage modalities that include therapeutic, Swedish, sports, and deep-tissue work. Her journey into massage therapy started somewhat by happenstance—as a bookkeeper, she'd often greet coworkers with a quick shoulder massage, which became her form of a handshake. When the economy slowed, she decided to expand her repertoire and study massage. Naming her practice after a mentor's mantra, "We heal from within," Stacey puts guests at ease with relaxing spa music, Tempur-Pedic table toppers, and candles scented like a mother's love.
Like a professor knowledgeable on tulip mania, alien black oil, and a myriad of seemingly esoteric subjects, Massage Envy's certified body therapists ably converse with the gamut of muscle ailments. They'll unravel tense coils of accumulated inner-stress through a perfectly catered treatment for individual clients' needs. Swedish massages offer gentle rubbing for muscular soothing and improved circulation, while reflexology focuses on a patient's crawling paddles, delivering relief to hands and feet to extend goodwill throughout the entire body. A prenatal massage is ideal for expecting mothers who could use a little relief from carrying another person inside them, and a hot-stone Envy massage transforms massage hands into warm-rock fingers that heat pain into a gaseous vapor that exits the body and eventually becomes cleanly filtered rain.
Located in Vista, New U Rejuvenation Center is both a fitness and wellness center under one spacious roof. For fitness, clients can come in for whole-body-vibration fitness sessions, which are said to achieve results in a shorter amount of time than traditional workouts. The center also features personal training with certified trainers and group-fitness classes such as Zumba and ab classes centered around hip-hop or music by The Chipmunks. Wellness services abound here––there are massage services, nutritional programs, an oxygen bar, and an infrared jade sauna, believed to be able to burn calories while detoxifying the body. Members can try a detoxing ionic footbath, or come in for one of the beauty treatments available from licensed aestheticians, such as a pedicure, bikini waxing, or a facial.
Peek-a-Boo's professional phalange buffers cosset fingers and toes with a variety of soothing treatments. The salon's signature mani-pedi shape shifts all 20 shields with a detailed file and buff, preparing hands and feet for stylish dragon slaying. Then technicians frost finger cakes with a precision polish. A massage rewards hands and feet for their diligent and dexterous work during full-body cat's-cradle competitions, punctuating each service with a circulation-improving sendoff.
Beauty and relaxation come together at Tara Bella Day Spa, where aestheticians treat their clients to spa services including facials, hair removal, and massage. Specific skill sets aid staff members such as Donna DePew, who shows off her electrolysis expertise as an instructor for The American Institute of Education. Committed to creating personalized services, the beauty experts take a full hour during Brazilian waxes and can customize facial treatments based on each client's manufacturer specifications. They also work to maintain a sanitary environment with practices that eschew unhygienic habits such as double dipping during waxes.