Natural-healing renaissance woman Christine M. Esters has a theory about illness and lethargy: oftentimes, it stems from the digestive system. To help boost her clients' energy levels and aid them in slimming down, she offers colon hydrotherapy, dietary cleanses, and a host of other services aimed at detoxification, such as detox footbaths. In addition, Esters uses her certifications in aromatherapy, massage, and reiki to aid in clients' healing.
The spa's private treatment rooms put guests at ease, with subtle d?cor and soft lighting that evokes the comforts of home. But it's the spa?s soothing treatments that really make a difference in clients? wellbeing. Reflexologists aim to eviscerate tension by honing in on specific pressure points in the hands and feet. When the back needs attention, massage therapists use Swedish and deep-tissue massages to gently knudge knots into loosening.
"I stepped out of the pod feeling almost absurdly peaceful and relaxed, wanting to do nothing more than just sit in a park somewhere and be happy and grateful." So said Mark Lukach of 7x7 after two float sessions in the 30% Epsom-salts water at Float Matrix. Named the Best Place to Alter Your Consciousness in 2010 by SF Weekly, the center lets visitors unburden themselves of stress in a soundproof, lightproof pod designed to simulate weightlessness and send brainwave patterns into a soothing theta state. The process has been scientifically researched and is based on a phenomenon called Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique, or REST?a deeply relaxed state in which the body is believed to divert freed-up resources to address cognitive function, creativity, and conditions such as pain and broken telekinesis actuators.
Owner Kane Mantyla told Lukach, "Floating is a lot like experiencing ?nothing,? and there is no set narrative for ?nothing? in our culture.? Mantyla was inspired to found the center in 2006, after experiencing a profound healing from his own pain. He has since facilitated more than 10,000 floats, helping clients share in the blissful nothingness in a tranquil, clean environment. The saltwater?which is mostly sterile to begin with?is sanitized after each session with compound filtration, ozone, and a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. Not content to only provide one path to relaxation, the center also promotes wellness via infrared-sauna sessions.
Today, future innovators of the beauty industry might be walking the halls of Cinta Aveda Institute, where veteran cosmetologists school their prot?g?s in the many ways of client beautification and environmental consciousness. Under the watchful eye of licensed professionals, aspiring beauty professionals receive first-hand experience as they practice their chosen salon discipline on visitors, helping clients achieve a movie-star appearance with haircut and coloring services, skin-balancing facials, glamorous makeup application, and a bell that dings with every smile. Calling upon Mother Nature?s nurturing touch, Cinta?s instructors and students wield Aveda?s line of all-natural products packaged in eco-friendly containers made out of recycled materials.
The Hot Tubs on Van Ness Avenue in Russian Hill (with a twin spa over in Berkeley) are a lovely spot to steal off to for a little unwinding. The well-appointed spa-like space does little more than offer up private rooms for a few friends – or romantic partners – to enjoy a hot tub soak, but that’s more than enough. Each room holds up to six people and contains a single tiled basin filled with exquisitely hot water, a sauna and a table for maximum relaxation. Don’t worry about the high turnover in each room, either – the water is filtered completely every six minutes. Prices are reasonable too, and include an extra half-hour of soak time if booking before 5 p.m. With cream-colored walls lining the common areas of this industrial space and friendly staff on hand, it’s no wonder a warming soak feels so good.
In Focus: Piedmont Springs
In business since: 1981
Amenities include: private saunas and outdoor hot tubs for one or two
Another way to unwind: 30- to 75-minute massages
What else is offered: facials, waxing services, and body treatments
Why you should ask to borrow your grandma’s ID: Seniors get a 10% discount on massages.
Special events: The spa hosts occasional Art Walk events showcasing photography and poetry.