PENNSYLVANIA: DOING THE GUY THING AT NEMACOLIN
by Chris Atchison
It takes a real man to subject himself to a massage, a facial and a pedicure all in the same day. The times are changing and that's exactly what more and more men are doing on their vacations--18 holes of golf, maybe a bit of rock-climbing, perhaps a tough tennis match--and then straight to the spa.
Admittedly it took a bit of prodding - and some sound marketing - before I subjected myself to a full body treatment, but what I found at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa in Farmington, Pennsylvania (about an hour south of Pittsburgh) was scores of burly, tough guys subjecting themselves to what was once the domain of wives and
girlfriends - the spa treatment.
When I saw a few of the male-specific treatments on the menu at the $21 million spa complex, I knew it was time to take one for the team and find out for myself what the fuss about spas was all about.
A few gym-related kinks in my shoulders needed attention and Woodlands Spa's selection of massages that included one neuromuscular version seemed to be an appropriate - and masculine - treatment.
Passing through the dim, neutrally-coloured hallways of the spa, massage therapist Alik Minikhanov explained the process. "Neuromuscular massage releases trigger points and also re-aligns muscles," he said of the treatment that also helps to relieve sore
points, partially repair muscle tears and relieve scar tissue. What I quickly found out was that this type of massage was not for those who have an aversion to painful therapies.
Minikhanov began working on my sore muscles and visions of medieval torture raced through my mind. "The degree of treatment really depends on a person's pain
tolerance," he said. "If they're tense, it will hurt a lot more." Apparently I was experiencing a touch of rigor mortis on this day as Minikhanov the Massager bent my legs and shoulders in ways that would shock and awe even the most flexible of circus contortionists.
"Are you okay?" he asked thoughtfully as my knee and forehead were introduced for the first time. "Feels great," I lied. Despite the painful grunting and groaning on the table, the next day's results were all beneficial as my shoulders felt better than they had in months and my tired muscles felt rejuvenated. The best part was that I escaped with my masculinity intact after enduring an NFL-pain-level treatment that could be explained to my buddies as being for "purely athletic" purposes.
Nemacolin Woodlands attracts visitors with dozens of activities, but caters to men with programs like the Hummer Driving Club where drivers take the street-legal tanks off-road and through kilometres of bush trails, Mystic Rock golf course, home to this year's Pennsylvania Classic, and other activities like skeet shooting.
But Catherine Williamson, Woodlands Spa Assistant Director acknowledges that selling spa treatments to men is equal parts marketing and sound treatment. "We offer some wonderful pampering treatment that in the past men might have said, 'oh, that's girly,'" Williamson points out.
While male-geared treatments include sports massages and a male pedicure that targets nasty calluses and other sports-related problems, Williamson says that Woodlands' most important marketing tool for men is in the building's design. "The spa has a real non-gender-specific feel and men don't feel intimidated."
But the real male-marketed service at this spa is a facial named after renowned men's magazine GQ. I put myself in the expert hands of therapist Kim Wright who
explained that the GQ facial deals with ailments that men face on a daily basis.
"It addresses razor irritation and sensitivity and loosens in-grown hair problems," Wright said. Convinced that the treatment was as much a guy's thing as watching a Leafs game over beers and wings, I entered the land of the pampered only to have my face moistened, moisturized, massaged and several deeply-embedded blackheads dug out of my tender visage.
After falling asleep in the midst of the ultra-relaxing treatment I came to an important conclusion--men have been spa-oppressed since these paradises of pampering became a permanent fixture on the well-being and health care circuits.
In fact, men have been denying themselves the pleasures in which women have lavished for generations. I left Woodlands Spa feeling more than relaxed and rejuvenated--I felt liberated. No longer will I be told that men shouldn't enjoy facials, pedicures, manicures and massages. It's time for guys to embrace the principles of vitality and enjoy all that spas have to offer.
So gentlemen, my advice to all of you is this--next time you spend gruelling hours on the golf course, tear your muscles to shreds in the gym or get beaten around by your buddies in a game of pick-up football, make a little time for yourself afterwards.
Suck it up, be a man--and get a facial!
For information on Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa: www.nemacolin.com
Chris Atchison is a Toronto-based freelance travel writer and staff reporter with Toronto Metro News. Contact at email@example.com