It’s been dubbed the spa of the future, but the medical spa is as old as “taking the waters.” According to Hannelore Leavy, founder and executive director of The Day Spa Association, European spas have always been medical, centered around mineral springs and waters. “Treatment was and still is prescribed and monitored by a physician,” said Leavy in an interview from her office in West New York, N.J.
Taking The Waters
For centuries, Europeans have flocked to spas for medicinal purposes. With roots dating back to ancient times, “taking the waters” is a traditional integrative approach, utilizing the benefits of balneotherapies such as thermal and salt water soaks and mud applications. In addition, spas offer physiotherapies including various forms of massage, CO2 applications (naturally carbonated tub baths or immersion in chambers), dietary regimens and health education.
Taking the Waters. It’s a phrase that holds mysterious connotations from a simpler, ancient time. Just as with water therapies today, Taking the Waters was, and is, a physical venture into healing, cleansing and rejuvenation. What has been significantly lost from the Taking the Waters experience of old is the integration of domains. Art, socialization, nutrition, honest leisure, discussion, music — these interdisciplinary elements were all part of the spa culture of which Taking the Waters has historically been a part.