When I first visited Inglewood Health Hydro (now closed down) about 30 years ago, there were only a few “health farms” in existence and Champneys (the most established UK brand today) was just getting started. In those days, everyone came for a week and the diet for the first three days was a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon in it, 6 times a day. If that was just too demanding for you, you could “wimp out” by exchanging the lemon slice for orange!
At that time, some of the treatments still being offered today (Indian Head Massage, Reiki, Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Shiatsu) were considered by many to be rather “new age” and certainly, amongst my politically-incorrect twenty-something friends in the eighties, “a bit girlie”! Over the years, science and knowledge (and menu!) have evolved but the fundamental thinking has always been about a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. By contrast, I think it is fair to say that this thinking was almost unknown in employment circles until comparatively recently.
Step forward to the present day and health spa guests are able to spend their visit selecting a combination of activities to help with reducing stress, losing weight, adapting diet, getting fitter or just “chilling out”. Since the emergence of the metrosexual, the activity and treatment programme is no longer really perceived as gender-biased, whether it is a hot stone massage or spin class, a yoga session or a facial.
As they address the issues of obesity and an ageing workforce, the most enlightened and well-resourced employers are also taking a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. Offering healthy eating initiatives, cycle purchase programmes, improving ergonomics, subsidising gym access or even slowing down the lifts to encourage use of the stairs – these initiatives all enhance the lives of those participating.
Of course, the biggest challenge is convincing those who are not tempted by such opportunities.
My ideal solution? In a perfect (unlimited budget) world, I think everyone should be given the opportunity to experience a week involving a couple of hours’ exercise and an hour’s massage every day, interspersed with some relaxation, a few other treatments and, of course, a healthy, nourishing and tasty diet.
I realise this is unrealistic so, in the meantime, I have started saving for my own next visit!