Spa trips and pampering sessions have been popular for decades amongst women and Eastern Europeans. North American men however, have embraced the practice less enthusiastically than their European or Asian counterparts. In other parts of the world than North America, visiting the spa is seen as a necessary indulgence. It’s a common practice enjoyed by men and women of all ages and social strata and is considered a therapeutic and medicinally beneficial way to relax. At places like Eastern European mineral baths or Japanese onsen, people come together as they might at an outdoor pool on a hot summer day. There is no one kind of person who goes. There are no pretensions.
The spa became something very different when the concept was imported to North America. Suddenly it was exotic and luxurious – an indulgent getaway available only to the wealthy and leisure-classes. Different still was the gendered associations that developed around spas. Perhaps it was the availability of cosmetic treatments or diet food, but quickly spas became associated with women. “Going to the spa” has become a signature activity of the ladies who lunch and the oh-so decadent lives they lead.
But as a great man once said, “The times, they are a changin’.” The rise of interest in men’s grooming, shaving culture, and the absorption of “metro-sexuality” by the wider male population has led to the opening of a number of spas designed specifically for men. Geared towards the man who likes nice things, these aren’t exactly places where Joe the Plumber comes after work. Men’s spas are aimed more at the executive set along with guys who like a quality shave. They’re a place where you can watch a barber wield a straight razor, get a massage, and watch the game.
Spas for men are a growing industry and are quickly answering an increasing demand. No longer just for trophy wives and stressed out starlets, spas are becoming a destination for guys as well. The pretension might not have vanished, but the inhibitions quickly are.