Spa de Bronx

Thomas Wanhoff

By Glenys de los Santos

Bronx Journal Staff Writer

Spa days are no longer a luxury for a pampered elite.

In today’s society, the majority of the population is under a lot of stress. Whereas a decade ago spas were thought of as a luxury for the rich, today they are seen as places where needed stress relief therapies are administered to people across the socio-economic spectrum.

“A spa is beneficial to a community because [it relieves] the stress of everyday life,” says esthetician Angela Smith, owner of Facial Bar and Body Lounge, a day spa on Eastchester Road in the Bronx.

Many books and articles have been written in recent years, such as “The Little Book of Stress Relief” by Dr. David Posen, suggesting that Americans should take a vacation at least twice a year — as do residents of many other countries — in order to minimize stress levels.

But if there’s no room in the household budget for a full-scale get-away, which can be pricey, time spent at a spa can serve as a great alternative.

In the Bronx, there are some 15 day spas, according to Google Local and the online Yellow Pages.  Among them are La Moda Salon & Skin Care on Morris Park Avenue, Touch of Class Day Spa on White Plains Road, and Studio Esthetique on Netherland Avenue in Riverdale.  These establishments cater to the diverse aesthetic and personal needs of Bronx residents.  They are equipped with facilities that help energize and rejuvenate visitors.

Facial Bar and Body Lounge, for example, is equipped with a steam room, sauna, hot tub and “derma jet spa” for full body exfoliation.

Smith explains that the treatments available at her spa include a “sea body masque,” which detoxifies and relieves stress, and a “seaweed body wrap,” also a detoxifier, which is highly effective at stimulating blood circulation.

If blood is flowing freely through the body, Smith says, then aches of all kinds are minimized, making it easier for the person to cope with the stresses of every day life, whether from work, home or school. The treatment most popular among her clientele is the good old-fashioned Swedish massage, says Smith.  It’s not as expensive as other procedures and “relieves tension, aches and pains.”

You might say to yourself that people in the 1950’s and 60’s were not going to day spas to help them cope with stress. The truth is that modern society is much more complex and demanding.  The modern-day workplace can be brutally competitive.  The cost of living has skyrocketed.  The majority of women are no longer full-time homemakers – they have careers.  Sometimes, both spouses are working crazy hours and barely see one another.

Women over 40 are highly susceptible to heart disease.  Each year, more than 500,000 women die from some type of heart condition. One reason for this is that women now have high-power jobs and, after a hard day’s work, many are also full-time moms and wives.  Nobody wants to turn back the clock on the advancements women have made in the workplace.  That’s why stress relievers such as the day spa are now so valuable.

“I go to [the spa] for detoxification and cleansing,” said Christina Taylor, 46, a realtor instructor. She said she visits a spa twice a month. “It’s absolutely relaxing.”

“I attend the spa to keep the good look going,” said Joan Adams, 40, a college professor, who goes every other month.

For these professional Bronx women, time spent at the spa makes a difference in their overall attitude towards responsibilities at work and home.

But besides relieving stress from work and family, day spas can make people feel good about themselves in a different way.

Bronxites are not immune to the seductions of the entertainment and personal fitness industries.  They too are concerned with staying beautiful and looking youthful. They want to have the life of the celebrities.  And, in increasing numbers, they are realizing that they can do so within their means.

“If you think about Hollywood, you think about Park Avenue, people look at what treatments the stars are getting, and they want to go and get them,” said Vladimir Byhovsky, owner of Studio Esthetique, which administers Botox injections and laser hair removal in addition to conventional spa treatments.  “And when they find out that they can afford it, they think, ‘Why not?’”

Byhovsky, a registered nurse who holds a degree in nursing from Columbia University as well as a master’s of business administration from Georgia Institute of Technology, says Bronxites are just as concerned with aesthetic and cosmetic medicine as are Manhattanites.  So convinced was he of this idea that he closed the Manhattan branch of his spa –- in business at 88th and Madison for four years -– to concentrate on the Bronx location.

“We chose to go where there’s less competition,” he said.  “We service Bronx, Yonkers, New Jersey, Bergen County, Westchester.  We have a huge referral base.  Fifty percent of our business are referrals.  [Our clients] come from Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, even out of town.”

The good thing about spa therapies is that once you come back to reality after leaving the spa, you are so relaxed that the little things which normally irk you will roll right off your back.

Above all else, what’s important is keeping healthy.  Pampering oneself does not have to be expensive. You can give yourself an at home spa treatment. According to the American Heart Association, we should take “15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly, breathe deeply, and think of a peaceful picture.”  And light an aromatherapy candle, while listening to soft, relaxing music.  Even after 20  minutes, you’ll feel like a whole new person.

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