Spa Glossary

Spa Glossary


Finger massage designed to release muscle tension and promote healing by applying pressure to “energy points” or “meridians” in the body. The pressure applied to these vital points (the same points used in acupuncture) was identified by medical practitioners in China centuries ago and is believed to improve the flow of energy (chi) throughout the body. Similar in many ways to Shiatsu.


An ancient oriental healing technique discovered and developed more than three thousand years ago, acupuncture is based on Taoist philosophy. The aim is to balance the energy meridians to permit the body to “heal itself. A relatively painless technique, it is administered by inserting fine needles at key points of the body that relate to different organs in order to relieve muscular, neurological and arthritic problems, cure disease and relieve pain (as in surgery). Alternative related techniques include the use of low voltage electric current (electro acupuncture), or pinpoint massage (acupressure) to those key body points.


Series of rhythmic exercises, set to music, used to stimulate the aerobic capacity of heart and lungs, burn fat, and improve endurance. These movements are fully supported by oxygen delivered to the working muscles by the blood circulation. Examples of aerobic activity include walking, ballroom dancing, and steady, slow jogging. In contrast to aerobic activity, anaerobic exercise involves muscular work that is not fully supported by the oxygen available from the circulating blood. Activities like weight lifting, bodybuilding, and sprinting (100-yard dash) have a large anaerobic component. (See also Low-impact aerobics).


Similar to visualization, this technique is used to overcome physical ailments (e.g. backaches) and emotional problems (e.g., family or professional problems) through repetition of a positive statement. For example, a person who is afraid of flying would repeat, “I like to fly” and envision a pleasant flying experience.

Alexander Technique

Most people stand and move in imbalanced ways that result in a multitude of physical problems, such as backaches. The Alexander Technique is a massage system created in the 1890s by the Australian actor F. M. Alexander to correct those physical habits that cause stress. This technique teaches how to move with greater ease and coordination by focusing on correct posture, the right way to lift objects, the proper position of feet when standing, the angle of one’s shoulders and so forth.


Seaweed bath. See Thalassotherapy.

Alternative Therapies

Treatments based on speculative or abstract reasoning. Such treatments include: Acupuncture, Aromatherapy, Ayurveda Treatment, Cathiodermie, Colonic, Cranio-sacral Therapy, Electro Therapy, Energy Balancing, Fango, Flotation, Gerovital, Gommages, Homeopathy, Light Treatment, Lymph Drainage, Mud Therapies, Music Therapy, Panchakarma, Phytotherapy, Primordial Sound, Reiki, Spinal Release Therapy and Ultrasound.


Involves exercise and muscular work that is not fully supported by blood circulation and delivery of oxygen to the working muscles. Weight lifting and bodybuilding are examples of anaerobic exercise. The opposite of aerobic exercise.

Applied Kinesiology

The study of muscles, especially the mechanics of human motion.

Aqua Aerobics (Aquaerobics)

Aerobics workouts performed in a swimming pool. Water resistance is utilized to stretch, strengthen and increase stamina. This activity is also commonly known as aquacize.

Aquacise (Aquacize)

Aerobics workouts performed in a swimming pool. Water resistance is utilized to stretch, strengthen and increase stamina. This activity is also commonly known as aqua aerobics.


An ancient healing art dating back to 4500 B. C., Aromatherapy usually refers to treatments such as massage, facials, body wraps or hydro baths with the application of essential oils from plants, leaves, bark, roots, seeds, resins and flowers. These oils are used to treat emotional disorders, organ dysfunction, and skin problems through a variety of internal and external application techniques. Plants and flowers from which these oils are extracted include rosemary, lavender, roses, chamomile, eucalyptus and pine.


Yoga postures.

Aslan Therapy (Aslavital)

The use of either Gerovital H3 or Aslavital drugs, both developed by Dr. Ana Aslan of Romania. Both are used for their regenerative effect in fighting the aging process.

Athletic Massage

A very deep penetrating massage that concentrates on all muscle groups, but is particularly focused on muscles primarily used in a person’s chosen sports activities. See Sports Massage.

Attitudinal Healing

A concept based on the belief that it is possible to choose peace rather than conflict, love rather than fear.


To bring the whole person into harmony.


An ancient system of traditional folk medicine from India that employs a large variety of techniques to restore the organism to perfect balance. These techniques incorporate nutrition, herbal medicine, aromatherapy, massage and meditation.

Bach Flower Cures

The use of flowers as a means of healing.


A generic term for mineral water treatments, balneotherapy is the traditional practice of treatments by waters, using hot springs, mineral, or sea waters to restore and revitalize the body. Since antiquity, balneotherapy has been used to improve circulation, fortify the immune system, as an analgesic (pain reliever) and as an anti-stress treatment.

Baths (Foot, Arm, Sitz, Full, Half, Partial)

The act of soaking or cleansing the body, as in water or steam. The water used for cleansing the body. A building equipped for bathing. A resort providing therapeutic baths; a spa.

Behavior Modification

Change in personal habits (e.g., bad eating patterns, smoking and other substance abuse) brought about through counseling and psychological conditioning that includes careful repetition of the desired behaviors. Most spas incorporate behavior modification into their weight loss program. Rather than prescribing a special diet, the behavior modification approach teaches people how to change lifelong eating habits so they can still enjoy all types of food, within reason.

Behavioral Medicine

The application of behavior therapy techniques, such as biofeedback, relaxation training, and hypnosis, to the prevention and treatment of medical and psychosomatic disorders and to the treatment of undesirable behaviors, such as overeating and substance abuse.


Bodywork combining exfoliation, herbal treatment, and light massage.


A technique by which one can learn conscious control of biological processes by means of monitoring one’s physical responses. This is usually accomplished by placing an electronic sensing device on the skin to measure changes in skin surface temperature and chemistry that, in turn, reflect internal physical changes. Through this method one can learn to control physical functions formerly thought to be involuntary, such as blood pressure, pulse rate, digestion and deep muscle tension. Many people who suffer from headaches, chronic pains and migraines can use this feedback technique to reduce their dependency on drugs.

Body & Beauty Treatments

Various treatments provided by day and destination spas to enhance beauty and overall well-being. Beauty and cosmetic treatments include: beauty salon, facials, image consultation, makeovers, manicure/pedicure, and waxing. Body treatments include massage, cellulite treatments, herbal wrap, salt glow and seaweed wrap and various forms of hydrotherapy, including steam and saunas.

Body Alignment

Developed from the system of Rolfing and includes an in-depth structural analysis and strengthening and flexibility exercise program.

Body Composition (Test)

Method of measuring the ratio of body fat against lean muscle mass. Using standard weight charts; a computerized system compares personal data with standard percentages to determine whether an individual is overweight. This test (usually part of an overall fitness analysis) determines the percentage of body fat by using a skin-fold caliper (measuring instrument) that gently pinches the skin below the underarm. Used to develop a realistic weight loss goal and create a nutrition and exercise program suited to individual requirements.

Body Contour

Body contour exercises work on specific parts of the body, such as the abdomen, buttocks, hips and thighs to promote toning, increased flexibility and mobility.

Body Image

An individual’s perception of his or her own body in such terms as size, shape, thinness, fatness, and degree of attractiveness.

Body Mass Index

A measure of body weight adjusted for height.

Body Scrub (also see Exfoliation)

Body Scrubs/Skin Care, which include Brush & Tone, Dulse scrub, loofah scrub, paraffin treatment, repaichage and Vichy shower.

Body Sugaring

Hair-removal process said to date from the time of Cleopatra.

Body Tuning

Stretching and muscle firming exercises.

Body Work – Domain IV

This refers to all forms of therapeutic touch such as massage that retrain the body’s posture and movements for optimal functioning.

Body Wrap

Strips of cloth soaked in herbal teas and cocooned around the body. Also called herbal wrap.

Breema Bodywork

Originated in the mountains of Kurdistan. Practitioners of this method view the body as an energy system, although its meridians are not the same as those identified in the healing arts of China. Breema practitioners regard the body as a self-healing organism. Breema work is designed to create or recreate the natural balance and harmony that governs our mental, emotional and physical energies. The larger aim of Breema is to teach through experience the possibility of living with the full participation of body, mind and feelings.

Brine (Salt Water) Baths

Water saturated with or containing large amounts of a salt, especially of sodium chloride. The water of a sea or an ocean.


A fine body polish done with a series of brushes and salicylic salt. Used to create a fine texture of the skin’s surface.

Brush and Tone

Dry brushing of the skin, intended to remove dead layers and impurities while stimulating circulation. This is one of many exfoliation techniques used as a pre-treatment for mud and seaweed body masks. The body is brushed in invigorating, circular motions to remove dead skin, followed by the application of moisturizing lotion that leaves the skin silky smooth, alive, and glowing.


A device to measure skin fold, determining the percent of fat in the body.

Cardiovascular Endurance Testing

Cardiovascular endurance is the ability of the heart (muscles) and blood vessels to meet the demands of physical exertion. Fitness is relative; one must always ask “Fit for what?’ Someone who is fit to play tennis may not be fit for cross-country skiing or mountain climbing. Thus, different levels of fitness are achieved by different kinds of physical training. Cardiovascular fitness can be determined with considerable precision in the laboratory by the use of one or more tests of “maximal aerobic power.” Maximal aerobic power (Vo2max) is the highest oxygen uptake a given individual can achieve while performing a standardized exercise, like running on a motorized treadmill. The degree of testing and training varies widely from spa to spa. The maximum stress test with electrocardiogram evaluation is performed on a treadmill to detect the possible presence of heart disease, determine the heart’s capacity to pump and help provide guidelines for an exercise program. Sometimes body composition and vital capacity also are tested. Training and testing equipment includes Lifecycles, rowing ergometers, Versa Climbers, Stair Masters, stationary bikes, Nordic trainer and Quinton treadmills.


A rejuvenating treatment for the skin using electric stimulation in a low voltage dose. An electric machine is employed, using both galvanic and high-frequency currents that are claimed to deep cleanse and revitalize your skin and oxygenate its outer tissue layer.

Cellular Therapy

Injections with concentrated live tissue, derived from fetal lamb. Used to reverse the aging process. This treatment is not approved by the FDA and is not available in the US. Also known as live cell therapy or fresh cell therapy, treatment includes injection by an intromuscular route of fresh embryonic animal cells, typically from sheep or cows, suspended in a physiological serum, or frozen, freeze-dried (lyophilized) cells from ampoules. Used for total body revitalization, to maintain or return the body to its state of healthy equilibrium and prevent premature aging. Developed in the early 1930s by Paul Niehan MD, a Swiss physician, it became popular with wealthy individuals and celebrities as a means of reversing the aging process. Wolfram Kuhnau MD, a colleague of Neihans, introduced the treatment in Tijuana, Mexico in the late 1970s as a cancer treatment. It is claimed to help build the immune system. In 1985 the FDA banned importation into the USA of all cellular powders and extracts intended for injection. In 1987 the Health Office of Germany suspended the product licenses of live-cell preparations.


A nonscientific term used to describe peddly or uneven surface of the skin of the hips, thighs, or buttocks of women. Caused by the sagging or breaking down of the quilt-like strands of collagen which attach the skin to underlying structures and is associated with increased deposits of fat in those areas.


A formal act or set of acts as prescribed by ritual, custom or etiquette. Comes from the Latin word meaning sacredness.


Refers to the seven energy centers on your body. Taken from the Sanskrit word meaning, “wheel.”


The study of biological rhythms.

Circuit (Weight Work) Training

The blending of aerobics and high-energy workout with weight resistance equipment such as that produced by Nautilus, Klesser, or Universal. On a circuit, you put yourself through a series of training stations, stopping only briefly before each exercise to keep your heart rate within an acceptable range throughout the circuit.

Cognitive Training

In weight control programs, the replacing of negative or defeatist thinking with positive attitudes to help those trying to lose weight to stick to their program.

Cold Plunge

Deep pool for the rapid contraction of the capillaries, intended to stimulate circulation after sauna.


The main organic constituent in animal connective tissue, produced in gelatin form by boiling. An important ingredient in many natural cosmetics.

Colonic Irrigation

An intense water irrigation (enema) of the entire colon, intended to cleanse out trapped impurities, preventing the recycling of toxins into the blood stream.

Color Analysis

Think you look good in blue? A color analysis may prove otherwise. Each season of the year represents a group of colors that are flattering to certain skin tones. To determine whether you’re a spring, summer, fall or winter color type, swatches of fabric from each season are held next to your face. The analysis, based on the colors that are most becoming to you, then gives you guidelines for choosing wardrobe and makeup colors.

Color Healing

Based on the law of attraction wherein the vibration of the color attracts a similar vibration in the human body. Dates back to ancient Egypt and other pre-modern societies.


Physical training for deep toning of specific muscle groups.

Cool-Down Exercises

Movements at the conclusion of your exercise session to give your body a chance to ease out of the routine while your pulse rate returns to normal.

Cranio-Sacral Therapy

Gentle massage centering on the head.

Creative Movement

This includes dance, aerobic and stretch exercises designed to improve your coordination and mobility.

Creative Visualization

An effective process of creating what we want in our lives. The art of using mental energy to transform and greatly improve health, beauty, prosperity, loving relationships, and the fulfillment of all one’s desires. This relaxation technique is similar to hypnosis except you remain conscious. It is usually done with a group of people lying in a quiet, dark room. In a soft, even-toned voice, an instructor asks the group to imagine themselves in a serene, relaxing environment, such as a beautiful sand beach or peaceful meadow. By describing things like the color of the sky or the smell or wildflowers, the instructor creates a soothing fantasy environment. About half of the group falls asleep; the other half goes into a state of deep relaxation. Visualization is also used to treat phobias by having people imagine successfully doing whatever it is they fear.

Crenotherapy (Crounotherapy)

All types of treatment carried out with mineral water, mud and vapor.


Alternating high-stress and low-stress exercise or sports to enhance physical and mental conditioning.


A therapy using a “wand” of frozen products which produce a vasoconstricting effect on skin tissue and muscle mass thereby creating a “lifting” of the areas to be treated.

Crystal Healing

Healing energy believed to be generated by quartz and other minerals. Crystals are known to have electromagnetic energy, as does the human body. When a natural quartz crystal is brought into contact with a person’s etheric body, the electromagnetic attraction is capable of drawing imbalanced energy out of the human body.


Patented equipment for isokinetic strength evaluating and testing.

Dance Therapy

Combining self-knowledge and personal analysis with studies in psychotherapy, dance has been rediscovered as a healing art.

Dancercise (Dancersize)

Aerobic workout using steps and patterns of movement derived from modern dance.

David System

Pneumatic weight training units in which air is pumped. See Circuit training.

Dead Sea Mud Treatment

Applications of mineral-rich mud from the Dead Sea in Israel. Used to detoxify skin and body; also used to ease painful symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis.

Deep (Tissue) Muscle Massage

This massage technique separates muscle groups and loosens fascia (a thin layer of connective tissue covering and supporting or connecting the muscles or inner organs of the body) so as to bring about the realignment of the body and freedom of movement. Sometimes called deep tissue massage, this massage is a deep, sometimes painful kneading of the muscles. The best-known types of deep muscle massage include Rolfing, Reichian, Heller and Benjamin. It’s not for everyone as some people find deep muscle massage very uncomfortable and not the least bit relaxing. Its proponents, however, claim that the massage has ample benefits (e.g. improved posture and relief of chronic tensions).

Deep-Cleansing Facial

Use of sophisticated machines or manual techniques to open pores, extract blackheads by hand, purify skin, close pores, and revitalize skin.

Depilatory Waxing

See waxing.

Dermatology (Skin Care)

A branch of science dealing with the skin, its structure, functions, and diseases.

Destination Spa

A destination spa is a facility with the primary purpose of guiding individual spa-goers to develop healthy habits. Historically a seven-day stay, this lifestyle transformation can be accomplished by providing a comprehensive program that includes spa services, physical fitness activities, wellness education, healthful cuisine and special interest programming.


Cleansing the body of accumulated poisons often from over-taxation due to addictive habits.

Dietary Fiber

A number of chemically different components of plant cell walls and cell contents that are not broken down by the digestive enzymes in the human gastrointestinal tract. Some types of fiber help move food more rapidly through the body, aid in bowel regularity, and promote a healthy digestive tract. Certain types of fiber can also effect a modest lowering of blood cholesterol levels. Fibers are found in a wide range of foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, cereals, nuts, seeds and legumes (dried beans and peas). Only foods from plant sources contain fiber.


The study of the kinds and types of food needed for health.


A person qualified in or expert at practicing dietetics.


A medicine that promotes the loss of salt, water, and other constituents from the body via the urine. Diuretics are used in the treatment of high blood pressure and certain types of edema.

Dulse Scrub

A vigorous scrubbing of the entire body with a mixture of powdered dulse seaweed and oil or water to remove dead skin and provide a mineral and vitamin treatment to the skin. This is a gentle treatment for sensitive skin, which leaves the skin incredibly smooth.

Eastern Medicine

A holistic perspective on health and illness, which sees the relationship of a symptom to the person as a whole, physiologically and psychologically.


Swelling of a part or parts of the body (for example, the feet or ankles) due to abnormal retention of water in certain body tissues.


Use of an electrical pencil-like instrument that is placed on the same body points used in acupuncture, generating current through the tip of the wand without penetration of the skin. It is highly sensitive to body heat and thus can immediately pick up trouble spots.

Electrotherapy / Diathermy (Electro-Impulse)

Treatments using the stimulating properties of a low voltage electric current. Used to reaffirm muscle, eliminate cellulite and help in weight loss treatments. Electrotherapy is the generic term for the treatment of disease by means of electricity (e.g. nemectron, galvanionization, ultrashort waves, infrared rays, ultraviolet rays, illumination – partial and total baths, diadynamic currents, and ultrasound). Diathermy refers to the generation of heat in tissue by electric currents for medical or surgical purposes.

Emotional Cleansing

Healing and health of the emotional body.

Energy Balancing

A general term for techniques, which channel and stimulate energy in the body.

Ergometer (Training)

Exercise machine designed for muscular contraction. Includes a built-in digital timer and workload indicator to enable you to measure your performance in a given time. These instruments can help you avoid overexertion at the start, and measure your improvements on a continuing basis.

Esalen Massage

Developed and refined over the last 20 years by the Esalen Institute in California, this massage combines Swedish and sensory relaxation massage techniques. This soothing and comforting massage utilizes long, full handed strokes, maintaining a sense of presence with another being throughout the massage, allowing full contact through hand touch. It is both energetic and relaxing because it releases muscle tensions and opens and harmonizes the whole body.

Essential Oils

Aromatic liquid substances which are extracted from certain species of flowers, grasses, fruits, leaves, roots and trees which are used in the medicinal, food and cosmetic industries. The positive effect of essential oils on blood circulation is due to bringing oxygen and nutrients to the tissues while assisting in the disposal of carbon dioxide and other waste products produced by cell metabolism.

Exercise Weights

Small weights gripped in your hand, strapped or Velcroed to your wrist, or worn across your chest while working out to add to the impact of exercise routines, build upper body muscles, and intensify workouts.


Skin treatment where the upper layer of dead skin cells is sloughed off. A variety of techniques can be used and the treatment is called accordingly: loofah rub, salt scrub, body glow, brush and tone, etc.


There are many types of facials. A standard facial usually includes massaging the face, cleansing, toning, steaming, exfoliating and moisturizing. Other types of facials, mask and skin treatments are available at most spas. They include a European facial (similar to a standard facial except the products are European); a peeling mask designed to lift dead skin and encourage new skin growth; a paraffin mask, which helps increase circulation and rehydrate the skin; and a deep cleansing facial which purifies and revitalizes the skin.

Fango Treatment (Therapy) (Fango Bath)

The Italian word for mud. Used in treatments, a highly mineralized mud may be mixed with oil or water and applied over the body as a heat pack to detoxify, stimulate the circulation and relieve muscular and arthritic pain. Sometimes only an area such as a shoulder is covered. Otherwise the whole body is dipped or covered. “Parafango” is similar, using mud mixed with paraffin. This treatment relaxes the body, alleviates sore muscles, and softens the skin. Radioactivity is present in the mud at several spas. Pregnant women and women in their reproductive years should not risk possible genetic mutation by avoidable exposure to radioactivity. Fango creates an all-encompassing, gooey warmth and works like a poultice, softening the skin. Natural ingredients, such as peat moss and sea kelp, often are mixed into the mud to help contain the warmth and increase mineral content.

Fast (Fasting)

To abstain from certain, or all, food and certain drink, except water, for a period of time for the purpose of physical detoxification and rejuvenation. A supplemented fast, or very low-calorie diet, consists of small amounts of regular foods and extra vitamins and minerals, or of a liquid “formula” diet which is nutritionally adequate except for its content of calories. A protein-sparing modified fast (PSMF), another term for a very low- calorie diet, is usually limited to lean meats, poultry, and fish (supplemented with vitamins and minerals), which in aggregate provides 600 to 800 calories a day.

Feldenkrais (Method)

System of bodywork developed by Moshe Feldenkrais that attempts to reprogram the nervous system through movement augmented by physical pressure and manipulation.

Finnish Sauna

A simple form of traditional bathing aimed at cleansing the body through perspiration. A pile of stones covering a stove is heated by wood, preferably birch, spruce or pine until it turns red hot. Water is then thrown over the heated stones to generate steam; leafy birch twigs are used to stimulate the circulation by beating the body.

Fitness & Conditioning (Evaluation)

A test for aerobic capacity, flexibility, and strength administered under the direction of an exercise specialist. Results enable a spa to design an individualized program, based on personal goals, abilities and lifestyle.


Sometime called stretch and tone or stretch and flex, these gentle stretching exercises increase flexibility. A popular early morning activity, flexercise helps you wake up and prepare yourself for more rigorous exercise later on.

Flotation (Isolation) Tank

A little larger than a twin-size bed, filled with 10 to 12 inches of water, this enclosed tank, containing warm water and Epsom salts, allows you to float comfortably in a totally dark, silent environment. This can be a serene, deeply relaxing experience for some, but claustrophobic for others. It creates a sensation that has been likened to returning to the womb.

Free Weights

Hand-held dumbbells or barbells whose use allows isolation and toning of selected muscle groups.

Hakomi Therapy (Hakomi Integrative Somatics)

A unique approach to personal growth wherein the body is used as a source of information about the unconscious mind, serving as a vehicle to contact those key memories and basic emotional attitudes which determine the overall quality of our daily experience.

Hand and Foot Treatment

This often includes a standard manicure and pedicure, followed by a seaweed or paraffin mask to soften and smooth the skin.

Haysack Wrap

Kneipp treatment with steamed hay intended to detoxify the body.


Named after its founder, Joseph Heller, Hellerwork is a series of eleven 90-minute sessions of deep tissue bodywork and movement designed to realign the body and release chronic tension and stress. Verbal dialogue is used to assist the client in becoming aware of emotional stress that may be related to physical tension. It is regarded as preventive rather than curative and reflects a holistic approach to health. Hellerwork is designed to produce permanent change.

Herbal Wrap (Hot & Cold)

The body is wrapped in warm linen or cotton sheets, which have been steeped like tea bags in a variety of aromatic herbs, then covered with blankets or towels, preventing the moist heat from escaping. Additionally, a cool compress is applied to the forehead. Herbal wraps help relax the muscles, soothe soreness and soften skin. However, some people find the heat oppressive and the cocoon effect of the wet sheets and blankets smothering. To avoid feeling claustrophobic, the arms may remain outside of the wrap. See also aroma bath and herbal bath.

Herbology (Herbalism)

The study and use of herbs for healing purposes and diet. Herbs are prepared for internal and external use in a variety of ways including teas, tinctures, extracts, oils, ointments, compresses, and poultices.

Holistic Health

Also known as wholistic (from whole), this is a non-medical approach to the healing and health of the whole person that looks to combine physical and mental well being. This philosophy of health views the environmental, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of life as intricately interwoven, and seeks to create balance by attending to all. When one aspect is out of sync, the others are affected. For instance, even regular exercise and nutritionally balanced meals don’t make up for a mentally troubled state. To induce relaxation, holistic-oriented spas often teach ancient Eastern systems such as T’ai Chi and yoga, as well as Western systems such as biofeedback.

Holistic Nutrition

A nutritional philosophy based on the concept that food is a natural medicine and that the body only needs whole foods to remain healthy.

Holistic Spa

Spas focusing on alternative healing methods and nutrition, mainly vegetarian or macrobiotic. Holistic healing seeks a “high level of wellness”, integrating body and mind in a higher consciousness.


A form of medicine based on the principle that “like cures like”. Patients are treated with natural substances in minute quantities, which cause symptoms much like those manifested, by the disease. In this way, the body’s own vital force is stimulated to cure itself.

Hot Plunge

Deep pool for the rapid expansion of the capillaries.

Hot Spring

A place in the earth’s surface, often volcanic, where hot mineral waters rise to the surface.

Hot Tub

A soaking pool made of wood or other materials.


The internal and external use of water to treat disease.

Hydrostatic Weighing

Underwater weight test.


Long a staple in European spas, this is the generic term for water therapies using jets, underwater massage and mineral baths (e.g. Balneotherapy, Iodine-Grine Therapy, Kneipp Treatments, Scotch Hose, Swiss Shower, Thalassotherapy, and others. It also can mean a whirlpool bath, hot Roman pool, hot tub, Jacuzzi, cold plunge and mineral bath. These treatments use physical water properties, such as temperature and pressure, for therapeutic purposes, to stimulate blood circulation, dispel toxins and treat certain diseases.


Underwater massage in a deep tub equipped with high-pressure jets and hand-manipulated hose. See also hydromassage.

Ideal Weight

Strictly speaking, this confusing expression refers to the tables of “ideal weights” published by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1942-43. In 1959, Metropolitan Life replaced the ideal-weight tables with new “desirable- weight” tables. In 1983, the desirable weight tables were, in turn, replaced by “The 1983 Metropolitan Life Tables” based on more recent mortality statistics. Although “ideal weight” is an outdated term, it continues to be used (improperly) to refer to the desirable weights for height determined by Metropolitan Life in 1959 or associated with the greatest longevity in the 1983 tables.


A biological therapy for revitalization and improvement of the immune system, this therapy consists of cell therapy, enzymes, placenta and/or vitamins. Some trade names are Omnigen and Transvital.

Infrared Treatment

A heat treatment to aid in muscular relaxation and increase blood circulation.

Inhalation Therapy

A wood-paneled room filled with hot vapors and/or steam from sea water, mineral water, or thermal water, sometimes augmented with pine eucalyptus and other oils for relieving respiratory congestion and enjoying the pleasures of aromatherapy. Hot vapors, or steam combined with eucalyptus oil, for treatment of respiratory, pulmonary and sinus problems are breathed through inhalation equipment or in a specific steam room. In Europe, this sometimes refers to breathing vapors piped from below ground for varying treatments.

Interval Training

A series of high-energy exercises succeeded by a period of low-intensity activity. A combination of high-energy exercise followed by a period of low-intensity activity.

Isokinetic Exercise

Resistance balances effort applied against a device.

Isometrics (Exercise)

Pushing against a stable object to tone muscles. Movements in which opposing muscles are so contracted that there is little shortening of the muscles but a great increase in the tension of the muscles involved. For example, attempting to lift a weight that is too heavy to move will result in increasing the tension of certain muscles without muscle shortening. See also isotonic exercise.

Isotonic Exercise

Movements that involve muscle contraction with shortening. Exercises like tennis, running, and golf are isotonic. See also isometric exercise.

Iyengar Yoga

Exercise system developed in India by B.K.S. Iyengar.

Japanese Enzyme Bath

A three-part treatment lasting about an hour. First you are served hot enzyme tea, and then you submerge in a large wooden tub filled with fragrant blends of cedar fibers and plant enzymes imported from Japan. The enzyme bath stimulates circulation and metabolism.

Jin Shin Do®

A form of energy-balancing massage.

Jinn Shin Jyutsu®

A form of energy-balancing massage.

Jungian Therapy

Therapy based on the work of Carl G. Jung. Focuses on the realization of personality and our search for meaning through the use of dreams, symbols, journals, and Jung’s particular theory of basic human archetypes to explore the unconscious.

Keiser Cam II

A patented system of pneumatic weight training units. Keiser Cam III is the new version.


The accumulation in the body of ketone bodies, generally associated with a low carbohydrate intake and commonly observed in cases of starvation, prolonged ingestion of low-calorie, low-carbohydrate diets, and poorly controlled insulin-dependent (Type I) diabetes.


Diagnosis and treatment of a disease through muscle testing. Virtually any diseased area of the body will have a structural manifestation, a specific “body language,” represented by specific muscle weakness patterns. This system restores the structural, mental and chemical balance of the body through the strengthening of weak muscles, stimulation of meridian points and diet.


Physically active or passive movement of various areas of the body. Known more generally as physiotherapy.

Kirlian Photography

A special photographic technique that shows the energy field around the body, typically the hands.

Kneipp Baths (Therapy / Treatments)

Treatments combining hydrotherapy, herbology, and a diet of natural foods, developed in Germany in the mid-1800s by Pastor Sebastian Kneipp. Includes the use of herbal bath oils, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, meadow blossom, spruce, pine, juniper, chamomile, and hops to comfort body and mind as a component of treatment. See Kneipp Kur System.

Kneipp Kur System

Treatments combining hydrotherapy, herbology, and a diet of natural foods, developed in Germany in the mid-1800s by Pastor Sebastian Kneipp. Includes the use of herbal bath oils, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, meadow blossom, spruce, pine, juniper, chamomile, and hops to comfort body and mind as a component of treatment. These highly regarded European therapies are particularly popular in Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Kneipp combined the practice of physical exercise with health diet and hydrotherapy to achieve physical and emotional well being.


Among the most direct approaches to healing. A “body therapy” for removing energy blockages, balancing, and improving one’s healing journey through life.


A computer-programmed exercise bicycle made by Bally.


A computer-programmed exercise machine that simulates rowing, made by Bally.


A general term for fats and fat-like substances. Lipids include fats, cholesterol, lecithins, phosopholipids, and similar substances, which are generally insoluble in water.


A cosmetic surgical procedure that sucks excess fatty tissue out of various areas of the body.

Liquid Balancing

Floating in body temperature saltwater alone or balanced by a physical therapist.

Liquid Sound®

Light and music under and above the water for relaxation and vitalization.


Hawaiian rhythmical, rocking massage.


A natural plant, like a dried sponge, used to slough off dead skin, especially after a sauna or steam bath. Once dried, this natural plant looks like a mutant piece of shredded wheat, but it doesn’t feel scratchy.

Loofah Body Scrub

Full body massage with loofah sponge and a mixture of sea salt, warm almond or avocado oil for exfoliation of skin and renewed circulation. Includes a deep but soft massage of skin and subcutaneous tissues of specific body sites located around lymph nodes.

Low-Impact Aerobics

A dance-like exercise where side-to-side marching or gliding movements replace the jumping, hopping, jogging movements of conventional aerobic exercise without subjecting your body to excessive stress. One foot is almost always kept on the floor, and the body is kept closer to the floor than in conventional aerobics, using the body’s pressure against the floor to create resistance and condition muscles. Most spas offer low-impact aerobics, as they are easier and safer to do than high-impact aerobics, which involves a lot of jumping, skipping, hopping and jogging. Some spas offer high-impact aerobics, but usually only to advanced students.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage

A therapeutic massage using a gentle pumping technique to drain away pockets of water retention and trapped toxins. Considered by many European cure doctors as a premier anti-aging treatment. Lymph drainage can be achieved through manual massage, hydro massage, or with aromatherapy massage. Sometimes called lymphatic drainage massage, it requires serious knowledge of the location of the lymph nodes. Be sure the masseuse or masseur knows what she/he is doing. Sometimes done on the face and neck, other times the entire body, lymph massage helps stimulate lymphatic circulation, which boosts the body’s ability to eliminate wastes and absorb nutrients. It can also reduce swollen or puffy tissue and tone underlying tissue. Normally, lymph is drained by changes in the body’s position and by the pumping action of nearby muscles. In otherwise healthy people who are physically very inactive and whose muscle tone is greatly diminished, excess fluid may accumulate in the lowest parts of the body such as the feet, ankles, or the small of the back. Large accumulations of fat under the skin can also cause mechanical interference with lymphatic drainage, resulting in edema. Increasing physical activity, muscle strengthening exercises, and when appropriate, calorie restriction to reduce the size of the fat deposit, best treat impaired lymphatic drainage in sedentary but otherwise healthy persons. Massage of the involved areas may provide temporary relief.

Macrobiotic Shiatsu

The theory or practice of promoting well-being and longevity, principally by means of a diet consisting chiefly of whole grains and beans.


An extremely restricted vegetarian diet, low in fat and high in antioxidant vitamins. This Eastern philosophy is perhaps best known in the West through its dietary principles. The macrobiotic diet offers a way to achieve a fuller sense of balance both within ourselves and with the world around us by synchronizing our eating habits with the cycles of nature.

Magnetotherapy (Impulse Magnetic Field)

Following an acupuncture treatment, a small magnet is taped over the treatment point and left for a period of approximately one week. This provides for a continuous treatment and is thus more effective.


Sanskrit word literally meaning, “circle” or “center.” A mandala consists of a series of concentric forms, suggestive of a passage between different dimensions. Through the mandala, man and woman may be projected into the universe and the universe into man and woman.


A cosmetic treatment of the fingernails, including shaping and polishing.


A form of energy-balancing massage.

Martial Arts (Karate, Tai Chi)

Any of several arts of combat and self-defense (as karate and judo) that are widely practiced as sport.

Massage (Therapy)

Manipulation of skin, muscle and joints (usually by hand) to relax muscle spasms, relieve tension, improve circulation and hasten elimination of wastes. It also stretches connective tissue and improves circulation. A wonderful antidote to stress and muscle tension, massage does not rub away weight, but will rub away fatigue, inducing relaxation. Various forms of massage include: Acupressure, Athletic Massage, Polarity Massage, Reflexology, Rolfing, Shiatsu, Sports Massage, Swedish Massage, Traeger Massage, Watsu.


A thermal mask applied to the lower body combined with massage to break up cellulite.

Medical Spa

A facility that operates under the full-time, on-site supervision of a licensed health care professional whose primary purpose is to provide comprehensive medical and wellness care in an environment that integrates spa services, as well as traditional, complimentary and/or alternative therapies and treatments. The facility operates within the scope of practice of its staff, which can include both Aesthetic/Cosmetic and Prevention/Wellness procedures and services.

Medicinal Water

Mineral water, which has curative effects confirmed by medical observation and experiments. Medicinal waters can be cold or hot, but their curative effect and composition is essential. Most medicinal waters are thermal waters.


A state of focused attention through which one emerges into an ever increasing clear awareness of reality. Many forms of meditation are practiced. The deep relaxation of meditation heals the body, quiets the mind, and stimulates creativity and efficiency, thereby providing a sense of inner balance and peace. Often used as part of a stress reduction program, meditation is usually done in a peaceful setting outdoors or in a quiet room, away from distracting sounds and sights. As meditators assume a comfortable sitting position, an instructor tells them to concentrate on breathing in a slow, rhythmic motion, imaging the release of tension as they exhale. Often a simple word (or mantra) is repeated with each breath. The general purpose is to relax the body and quiet the ongoing chatter of the conscious mind. Practice is required to meditate effectively, but the physical benefits are well worth it. Meditation decreases the heart rate, oxygen consumption, blood pressure, blood lactate levels, muscle tension and metabolic rate. It increases alpha brain waves, alertness, awareness, creativity and psychological well being.


All the biochemical activities occurring in living organisms, which, in aggregate, sustain life and support function. The chemical and physical processes continuously going on in living organism and cells, comprising those by which assimilated food is built up (anabolism) into protoplasm and those by which protoplasm is used and broken down (catabolism) into simpler substances or waste matter, resulting in the release of energy for all vital processes.

Mind / Body (Connection)

Category of activities based on speculative or abstract reasoning. These include: Reflection: Breathing exercises, gardening, meditation, nature walks, relaxation classes, stretching techniques, Tai Chi and yoga. Creative Activities: Arts and crafts, music, painting, poetry and writing. Workshops: Astrology, emotional health, lifestyle interview, relationships and couples, smoking addiction and stress-management.

Mineral Springs Spa

A spa offering an on-site source of natural mineral, thermal or seawater used in hydrotherapy treatments.

Mineral Water Bath

Soaking in hot or cool water from thermal springs, which contains mineral salts, natural elements, and gases.

Mineral Waters

Water from springs and wells, which contain a minimum of 1,000 mgr./l solid components of rare, biologically active elements or compounds. Mineral waters can be cold or hot, but their mineral composition is essential.

Moor / Peat Baths

A natural, peat preparation (often imported from Austria), rich in organic matter, proteins, vitamins and trace minerals, applied to ease aches and pains. Can also be applied on a cloth as a pack.

Musculoskeletal Health Assessment

This often involves examining the range of motion, muscle strength, posture, gaits, flexibility and skeletal alignment in order to focus on problem areas that might require special exercises.


A system of treatment by manipulation of connective tissue and adjoining structures (as ligaments, joints, and muscles) and by dietary measures which are held to facilitate the recuperative and regenerative processes of the body.

Natural Health (Food)

The term is generally used to describe foods that have not been processed or refined and do not contain additives or other artificial ingredients. Often “organic” means that the food has been grown without the use of any imbalanced fertilizers or harmful sprays. “Natural” foods are not necessarily more nutritious or safer to eat than processed foods available in the supermarkets.


Natural medicine based on the healing power of nature. The term was coined in 1895 by Dr. John Scheel of New York to describe his methods of health care. Naturopaths believe that virtually all diseases are within the scope of their practice. Current methods include: fasting, “natural food” diets, vitamins, herbs, homeopathy, tissue minerals, cell salts, manipulation, massage, exercise, colonic enemas, acupuncture, “Chinese Medicine”, natural childbirth, minor surgery, and applications of water, heat, cold, air, sunlight and electricity. Radiation may be used for diagnosis but not for treatments.


Patented strength-training equipment intended to isolate one muscle group for each exercise motion, which shortens and lengthens against gravity.

Nordic Track

A patented cross-country ski machine design.

Nuat Thai®

A form of energy-balancing massage.

Nutrition Counseling

The review of an individual’s eating habits and dietary needs by a qualified practitioner.


Japanese natural mineral hot springs.

Ort Hion (Machine)

A 3-dimensional mechanical massage table used to align spine and neck. The entire body, even the head, is strapped to the table that then gently pulls, stretches, lifts and massages strategic points to help loosen and relax muscles. An attendant controls the duration and degree of movement from a control panel.

Ozonized Baths

A tub of thermal water or seawater with a system of jets that provide streams of ozonized bubbles, used for relaxation and stimulation of circulation and as an aid for the relief of minor aches and pains.


Succession of cleansing and purifying treatments from Ayurveda, using nutrition, herbs, massage and meditative techniques aimed to restore the body’s own ability to create health.


Lying in a fat metal tube, which resembles an iron lung, hot dry air circulates around your body (with the head outside the tube) and you work up quite a sweat. Gentle jets of warm soapy water then hit you from all directions. Panthermal is designed to break down cellulite. It is not recommended for people who get claustrophobic.


Combination of mud and paraffin wax. See “Fango” and “Paraffin Treatment”.

Paraffin Treatment (Bath)

Warm paraffin wax is brushed over the body. The liquid wax coats the skin and, as it solidifies, forms a vacuum that causes any dirt in the pores to be drawn out, removes dead skin, and induces a loss of body fluid in the form of perspiration. The deep heat created by this treatment helps to relieve stress and promote relaxation. Treatments leave the skin silky-smooth.

Parcourse / Parcours

A path or trail with exercise stations along the way provided with instructions and equipment for sit-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, and a variety of other “obstacles” that are fun and challenging and designed to increase balance, agility, flexibility and body awareness. Also called vita course and exercourse and written as two words, par cours(e).


Therapy that uses heat, light, electricity, mechanical means and movement.


Literally, healing treatment through plants, phytotherapy involves the use of herbs, aromatic essential oils, seaweed and herbal and floral extracts. Applied through massage, packs or wraps, water and steam therapies, inhalation treatments, homeotherapy and also includes the drinking of herbal teas.

Pilates (Method)

Strength training movements involving coordinated breathing techniques developed in Germany by Dr. Joseph Pilates during the 1920s.


Jumping and pushing steps to build up leg muscles. See also step aerobics.

Polarity Massage (Therapy)

Concept created by the Austrian born Dr. Randolph Stone in the early 1900s that is based on principles of energy and a philosophy derived from East Indian Ayurvedic teachings. Polarity therapy is designed to balance the body’s subtle or electromagnetic energy through touch, stretching exercises, diet and mental-emotional balanced attitude. A four-part program is involved that restores the body’s proper energy balance: clear thinking (positive mental attitude), bodywork (to alleviate energy blockages), body movement (stretching postures combining movement, breathing and sound), and diet (fresh vegetables, fruits and natural foods). As in other forms of bodywork, the practitioner of polarity therapy is viewed as a non-judgmental channel that the client can use to discover his or her own self-healing powers.

Power Yoga

Form of yoga with an accelerated succession of yoga body postures.

Primordial Sound

Meditative technique from Ayurveda, using sound to restore balance and harmony.

Pritikin Therapy

Strict program with a “military like” attitude toward health, especially the health of the heart. The Pritikin Program insists that one must cut all fat from the diet except for small amounts found in whole grains and vegetables. Use of any kind of animal or dairy products is limited. Use of carbohydrates such as sugar, syrup, molasses, and honey is forbidden, as are alcohol, salt, soda pop, coffee and black tea. According to the Pritikin Program you can eat unrefined, complex carbohydrate foods, whole grains, potatoes, vegetables and fruit. Avocados and soybeans are not allowed in the diet. This program does not allow for any vitamins or nutritional supplements and limits the daily fat intake to 10% fat.


A therapy based on the revitalization substance H7, a further development of H3 (Aslan therapy). This therapy normalizes and regulates metabolic processes and improves the oxygen supply to cells and tissue.


Involving both mind and body (e.g., the psychosomatic nature of man). Also refers to bodily symptoms caused by mental or emotional disturbance (e.g., psychosomatic illness).

Race Walking

This brisk, exaggerated, aerobic form of walking looks like exercise on a cartoon, but helps develop stomach, thigh and buttock muscle tone.


Rigorous, low-impact aerobics for advanced students that utilizes hand weights sticks and low benches.


Ancient Chinese technique using pressure point massage (usually on the feet, but also hands and ears) to restore the flow of energy throughout the body. Also known as zone therapy, a turn-of-the-century practice fostered by three American physicians (Bowers, White and Fitzgerald). In their view, energy travels from critical zones of the body and ends its journey in the feet. Charts are available showing which zones correspond to which internal organs. The theory is that when excessive granular texture is felt in the feet as pressure is applied, it indicates the presence of uric acid crystallization. By rubbing the crystals on the nerve endings in the soles, a reflex reaction is supposedly set up between the zone and its associated body part. Reflexology is one of the massage techniques a person can learn to self-administer. Reflexology is recommended for chronic conditions such as asthma, headaches and migraines. Applied as hand, foot or ear massage using pressure points similar to acupressure.


Meaning “universal life-force energy,” a scientific method of activating and balancing the life-force energy present in all living things. Techniques are applied to the entire body, channeling energy to organs and glands, and aligning the chakras (energy centers). Intended to relieve acute emotional and physical conditions. See also Radiance Technique.

Repaichage (Repechage) Massage / Facial

Treatment applied to face or full body, using a combination of herbal, seaweed, and clay or mud masks to create deep cleansing and moisturizing.

Resort Amenity

A variety of services offered by resort hotels. Some resorts have gone beyond the perfunctory salon services and hot tubs and today are offering elaborate, imaginative and highly professional spa services to their guests.

Resort / Hotel Spa

A spa within a resort or hotel providing professionally administered spa services, fitness and wellness components and spa cuisine menu choices.

Right / Left Brain Integration

The integration or balancing of the right, or “feminine,” side of the brain with the left, or “masculine,” side of the brain.


A technique developed by Ida Rolf of deep muscular manipulation and massage for the relief of rigid muscles, bones and joints. It is designed to improve energy flow and relieve stress most often related to emotional trauma. A complete Rolfing treatment consists of a series of ten sessions which progress from superficial to deeper layers of tissue and from localized areas of constriction to an overall reorganization of larger body segments. This method of intensive manipulation may sometimes be experienced as painful. See also Deep Tissue Massage.

Roman (Pool) Bath

The Romans cherished bathing above all other luxuries. Roman baths consisted of hot, warm and cold pools. Today the term usually refers to a hot whirlpool/Jacuzzi, with benches to sit on for one or more persons.

Rubber-Band Workouts

Giant rubber bands used for resistance techniques in calisthenics. Also called elastics.

Rubenfeld Synergy Method

A practice developed by Ilana Rubenfeld of merging body and mind through verbal expression and gentle touch.

Russian (Steam) Bath

A steam bath.

Salt Glow (Rub)

The body is rubbed with a vigorous, abrasive scrub, consisting of coarse salt usually mixed with essential oils and water. Cleanses pores and removes dead skin. It is usually followed by a gentle shower and body moisturizer.


A dry heat treatment (at less than 10% humidity) in a wood-lined room with temperatures of 160-210° Fahrenheit, designed to bring about sweating to cleanse the body of impurities. After a sauna, a cool to cold shower closes the pores and brings down body temperature. In the Finnish bath tradition, where this practice originated, even higher temperatures are sought as heat is generated by a stove containing a heap of stones (kiuas) over which water is thrown to produce vapor (loyly).

Scotch Hose / Swiss Shower (Douche Massage)

Standing body massage delivered by therapist with high-pressure hoses. This invigorating shower tones circulation by contracting then dilating capillaries as water from sixteen needle-spray shower heads and two high-pressure hoses (operated by an attendant), ranging in temperature from 45° F to 105° F, is turned quickly from hot to cold to hot for several seconds at a time. This massage aids circulation and helps relieve the pain of arthritis and rheumatism.

Seaweed (Body) Wrap

Similar to herbal wraps combined with heat packs, using sea water and seaweed with a balance of the ocean’s nutrients; minerals, rare trace elements, vitamins and proteins, which are soaked into the blood stream, to revitalize skin and body.

Shiatsu (Massage)

Means “finger” (shi) “pressure” (atsu), a cross between acupuncture and massage developed in Japan by Tokujiro Namikoshi in the 1940s. Like acupressure, Shiatsu works with vital points and energy meridians and uses finger-thumb-palm pressure. Unlike acupressure, Shiatsu also manipulates other parts of the body in the course of treatment. Intended to stimulate the body’s inner powers of balance and healing.

Siliceous Thermal (Hot Sand) Bath

Containing, resembling, relating to, or consisting of silica.

Sitz Bath

A bathtub shaped like a chair in which the hips and lower body are immersed in herbal hot water, followed by cold water, while soaking feet in water alternating from cold to hot to stimulate the immune system. Also a Kneipp treatment for constipation, hemorrhoids, prostate problems, menstrual problems, and digestive upsets.

Skin Glow Rub

Skin is softened with a sauna, then mineral water and sometimes salt are massaged into the skin, leaving it soft and glowing.

Skin Masque

A preparation usually applied to the face and neck to stimulate local circulation, tone, cleanse and tighten pores and remove dry skin. Ingredients are varied to accommodate specific needs of one’s skin type and condition.

Slenisuim Body Wrap

Body is covered in oils, wrapped and left to relax. Eliminates both toxins and fluids.

Spa Cuisine

Fresh, natural foods low in saturated fats and cholesterol, with an emphasis on whole grains, low-fat dairy products lean proteins, fresh fruit, fish, and vegetables and an avoidance of added salt and products containing sodium and artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives.


An aerobic form of exercise class using special stationary bicycles.

Sports Massage

Deep-tissue massage directed specifically at muscles used in athletic activities. This massage can be either preventive or corrective in approach. Because it is given to those whose body tone and condition is tied to performance, it can be as specific as working over of leg muscles (in a runner, for example), or kneading muscles to assure optimal flexibility appropriate to the sport the person is engaged in.

Sports Stretch

Stretching exercises to limber up and better prepare the body for rigorous athletics.

Sports / Adventure Spas

Hotel or resort providing therapeutic baths and body treatments and that offer special sports and outdoor adventure programs that include anything from golf to skiing, fly-fishing to marathon conditioning.

Steam Room

A ceramic-tiled room with wet heat generated by temperatures of 110-130° Fahrenheit designed to soften the skin, cleanse the pores, calm the nervous system and relieve tension.

Step Class (Step Aerobics)

Aerobic workout that incorporates rhythmic stepping on and off a small platform.

Structured Spa

Spas with a strict set of rules whose entire facility is geared towards the achievement of a particular goal such as weight loss, or fitness.

Sweat Lodge

An ancient Native American body purification ceremony involving the use of intense heat similar to that of a sauna and other methods to provoke visions and insights.

Swedish Massage

The most commonly offered and best known type of massage. Devised at the University of Stockholm in 1812 by Henri Peter Ling, this technique employs five different movements (long strokes; kneading of individual muscles; percussive, tapping movement; rolling of the fingers; and vibration) and oils beneficial to the skin. Used to improve the circulation, ease muscle aches and tension, improve flexibility and create relaxation. Swedish massage is done with the person covered by a sheet, where each part of the body to be worked on is exposed in turn and then re-covered. The massage practitioners use kneading, stroking, friction, tapping and even shaking motions. Oil is used to reduce or eliminate friction and to facilitate making long, smooth motions.

Swiss Shower

Standing body massage delivered by therapist with high-pressure hoses. This invigorating shower tones circulation by contracting, then dilating capillaries as water from sixteen needle-spray shower heads and two high-pressure hoses (operated by an attendant), ranging in temperature from 45° F to 105° F is turned quickly from hot to cold to hot for several seconds at a time. This massage aids circulation and helps relieve the pain of arthritis and rheumatism.

Tai Chi (Chuan)

A Chinese Taoist martial art form of “meditation in movement” which combines mental concentration coordinated breathing, and a series of slow, graceful body movements. While this ancient system looks like a slow-motion dance of graceful movements and deep, relaxed breathing, it is a mobile meditation, used for health, relaxation, self-defense and to induce energy. It’s widely practiced in the Orient by people of all ages.

Tantric Shiatsu

Any of a comparatively recent class of Hindu or Buddhist religious literature written in Sanskrit and concerned with mysticism and magic.


An ancient Greek therapy (thalasso is Greek for sea) these treatments use the therapeutic benefits of the sea, and sea water products for their vitamins, minerals and trace elements, which can heal and reinvigorate skin and hair. Various treatments include: Individual baths of fresh seawater equipped with powerful underwater jets for deep massage; or a therapist applies manual massage to body with hoses. Body wrap, similar to herbal wrap, but using seaweed or sea algae paste, to eliminate toxins, restore minerals and skin elasticity. As with most wraps, it usually involves seaweed paste rubbed on the body, which is then covered with sheets and sometimes blankets for 10 to 20 minutes. Use of seawater and sea air to treat a disease; living near the sea, bathing in the water and breathing sea air.

Therapeutic Touch

A form of laying on of the hands, which creates a balance by transmitting energy and releasing energy blockages. It is a method of drawing and channeling the healing forces within and around us.

Thermal (Herbal) Wrap

A procedure claimed to eliminate “toxins” from your body through perspiration and promote muscle relaxation in which your body is wrapped in hot, wet linen sheets infused with herbal essences, and then covered with a blanket or plastic sheet to retain the heat. A cool compress is applied to your forehead. If you are claustrophobic and do not want to be completely swaddled, you can ask that your arms and hands be left outside your Egyptian mummy-like wrapping.

Thermal (Tonalastil) Wrap

Body wrap using oils and a thermal covering to eliminate toxins and excess fluids; tones and firms.

Thermal Water

Water whose temperature is steadily higher than 35°C (95°F).


Heat treatment involving the use of various forms of heat for therapeutic purposes.

Traeger (Body Work) Massage

A technique developed by Hawaiian physician Dr. Milton Traeger that employs a gentle, rhythmic shaking of the body to release tension from the joints. The client lies on a padded table while the practitioner works on the body using gentle, rhythmic movements that do not involve any force, pressure or oils. Sessions are from one to one-and-a-half hours long. Structural and functional improvements occur spontaneously as a result of sensory repatterning in the mind, as the body is rhythmically moved by the practitioner, producing deep relaxation and release of mental and physical stresses. There is minimal verbal communication between client and practitioner. Critical to the accomplishment of the work, this state of mind permits the practitioner to connect deeply and sensitively with the client without experiencing fatigue. A series of sessions are recommended because the benefits appear to be cumulative.

Vegetarian Diet

A dietary regime of raw or cooked vegetables and fruit, grains, sprouts, and seeds; natural foods with no additives. A “vegetarian” does not eat any “meat,” that is, any animal product that results from the killing of that animal. They may eat by-products such as dairy, eggs and honey that are excluded from a “vegan” diet.

Vichy Shower (Therapy)

Invigorating shower treatment from several water jets of varying temperatures and pressures applied while lying on a waterproof cushioned mat. This treatment is often followed by exfoliating treatments such as Dulse scrub, loofah or salt-glow.


An ancient Hindu system of stretching and toning the body through movements or postures (asanas), composed of deep breathing, relaxation methods, and diet. Yoga is frequently part of stress-reduction programs. It helps improve muscle tone, flexibility and mobility; reduces stress and anxiety; and induces a sense of well-being. The word “yoga” denotes a concept of discipline leading to union. The body and the mind form a continuum of consciousness and life that, when achieving a state of focus and clarity, may unite with Universal Spirit.

Zen (Shiatsu)

A Japanese acupressure art intended to ease tension and balance the body.

This spa glossary is courtesy of the International Spa Association (ISPA)