Spa Mama Lifespan
By Karrie Osborn
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, April/May 2005. Copyright 2005. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
In preparation for the many changes ahead of her, the one thing a pregnant woman needs most -- even more than pickles and ice cream -- is nurturing, especially in the form of bodywork.
Massage therapists have long catered to the pregnant client, helping her relax, renew, and even physically prepare for the strenuous birth date. Now spas are picking up the pregnancy pace as this unique client is walking through their doors seeking respite more than ever before.
In today's market, it's almost unusual to find a day spa that doesn't have some sort of service directed toward the pregnant client. Looking at the ever-growing number of women becoming pregnant, and the expanding age range in which they do so, it's understandable -- the pregnant woman is big business, and the number of those vying for her interest increases every day. Several new publications focusing on the pregnant woman, and more websites and online publications than you can count, have entered an already tight market in the last three years. Clothing, cosmetics, fitness, and every type of resource imaginable are being retooled for the pregnant woman. Even a home makeover show for expectant moms has found its audience. It makes sense, then, that well-being would eventually become a suitor as well.
With more than 4 million U.S. births every year, there are plenty of mommy clients just waiting for a prenatal or postnatal massage by someone who understands their particular bodywork needs. But even as lucrative as the mommy market might be, both client and spa need beware -- combining bodywork and pregnancy requires a specialized skill set crucial to keeping mother and child healthy. When approached with care and commitment, however, this type of work can be a win-win for everyone.
A Growing Business
Rebecca Matthias recognized the opportunity and today finds herself in the spa business after combining the growing acceptance of bodywork and self-care with her years of catering to the pregnant woman. Matthias, founder of Mother's Work, the largest maternity company in the world1, says by listening to her clientele, a maternity spa seemed both a logical business opportunity and a valuable service.
As part of a larger plan to create a destination shopping opportunity for pregnant women, Mother's Work began regionally consolidating some of its stores into one setting -- Destination Maternity -- from which Matthias "stole" away valuable retail space for a small, pregnancy-focused spa. She called it Edamame Maternity Spa, and the first one opened in Charlotte, N.C., in December 2004. Two more will follow in 2005.
The decision to bring a spa into her already successful retail plan makes sense, since the Destination Maternity locations already include a learning center, Pilates and yoga classes, a juice bar, kiddie corral, and an entire line focusing on mind, body, and spirit. And with more than a dozen Destination Maternity locations being rolled out across the country, the opportunity for more Edamame spas is a real possibility.
Each of these maternity spas is designed to house three treatment rooms, a lounge area, and a changing/shower area. The entire focus is on pampering the pregnant woman. "That's all we do," Matthias says.
While some might say the biggest challenges in working with pregnant women is dealing with their heightened emotional state, Matthias considers the "hormone high" a positive thing. "I think they're the greatest to work with."
As for the bodywork itself, Matthias says her staff is specially trained to serve this client and her needs. "It's about really understanding our client." Matthias says so many women are familiar with massage these days, and already utilizing it in their general health regimen, that they aren't ready...
References: 1 Mother 's Work includes the clothing outlets Motherhood Maternity, A Pea in the Pod, and Mimi Maternity.
2 Spa Treatments During Pregnancy. Available at www.bellanina.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=42. Accessed December 2004.
3 Scalogna, Marie. "Spa Speak." Available at www.spa-addicts.com/spalounge/spaspeak8.asp. Accessed December 2004.
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