Fusion Therapy: The Best of All Worlds

| August 22, 2011 | Comments (0)

Massage has become so mainstream that some spa-goers are growing tired of the usual 60-minute Swedish or deep-tissue massage. While massage remains the most popular service offered at spas, with facials running a close second, spa goers are searching for more customization, individual attention, entertainment and a genuine exotic flare to their massage experiences. Enter fusion therapy, a term used to describe massage techniques that embrace a combination of healing protocols.

A fusion session, for instance, might involve Swedish or neuromuscular massage intertwined with reflexology, lomilomi, psychic rebalancing or color therapy. This new, integrated brand of massage is keeping therapists and clients entertained and poised for ongoing innovation.


Mixing it up
At Faywood Hot Springs in Faywood, New Mexico, the Faywood Gumbo massage is one of the most popular offerings. “The massage therapist interviews the client before the session to assess their preferences and individual therapeutic needs. A plan for the session is then drawn up to best suit the client’s mental, physical and emotional needs,” says spa owner Wanda Yurwit. The “gumbo” session can involve a variety of modalities, including reflexology, Thai massage, acupressure, trigger-point therapy and other bodywork.


“We find that clients really appreciate that the session is so tailored to their particular needs,” Yurwit says, “[and] the massage therapist also enjoys the session more because it isn’t the cookie-cutter, 60-minute massage. The therapist can really get in sync with the client’s body and be creative about the best way to serve the client’s needs.”
Gumbo massage is offered in 30-minute increments with sessions lasting up to 120 minutes. Pricing is consistent with other massage techniques, starting at $35 for 30 minutes and $60 for 60 minutes.


At the Marciena Spa in Laguna Beach, California, massage services are offered in a variety of forms, from the simple to the sublime. “One of our most popular services is our Abhyanga treatment, which features two massage therapists working in tandem to offer the traditional Ayurvedic-style massage,” explains owner Yvonne Marciena. Warm herbal oils are applied during the massage to improve circulation, balance the body and rejuvenate the tissue. The session is followed by an aromatherapy session.
The spa also offers “combination massage” on its menu, “a customized session blending different therapies based on the client’s preferences and needs,” says Marciena. She believes that clients feel more pampered by having some control over their spa experience. “Having options and being asked what particular types of massage appeals to them seems to please clients. We have seen a favorable response since adding combination massage to our menu,” she says.


Massage To Go in Napa, California, which offers on-site massage in homes, businesses, hotels and at gatherings, attracts a clientele that wants more than just the typical massage, explains owner/therapist Lyn Alcantara. Among the various types of combination massage packages available, those involving the feet are most popular, including the Foot Fantasy, which consists of massage of the feet and hands, a foot facial and a pedicure. Another popular combination includes a full-body massage involving a variety of techniques, a facial and a salt-glow and aromatherapy treatment for the feet. “Above all, I think clients like the fact that they can customize any treatment to suit their particular needs,” says Alcantara.


A world of choices
Cross-cultural combinations of massage are becoming popular in this new arena of fusion therapy. Drawing from the rich historical traditions of Hawaii, Asia, Africa and Europe, many spas have integrated cultural and therapeutic aspects of age-old practices. At the Mandara-owned Norwegian Cruise Line spas, the “Seven Seas Massage” combines massage techniques from around the world.
The trend toward diversity doesn’t stop there. All over the world massage is being transformed, re-created and enhanced by adding spa treatments, themes, therapeutic options and unique approaches to the classic 60-minute session. At another Mandara spa in The Chedi hotel in Ubud, Bali, two massage therapists work in tandem. Using aromatherapy oils, they perform the spa’s signature bodywork treatment: a combination of Thai, Swedish and Balinese massage, lomilomi and shiatsu.

Clients love the new diversity brought on by the fusion trend. “I have to confess that I was growing tired of the 60-minute Swedish massage once a week. When my therapist started becoming interested in different forms of massage, I was all for it,” says Lou Ann Montjoy, who receives regular massage in Oregon, Illinois.

“She started out slowly with simple changes like integrating aromatherapy and new strokes that she had learned. I let her know right away that I enjoyed the different things that she tried on me,” Montjoy says. “Before long she was using Japanese tsubo on my meridians and balancing my energy.”

Montjoy initially started receiving massage because of stress caused by her divorce. After a minor car accident she upgraded her visits to once a week at the suggestion of her chiropractor. After receiving a year’s worth of fusion therapy, she sees no reason to change her routine any time in the near future. “I guess I don’t have a serious medical reason for receiving massage since my car-accident injuries have vanished,” she says. “Still, I can’t imagine parting ways with my therapist or our weekly sessions. Especially since she mixed up the routine a bit. Every week is like a wonderful new journey that is relaxing and interesting. Whatever you want to call this new type of massage, it has been a wonderful experience for me.”

Another regular massage client couldn’t agree more. Debbie Lilpop, who lives in Denver, Colorado, has been an avid spa patron for years. Although the spas that Lilpop has visited are among the finest in the country, the massages she received often fell short of her expectations. “I routinely felt that the massages I received in spas were substandard because the therapist wasn’t interested in my needs,” she says. “I felt like I was number five in a line of eight or so massages that [the therapist] had to force herself to do that day.”
Of late, however, Lilpop says spas seem to be offering more innovative body treatments – a trend that keeps her and, seemingly, the spas’ therapists interested. She particularly likes when spas design a treatment around what the client wants. Lilpop says that sometimes she likes an intense, deep-tissue massage; other days she’s in the mood for something new, like hand reflexology or Thai scalp massage.

“I’ll keep going back [to this kind of spa] because they focus on my needs and I like the variety,” she says.
“It’s kind of like being able to sample everything on the menu at a really good restaurant,” she adds. “How could anyone say no to that?”
By Melinda Minton, Massage Magazine

Melinda Minton, L.M.T, is an esthetician, cosmetologist and former spa owner. She currently works as a spa and salon consultant, e-business expert and free-lance writer.

To expand your menu of massage options, attend the Signature Massage Course with Olivier Aron – Massage Academy, France in October 2011.  For more information visit:  Signature Massage with Olivier Aron.


Category: Spa Articles

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