I didn’t start out the day planning on getting an ear seed, an acupuncture session, a pair of highly coveted socks and a sense of relaxation and well-being. But I found all those things during a visit to the new Exhale Mind Body Spa in Loews Hotel in Midtown.
Let’s just say the day didn’t start off that great. Between dealing with the insurance company on a refinance of our house and a visit to the dermatologist where my throat was slit to remove a mole, then stressing over the confusing parking garage looking for the Loews lobby, my mood was less than relaxed.
But as always when I enter a spa I began to calm down a bit. I think it’s a combination of the smell and the security of knowing that nothing bad is going to happen to me in there. After a tour of the beautiful 22,000-square-foot facility, the acupuncturist, Paul Murphy, wandered into the lobby and planted a little seed on my ear on a pressure point that relieves stress. “When you feel anxious, just press on this, and it will relax you,” he said.
Darned if that teeny little thing didn’t work. It supposedly lasts for three days. The timing is perfect to get me through the mounds of annoying paperwork we have to complete for the closing on our refinance.
Then I met with Exhale Founder and CEO Annbeth Eschbach, who is one of those beautiful, smart, accomplished women that you love anyway because she is so warm and charming. She took a few minutes out of her crazy opening day schedule to tell me about more about the philosophy behind Exhale.
She began the company in 2002 in New York where it has been a huge success and a favorite of the celebrity crowd. More than 60,000 people a year visit the 16 locations, and the grippy socks have become a Badge of Honor among the exercise-crazy crowd.
So why has she been so successful the crowded spa field?
“People love to go to destination spas and spend huge amounts of money to make changes in their lives – like losing weight or quitting smoking,” she said. “But I didn’t understand why you had to get on a plane to have this type of experience. I saw a huge void in the market for a spa experience that was about making changes in your life and sustaining them. I wanted it to be gender-neutral, not too expensive and accessible to people.”
Annbeth wanted Exhale to be like a destination spa, but one you could visit every day and could sustain the changes in your body. So all the treatments Exhale offers have to transform your life in some way. The list is extensive, but includes Healing Programs, Fertility Programs, Wellness and Nutrition, in addition to the regular spa services of massage, waxing, nail treatments and facials.
One of my favorite amenities of Exhale was the co-ed hamman detoxification chamber. It’s not as new-agey as it sounds – in fact it’s based on ancient Turkish spas. It’s a three-step process that starts with heating up in a sauna, cooling down with a cold shower, then resting on a heated marble slab.
But what about those abs, glutes and other wiggly parts? That’s where Core Fusion comes in. Annbeth recruited married instructors Elisabeth Halfpapp and Fred Devito and asked them to create proprietary classes that include a series of postures that are all about lengthening and stregthtening your body.
I wasn’t able to take a class sample today, due to the aforementioned throat-slitting, but plan to try it out. I spoke to a few ladies who had taken the Core Fitness class and while they talked about how hard it was and that walking had become a bit of a challenge, they did it while smiling.
But Annbeth talked me into an abbreviated acupuncture session with Paul, of Atlanta Acupunture, who will be giving treatments at Exhale as well. I figured I’d already had my throat slit in the morning, so why not round out the day by getting a whole bunch of needles stuck in my body?
It actually was a relaxing experience. The needles don’t hurt a bit and I don’t know if my chi was blocked and was now happily circulating around, but I did feel an aura of calm. I didn’t have any specific ailments for him to work on but will go back when I do or just need to relax.
Exhale is a gorgeous spa where it does seem possible to transform your life and your body. And you don’t even need to get on a plane to do it.
Exhale Spa, 1065 Peachtree Street (on the 7th floor of Loews Hotel), 404-720-5000