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Spas focus on coaching, gaming, feet in 2012

/ Source: Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters)- - Beauty coaching, online wellness, snow showers and sound massages are just a few of the luxury treatments clients at spas around the globe will be experiencing in 2012.

Massages and facials will still be big draws for the $250 billion industry, but spas will be branching out into more personal coaching programs, spa parties and packages for families and even online games, according to a new report.

"Overall, we see two distinct themes emerging. One is the industry innovating with diverse, new sensory experiences and treatments -- from cold and vibration therapies to new services for healthy feet," said Susie Ellis, the president of SpaFinder Inc. which compiled the 2012 Spa Trend Report of the top 10 trends.

"The second is how spas are ... moving beyond the sporadic visit, to programs aimed at developing long-term relationships such as coaching and online gaming."

All types of coaching, whether it is beauty, sleep or wellness, are expected to be big in 2012 with spas offering coaching packages, with follow-up emails and phone conferences to support clients.

Spas will also be turning down the heat with cold therapies designed to improve circulation and reduce inflammation.

Spa designer Thermarium's will launch the first-ever snow shower, according to the report. The shower's digital touch screen will enable users to choose between light snowfall, moderate snowfall or blizzard.

For an even more bone-chilling experience, there is cryotherapy -- a few minutes in a frigid chamber at -120 degrees C (or -184 degrees F) wearing only a swimsuit, socks, gloves and ear and mouth protection against frostbite.

"A human can only last two to three minutes in a cryotherapy room or pod, but it's all the rage with elite athletes to help them recover from workout inflammation and pain. The Olympic rehabilitation center in Poland has a cryotherapy chamber used by sports teams from around the world," the report said.


Ellis and a team of up to 100 experts, who visited hundreds of spas around the world to compile the report, also predict a surge in wellness gaming next year.

"Our report is more of a forecast," Ellis said. "We wanted to look into the future and one of the things we are seeing is that online gaming is becoming huge in different parts of the world."

The report noted that French cosmetic company Clarins is a pioneer in the field with its Facebook game "Spa Life." Other companies are expected to follow by using gaming to connect with clients through online workouts and sessions with therapists.

Ellis is also seeing a new focus on feet because of aging baby boomers, foot ailments and the popularity of high heels. Some spas are offering computerized gait analysis, treatments in zero-gravity chairs and lessons to strengthen some of the muscles in the foot, according to the report.

"Medical experts argue that high heels share the blame for the fact that four in five American women now suffer foot problems and also for the arthritis pandemic underway in the UK, with 60 percent of cases now occurring in feet," according to the report.

"The pain can be so agonizing that some women are actually having Botox, silicone and Restylane injected into the bottoms of their feet, to counteract the damage their high heels have done," it added.