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Work hard, play hard, recharge


Hard work deserves an appropriate reward. This especially applies to the overworked minds and bodies that keep us afloat in the whirlwind of daily activity, work, meetings and family obligations.

Greater Des Moines has several day spas that cater to the needs of both men and women. Instead of thinking of spa treatments as frivolous, one spa manager says think of them as a necessary means of refueling yourself for the daily grind.

“Both the men’s and women’s spas are designed with the same principle that we need to have balance, we need to have relaxation and we need to be refilled in order to give more to others and people in our everyday life,” said Sheli Johnston, general manager of Signature Male Barber and Day Spa in Waukee and Serenity and Bella salons in West Des Moines’ Valley West Mall.

Just stepping into the right spa can help bring relief for one’s mind, with physical relief not far behind.

Sahar’s Salon and Day Spa in West Des Moines is designed to appeal to women’s senses in a variety of ways. Besides the full-service salon and day spa, The Sahar’s complex includes a gift shop, a boutique and a café.

“Just come in here and leave your world behind,” said owner Sahar Al-Shash. “That’s the point of having the whole business together. We probably have everything that a woman wants.”

Likewise, Signature Male wants to meet the unique needs of busy men seeking a place to relax. Its comfy leather furniture, dark furnishings, numerous televisions, Internet access and other amenities make it an ideal male refuge.

Of course, clients also choose a spa based on the services it offers. Al-Shash says massage is a specialty at Sahar’s, and customers can choose sport, Swedish or hot- or cool- stone sessions. The massage rooms are dark or candlelit, sometimes with aromatherapy candles.

“We try to do as much as we can to relax them,” Al-Shash said. “It has to be really quiet with the spa music because we want them to forget about everything outside and to leave here feeling very relaxed and pampered. A lot of people, when they’re done, they say, ‘Oh, I feel so good. I don’t want to go home. I just want to stay here and sleep.’”

Once a client visits Sahar’s, they develop an appreciation for relaxing and refueling the body with a visit to the spa.

“These days, everybody is working and doesn’t have much time, but they do take time for having a body wrap or a massage,” Al-Shash said. “Maybe they choose to have it instead of going shopping. It’s more important for them.”

As a brochure at Signature Male points out, when performed properly, massage not only reduces muscle soreness, but also provides a multitude of other benefits. Massage is known to increase blood circulation, improve mental alertness, aid the immune system, promote restful sleep and enhance muscle tone.

Massage is helping to drive the spa business at Signature Male, owner Doug Van Polen says. Hot towel shaves, tanning, body waxing, facials and hand and foot “detailing” are also well-utilized services.

“We try to have the same great service that the beauty salons offers, just put them in a real male-friendly environment,” Van Polen said.

The “male-friendly environment” incorporates complimentary drinks such as pop, beer and wine, as well as a smoking room.

“It’s not that we’re endorsing or not endorsing all of our great and bad habits,” Van Polen said. “We’re just saying, ‘If you’re a guy, come in. If you want to wear your hat, wear your hat.’ That’s kind of the ambience and feel that we’ve created here.”

Van Polen said Signature Male takes the intimidation factor out of taking care of one’s appearance.

“We don’t call our services manicures and pedicures,” he said. “We call them hand and foot detailing. We detail our cars, we detail this. We’ve got it in our minds, but yet we’ve never associated it with our bodies. We’re trying to create verbiage and the atmosphere that draws men in.”

Signature Male’s customers seem to like having a place to call their own.

“We have guys that come in and just sit on the couch and read the newspaper,” Van Polen said. “We have clients that will come in with their friends and just chill out. They don’t need any services, they just want to sit down and relax. It’s like going to the coffee shop for them. They come to relax, enjoy and regain their thoughts  

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