Career Focus

Demand surge for spa professionals

Confronted with rising incidence of stress, people from all walks of life are flocking to spas and wellness clinics. Therefore there’s growing demand for qualified professionals in this global $255 billion industry

A beneficial fallout of the sustained growth of India’s hospitality industry — hotels, restaurants, tours and tourism — is the simultaneous growth of the health and wellness business. Suddenly health and rejuvenation resorts aka spas, capitalising on the ancient Indian tradition of ayurveda and massage, are springing up in metropolitan India, driving the demand for professionally qualified spa therapists and spa managers. Con-fronted with rising incidence of stress, people from all walks of life are flocking to spas and wellness clinics for recharge and revitalisation. Indeed the explosion of indulgence in health and wellness is a global phenomenon. The value of the global spa and wellness industry is estimated at US $255 billion (Rs.1147,000 crore), making it one of the fastest growing industries worldwide.

Not so long ago, spas were the luxurious preserves of the rich and super-rich around the world. Today, however, they have become more accessible and affordable for people of all segments of the middle class to de-stress and unwind in their comfortable premises.

For school and college graduates, this emerging industry offers the advantages of attractive pay packages, quick advancement, opportunities for working abroad, and pleasant, stress-free work environments.

Against this backdrop, professional massage and spa therapist study programmes are becoming increasingly popular. A course in spa therapy will familiarise the student with basic physiology and anatomy of the human body, help her understand body forms and identify imperfections. Moreover specialist programmes detail various types of massage and spa therapies, as well as the specific health problems they can rectify and heal. Besides learning how to reduce cellulite, students learn how to administer heat therapy, body wraps, mud wraps, body polishes and salt exfoliation processes.

For those interested in a career in this sunrise industry, it makes sense to sign up for a professional programme in spa therapies and acquire international certification. There are several schools in Massachusetts, USA which specialise in professional education in this field. To acquire US-accepted certification, students should be certified by institutions approved by the National Certified Therapeutic Massage Workers Body.

Among institutes in India offering courses in this field are the Ananda Spa Institute (ASI), Hyderabad which offers an eight-month spa diploma programme and the ASI holistic diploma (five months). A postgraduate diploma programme in skin and beauty therapy as also vocational courses are offered by the Shahnaz Hussain chain of institutes; the Body Tree Training Centres which provide ayurvedic medicine, massage and traditional Indian wellness training mainly to students from socially and economically backward communities. The southern sea-board state of Kerala hosts several schools for training in massage therapy, and likewise schools in Goa offer Abhyanga massage training in combination with Shirodhara.

With the health and wellness industry booming, opportunities abound for qualified spa therapists at remuneration packages ranging from Rs.20,000-100,000 per month depending upon qualifications, experience and choice of employer. There are employment options for qualified professionals in high-end spas, exclusive health clubs, hospitals and sports clinics. Many therapists in private practice find lucrative oppor-tunities in corporate offices where on- site massage is a job perk.

Self-employment and promotion of Mumbai’s Cosmic Mandala 15 — The Spa, sited in a heritage building penthouse in South Mumbai, is an option chosen by Heymal Kampani, a home science graduate of the College of Health Science, Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai and an aroma therapist certified by the FM Institute, Mumbai. Following her certification, in 2009 Kampani promoted Cosmic Mandala 15 which offers an array of traditional massages, exotic treatments and organic remedies including scrubs, wraps, detox treatments, signature facials, crystal clear oxygen treatment, hair treatment, scalp massage, foot massage and ear spa treatment — services dispensed by therapists trained by the Watpho Temple of Healing, Thailand.

However Kampani regrets that spa education in India is not up to international standards. “Academies in Thailand integrate ayurveda and Chinese traditional medicine into their spa programmes. Ayurveda has great potential if enriched by international experts and collaboration with foreign institutes. Like Thailand and Bali, India can transform into a global spa destination,” says Kampani.

Therefore on Kampani’s expansion agenda is a spa training institute in Khandala near Mumbai in collaboration with Thai Heritage Spa, Bangkok and Chiang Mai Educational Institute, Thailand. “On the long term agenda are Cosmic Mandala 15 branches in all the metros with the first spa-cum-school in Gurgaon scheduled to become operational shortly,” says Kampani.

With a growing number of trained professionals entering this profession, the future looks good for the tired, stressed and dejected.

Indra Gidwani (Mumbai)