There seems to be a growing trend in the United States to offer reflexology at settings other than a healthcare or wellness facility. It started out west, drifted eastward, and has recently debuted in my home state of Florida.
Practitioners are promoting an evening of foot massage or reflexology, along with enticing hydrotherapy services; all delivered in a tasteful salon setting. Guests lounge in comfy recliners (often leather) in a relaxing den-like decor, along with other folks enjoying foot treatments. Marketing materials invite you to “make a date of it”; to bring your best friend, mom or “main squeeze” – and a bottle of wine. The idea for these new ventures began with the need to create more revenue, and includes the goal of encouraging “healthy” dating.
That led me to recall a delightful Friday evening a few years ago at a famous hydrotherapy facility out west. When my friends and I walked into this very popular spa, I was surprised to see so many people relaxing in the common areas. Some were fully dressed; most were lounging in thick, fluffy bathrobes provided by the facility. People were rehydrating themselves with exotic non-alcoholic fruit drinks following their bodywork or “tub”. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. The owners had very successfully built a reputation as a healthy date destination. Guests received their bodywork in private rooms; hydrotherapy soaks were available communally for groups of friends or privately for couples.
At the same time as I was pondering these business models, I learned that the state of Utah has just replaced the word “therapeutic” with “recreational” in its scope of practice for massage therapists. (Reflexology is governed by the massage therapy act in Utah.)
The synchronicity of these events got me thinking about the direction of reflexology. Do we want to create more of a “social” atmosphere (including an association with alcohol), or do we want to continue to set our goals on being recognized as a bona fide “healthcare” modality? Can both models exist compatibly?
I think this is an important dialogue for those of us interested in the field of reflexology. Should the economic market and/or our culture’s insatiable need for social connection and multi-tasking dictate who we become? What do you consider to be the benefits of reflexology and how are they best delivered? These are critical questions, the answers to which will determine the path we take in the years to come. What do you think?