Mary Bemis is a longtime spa journalist, founder of both American Spa and Organic Spa magazines, and serves on the board of directors of the Washington Spa Alliance.. A true spa advocate, she believes in the healing power of spa and the benefits of living a spa lifestyle.
Honored at the 24th annual conference of the International Spa Association last month, Mary launched her latest project, Insider's Guide to Spas, a website devoted to spa lifestyle. As a contributor to www.insiderguidetospas.com, I felt a special honor to join the standing ovation that Mary received.
Mary's message to her spa industry colleagues resonates on a personal as well as professional level. Here is a brief quote:
"About a decade before the first destination spa came to America, the spa lifestyle came to my family. The reason? My mother was afflicted with polio, for which there was no cure. My grandmother massaged her legs every single day with warm olive oil from the time she was 20 months old until she was eight. Every single day. She also had swimming lessons to make her legs stronger, and she was brought to the ocean for the healing benefits of salt water. And of course, real, fresh food was the only kind served. Why do I say “of course?” Because in those days, we couldn’t count on medicine to save us. (I’m not so sure we can today, but that’s another story.)
"My mother, now 80, still vividly remembers the tall young orthopedic specialist who could not understand why she didn’t suffer the muscle loss characteristic of polio victims. As it turns out, my mother was the only child to walk out of her hospital ward without a brace on her leg. So, you can see why spa is so personal to me — it meant my mother could walk.
"But it wasn’t until the 80s, when I wrote my first article about spas for a fitness magazine, that I really began to understand what I had grown up with. After all, if you are a fish, you don’t necessarily see the water. It was then that I realized that Spa went beyond fitness, beyond nutrition, beyond beauty. Spa is the culmination of what we now call “wellness.”
"I had taken it all for granted—but what I really took for granted was that spa was extraordinarily powerful—and not that well understood. And so, I made it my mission to spread the good spa word. Educating professionals and consumers alike on the benefits of spa has given me tremendous pleasure and personal satisfaction over the past 25 years. I love bringing the industry together and exposing more people to it. For a world of spa means a world of health, of healing, of possibility.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because this is the power we have. Spa has the power to bring people back into their bodies. Spa has the power to calm and to bring self-awareness. To remind us that we’re all connected. Let us not forget our humble beginnings—that spas grew up around bodies of water—hot springs and lakes and rivers—places where people laid down their weapons to take the waters. Spas have always been places of refuge."
And you can meet Mary Bemis at the National Press Club in Washington on March 18th, 2014. The Washington Spa Alliance will present a full-day symposium themed "Beyond Wellness" chaired by this devoted keeper of spa culture. For details and registration, go online at www.washingtonspaalliance.com