Travel

By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein

When I moved to Manhattan two years ago to a walk-up railroad apartment on East 91st Street, one of the first things I heard about was the 92nd Street Y. Granted, it was my mother who informed me of this amazing facility. “You’re single…you should go see a lecture or take a class there,” she advised. “Who knows? You may meet a nice Jewish boy or something.” Or something – Ok Mom, whatever. But she was right. I did find something. I found a fantastic place to go when I’m looking to feel beautiful both inside and out. When the dirty slush of Lexington Avenue ends up on my face, I can duck into the 92nd Street Y for some much needed pampering and rejuvenation. I can expand my mind, fulfill my soul and feel ten years younger after just one visit.

Last year, I found myself at the Y at least once a week. I was taking various dance classes using what is known as a “flex card.” After any given Jazz, Modern, Spinal Gymnastics, African or Flamenco dance class I enjoyed, I’d explore the entirety of the Y, and ogle the many other amenities it offered. One stop in the elevator and I’d find a complete health club, rivaling the top gyms of the city, complete with an indoor running track and the only Olympic-sized pool in Manhattan. From there, I could grab a bite in the health café and head to a lecture or concert series featuring the world’s most talented and famous contributors to the arts. And if the search for a Jewish Mr. Right ever got too exhausting, I had the perfect place to escape – InSPArations, the 92nd Street Y’s very own day spa. I am not exaggerating when I say I could live in a place like this!

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A spa experience of Biblical proportions certainly describes InSPArations. I received two of their signature treatments – the Sacred Scrub and the Body Quilt. Though not necessary, it is recommended to get both treatments, the scrub followed by the quilt (a type of body wrap) in order to get the most effective results. Having tested the Dead Sea salts first-hand many years ago during a visit to Israel, I was looking forward to experiencing the salts again, this time mixed with essential oils as mentioned in the Bible. For instance, Galbanum is an ancient essential oil for both grounding and meditative effects as are Frankenscense and Murh. Spikenard is a unique anointing oil, which works wonders on severely dry skin. The Body Quilt incorporates Eucalyptus and Pink Grapefruit to stimulate and invigorate while improving the respiratory and immune systems.

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Upon entering the quiet, dimly lit, toasty warm room, I immediately felt at ease. Victoria, who was to be administering both treatments, was as much concerned with my mental well-being as she was the physical. With soft music playing in the background to complete this holistic environment, Victoria helped me concentrate on my breathing and talked about my spiritual center as though she were leading me through a meditation. Once I felt centered and relaxed, the Dead Sea salts and oils were gently massaged (not scrubbed) onto each part of my body, slowly and deliberately. The salt felt scratchy (but in a very good way) as it exfoliated and reinvigorated my skin. This treatment lasted a half hour. It may seem like a short while, but I was fully satisfied and could’ve left the spa at that – but the Body Quilt was awaiting me. As I rinsed the salt off in the shower, located conveniently in the same room, I prepared for the Quilt as if in a daze but feeling more balanced and aligned than I have in quite some time. The Body Quilt was very similar in application but the cycle of massage to each body part, applied to both my front and back, occurred several times over the course of an hour. After a second shower to rinse off any remaining salts, as well as the clay mask that covered my entire body, Victoria applied the final layer – an organic moisturizing lotion was massaged into my skin with just the right amount of pressure to seal in the moisture, while leaving me to feel relaxed yet tingling with energy.

InSPArations is a full-service spa catering to both men and women. Along with more conventional services offered, like massages or pedicures, InSPArations offers many unique and exclusive services. The spa also offers 5elements – a complete line of totally organic products, which are used during treatments and available for purchase. As well as being naturally fragrant and mineral-rich, 5elements products are oxygenating, detoxifying and alkalizing. Based on the five elements of the universe – earth, water, fire, air and sky – these products blend modern science with ancestral wisdom to promote balance, beauty and spirituality.

I highly recommend a visit to www.92ndStreetY.org for more information on this facility and to request a catalogue of the year’s events and classes. Definitely check out the spa’s own website at www.inSPArations.com for a complete list and explanation of all available treatments and products. I also suggest looking into their gift packages. With day passes to the wellness center and even tickets to the 92nd Street Y’s evening events included along with several spa treatments, what better way to spend a day away from the hustle and bustle of New York City? I’ve since moved out of my 91st Street railroad apartment, but if I’m ever in need of some spiritual enlightenment, a dose of inspiration or just some solid relaxation, I’ll definitely make the trek to this extraordinary oasis of Manhattan.

Originally published January 2004
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