If you were to look through the individual backgrounds of ISPA members, one thing would become abundantly clear: there is no single path to spa super-stardom.
Many ISPA members have found their home in the spa industry after years of pursuing another career. Teachers, basketball coaches, TV fitness instructors and professional poker players alike find a family in ISPA who shares their passion for positively impacting the lives of others. In this post, we take a glance at just a few of the countless member testimonies that recount where they were before joining the spa industry.
Members Testify to Spa as a Second Career
For some, experience in education correlates to the wellness industry perfectly. The creative and caring qualities that must be present in the front of the classroom have led many people to spa, such as Maggie Rodriguez. “I was on vacation in 2004 when I found a candle I loved,” said Maggie, who has developed her own line of massage candles. “At the time, I was a teacher. I’d spent 10 years in the classroom teaching middle school math, which I loved and was proud of. I was a teacher with no business experience. But somehow, I succeeded in building a brand!”
Teaching was an incredible training ground for a life in hospitality for Kristine Huffman as well. “After college, the Peace Corps seemed like a great option,” remembers Kristine, who taught kids in Swaziland for three years before returning home to teach in the States. As luck would have it, when Kristine was looking for an alternative career, Canyon Ranch had just opened in Lenox, Massachusetts. “I honestly can’t remember what I said to get the job, I just knew that if I could deal with a classroom of angry teenagers, I could deal with pretty much anything!”
Coaching is closely related to teaching—just ask Mark Murdock. Before he was called into the spa world, Mark was a college basketball coach for nearly 20 years. Experience coaching and developing All-American players has helped him in the hiring process, as he looks for “good people who have high work ethic, high standards, and who will get the job done. I like finding and developing talent in any field, business included.”
Chris Birchby hails from another competitive background, but one far different than basketball. Chris began playing poker for money while a student at the prestigious Art Center of Design in Pasadena, California. “Being an artist means spending a lot of time waiting for paint to dry, so while I was doing that, I’d play poker for money.” Chris went on to enter the professional circuit and has made the final table in several World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour events. After both of his parents were diagnosed with skin cancer, however, Chris decided to branch out and get into the manufacturing of organic sunscreen, eventually settling into a niche in the spa industry.
While spa is a perfect second career destination, ISPA Board member Todd Hewitt is an example of how spa can even be a great third career! Todd earned a business degree in college and found himself in restaurant management after graduation. Coming as no surprise to those who know Todd, it “turned out that making hundreds of hors d’oeuvres wasn’t as satisfying as I had imagined it would be, even if I was working for myself.” Soon, Todd made a shift and qualified as a fitness instructor. “I was always at the front of the class,” recalls Todd, “and I got picked out so often that I decided I should lead the class instead.” It was this jump to instructor that exposed Todd to television executives from Canada’s top-rated breakfast show, who wasted no time in getting him on screen. Todd’s first spa experience came in Jamaica, where a friend was managing a new Sandals Resort with a fitness and wellness focus. His background made him a perfect fit, and the rest is history.
If you are seeking a second career, take heart from these member testimonies and remember Mitchel Rivera’s story. As a young art director working daily behind a computer, Mitchel’s talent for making people smile was not allowed to flourish. He simply felt he had more to offer the world as an innovative and creative individual. So, he mustered up the courage to believe that “we are in control of our destiny” and found himself bringing smiles to faces daily through opening his own spa.
Possibilities are out there, and the spa industry abounds with potential. As these members and so many more will tell you, the spa industry is a place where giving and receiving wellness happens simultaneously, making it an irresistible landing spot for countless professionals around the world.