Spa Balance


Managing a spa is a highly skilled, complex and demanding job. Many spa managers find themselves struggling to cope with the demands of the job after moving up the ranks very quickly or moving into an area they are not familiar with. However, spa management woodshedding can provide the answer to your problems. It’s about taking the time to invest in your future by broadening and deepening your skillset. Spa management woodshedding is also a great way for aspiring spa managers to competently move through the ranks and stand out at interviews.

By taking control of your own learning you can level up your skills, become more confident as a result, and offer real value to your employers or investors.

What is woodshedding?

‘Woodshedding’ is originally a term popular in the music industry. It means to perfect your music in private (in a woodshed), before being confident enough to perform in public.

Recently, the term has enjoyed a greater application. Educator and author Paul Jarvis coined the term ‘Internet woodshedding’ to describe how his audience and clients could shape their long-term futures by learning new skills. Although seeing the obvious value of this course of action, he also describes how people want to see results, but are often unwilling to spend time learning new skills.


Why ‘spa management woodshedding’?

After years of working in the spa industry, I’ve seen one problem come up time and time again: spa managers and aspiring spa managers often lack the necessary skills to do an effective job. This is often the result of circumstances. For example:


1. They may have moved from one spa to another, moving up the ranks very quickly but without having had the opportunity to invest the time to gain the right experience (this is very common in emerging markets where demand for local spa managers is high, hence the temptation to job-hop for a better position or better salary is high).


2. They’ve only had a few spa management positions, or been part of a pre-opening team, but assume they can now manage larger operations or become a spa director.


As a result, spa managers can feel frustrated, underconfident and overworked. In turn, their managers or investors blame them for being ineffective, but fail to offer the necessary training to remedy the situation.

This is where spa woodshedding can help: by taking control of your own learning you can level up your skills, become more confident as a result, and offer real value to your employers or investors.


How to spa management woodshed

Before you start

First, work out why you are going to start woodshedding. What is your goal? For example, do you want to become more effective so you work fewer hours per week? Do you want to become more competent at a certain aspect of spa management, like measuring and understanding the right KPIs of your spa, so you can justify asking for a raise? Do you simply want to learn a new skill (that you should have) so you feel more confident managing your team of therapists and don’t wake up feeling ill in the morning?

Next, pledge that you will take the time to woodshed because your future matters to you – and it’s in your own hands. Maybe your hotel group or spa will suddenly decide to send you on a brilliant training course – but probably not. It’s up to you to level up your skills because you want to start improving your career prospects now, not at some point in the future, possibly decided by someone else. Woodshedding can be a difficult process because it’s much more tempting to get bogged down in day-to-day operations and learn from you mistakes as you go along. You’ll need to be mentally prepared to take time to learn.


What to woodshed

Sometimes it’s obvious what you need to woodshed, perhaps because your job requires you to have a certain skillset and you know that you are very poor at certain areas. If you’re not so sure, or can think of so many things you need to know, or would like to know, then try out a few at once. It will soon become apparent which skills you’ll become really interested in and which you might leave until later.


How to woodshed


Take a course or learn online

You can decide to make a large time and possibly financial commitment by taking an established course by a university, business or organisation. However, this isn’t the only way you can learn new skills. There are many online courses that will help you learn new skills, particularly business, entrepreneurship, marketing and technical skills. Providers include Skillshare and Treehouse.


Woodshed on the job

A great way to learn is to put yourself in situations that require you to learn, which often means stepping outside your comfort zone. Perhaps try the following:

1. Work in a couple of pre-openings in different locations

2. Manage different types of spas in different stages of the growth cycle. For example: recently opened, 18 months into operation or a spa that has been open for over 10 years and now needs a renovation or change of positioning

3. Manage different types of teams with different structures


If you can manage to do all this, you’ll be well on the way to being a star spa manager, who can attract a salary to match their reputation.


Don’t give up

It’s never too late to learn new skills, so don’t be put off learning skills because you think you are too old or not the correct gender/age/culture. This Wall Street Journal article offers a refreshing take on the idea that it’s never too late to learn skills like skiing, another language or coding. You just need to admit that you will make mistakes; and that you can then learn from them.

Time is the most valuable asset you don’t own. You may or may not realise it yet, but how you use or don’t use your time is going to be the best indication of where your future is going to take you. Marc Cuban.


Learn when to stop

It can be hard knowing when you have actually ‘learnt’ something. However, speaker and coach Jason SurfApp offers some useful advice: you’ve finished when “you have less fear and more confidence.” He goes on to qualify that he doesn’t mean overconfidence – just genuine confidence that results from knowing how to do something. He goes on to say that another useful metric is knowing “when you can provide value for other people” and that “you feel like you’re going over stuff you remember”.



Once you’ve decided that you’ve woodshedded a skill long enough, measure your success against your goal. Are you more efficient and hence working fewer hours per week? Have you secured a raise? Do you feel happier getting up in the morning? If the answer is yes, then congratulations! You are a successful woodshedder – you just need to decide now what other goal you want to achieve and how best to do it.

If you haven’t achieved your goal though don’t worry. You either need to woodshed a bit longer or perhaps learn a complementary skill. Try and make woodshedding a part of your life though. In one year, two years or five years time you’ll fervently thank yourself for it.



Spa management woodshedding is about investing in your own skills, thereby securing your longer-term career prospects. Done well, it can launch your career to new heights (or even lead to an amazing career pivot). However, woodshedding involves time, dedication and an ability to think strategically about your own life and goals. If you are serious about your future as a star spa manager or director, the benefits of woodshedding will far outweigh the downsides.