When we refer to spas on this site, we are talking about places devoted to overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body and spirit (thank you for that excellent definition, ISPA). Life Time Fitness could technically fall into the spa category under that definition since their facilities encompass everything from physical fitness to mind-body wellness and aesthetics.
From the outside looking in, Life Time seems to be a gym with everything: an indoor and outdoor pool, spa facilities, hair and nail salon, a med spa, a yoga studio with both hot and regular yoga classes, pilates and fitness studios, basketball courts, a rock wall, a childcare center, and a cafe. I’m sure I missed something. The place is a sprawling, glittering, beautiful version of wellness in a $60M facility.
But once you are a member, you realize that this place is more of a health center with a really great gym and more facilities than you could ever want to get your mind, body and spirit in top shape. And if you have kids, you can even bring them with, as there is free childcare for spa-goers and kids activity programs for members. There are no more excuses for not taking care of yourself if you are a member at Life Time.
Imagine my delight when I was looking for a new gym and found out that this brand new facility also had a spa. I literally booked spa appointments a few days after I joined.
LifeSpa services were created with active bodies in mind. It offers products with certified organic plant-based ingredients free of harsh chemicals.
This is the tricky part, in terms of reviewing the spa. Since this whole place could be considered a spa under ISPA’s definition, that means everything from the pools to the sauna and gym could be included in the review score. And that actually lowers the spa’s score somewhat because area that are traditionally considered spa facilities — like the sauna and the Jacuzzi — are in common areas at Life Time where children are allowed and are usually running around crying.
LifeSpa consists of four service providers: a spa, hair salon, nail salon, and med spa. The LifeSpa and the med spa, now called DermaBare, consist of a few treatment rooms and a very small lounge, like 4-chairs small. The small lounges (the two spas are separate) are decorated beautifully, as are all the other areas of this facility. The spa has fancy fruit-infused spa water, but no drinking cups to drink it with. It seems like they don’t encourage self-serving of water — someone has to give it to you.
LifeSpa doesn’t have their own locker rooms. So if you want a spa robe and slippers, you have to check into the spa, then have someone get you spa clothing, then go back into the locker room and change. If you were to get a facial followed by a massage, you would have to go to two separate areas. It’s not a far walk, it’s just not a seamless experience.
All the other spa amenities like the sauna and Jacuzzi are in the pool area of the facility and are co-ed, or in the locker rooms. On the day that I sat in the hot tub (which is located in the women’s locker room), there were crying children around me and a sign saying that no one with active diarrhea was allowed in the hot tub. Not quite Zen. The sauna is better. It’s a large sauna, actually, and is usually pretty quiet inside. But it is still next to the main thoroughfare to the outdoor facilities and beside the indoor pool where there are kids are allowed.
The nail spa consists of a couple of nail salon massage/treatment chairs behind the hair salon. It feels spacious even though it is small, perhaps because when I got my treatment, there wasn’t anybody else getting their nails done at the same time.
Pricing for massages at Life Time is based on the therapists’ level of experience and expertise. The pricing listed on their website is for the average massage therapist. I always request the best massage therapist, regardless of gender, so I was going to get the most expensive ones at Life Time. I had high expectations if I was going to be paying top dollar.
I got a massage from the two best therapists. I got deep tissue both times, as I was pretty sore from workouts. The massages helped ease muscle soreness and overall stiffness, but there was nothing special or outstanding in either massage. Both times validated that the massages at Life Time are therapeutic and functional, and there are very few bells and whistles thrown in for a relaxation experience.
While they were mostly effective in treating my muscular issues, one of the therapists had cold hands and gave me bruises. They were small bruises, but there shouldn’t have been any at all. She was supposed to be the best massage therapist in the spa. She also could have had a better bedside manner. She was very emotionless and flat, which was odd. Great massage therapists are usually warm and friendly with positive energy — and they never start a massage with cold hands.
The other treatment I booked soon after joining was a pedicure. This would be my introduction to Life Spa, as I booked the pedi first before my massages. I showed up in good time before my scheduled appointment but my first experience turned out to be a minor disaster. I ended up waiting 40 minutes past my scheduled appointment time because the person who booked the appointments just plain messed up. Needless to say my first impression was not great.
The manicurist felt really bad about me having to wait over half an hour past my scheduled appointment time, so she threw in a free manicure with my pedicure. So, she did go above and beyond. She was also very pleasant, kind and empathetic, and did her best to make it right with me. I really did appreciate that.
The nail salon uses SpaRitual products, which is a fantastic eco-friendly and non-toxic line. Not only do they have great nail polishes, but they also have lovely scrubs, lotions and oils. The mani-pedi turned out beautifully, so overall the nail treatments were a success.
I have a regular esthetician and don’t get facials outside of my regular standing appointments, but I decided to try the med spa at Life Time to see how it would compare to what I normally get. I asked for the equivalent of my regular monthly appointment: a basic facial with dermaplaning. I made sure to emphasize the basic part when I booked, since I did not want a long appointment, or the esthetician to put anything on my face that I wasn’t asking for.
I expected the appointment to last one hour. It lasted one hour and forty-five minutes, and made me extremely late for another appointment, so I wasn’t altogether pleased when I got out. Further adding to my dismay, I didn’t get what I thought was the basic 30-minute facial as I requested, but a 60-minute brightening facial, which I definitely did not request. I think that there is a huge communication disconnect at Life Time that contributed to my confusion, which I’ll get into more later.
The facial itself, although long, was thorough and relaxing. There were a lot of elements to it. The knowledgeable esthetician weaved the dermaplaning portion into the brightening facial, which included Rhonda Allison products containing botanical fruit acids, vitamins and enzymes. There was also a really nice neck, shoulder, arm and hand massage during the face masque portion of the facial.
The esthetician was very slow while dermaplaning, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when a blade is scraping the skin and hair off your face. But she was much slower than my regular esthetician, which may have be due to each of their levels of experience. She was very careful and controlled, making sure not to miss any spots. She did an excellent job with the blade and I have no complaints about the results here.
I took home a correcting/rebuilding Mandelic Arginine serum by Rhonda Allison which apparently works well with dermaplaning, helps to repair hyperpigmentation and minimizes excess oil. I used it on my face that night. The next day my skin looked great — which for me means that my skin was tight (no fine lines or uneven texture), bright, and the oil on my face was minimal.
Everybody at Life Time is trained really well in customer service. They are all extremely friendly and helpful. At the spa though, they seem to be inconsistent when it comes to knowledge of their spa services and treatments, and there is a serious disconnect in communication.
This could be caused by, or perhaps exacerbated by the fact that Life Time websites (yes there are a few) are a circular and frustrating user experience, and their marketing materials and service menus are brief to the point of lacking important information. I could write a whole blog post on the maddening websites, but I’ll just sum it up by saying that you can’t find the Laguna Niguel spa website via the main Life Time site or on the Laguna Niguel microsite, and once you somehow find the spa’s website, not all of their pricing is accurate as to what they charge at the spa.
Once you get past this frustrating part of trying to find more information, booking an appointment is a relatively pleasant process, as the reception desk are friendly and helpful. But then you get to the spa and things start going pear-shaped. Almost every time I have gone to the spa at Life Time, there has been some misunderstanding in what I booked and what I ultimately received, or when I was supposed to receive it. Life Time in Laguna Niguel is six months old now, they should have this stuff figured out.
LifeSpa services were created with active bodies in mind, particularly those of their members, so this spa is a great choice for a pre- or post-workout treatment or sauna session. It’s not the best for quiet relaxation as there aren’t any true quiet/silent areas, but you can probably get pretty close with one of the many great amenities offered at the club.
- nail and hair salon
- Indoor pool
- Outdoor pool, outdoor water slide
- Indoor Jacuzzi
- Outdoor Jacuzzi
- gym with free weights, weights equipment and machines, cardio machines
- yoga studio
- fitness studios
- cycling studio
- rock wall
- kids program and childcare
- basketball court
$$$$ – Pricey
Life Time Athletic Laguna Niguel
25600 Rancho Niguel Rd
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Life Time also has 111 other locations (as of August 2014) around the USA and Canada, but not all have a LifeSpa.
SPA HOURS OF OPERATION
HOW TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
Call the spa at (949) 238-2724 to book an appointment.