Wednesday, August 17, 2016


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Many consider themselves to be a “senior” at the ripe “old age” of fifty.  I’ve heard of some “youngsters” barricading themselves in their apartments when they turned THIRTY, because they perceived their lives as being “over”.  Our culture is too superficially youth-oriented, instead of celebrating and placing esteem and value on “older” folks; that includes me, and I turned sixty-eight this past June 6th (make a note of that for next year’s celebration, and yes, I’m accepting gifts all year long in case you’re so inclined…but, I digress…).  I’ll admit that in the few weeks leading up to my (gasp!) fiftieth birthday, getting mail from AARP to join their organization now that I was becoming a “senior”, or getting pitches from car insurance companies on “senior” discounts, made me a bit indignant, and so much so, that I penned a rather comical article that ran in a Chicago women’s newspaper, “Today’s Chicago Woman”.

As I’ve aged, a certain amount of wisdom floods the senses and thankfully, makes me snicker at how inane I was all those decades ago when I knew everything and thought I was more than I actually was, and (sigh!) “younger”. 

SEGUE:  I fell in love with the spa industry in the late-1980s because of a personal connection with my first destination spa experience where I finally realized that I wasn’t going to be defined by the abuses I survived and that I was a person of substance and worth.  From that, I embarked on writing, making presentations, being interviewed, spa consulting, and spa and product reviewing.  In my presentations and interviews, the importance I stressed wasn’t so much the aspect of getting treatments that made a person feel good, although that was a big plus…no, getting a sense of restoration and personal identity was the point of the experience.  Back in those “early” days, I was definitely above the “expert” curve.

SEQUE:  I suffer from permanent injuries from multiple car accidents where people kept plowing into the rear of my car, and no, I didn’t have a sign that said, “Hit me”.  Multiple care accidents, multiple injuries on top of previous injuries, and multiple bouts of physical therapy revved up my “spa thinking” to a what-if!

When I was writing for a spa trade publication and had the pleasure of going on press trips to scope spa properties out, invariably the group I was with was often required to actively participate in fitness classes, to get a sense of what the guest would experience as part of their comprehensive spa experience.  Yikes, me, a fitness class, and with all of my permanent back injuries, including arthritis and general mobility issues?  Yes, that yikes!  I always approached the instructor and tried to explain my circumstances.  It was futile trying to explain to the fitness instructors or class leaders…they weren’t interested in my physical limitations, because to them I was either complaining, or anti-social, or just plain lazy…besides, they were a good fifteen to twenty years younger than me, and were more conditioned to leading tight young bodies, versus flabbier, injured, older bodies.  Many times I sat the class out or did a drastic movement alteration to the routine, so as to at least look like I was participating…funny thing, others close to my age were doing the same thing as I, but oddly enough, the youngster class “leader” was oblivious to our needs…clearly, their age and our age were at odds.  So, what’s wrong with this picture?

SEQUE:  I call this “spa inclusion interrupted”.  Much has been written (by others) about anti-aging this, or anti-aging that…surgery, injectables, supplements, smoothies, detox, creams, lotions, and potions, and whatever else can be marketed to the aging person, especially the health and wellness conscious spa goer to make them believe that they’re not aging and anything they can medically manipulate, drink, eat, or slap on their skin will somehow make them younger…just like they used to be...and reverse the dreaded aging process.  Well, it ain’t gonna’ happen, folks!  I find it ironic and hypocritical for an industry that is presumably founded on acceptance, tolerance, and inclusiveness, can often be anything of those aspects. 

Many have questioned how I could even have become involved in an industry that has those negative tendencies…especially experiencing a spa facility that often makes a person feel inadequate, self-conscious, judgmental, etc.  Well, it’s simple, really…for every negative there are many more positives and many in the industry are striving to make that a reality.  Even if an experience can instill in a person a sense of accomplishment, or personal assessment, or arriving in a point in their life they never would’ve had were it not for the experience, is worth any of the perceived or experienced negativity.


Parlaying her success with her highly regarded website “Journey Into Wellbeing”, and expanding upon her far reaching impact on all-things spa and wellness, noted expert Debra Koerner will be hosting a program on PBS nationwide, beginning in November 2016.  The program, “Senior Moments”, will celebrate all-things aging, including practical and realistic advice on leading a fulfilled life and lifestyle at any age.  The program will be a “journey” into all aspects of aging…from nutrition, to fitness, to health and well being, to spa, and adaptive approaches based one’s individual needs. 

Debra K’s initial program will be centered around spa and wellness legend Deborah Szekely, a vibrant woman of ninety-four.  Dubbed the “Godmother of the Spa Industry”, she is also the person behind Mexico’s iconic “Rancho La Puerto”, a “destination and lifestyle spa” that began in the mid-1930s.  Both she and her husband, Edmond Szekely were visionaries in areas of wellness, health, lifestyle, sustainability, conservation, and natural and organic food; they both realized the importance of an inter-connecting relationship with these aspects, along with an environment of restoration, rejuvenation, and relaxation.  This vision led to the formation of  “Rancho La Puerto”.  Over the years, the destination spa has expanded and has continued enriching the lives of its guests and its staff.   This vision and its practical and realistic lifestyle components have been instrumental in the incredible longevity and vibrancy of Deborah Szekely, who continues spearheading the facility’s operation, as well as regularly teaching classes on health, wellness, and lifestyle.  Guests and staff revere her for her wisdom and gentleness and honesty; guests always leave in a better condition of “self” than when they first arrived.  The guest experience is definitely a “journey in self”, and one that’s transformative.  “Senior Moments” aims to impart those aspects on its viewers, as well. 

I’m looking forward to this new program, knowing that it will impact the lives of its viewers.  I wish Debra K every success with yet another formidable accomplishment in her young career, and am also hoping the program becomes a reoccurring series!  So, stay tuned…..


For more information on “Senior Moments”, visit

For a glimpse into “Senior Moments”, visit 

For more information on “Journey Into Wellbeing”, visit

For more information on “Rancho La Puerto”, visit


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Each person is different and ages differently…whether through genetics, or lifestyle choices…what may work for one person won’t necessarily work for another…we’re not all cut from the same cookie cutter dough, so to speak.  Any program, no matter who is leading it, is a guide, and meant as a guide of encouragement and inspiration. 

Lastly, be sure to consider seeking advice from your physical or medical practitioner before embarking on any fitness or dietary routine that may or may not be conducive to your particular medical or health conditions.  

That’s it for this edition.  Until the next one, remember to take care of yourself and those you love.

By Terry Herman

TERRY HERMAN is a recognized expert in the industry, and regularly covers issues that include business, management, operations, customer care, treatments, products, and trends. In the 1990s, she authored an extensive "Glossary of Spa Terminologies" and holds two copyright registrations on her authored work.  Consumer and trade publications have also interviewed her as an expert.  She also conducted an extensive nationally broadcasted interview tour on aspects of creating an at-home spa, interior design, music, stress and time management.  Her work has been published extensively in print and digital in both consumer and trade publications.  In addition to writing, reviewing and being interviewed as an expert, she is also a management consultant and motivational speaker.  She also served on the International Advisory Board for the former EXPERIENCE | PREMCHIT Journeys In Retreat To Wellness; the Advisory Board was comprised of ten international experts in various fields of wellness and spa.  She also served each of the Five Pillars Task Force groups for the Asia Pacific Spa & Wellness Council (APSWC).  She has been a Group Manager for the popular LinkedIn group, The Spa Buzz, and is currently an Administrator for two Facebook Groups, Wild Food Society and Spa College.  In addition to her blogs, her social media outreach includes Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Be sure to read her food, wine and culinary digital magazine, TERRY’S SECOND HELPINGS.  Don’t forget to “Like” her Facebook Page, Terry’s Second Helpings.  Please note that the “Comment Section” has been disabled.  For additional information, email her at


(Photo credits as indicated, or as represented by the specific brand.)