All in the name of preserving beauty and researching anti-aging methods, I headed to Corona to pay a visit to the famous Glen Ivy Hot Springs.
I have been to a few hot springs, one in Pagosa, Colorado which I really enjoyed, partly because the surrounding area is so beautiful. But, for the Live Fit Magazine Show, the assignment was to find an experience closer to home. Glen Ivy came to mind.
I started with a good soak in the mineral water bath which, of course, had that not-so favorite smell–sulfur. Some people don’t mind the rotten-eggs-like smell and say they even like it…go figure!
Then off to Club Mud. Yep! …slather it up like a pig! all over you, while standing in the hot sun beneath a mist of water spray. Try not to laugh so you won’t crack your mud coat. Then bake in the sun for a good 20 minutes or so and relax! Okay, I was the only one there using my iPhone…LOL! More about Club Mud later.
Later I am heading to the Grotto for another lathering of goop and a steam and soak. It’s beautiful, charming and, for a holiday weekend, (Memorial Day) surprisingly not too crowded.
I spoke too soon. By early afternoon, the Hot Springs was bubbling with people. So much so that, after the Grotto experience and lunch outside, it took 20 minutes to scout out a lounge chair.
I really hadn’t had much sun relaxation so this was a bit disappointing. Apparently what the experienced Glen Ivy patrons do is lay their claim to a few lounge chairs by placing towels and some of their belongings on them while they head into treatment sessions which can last 60-minutes-plus. So, needless to say, the lounge chairs are tied up for quite a while. But I finally did spot one near two of the many pretty waterfalls on the grounds. And, yes, it was worth the wait, sitting surrounded by beautiful leafy trees, my chair poised near the edge of a medium-sized pool and sandwich-like at either end of the pool were two waterfalls. This made up for the inconvenience of having to search for a lounge chair as if I were combing the parking lots at SDSU for a space to park.
The waterfalls help drown out the buzz of chatter from people in the pool enjoying the sun–(it’s about 90 degrees today)–the mildly cool water, and the non- and-/or alcoholic beverages served at Glen Ivy. But it’s not quite like a Five-Star hotel. You don’t see many staff members waiting to serve you drinks by the pool. In fact, it’s really–GIY–Get It Yourself! It’s okay though, there are plenty of stands offering free iced-water flavored with whole-food apple slices for just a touch of tanginess. A nice spa treat.
I brought a dehydrated green powered drink that mixes with water and gives me plenty of nutrients while helping to detox my body. I sipped it slowly, though, as I was a bit concerned that if I got up to use the restroom, I might lose my prime spot and lounge chair.
The map of Glen Ivy makes it look sprawling but really it’s fairly tight quarters. Not in a bad way. I just mean that everything is easily accessible and nearby. So you can move from various pools within minutes. They do fill up fast. One of the larger pools that offers float pads is always among the first to fill and then you see nothing but a pool of bodies drifting atop the blue rafts.
There are various areas to escape the sun but not that many. You’ll mostly find full sun when you’re near the pool areas. So bring a hat and plenty of sunscreen and a refillable water bottle. I forgot my sunscreen and had to buy one inside for $13.
I saw a few other fair-skinned people who must have forgotten the sun screen or opted not to buy it–OUCH!
The time by the pool afforded me an opportunity to reflect about my day so far at Glen Ivy. My iPhone had lost its juice, so my trusty pen and faithful notepad had to do. Even though I hate my handwriting and the inability to quickly and neatly move around whole paragraphs at a time as you can in the digital world, I quickly wrote… eager to tell the story about Glen Ivy.
I did notice that I was the only one feverishly writing–hmm, not surprising. No one was on iPads or other devices. For the most part they were relaxing. Wow! The connections were being made in person not via our fingers and our text messages–pretty old school but cool!
There are many distractions here to take you away from that office mentality or the family brood you left behind. Many people come to heal, to celebrate, to steal quiet moments, to self-indulge, to review the place (only kidding…I didn’t see anyone else doing my job) on this crowded holiday weekend. Big groups circled together and talked around the pool; others like the sweet couple to my right wrapped in each others’ arms inside the pool, seemed to be stealing a few romantic moments as if they were all alone–and with the eye-to-eye intensity, they were, indeed, “all alone in their own world!”. No matter why people come here, all them seemed to be enjoying a wonderful bonding experience.
From where I sat, I overheard giggles and watch as couples devotedly massage each others’ shoulders. It was interesting to see how people really do come together when their stress and busy lifestyle are put aside.
I have been here twice before but, frankly, it has been a while, so this was almost like a first experience. I did one treatment in addition to the Taking of the Waters. When you enter you pay to use the 19 pools and pool lounge area. The admission for this depends on the day of the week and if you are purchasing other spa treatments, also if you have a military ID (they offer a 10% discount off for the military cardholder on admission to the Taking of the Waters.
If it sounds new-age or spiritual, knowing the history of Glen Ivy helps explain it. The facility is located in Corona. The receptionist told me that even today, native Americans come to bathe in the waters and take in the spiritual properties that come from the hot springs. Glen Ivy has been here since President Lincoln was in office. Today, it attracts approximately 195,000 visitors per year.
I elected to do the Grotto experience for an additional $25. At my assigned time I would head to the underground cave. However, first I soaked in two mineral pools that ranged from about 98-102 or so degrees. They could have been hotter for my liking. Some were like a luke-warm bath but with the smell of sulfur. The water is much softer than typical hard tap water and the smell of sulfur is not overwhelming.
Then it was over to Club Mud where I was instructed to put a light layer of mud all over my body, including my hair. Although, I heard many women say not to use the mud (really clay) in your hair if you have color-treated hair–might wash out some of the color. I tried it anyway. Here’s a tip, if you slather too much mud on, it will take a while for it to come off and it’s especially difficult to get it out of long, thick hair.. So use it sparingly. Let it dry…may take quite a while if you really put on a thick coat!
Time to scrape, rub, and soak in a pond filled with clay water to dissolve the hardened clay from my body and my hair. What a tangled mess! Note to self: no more putting it in my hair. I realize I am short on time as I have an 11;30 a.m. Kundalini yoga class that I absolutely don’t want to miss. I practice Ashtanga Yoga and Pilates and would like to learn about this type of Kriya. So I shower quickly and head to yoga in a fresh bathing suit. I brought a couple so I didn’t have to exercise in a wet bikini. You can also wear workout clothes but many, to keep it simple, just wear their swimsuits all day.
Yoga–Working On My Digestion
I had no idea that the Kriya yoga I was about to practice would actually help me with an area of my body that tends to give me grief now and then.
I was told at the receptionist stand that the yoga was just 30 minutes. However, our Chinese yoga instructor had something else in mind. We first chanted briefly. Then began a series of asanas (postures or exercises). We were taught a breathing technique that must have looked a bit strange to the first-timers walking up to Glen Ivy–the yoga is practiced on the sun deck just outside the hot springs and across from the labyrinth. It’s the breath of fire, our instructor told us. It helps with digestion. The breathing exercise is performed by taking short breaths in and out of your nose rapidly. It naturally moves your abdomen in and out and you can tire quickly.
The exercised reminded me a lot of Pilates. I could easily see how Joseph Pilates was influenced by the Eastern teachings of yoga, although, I feel that some of the exercises practiced today in Pilates are safer for the body. The breathing technique is also similar and I find it more fluid but yet accomplishing the same goal.
At my assigned time, I was taken down into the Grotto–a dimly lit cave, along with about 10 other people. Here they paint on a deep moisturizer made from aloe vera, Shea butter, and coconut oil. You keep your swimsuit on and are brushed with the goop for a few minutes right there beside your fellow group members. For $5 you can get photographed and the print.
Hmm…I did it and then opted not to pick up the print. Definitely not my best look. LOL!
The pampering was nice but too short. The brushing takes five minutes to slop on and then the group is moved to a warm room in the grotto. Here the warmth is supposed to open your pores. Here more romantic couple massage commences and everyone is amused by how slimy and lathered up we all look.
Then it’s off to the cave showers. An overhead shower bursts warm to hot water on top of your head while the slime slides off by the power of the side faucets. We dry off and head into another dimly lit grotto area to enjoy hot tea, cold water, and apples in a cool room.
All in all, it’s about a 45-minute treatment that is enjoyable, especially because of the novelty or if with a large group. I’ve attended a bridal engagement party here, but really it’s not the kind of thing I would do again for the $25 price. You can come to Glen Ivy and pay the admission price (just $55-$65) for Taking the Waters and have a really good time. Many people do also come for facials and massages. I overheard someone saying that his massage was the best he’s ever had and he’s had many. I can’t say as I have yet to try the other treatments. There’s always next time.
After the Grotto I was famished. Time for lunch. If you spend a day here, you will eat here. The food is organic and fresh and pretty good. Not like fine dining but definetly better than amusement park food and many spa meals. I sampled the Ahi Poke Salad with sesame, ginger dressing. You get a small portion of ahi but can order more for an extra fee. The small portion fit my needs. It was good, not great. Some ahi salads have amazing dressing and seasoning and that really makes the salad. This one was fresh, large (you get lots of organic greens, cucumbers, and fried crunchy noodles) plus the plate was circled with dollops of wasabi and chili sauce–Love that!
Glen Ivy is a pleasant, serene, clean environment to help you escape the daily grind. On a busy holiday weekend like Memorial Day, bring some patience. The locker rooms are spacious and very well maintained but you’ll have to dance around people when it is at its peak hours for showering.
For the most part, I didn’t see a big line for the showers or front space at the counter in front of the big mirrors. You won’t need shampoo, conditioner, or body wash–they’re all provided. As are hair dryers but they don’t put out much power. So for thick, long hair like mine it can take a while to style. You don’t need towels either. However, both the pool towels and the shower towels are small and not soft. So it’s advisable to bring a pool towel and maybe even a larger shower towel.
Before you wrap up your day at Glen Ivy, save some time for a quick steam in locker room and a soak in the Roman Bath, also in the locker room. These are gender exclusive. Most of the premises and outdoor mineral pools, dry sauna, Grotto, and some treatments are co-ed.
In the locker room, save some quiet moments just for yourself and escape with your thoughts to reflect on the day and unwind a little deeper at Glen Ivy Hot Springs. You’ll leave refreshed, renewed, and invigorated…ready to take on the week or, better yet, come during the middle of the week (you’ll have fewer people around) and it’ll break up a long work week. Enjoy!
TIPS For Visiting Glen Ivy Hot Springs
- Arrive early
- Bring a cover up and your own large towel
- Refillable water bottle
- A couple of bathing suits
- Yoga clothes
- Beach bag
- Book treatments ahead
- Stake your lounge chair early in the day
- Eat lunch earlier or a little later to avoid the crowded line
- Plan to spend a day here with no rushing