The last time I was in a COMO Hotels & Resorts spa was in Bangkok, and as I pass through the lobby and head up to the spa on the second floor of London’s Metropolitan by COMO, I’m transported, by that signature COMO Shambhala scent, to the oasis of calm and cool on the frenetic Sathorn Road in BKK.
I’m here to see a man dubbed as one of the world’s best health therapists. Rohan Quarry Day, a trained physio, personal trainer, masseur, breathing expert and even psychoanalyst, has travelled the world to treat some fantastically famous people – including Olympians. It’s Quarry Day’s own unique Muscoskeletal Therapy (MDTT) that I’m here to test out.
And I’m not just a random journo coming in to shake hands and have a rubdown. Thanks to a wonderfully middle-class back injury (reaching for pomegranate molasses in a low kitchen cupboard), I suffer from relentless back pain caused by spondylolysis. I’ve been seeing a local chiropractor for nearly a year, and although the pain has become more manageable, I don’t feel as though I’m getting better. The bad back has curtailed gym visits and I’m feeling, well, a bit fed up with the weight gain as well as the ongoing pain.
Thanks to a wonderfully middle-class back injury (reaching for pomegranate molasses in a low kitchen cupboard), I suffer from relentless back pain caused by spondylolysis
Quarry Day comes highly recommended – he’s Christina Ong’s personal back doctor. And Ong, of course, is the owner of COMO Hotels & Resorts. I’m not sure what to expect in just a single visit, but I’m hoping that Rohan is going to give me a strong second opinion and perhaps some work to do at home.
We begin in the hotel’s gym, near where a man is lifting an impressive set of weights under the watchful eye of a personal trainer. Against this soundtrack of grunts and groans, Rohan asks me to assume the most natural stranding position I can whilst he examines my posture from every angle. As he peers around me, I am suddenly aware of my slouchy shoulders, the tipping forward of my head and my toes in a ridiculous pigeon stance – how did they get there? But as soon as Rohan begins his work, I forget all of this. His technique uses your own skeleton as a tool to increase movement and stretch the muscles that receive a battering thanks to poor posture or over-compensating for past injuries. With each and every stretch and movement he is assessing strength, issues and combatting problem areas.
It must be his psychoanalytical skills that help this process to be positive, comfortable and encouraging – he pushes me and praises me when a joint clicks or my stretch reach is increased. He has me sussed out straight away – the best way to get results from me is to shower praise, as if on an eager puppy.
After the gym we move to a treatment room, where Rohan straps me onto a massage bed using a Subaru seatbelt. No, really. From my restrained position – at not one point do I feel uncomfortable, I’m keen to add – he uses my legs and arms as levers, stretching me, tugging me and shaking my limbs. Every now and then a “pop” comes from a joint, which pleases Rohan. “Lisa Richards, you’re doing great!” I glow with pride.
After an hour I feel like I’m on drugs – the good kind. My pupils have dilated, my skin is glowing and I feel like Rohan has added at least two inches to my diminutive stature. Before I have a chance to float off to Park Lane, Rohan describes simple exercises I can do at home to help continue his good work.
The next day I feel like I’ve had the workout of my life at the gym, but in a controlled, thorough way. The day after that I start Rohan’s exercises and I find myself instantly self-correcting my posture. Since my visit, I’ve not had a single back twinge. If he can achieve this in just one session, imagine what he can do in three. Christina Ong’s going to have to fight me for him. C
ROHAN QUARRY DAY’S TIPS FOR THE AUTUMN/WINTER SEASON Lights turn on. Lights turn off. Why do the most luxurious of hotels go out of their way to make the simplest of things so very, very difficult? Big reds and the Bekaa: Michael Karam on Lebanese wines for every season Why Donald Urquhart has traded London clubland for the joie de vivre of Montmartre
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Hydrate: as the weather becomes cooler we tend to drink less water. Heaters in offices and homes dry out the air, dry out our skin and muscles.
Diet: seasons change, bringing us seasonal varieties of different vegetables and fruits. Choose a mix of different coloured season fruits and vegetables, keeping up a certain amount of fresh and raw food in your diet over the colder months.
Movement: every hour on the hour move away from your computer, desk or workstation. Walk for a few minutes to get the blood moving and stop stiffness developing from being seated too long.
Stretch: whilst waiting for a document to upload/download or while reading or checking your work interlace your fingers behind you back and squeeze your shoulder blades together opening up the front of your body which is predominately closed while working with your hands in flexion or in front of you.
Exercise: choose a movement that you practice daily, especially if it’s a class that challenges you, switching off your brain from work. It could simply be a walk after dinner around your neighbourhood; a hike on the weekend; or simply finding a comfortable place in your home where you can stretch and explore your physicality.
Rohan Quarry Day will be a resident of the COMO Shambhala Urban Escape, the spa at London’s Metropolitan by COMO hotel until 30 November, 2013. He is a regular visiting therapist at the Singapore property.