Saratoga Springs – Where it all began
Our founder, Seumas, recalls his time in, and reflects upon the place that inspired Saratoga Body
My New York Adventure
For 11 years (1990 – 2001), I had the pleasure of living and working in Saratoga Springs, NY. It was January, 1990, when my IT position transferred me from Reno, NV, to upstate New York. I’d never been to New York before, so like a lot of people, I thought that the entire state would be a lot like the Big Apple. I was pleasantly surprised as, driving across the state, I encountered rolling hills, mountains, and never-ending farmlands. Saratoga itself reminded me a lot of the small town in Mississippi where I would spend a lot of time with my family: beautiful Victorian and Antebellum architecture, lush botanical gardens, friendly neighbors, and a sense of pride and history.
My job required a lot of travel the first couple of years and, before I knew it, I’d really packed on the pounds. I tried every imaginable weight-loss routine. Unfortunately, none of them had any lasting effects. Still, I kept trying.
1994 was a year of transformation for me. I’d lost over 100 pounds in just under six months utilizing a program I’d developed on my own centering on exercise, nutrition, and rest. Many people at my local gym would approach me and ask how I’d done it. One day, while on the stair climber, it dawned on me: I’d been telling people my secrets for free and there were folks out there charging others $125 an hour for such information and guidance. I’d come to really dislike my IT career; it wasn’t as fun and personally rewarding as it was when I was helping people lose weight and get healthier. So, I decided to go out and get some formal education on the subject and make a major life change.
A few months later, I was an internationally certified personal trainer / fitness instructor. And so began my journey in the world of health and wellness. My clientele built rather quickly as my business model was so different than all the other trainers out there.
I took a vested interest in all of my clients and customized each of their sessions with me to meet their personal needs and goals. In addition, unlike a lot of my competitors, I would not let someone’s financial status prevent them from getting the help that they needed. So, if a client couldn’t afford my standard rates, I found creative ways to barter with them. You do landscaping? Great – you make my yard look good and I’ll help you get into good shape. You’re a dog groomer? Excellent – you groom my bulldog and you’ve got yourself a trainer. Everybody wins!!
After a few years of providing individuals with guidance on exercise and nutrition, I knew it was time to add to my services portfolio. I’d always been interested in alternative practices to western medicine, so I started doing research on the benefits of massage and aromatherapies.
In 1997, I started my massage therapy education. After working in the field for over a decade, the desire to continue helping others live a more enriched life never left me. I decided to go back to school again so that I could reinforce my previous education and add some additional modalities and service offerings to my clients. On March 5, 2010, I graduated with honors from the Massage Therapy / Spa Specialist program at Everest College in Seattle.
Inspired by the healing powers located there, and my time and experiences in Saratoga Springs, I knew that when I started my own practice I’d have to pay tribute to where I received my start in the health and wellness industry. And with that in mind, Saratoga Body Shoppe was founded on March 9, 2010.
At Saratoga Body Shoppe, we pride ourselves on being your one-stop shop for therapeutic massage, aromatherapies, and spa treatments. We look forward to providing you with a relaxing environment to revitalize the mind, refresh the body, and nourish the spirit with our best in class services.
Saratoga Springs - History
Saratoga Springs, New York, also known simply as Saratoga, is a beautiful city in upstate New York, approximately 30 miles north of Albany. Rich in history and culture, the name reflects the presence of mineral springs in the area.
Fort Saratoga was built in 1691 on the west bank of the Hudson River. In 1767, Sir William Johnson, British soldier and a hero of the French and Indian Wars, was brought to what would become the city of Saratoga Springs by Native American friends to treat war wounds at a spring thought to have medicinal properties. The spring is now known as High Rock Spring, and may be visited today.
The first permanent settler at the springs arrived around 1776, and a tourist trade swiftly grew, with hotels being constructed starting with Gideon Putnam. Mr. Putnam laid out the roads and donated land for use as public spaces.
Saratoga Springs was established as a town in 1819 from a western portion of the Town of Saratoga. Its principal community was incorporated as a village in 1826 and the entire region became a city in 1915.
In the 19 century, the noted doctor Simon Baruch encouraged bringing European style spas to the United States, and thus Saratoga Springs, with its wealth of mineral waters developed as a spa, seeing many hotels built, including the Grand Union Hotel that was, in its day, the largest hotel in the world, and the United States Hotel. In 1863, the Saratoga Race Course opened and moved to its current location the following year, greatly expanding the city’s reputation as a tourist destination. In addition, the Saratoga Springs area was known for its gambling, which after the first years of the 20 century was illegal, but still widespread.
After the closing and demolition of many of the town's premier hotels, including the Grand Union and United States, in the 1940s and 1950s, Saratoga Springs experienced a significant economic downturn. During the 1950s, the famed gambling houses were also shut down, which hurt Saratoga Springs' popularity even more. The city's rebirth began in the 1960s with the completion of the Adirondack Northway (Interstate 87), which allowed visitors from the New York City area much easier access. In addition, the construction of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in the late 1960s, which features classical and popular music and dance, furthered the city's renaissance.
Saratoga Springs - Culture
The city is perhaps best known for the Saratoga Race Course which opened on August 3, 1863. The first track was located across Union Avenue (at the present Oklahoma Training Track location) from the present Saratoga Race Course, which opened the following year. Founded by John Hunter and William R. Travers, the thoroughbred track is the oldest continuously-operating sporting event of any kind in the United States. The track holds a summer meet lasting six weeks, from late July to Labor Day, that attracts the top horses, jockeys, and trainers in America. The meet features a number of major stakes races, with the Travers Stakes, a Grade I race, being the most important of America's summer horse races. The track season sees a dramatic influx of people into the city. Hotels fill to capacity, and many Saratogians rent out their homes.
Also located in the city is the Saratoga Gaming and Raceway (now known as Saratoga Casino and Raceway), a harness (Standard bred) racetrack that includes a video gaming facility, the Racino.
Before racing began in Saratoga, the area's natural mineral springs had been attracting summertime visitors for many decades. These springs were believed to have healing powers. The Lincoln Baths was one such place people would go to be treated with the waters. The bath house has since been transformed into an office building, but still exists and can be visited to this day. The spa treatments also are being continued in a new bath house in the Spa State Park called the Roosevelt Baths. Springs can be found all over town. Most of the springs are covered by small pavilions and marked by plaques; others, however, are less conspicuous, sometimes just a spigot in a rock. The springs are famous for their varied and distinct tastes: some are clear freshwater, others are saltier, and some taste strongly of a certain mineral such as sodium bicarbonate or sodium chloride. There is a sulfur odor but mineral analysis of the water consistently shows almost no presence of dissolved sulfur, because the sulfur is in the form of the gas hydrogen sulfide, which degasses from the water very quickly. Visitors are welcome to bottle the spring water for personal consumption.
The springs include:
· Big Red Spring
· Charlie Spring
· Columbian Springs
· Congress Spring
· Deer Park Spring
· Empire Spring
· Geyser Island Spouter
· Geyser Spring
· Governor Spring
· Hathorn #1
· Hathorn #3
· Hayes Well Spring
· High Rock Spring
· Old Iron Spring
· Old Red Spring
· Orenda Spring and Tufa Deposits
· Patterson Springs
· Peerless Spring
· Polaris Spring
· State Seal
Arts and Entertainment
The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (known by its acronym "SPAC," rhymes with "snack") is a covered outdoor amphitheater located on the grounds of the Saratoga Spa State Park, with a capacity of 5,000 in reserved seating and 20,000+ on its general admission lawn area. SPAC is the summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York City Ballet, and has hosted a weekend-long jazz festival for several decades. 2007 marked the second year of the annual Saratoga Native American Festival held on the grounds of SPAC. It is a stop for touring national recording artists: over 20 popular bands grace the stage every summer. Steps away on State Park grounds, the Spa Little Theater hosts the "Home Made Theater" as well as Opera Saratoga (formerly known as the Lake George Opera) during the summer.
There are several museums in the area, including the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, and the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. There are more than 20 golf courses in the area.
The city is also notable for its vibrant night life. Cafe Lena was one of the first venues in the Eastern US at which Bob Dylan performed, in 1961. Arlo Guthrie played at Cafè Lena early in his career and has returned for occasional benefit concerts. Singer Don McLean is said to have composed his "American Pie" sitting at a table in the Tin & Lint, a bar on Caroline Street. A plaque marks the table today. Numerous other establishments exist on Broadway, Caroline Street, and the redeveloped Putnam Street.
Recently, Beekman Street (four blocks West of Broadway), once the center of a lower class residential neighborhood, has become an art district, housing four galleries, a restaurant, a pub and teahouse, and a bistro. Artists live and work in co-ops and arrange social events. While many congratulate themselves on "revitalizing" a "deteriorating" area, others consider such declarations an insult to the generations of Saratogians of marginalized ethnicities that toiled in support of the tourism economy of the city, and were traditionally segregated to this once-remote quarter.
Saratoga Springs is also home to Yaddo, a 400-acre artists' community, founded by the great Wall Street financier, Spencer Trask and his wife, the author Katrina Trask. Since its inception in 1900, Yaddo has been home to 60 Pulitzer Prize winning authors and one Nobel Prize winner. Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, and David Sedaris have all been artists-in-residence. The Yaddo grounds are adjacent to the backstretch of the Saratoga Race Course.