By LP Hastings
By Michael Goldstein
By R. Scott Moxley
By Gustavo Arellano
By Gustavo Arellano
By Matt Coker
By Nick Schou
By Bethania Palma Markus
At Imperial Health Spa, this is how you get summer-ready skin:
1885 N. Euclid St.
Fullerton, CA 92833
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Step 1: Get naked.
Step 2: Lie down on a wet, vinyl-covered table as a middle-aged, bra-and-panties-clad woman vigorously sloughs off dead debris from every cranny of your body with Brillo-pad-like scrubbing mitts.
Step 3: Walk out of the room feeling slightly traumatized, but also relaxed and refreshed.
Step 4: Feel how smooth you are and wonder, "Where has this place been all my life?"
The age-old scrubbing ritual is the prized service at this gleaming Korean wonderspa that anchors a Fullerton strip mall. People of all ages, sizes, shapes and colors come to get squeaky-clean and unravel life's worries in the many pools, lounge areas and "therapeutic rooms" that fill the 32,000-square-foot space designed to look like a Roman cathedral.
While a notch fancier than most standard Korean jimjilbangs (traditional bathhouses) in Los Angeles, this isn't Burke-Williams. You won't find plush robes, cucumber water and Enya playing in the background. But for a $20 entrance fee, no one seems to mind. Walk into the marble-floored lobby, grab your locker keys (Koreans consider shoes to be filthy, so they're stored away from all other belongings) and veer into the gender-separated changing quarters. Then strip away—all the way down to your plastic ID bracelet. (Swimsuits are allowed, but you rarely see them.) Don't bother sucking it in. Nobody's a supermodel, and nobody's paying attention. It's quite liberating.
Enter a bright room with shiny marble walls, saunas and mini-pools that range from hot to really hot to ooh-that's-cold. The spa recommends you alternate between the three to rev up blood flow. For those looking for a DIY scrubdown, there are rows of metal spigots, stools and sponges.
Next, slip on the spa-issued shorts-and-tee set (hot pink for ladies, mustard yellow for men) and head to the co-ed area, an oasis of black-leather reclining chairs mostly occupied by men reading newspapers, televisions set on Korean channels and a maze of saunas, all built with natural elements that promise an array of specific health benefits, from increasing brain activity to preventing osteoporosis. One room features sandbox-like beds filled with tiny balls of clay heated with infrared rays. Another has walls made of salt bricks. There's a jade room that glimmers and an ice room that looks—and feels—like an igloo. In addition to the $30 scrub, the house specialty, Imperial Health Spa offers standard spa services such as facials and Swedish and deep-tissue massages, all reasonably priced.
After a long day of sweating out the toxins, renourish at the spa restaurant. No froufrou menu of carrot sticks and wheatgrass shots here: From a handmade noodle soup to spicy rice cakes to kimchi fried rice, the dishes are hearty and hit the spot.
You'll walk out feeling satisfied and glowing. Hello, summer!
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