Whole-Body Wellness at
One of the World’s Best Clinics
In partnership with our friends at SHA Wellness Clinic
For Alejandro Bataller, SHA is personal. It was born out of watching his father “suffer from many health problems”—and the complete lack of treatment options available. So the Batallers set out to solve their own problem by fusing Eastern and Western healing modalities, and in 2008, they opened SHA Wellness Clinic.
Unlike so many of the world’s wellness clinics, SHA is not in Switzerland or Austria or coastal California. It’s in a tiny town in the south of Spain called Alicante. But that’s not the only way SHA is different. Even from the outside, the clinic is not what you expect: The sun-bleached, blindingly white building is flanked by trees and cliffs and the sparkling Mediterranean. It looks more like a vacation villa than a wellness clinic. And that’s the point. The center adopts a no-hard-edges, preferably noninvasive, completely holistic, 360-degree approach to health and wellness. And this is the gist of SHA—what sets it apart from every other spa and wellness clinic in the world. It is a thoughtfully edited collection of the best treatments of the East (moxibustion and Shiatsu), the West (live blood analysis with Dr. Rosario García), the old (acupuncture), the new (ozone therapy), and the truly cutting-edge (brain phototherapy codeveloped by NASA). If there is a more holistic wellness center anywhere in the world, we don’t know it.
After a seven- or fourteen-day stint under the guidance of the SHA practitioners, you will feel better, look better, even sleep better. Maybe the acupuncture, moxibustion, and meditation will calm you down. Maybe the liver detox drips and lung nebulizations will perk you up. And maybe the long, restorative hikes over the nearby cliffs; the (small) plates of clean, wholesome food; and the sleepy serenity of this swath of southern Spain will bring you back to center. Whatever you seek from this singular wellness experience and whatever programs you are prescribed, you will be in remarkably capable hands.
We’ll do you a solid and let you in on a small taste of what lies ahead when you book a stint at SHA. In a nutshell: a head-to-toe, arteries-and-all once-over, and a custom program to address…exactly what you want it to address. To simplify, the clinic offers five programs that include different protocols, treatments, diets, and more. You select the one you want, buy a ticket to Spain, and let the detoxing begin. Or the fitness. Or the anti-aging…
The word “detox” is tossed around so liberally these days that it often doesn’t mean anything. That’s not the case at SHA. The programs here are designed to enhance the body’s natural detoxification functions with a heavy focus on our internal garbage disposal: the liver. Upon arrival, Sha practitioners perform a battery of diagnostic tests to figure out just how much oxidative stress (an imbalance between free radical and antioxidant activity) the body is experiencing. From there, a treatment for your liver and the lungs packed with do-good ingredients we can’t pronounce. Just trust. These healing therapies are a small sampling of the SHA toolbox. There are plenty of others—like acupuncture, lymphatic drainage, a restructured diet, and colon hydrotherapy—that are offered to address detoxification.
Fitness is big business here. But at SHA, exercise is less of a boot camp and more of the hold-your-hand variety. Instructors are kind and patient. Just don’t take that to mean it’s easy: You will absolutely break a sweat under the tutelage of these encouraging (but also understanding!) session leaders. You will do planks and circuit training and more downward dogs than you would in any yoga class and you will love it. In other words, fitness programs at SHA are not designed to punish. A steep bracing walk over the cliffs with amazing views of the water is every bit as much a workout as a spin class—but with the nourishing bonus of fresh air and inspiring views. Treatment-wise it’s all about muscle-calming massage, physiotherapy, osteopathy, posture correction, more lymphatic drainage, and intravenous drips for optimum hydration. This sounds like a lot, but the fitness program makes exercise more than bearable. In fact, we would go so far as to say it’s fun (really). And the results are very impressive.
Ah stress, the great equalizer of 2019. We all know it well—thanks to the twenty-four-hour nature of our jobs, the fact that our computers have replaced a bottle of water as a chosen accessory, and our desperate need to be always perceived as “on.” For those who are so stressed that they can barely remember their own name, fourteen days at SHA is like a really big exhale. Dealing with insomnia, fatigue, irritability, and nagging anxiety is the specialty of many of SHA’s most renowned practitioners. And many of the treatments take an Eastern approach. Labs come first, then perhaps pranayama (yogic breathing), heart assessments, expert-led meditation, bioenergetic mapping, a course of oxygen, holistic well-being coaching, ozone therapy, and…we could go on. The beauty of two weeks at SHA is, of course, the programming. But it’s also the setting. The pretty rooms, the expansive views of a sparkling sea, the swaying pines, the salty air, the knowledge that someone else is handling the schedule, the meals, and…everything else is so deeply reassuring, those exhales start to get longer and longer.
Sickness is not a prerequisite at SHA. The Essence program caters to the health-conscious guest, the one who wants to spend a week eating, sleeping, exercising, and massaging their way to optimum wellness. In fact, the clinic is as much about prevention as it is about treatment. The aim of this program is to establish healthier eating habits, through SHA’s superb, macrobiotic-leaning cooking classes and group meals; a calmer mind-set, through meditation; emotional well-being; and a deeper level of relaxation, via plenty of time in the water (for craniocervical massage and watsu). For the visitor who wants to lie in the sun, read, hike, swim, and experience the gold list of wellness treatments, a week of this program is hard to beat. It’s a complete escape from the frenzy of modern life, and what you pick up has a way of staying with you long after you leave Spain. (The clinic’s specialists are reachable for follow-ups and advice once you get home.)
There is only so much one can do to fight the effects of time. But whatever can be done in a minimally invasive, wellness-forward way, rest assured SHA is doing it. Anyone in this program will receive extensive tests (measuring hematology, biochemistry, vascular risk, and so on) to assess the biological age of their body. This can be older or younger than your chronological age due to factors such as lifestyle stressors, pollution, alcohol consumption, toxic exposure, etc. SHA might prescribe scalp therapy for hair loss, pelvic floor physiotherapy, or cognitive stimulation (applying infrared light to areas of the brain) to help oxygenation. According to SHA’s resident cognitive specialist, Dr. Bruno Ribeiro, the phototherapy treatment can help “increase brain-energy levels” by stimulating the mitochondria, but bear in mind: The technology is still “purely therapeutic,” which is in line with the clinic’s preference for noninvasive treatments. From an aesthetic perspective, SHA’s facials are top-notch; they use pharmaceutical-grade ingredients to address all manner of concerns, like rosacea, eczema, hyperpigmentation, dryness, and any other line, spot, or discolored patch you can see with a magnifying mirror. You can go hard-core with electrostimulation, fruit-acid peels, and microperforation (puncturing the dermis with tiny needles) or keep it holistic with alpine rose, bentonite clay, and facial massage. Better yet, these results-driven treatments can also be applied to the body.