Skip Navigation

DCE Magazine

The Pursuit of Wellness: A Personal and Professional Journey

Winter 2019

The quest for wellness is an increasingly high priority in these modern times — and it's no wonder.

Disruptive technology, digital media and a relentless, often chaotic 24-hour news cycle can make it feel like our world is spinning out of control. All we want, it seems, is to quiet our minds and find balance in our lives.

But for many, the concept of wellness is elusive and abstract. The good news is that there's no right or wrong answer. Wellness is deeply personal and can hold entirely different meanings for each person, said Shawn Hallum, instructor for DCE's Spa and Wellness Management certificate program.

“Our interpretations can be completely different, though both will be exactly right for us individually,” he said. “As a professional coach and teacher, I witness this fact every day. For some, wellness is achieved by overcoming obstacles that are created by fear of the unknown. For others, it may be as straightforward as incorporating healthy practices like whole foods, movement, and spirituality into everyday living.”

The term wellness might be substituted for wholeness, he said. “What makes you whole? If you could change something tomorrow that would allow you to feel complete, what would it be?”

Our need for wellness, or wholeness, is not only a deeply personal pursuit, it has also fueled a booming movement and fast-growing industry for services and products that are revolutionizing the concept of holistic healthcare.

Shawn Hallum“The spa industry continues to grow exponentially and is ever-changing,” Hallum said. “Ten years ago, it was much easier to position yourself as an expert in the industry. Now, there is so much more to know.”

Expert professionals are needed now more than ever, and DCE's Spa and Wellness Management program aims to help fill the need with a cutting-edge curriculum intended for career-changers as well as experienced pros looking to move up to management, or perhaps launch their own business.

A career spent in the spa and wellness field is a path far from the normal corporate routine, whether the goal is to be a wellness coach, manager at a local spa or an exotic facility like the Naupaka Spa & Wellness Centre, the ultra-luxe day spa at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina where Hallum serves as director.

A lifestyle as well as a calling

Aside from his spa management career, Hallum is a dedicated teacher and wellness coach, serving on DCE's Spa and Wellness Management advisory committee and helping to shape its curriculum. He's also director of education for Hawaii Spa Association and professor and program chair for the American College of Healthcare Sciences, where he earned his master's degree in Complementary Alternative Medicine.

“Now I have the great fortune to teach for UCI,” he said. “Our Spa and Wellness Management program provides students with thoughtfully designed courses that are presented by proven leaders in the industry. It's an unparalleled way to take advantage of years of expertise in a matter of weeks.”

The six- to 12-month online certificate program offers “purpose-centered education,” giving students a significant advantage in the workplace, he said. All aspects of spa operations and management are covered including finance, human resources, marketing, and the latest spa treatments. Intended for newcomers as well as those currently in the industry, the program is especially popular with massage therapists and aestheticians who want to develop their leadership skills; spa managers who are working on their business acumen; and even spa directors.

“Students have the opportunity to explore a broad range of opportunities within the spa industry, as these courses are incredibly practical and informative,” Hallum said. “Because the courses are industry specific, they set our students apart from job competitors who simply hold traditional degrees.”

So the pursuit of wellness can be a personal goal as well as a fulfilling professional journey that holds myriad possibilities and potential paths — a calling, really, more than just a career. Hallum knew early on, when he managed a partnership with a local spa while working as operations manager at a New York health club.

Something clicked, and he knew he found his true calling.

“I knew almost instantly that I wanted to pursue a career in the spa industry and I have not looked back since,” he said. “It was as if I found my tribe!”

Creating a Home Spa Experience

Looking to bring more joy and tranquility into your life? You don't need to book weekly spa appointments or go on costly spiritual retreats. There are simple and effective ways to create a rejuvenating spa experience at home — and the benefits can be profound.

Culled from decades of experience as a teacher, coach and wellness professional, Shawn Hallum recommends the following practices for creating a healthy, daily wellness regimen.

  • Find time in the morning to meditate – it can work wonders for clearing the mind and connecting to gratitude. “This is my time to express gratitude for the opportunity to wake up, show love for myself and imagine what I might learn today, because the people around us teach us important lessons every day.”
  • Exchange frequent massages with a loved one. They reduce tension in your muscles, help you to feel more present and actually improve performance at work. “It improves oxygen flow to your brain enabling you to feel alert, interested, and engaged.”
  • Simply spend time doing enjoyable things that feel the most natural. “For example, if you take pride in your appearance, spend some extra time making yourself feel more radiant,” Hallum said. “Make the act of grooming a ritual that engages all of your senses.”
  • Turn your bathroom into a mini-spa. Put in iPhone speakers for relaxing tunes, add some eucalyptus mist to a warm shower or use your favorite essential oil in the bath. “Ensure you have plenty of natural light, maybe upgrade your bath linens to a higher thread count so they feel decadent on your skin.”
  • Try a new tea every day until you find one you absolutely love. Adding these experiential elements will allow you to show love and appreciation for yourself before you leave the house.

Learn more at ce.uci.edu/spa