SPA DOCTOR: The jet wash that left me feeling turbo-charged

The problem

A keen runner for most of my life, I’m plagued by strained, tight hamstrings and calves, which means I’m no longer able to conquer the long distances I used to.

This injury, combined with a recent stressful life experience, has left me all out of steam and lacking the motivation for my regular morning runs.

Hamstring tears or strains are very common in runners, and are especially rife in men.

Generally, women are built with a greater range of motion in the hips and this flexibility can reduce the stress on leg muscles during exercise. 

The family-run Masseria San Domenico, pictured, nestles in acres of aromatic olive groves in Puglia 

It would never usually occur to me to seek out a spa treatment. Like many men I am unlikely to admit to a health problem, let alone check in for a pamper day to treat it.

In fact, figures suggest only ten per cent of spa-goers are men, despite the recent boom in the male-grooming industry.

With this in mind, perhaps a spa programme – dedicated to active men and boasting sports massages and exercise focused therapies – could be just the thing to aid my muscles and help me recharge

The solution

The family-run Masseria San Domenico, right, nestles in acres of aromatic olive groves in Puglia – the heel of Italy on the Adriatic coast.

The 15th Century, 46-room luxury hotel and thallasotherapy spa offers a therapy stress relief programme especially for spa-shy men.

Saltwater – with its raised saline and mineral content – has been used since Roman times to relax, cleanse and revitalise, and is hailed here as the healing ingredient.

The treatment 

First of all, I was offered a biological consultation by a trio of nutritional scientists. After being wired up to an electronic device similar to a heart monitor, I was diagnosed with an overactive brain (not a mark of genius, just stress). 

The team also concluded that I needed to hydrate.

I had some evidence of cell ‘oxidisation’ (am I rusting?) and was told I could do with more phosphate to help cells grow and repair.

My heart and bones were OK , but sadly, as I’m creeping into middle age, I now have more fat than muscle.

And so the treatments began, kicking off with an abrasive, citrus scrub that scraped me clean of dead skin cells.

This was followed by a Dead Sea mud wrap, which saw me lie in a cabinet while the temperature of the wrap was heated and cooled alternately.

Apparently, this ‘remineralises’ and ‘detoxes’ the skin. Next was a Thalgoceane – a Jacuzzi-style bath with essential oils to cleanse skin and promote circulation.

Day two kicked off with a morning plunge in the outdoor saltwater pool and a one-hour aquagym class. 

It proved to be a tough workout as I struggled to meet the demands of instructor Fabio. On day three I faced the Thalgojet – a deep massage with a high-power jet of water fired from a hosepipe. 

It worked wonders, livening up my hamstrings and calves and preparing me for the deep muscle sports massage that followed. I instantly noticed a difference, and in the days that followed, I managed to squeeze in daily runs and cycle rides in between treatments.

Then came 20 minutes of cyclotherapy. This involves pedalling a fixed racing bike submerged in a pool of cold saltwater. It’s tough – I pedalled intensely just to warm up, but did find it strangely refreshing.

My final treatment took me into uncharted territory – a Smooth and Lift facial for men to ‘help the skin obtain a bright and rested look’.

Despite my preconceptions, my first spa experience left me rested and refreshed, and my hamstrings pain-free.

To men who think a spa is just for the ladies I’d say: relax. A weekend break might just be the thing you need to finally dust off the trainers and get you back to your younger, active self.

l Classic Collection Holidays offers seven nights at Masseria San Domenico in Puglia, including continental breakfast and Thalasso Therapy Stress Relief Programme for Men, from £2,748 per person.

Return flights from London Gatwick to Bari and private resort transfers included. Visit