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Give pop a pedicure

Father's Day may be the time to help Dad discover the joys of spa treatments. Tell him the other guys are doing it.

ADRIENNE P. SAMUELS
Published June 12, 2003

He sits on the plush bench and rolls up his trousers, takes off his shoes and socks.

Ready for anything, he flexes his toes and sighs.

She sits, almost kneels, on a tiny chair just a foot off the floor and gazes up, stretching out a hand.

Reaching.

For . . .

His . . .

That's right, this man is getting a pedicure.

"It's a relaxing, sensual, feel-good experience," says Dr. Bob Wyko, a Dunedin physician.

Repositioning himself on the peach-colored perch, he takes a swig from a slender glass of chardonnay.

"This is my feel-good time."

The good doctor is not alone. Men all over the country are discovering beauty services such as manicures, facials and pedicures that once were solidly in the realm of women. USA Today recently reported that men now make up 20 percent or more of the business at major hotel spas.

The resourceful giver might find this Sunday, Father's Day, a good time to introduce the man of the house to the joys of pampering. Most salons, spas or nail boutiques sell gift certificates that are bound to be make a more tantalizing present than the usual tie, golf balls or barbecue grill.

Many men splurge on massages (stop smirking, we're talking about the therapeutic kind here!) and it looks like the pedicure is following suit.

Nowadays it's pretty easy to spot the guy who, to use the vernacular, gets his toes "did."

Look down. Toe level.

"As a single man, I think women actually do pay attention," says Marcus Polk, a 24-year-old money-market account manager at Raymond James Financial. "Every man should maintain himself all around - not just a wash and cologne. It's a full process."

Polk often wears leather sandals with an A-class wardrobe featuring cream linen for soft summer nights. He started monthly pedicures a year ago, after a problem with in-grown toenails.

"A friend of friend led me to April," says Polk, who lives in Lutz. "She told me she could take care of that for me. I've been a client ever since."

Polk refers to April Griffith, a 30-year-old pedicurist at Natur'l-Tress Hair Designs in Tampa. Griffith has been in the business for five years now, supplementing her income while working toward a bachelor's degree in sports management at the University of Tampa.

"Men are the best clients you could ever have," says Griffith. "You don't have to polish them at all . . . Their feet are not knotted up, they don't have corns, Achilles problems, they don't squeeze their toes into shoes too small."

And there's something else.

"Men are better tippers."

The spa treatment

Wyko is a man who knows how to look good. He has a home in East Lake and a condo in Sand Key. He owns a 37-foot boat, an 185-horsepower Sea Doo and a Jaguar S-type R.

He's been getting pedicures for the past nine years and schedules his spa appointments 12 months in advance, shelling out up to $100 a visit at the Somers & Company Salon & Spa in Clearwater.

"I think it enhances the masculinity," Wyko says. "It shows a man is not all muscle and not all about money. If my wife dresses to impress me, I should dress to impress her."

Wyko doesn't feel funny about doing something that used to be identified only with women. And though his friends haven't yet gotten up the courage to sit in Ranney's chair, Wyko continues to encourage them.

"I'm a high-maintenance guy, so I'm into this stuff," says Wyko. "I like the best cars, the best wine. If I don't spoil me, who will?"

Wyko thinks his patients appreciate a doctor with nice-looking hands. And, though they don't see his feet, taking care of them fits his philosophy: take care of all your body parts for the whole to be in order.

That's why Wyko is a regular who never "cheats" on his pedicurist. Every 30 days on a Tuesday night, "Dr. Bob" gets his hair washed and cut, perhaps a facial and always a pedicure.

Tina Ranney loves to work on his feet. The Johannesburg native leads Wyko to a private back room away from the blow dryers and snipping shears. She swings her thick, dark hair over her right shoulder and guides the doctor's feet into a tub of bubbly water tinged with hints of eucalyptus.

She rubs each foot down with a stubbly concoction of sea salts and moisturizers. A hard brush comes next, scraping away dead skin and impurities. Now a rinse. Then she takes a foot file and scrubs the tops, bottoms, ankles and heels. Callouses be gone.

Touching Wyko's baby soft feet, Ranney starts the intense massage. She kneads and weaves each foot, arching them back and forth, rubbing away the month's frustrations.

Last, she takes an instrument and buffs Wyko's nails to a smooth, glossy finish. No polish needed.

Ranney, 32, and Wyko even exchange services. Wyko is Ranney's doctor. Ranney does facials for Wyko's wife.

The feet tell all

Pedicurists can tell a lot about their clients by the condition of their feet.

"People have problems with ingrown toenails," says Ranney. "They might be clipping their toenails incorrectly, causing more problems. I educate them on how to correctly clip them."

Griffith, the Tampa pedicurist, sees the same things in her pro football clients.

"Football players have a growth on the outside portion of their great toe," says Griffith, with Natur'l Tress salon. "That's from cleats."

Griffith knows when her clients are dehydrated. She knows when they don't use enough lotion at night. She can even diagnose foot or nail fungus, and send the man to his doctor.

"If someone comes to me with a foot that is totally messed up," Griffith says, I like to see how I can help them achieve a better look. I am very proud of my work when they go looking from "ugh' to "wow.' "

Some spas and salons offer men deals and even special rooms.

Guys can get a special hot stone pedicure at the Eclips Day Spa and Salon at the Historic Colonial Inn and Spa in St. Petersburg. Men who happily come in for manicures and facials, however, are at first reluctant to try a pedicure.

"You have to cajole them a bit," says co-owner Debi Davis.

Men are almost taking over Saturdays at the spa at the Belleview Biltmore Resort in Belleair.

"We've always had the occasional guy whose wife forced him," says Jessica Tonzola, spa manager. "Once they come in they're hooked."

The average pedicure is $25 to $50, depending on where you go, and exactly what kind of pedicure you get. In general, the men get a longer massage than the women do, since they don't get nail polish.

Nail care dates back thousands of years to Ethiopia and Egypt, where fruits and berries were used to stain nails. The Chinese found a way to paint nails in royal colors of red and black. Turkish researchers have found remnants of nail files in mounds of ancient artifacts, says Jodi Mills, executive editor of Nailpro Magazine. (This month's cover, by the way, features a perfectly manicured man holding a baby.)

"For some men it's just as important as getting a haircut," Mills says. "The manicure and pedicure are becoming pretty standard."

Even men of the cloth believe.

"The Bible does indicate that your body is the temple of God, so therefore you should take care of all of your physiological extremities: your hair, skin and nails," says Jermaine Gordon, 24, a pastor at Stewart Isom Christian Methodist Episcopal Memorial Church in St. Petersburg.

"You look at some men's feet and they look crusty and yellow. But my feet? They don't look bad. My feet look good."

- Adrienne P. Samuels can be reached at 727 445-4157 or samuels@sptimes.com

Almost any salon, day spa or hotel spa will give a man a facial, manicure or pedicure, but here is a sampling of Tampa Bay area spots offering special deals for guys.

Belleview Biltmore Resort - Gentlemen's Retreat package includes pedicure or reflexology, massage, facial and manicure. Also, men's facials, couples massages and full-service spa treatments for men and women. 25 Belleview Blvd., Clearwater. 727 373-3000, toll-free 1-800-237-8947 or www.belleviewbiltmore.com

Body and Sole Day Spa - Feel Like a King or Royal King packages include sport massage, back facial and aroma-steam session. Also full-service spa treatments for men and women. 400 Second St. N, Safety Harbor. 727 725-3255 or www.bodyandsoledayspa.com

Eclips Day Spa and Salon - See story. 126 Second Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 894-7060.

Natur'l-Tress Hair Designs - See story. 3313 W Cypress St., Tampa. (813) 878-2044.

Nirvana Salon and Day Spa - The Executive Male package includes massage, facial, hydrotherapy, manicure and pedicure. Also full spa and salon services for men and women. 11028 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. 727 576-8415 or www.nirvanasalon.net

Rachel's Therapeutic Massage and Skin Care - King Arthur package includes facial, seaweed wrap and ashiatsu and hot lava stone massage. Also couples packages, men's facials, skin care and massage services for men and women. Father's Day specials. 4011 Henderson Blvd., Tampa. 813 207-5051 or www.rachelsdayspa.com

Saddlebrook Resort - King for a Day package includes hair and scalp treatment, massage, manicure, facial and lunch. Also men's facials, couples massages and full-service spa treatments for men and women. 5700 Saddlebrook Way, Wesley Chapel. 813 973-1111, toll-free 1-800-729-8383 or www.saddlebrookresort.com

Safety Harbor Resort and Spa - His Perfect Day package includes massage, personal training session, scalp massage or golf or tennis lesson, and haircut or manicure. Also bride and groom packages, couples packages and full-service spa and fitness treatments for men and women. 105 N Bayshore Drive, Safety Harbor. 727 726-1161, toll-free 1-800-458-5409 or www.safetyharborspa.com

Somers & Company Salon & Spa - See story. 1530 N McMullen-Booth Road, Suite D, Clearwater. (727) 726-8181.

Spa Jardin - King for a Day package includes facial, back treatment, scalp and body massage. Also men's stress massages, manicures and pedicures. 4121 S MacDill Ave., Tampa. 813 835-9549 or www.spajardin.com

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