About Face: How One Pimple Brought me Back to the Gym

spa at equinox

“Are you stressed?” Almost a foot taller than me, my husband bends down and leans in close with the concentration of a cat over an aquarium. He’s feigning concern.


“Have you been eating junk food?” Our eating patterns are literally identical. What I eat, he eats.

“Um, have you been eating junk food?! Why are you so close to my face?”

“There are blemishes on your cheeks, honey.” His amusement is obvious; a point for him in our game of back and forth provocation. I look in the mirror and am greeted by one lone pimple, right in the hollow of my cheek. This is the same spot I beat almost daily with bronzer to create the illusion of cheekbones. I don’t really have cheekbones. I also don’t really have blemishes, plural, in my opinion. This one is an anomaly, a renegade pore of whom an example must be made.

I call Equinox.
spa at equinox

Are Facials Necessary?

Are facials necessary? I’d say yes, in as much as deep conditioning is necessary for the hair and professional teeth cleaning for the mouth. We may have a bit of the same process in our daily routine, but a professional touch makes all the difference from time to time.

Also, I’m a hypocrite because I haven’t had a facial in almost 5 years. I don’t particularly enjoy them. From the age of 8 to 18 I battled with acne. Facials meant painful extractions for 60-90 minutes a session. These days, when I go to the spa I go to relax.

But this pimple, nestled confidently under my bogus cheekbone, could be a sign of trouble. I needed professional help.

Gym spas and other Oxymora

Rigorous exercise is its own reward.

Just kidding.

A spa visit is the perfect payoff. Gym spas these days are going beyond the bare basics to provide a full day-spa experience. I love the tucked-away-from-the-world feel inside The Spa at Equinox and their purposely posh facial menu. Think: Rose petals, 24 carat gold, and chocolate varieties. I’m also into the varied backgrounds of their esthetician team. If you feel more comfortable with a pro who shares your skin tone, this is the place for you.

My skin care pro is Robynne Holloway (Equinox Lincoln Park) and from the get-go her demeanor is kind and comforting. I tried the Organic Rose Hips Signature Facial, a 50-minute service exclusively for the month of February. It involves rose petals (duh!) and aids in natural cell regeneration by promoting skin resurfacing, leaving the face luminous and soft. Skin resurfacing also means softer wrinkles and lighter scars — bonus!

The extraction process, my most dreaded step, was surprisingly endurable. Robynne searched for and focused only on the most cruddy pores. Most of the time, her attention was on smoothing away dead skin, which felt like a relaxing massage. She incorporated naturally fragrant scrubs and serums.

A week later, and I can honestly tell the difference. It’s like the areas around my nose and eyes have been airbrushed. I won’t wait another 5 years this time. Next on my list is that 24 carat gold facial…

Not a member? No problem!

Spa-goers have access to the club the day of their service. This is a great way to try out the fantastic classes at Equinox if you’re not yet a member. I recommend The Pursuit (cycling), Ultimate Barre (ballet-inspired), and Precision Running.

Visit one of their Chicago clubs today.

Disclosure: As is common with spa reviews, services were provided by The Spa at Equinox. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, Kari Herrera, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of the gym or its affiliates.