The last professional massage I received was 12 years ago, and it was a disaster. A deep tissue treatment recommended by my high school rowing coach was an hour-long pressure point torture fest; from then on I avoided massage tables as if they were dentist chairs. But recently I jumped back on that table, and masseuse Adrienne Leach, who works with the revamped and reopened Evolutions Medical & Day Spa, repaired my broken faith and demonstrated why it’s one of the top pampering games in town.
Evolutions, having outgrown its home near the Arlington Theatre, moved into a commercial condo suite at 350 Chapala Street last October. And while longtime cosmetic surgeon Dr. Terry Perkins and his personally trained staff of aesthetic specialists still offer the noninvasive medical procedures that consistently win The Santa Barbara Independent‘s Best Of poll— like treatments for wrinkles, hair loss, skin problems like acne or rosacea, and vein and tattoo removal — Evolutions recently expanded to include a full menu of day spa services.
To do that, Evolutions knocked down a wall separating its medical wing from the former space of Avia Spa, which closed last August after its then-owners — Troy Medore and Spencer Cooper — are said by its former employees to have run the business into the ground with blatant and possibly criminal mismanagement. Building owner Suzanne Seed — who founded the much-respected Avia Spa more than eight years ago before she sold it to Medore and Cooper — has now leased the space to Evolutions.
Save for a few updates, the interior space has changed little since Evolutions took over, explained managing partner Brian Perkins, Terry Perkins’s son. He pointed to the four free-standing massage huts in the big open room, the Japanese bamboo motif, and the decked-out locker rooms with dry eucalyptus saunas. Clients have their options when choosing how and where to indulge their bodies: on offer are facials, exfoliation treatments, chemical peels, scrubs and wraps, and nearly every type of massage under the sun.
Perkins said that Evolutions has also hired 11 former Avia staffers, including Leach, and is accepting formerly worthless Avia gift cards for up to half of the cost of any of Evolutions products or services. He estimated there’s around $375,000 worth of unused credit on an untold number of Avia Spa gift cards floating around town.
Before walking through the dimly lit day spa side of the 6,000-square-foot space — with its cozy tea lounge and the omnipresent sound of trickling water and soft Eastern-style music — Perkins took us around Evolutions’ medical arm, which is expected to see 20-25 clients a day. He talked about how the business has invested over a million dollars in top-of-the-line equipment that can treat any kind of skin and hair type, mentioning how fractional CO2 skin resurfacing treatments uses a grid pattern of small laser pulses to get rid of acne scarring and improve laxity and pigmentation. He explained why injectables (e.g., Botox and Disport) and dermal fillers (Restylane, Perlane, and Radiesse) remain some of the most popular treatments for people concerned about looking tired or aged.
Now that Evolutions has settled in, it’s become a flagship of sorts for a health-conscious corner of town that includes Yoga Soup, Backyard Bowls, Crimson Day Spa, Alchemy Arts, and the Juice Ranch. “You now have one-stop shopping for the majority of your wellness and beauty needs,” summed up Perkins of the lower Chapala Street neighborhood.