February 2009

Club Tan: Fun in the Sun… Without the Sun

Author: Craig Hysell

Diana Phillips works the reception desk at Club Tan like a seasoned card shark. She is Southern, affable and possesses a matter-of-fact sass that is absolutely delightful. She sizes me up as soon as I walk through the door, processing my fair complexion in seconds. She knows the particular type of tanning bed I need and time I should stay in it before she even asks me any questions about my ultra-violet prerogatives. But, like I said, Diana’s affable, so she asks me anyway.

Club Tan, at 38C New Orleans Road, on the south end of Hilton Head Island is nothing like I thought it would be. Personally, I had never been in a tanning studio before I set foot inside Club Tan. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I imagined strikingly vibrant looking human beings marching to and fro with barely any clothes on. Perhaps I had seen too many Skinamax movies during my formative years, because the people getting tans at 10:30 on a Thursday morning were over 50, professionally dressed and had big smiles on their faces when they left. They looked good. Not just good… happy.

“It makes people feel better when they have a little bit of color,” says Club Tan’s manager, Bettina Wagner. Wagner is German-born, pronounces her last name with a “v” sound instead of a “w”, has striking blue eyes, dark hair and a pleasant demeanor. “You know,” she adds, “when it’s a gray day and you go into a tanning bed and it’s so nice and warm, in the evening you can see the color, it just makes you happier.” What Bettina describes might be rooted more in science and human physiology than a mere melatonin boost. A 2004, Wake Forest study researched the effects of UV exposure in tanning beds on a person’s mood. “The results revealed greater relaxation and lower tension after UV exposure compared to non-UV exposure,” reports MedicalNewsToday.com, and indicated that UV-light may be responsible for the release of endorphins in our bodies.

Ultraviolet light also produces Vitamin D, an immune system-enhancing vitamin which is essential for the proper maintenance of our calcium levels among other things. “I have two ladies who come in here with fibromyalgia,” says Diana. They walk in on canes. “She goes into our high pressure bed and comes out standing straight up, just as happy as she can be. She says it helps her bones so much, the tan is just a bonus!” However, both Diana and Bettina are adamant that a tanning bed is not a “fountain of youth.”

“Like anything,” continues Diana, “you have to do it in moderation.” As a result, customers are not allowed to come more than once a day, children under 16 must have parental consent and there is a small form clients must fill out before they can lie down in UV glory to ensure personal safety requirements are met. In a time when companies seem to consistently throw safety and integrity to the breeze in the name of making sales, Club Tan’s philosophy is refreshing. With principles comes trust. If I were going to get a tan, these women had me at “moderation.”

Club Tan has three types of tanning beds in its salon. The 300 watt standard 20-minute bed, 600 watt 12-minute bed and 650 watt 15-minute bed. The top-of-the-line Ergoline beds have extra fans, air conditioning, music and are contoured to the body. They look like futuristic sunglass cases for giants. But, when you stop and think that you can get a tan in 12 minutes without sweating, getting covered in sand or taking a huge chunk of time out of your day, the science of these sunglass cases becomes pretty amazing. Plus, “They’re comfortable,” says Diana.

As Bettina leads me upstairs to show me more tanning beds I also notice how sanitary the place is. Everything is clean, wiped down and in good order. Both Bettina and Diana are adamant about keeping it that way, too. They wipe down beds after each use, and Club Tan clients must use indoor tanning lotions instead of oil. Oil bakes onto the beds, which isn’t good for the bed, the person scrubbing up the mess or the customer waiting in the lounge for his or her appointment. Club Tan has an array of lotions for clients to try at the salon.

It’s obvious that pride usually follows on the heels of principles, yet it never gets tiring to witness firsthand good people doing the right things. I like it here.

You know, getting my girlfriend a tan for Valentine’s Day might not be such a bad idea. She’ll get an injection of endorphins, a boost of Vitamin D and a sweet-looking tan during that gray month of February. “We’ve got gift certificates,” smiles Bettina. Yeah? That sounds tantastic…

Call (843) 686-4826 for more information.

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