Swiss Saunas

I don’t know about you, but growing up in America, nobody ever taught me how to enjoy a sauna. My Dad’s gym had one and it was generally regarded as a nice hot room that you could go into for 10 minutes or so, in your bathing suit of course. I didn’t get it.

It wasn’t until Kay and I used one of our wedding gifts, a romantic weekend at a wellness hotel in the mountains in Switzerland, that I had the opportunity for Kay to teach me how the sauna experience here works.

1. Get naked. Most saunas and wellness areas here have a no swimsuit/clothing rule to cut down on bacteria in the sauna. Most people wear towels inside and by “wearing”, I mean sitting on the towel to keep sweat off the bench.

I don’t have any qualms about sitting naked in front of men and women in the sauna, especially since I started doing it with Kay. It’s just considered normal here, but sometimes I think about how strange it would be for a lot of my family and friends back in the States. Heck, even some of my German colleagues think it’s a bit weird how things are mixed here.

2. Take a shower to clean yourself. You’re going to sweat later, but this is to keep the sauna cleaner.

3. Get in the sauna and sit or lie down for 10-15 minutes, soak up the heat.

4. Exit the sauna and take a cold shower. In Switzerland at least, they often have fun means of cooling off either with over-sized rain shower heads, buckets that dump ice cold water over you, or a tub of ice cold water.

5. Relax for 20 minutes outside in the wellness area. Read a book, drink some hot tea and let yourself succumb to total relaxation.

7. Repeat the process at least 2 to 3 times. This is key! The same way you work the muscles harder with a few sets of repetitions, doing multiple rounds of sauna will unwind you further and further. By the time you leave, you’ll be nice and relaxed.

The pictures above are actually from a spa room in my friend’s apartment complex that she can rent out for the evening. (Sooo cool!) Using the sauna again reminded me that I have access to one through my gym, so I made a point to finally try it out. I’ve been going to the gym since February and had yet to check out the wellness area!

Now that Kay is gone for a month, I decided to make a bit of a thing by going to the sauna on Friday evenings. After my first time, I was SO impressed. I thought the gym sauna would just be a hot sauna and a place to relax in between sessions, but they had a 60ºC women’s only sauna, 100ºC mixed sauna, mixed steam room, lots of fun showers, including the never before seen cold bath… I was in heaven! They even had typical spa features like foot bath seats (with heated seats… OMG, the comfort!) and what seemed most impressive to me, was the hot tea in the relaxation area. It was like the cherry on top.

I was not expecting such a complete sauna experience from my gym, all included in what I’m already paying. I left after three hours the first Friday and two hours this last Friday. After both sessions, I came home feel warm and sleepy and I slept incredibly well. I will definitely be enjoying the sauna regularly this winter!

Now I just have to work on Kay to get him to switch to my gym so that we can visit the sauna on the weekend together when he’s back. It’s so close to home, it doesn’t make sense for me to pay to visit the local swim club wellness area (we did in July when it was so cold) especially when it’s even further away.

Have you done a proper sauna experience in a wellness spa? Would you ever go nude in a co-ed sauna?

7 thoughts on “Swiss Saunas”

  1. Oh, that sounds so relaxing, I’m jealous right now! I think were I in a place where it was normal, I could do mixed gender nudity without feeling weird. But in the US? I don’t think I could, simply because of the attitudes about it. Now I’m thinking I need to go find a place with a steam room!

  2. I never really understood the point of saunas before! I mean, in Texas I never saw one in an actual spa, just like, right next to the swimming pool at hotels and stuff, and it’s like, why would you go in one right there?

  3. I think Korean spas are similar. My friend and I went to one last summer. The men and women are separated for the nude areas, but upstairs there were six different saunas and a resting room. And it’s open 24 hours! People were just sleeping on the mats! It was very relaxing, but I think it would have been even better if I knew what I was doing.

  4. It sounds heavenly (except the cold shower part–brr!) but I think I’d be a little too self-conscious to do the co-ed nude rooms. It’s nice that it’s just the norm, there, though–I’m sure being exposed (hah!) to such neutral views on nudity would make a difference over time.

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