Saunas are small rooms that are heated to temperatures between 150°F and 195°F (65°C to 90°C). They often have unpainted, wood interiors and temperature controls. Saunas may also include rocks (as part of their heating element) that absorb and give off heat. Water can be poured onto these rocks to create steam.
There are several different types of saunas. For example, Finnish saunas typically use dry heat while Turkish-style saunas have more moisture.
Relaxing in a hot, woodsy-scented sauna may be the best part of your gym workout, or an enjoyable experience reserved for vacation. Whether you indulge several times a week or only once a year, saunas can provide relaxation and health benefits, such as reducing minor aches and pains.
If you’re lucky enough to have a sauna in your home, you won’t have to worry about etiquette. If, however, you’re sharing your sauna experience with other people (such as at the gym), there are important do’s and don’ts you should abide by. These include:
- Take a quick, post-workout shower prior to using the sauna.
- Enter and exit quickly. Saunas are airtight, to keep the heat inside. Opening the door releases heat, and should be done expeditiously.
- Note the attire (or lack of it) of the people inside. In some saunas, nudity is acceptable. In others, wearing a towel or bathing suit is preferable.
- Whether you’re nude or not, it’s never appropriate to sit directly on the bench. Make sure to bring a towel you can sit on, and take it with you when you leave.
- Don’t stretch out if the sauna is crowded.
- If the temperature is too hot or cold for you, ask for a group consensus prior to adjusting the thermostat or ladling water onto the sauna rocks. Keep in mind that you can also adjust the temperature to your personal liking by changing your seat level.
- Keep conversation low, and do not employ rowdy behavior. Saunas are designed for relaxation.
- Do not shave, tweeze, brush your hair, or groom in any way while using the sauna.
- Do not leave litter of any kind behind, such as band aids or bobby pins.