What to Expect When Visiting a Sauna Studio
If you haven’t been to a sauna before, here are a few tips on what you can expect and what you should do before your session.
Drinking water to hydrate is very important when it comes to sauna bathing. You’ll be sweating in the sauna, so you want to make sure you are replenishing your fluids before and after. Drink at least 16 ounces of water for every 10 minutes you spend in the sauna.
Avoid using skin products such as make-up, lotion, and oils before going into the sauna, as they can clog your pores and make the sauna session less effective.
For sauna attire, aim for comfortable and lightweight clothes. Wearing a bathing suit is also an option. You’ll want to have loose clothing to change into after your session is over, as you might continue to sweat for some time.
There are various types of sauna studios or facilities that offer sauna, from a gym with a sauna to studios that sell sauna sessions. If you use a sauna at the gym, you can use it as you wish, and there won’t be much supervision over how you use the sauna. There may be other people who choose to use the sauna at the same time as you.
On the other hand, with sauna studios, you may be given an individual sauna to enjoy for a set period of time. For example, Perspire Sauna Studio, an infrared sauna franchise, offers individual infrared (IR) sauna rooms that you can enjoy privately for 40 minutes at a time. These types of studios are great for newbies, as you’ll be given guidance on exactly how to conduct your sauna session.
If you can’t make it to a sauna studio but are able to find a facility with a sauna you can use on your own, don’t fret! A regular sauna is going to be a bit warmer than an infrared sauna, at approximately 150-175 degrees (an infrared sauna is 120-140 degrees), so you won’t want to stay in for 40 minutes. As a beginner, aim for 5-10 minutes, with no more than 15-20 minutes at a time once you get more adapted. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or start to get a headache, immediately leave the sauna.
You’ll want to have a towel or two on hand for use in the sauna. You can use these to sit on or to wipe any excess sweat.
During the sauna, there’s no “right” way to approach it. You can talk with other people in the sauna or you can focus on your breathing. Ultimately, this should be a relaxing experience. Take this time to not think about the worries in the rest of your life.
Some studios and gyms will offer private showers you can use to rinse off before and after your session. This can help you change into clean clothes after your session, but you want to make sure you don’t rinse off with cold water, as it can halt the effects your body is still continuing to benefit from after your sauna session.
Another way to replenish and rehydrate after your session is with something extra hydrating – alkaline water, coconut water, or electrolytes.
Some sauna users prefer to go to the sauna later in the day, as it prepares them for a good night’s sleep. Others feel a burst of energy from their session. Over time, you’ll figure out what part of the day you prefer to enjoy your sauna session.
What are the best sauna locations?
Whether you’re attending a gym with a sauna, a dedicated sauna studio, or another facility that offers a sauna, likely they will all have clean saunas that are regularly sanitized, towels you can use, and a changing area. Some sauna studios focus on one particular type of sauna, whereas other locations may offer multiple types of saunas (e.g. dry and wet).
Other amenities can help to make your sauna experience more enjoyable and may be found in sauna-specific studios:
- Individual, private sauna rooms
- Additional simultaneous therapies (e.g. chromotherapy, red light therapy, etc.)
- Smart TVs where you can watch a show or listen to music
- Snacks and refreshments to purchase
- Cooling towels for post-session
If you plan to get into a regular sauna routine, you may want to explore membership options to make consistent sauna usage more cost-effective.
Because of the different types of saunas available, the best sauna location may be dependent on your personal preference for what type of sauna you like to use, in addition to the extra amenities and customer service that makes your experience memorable.
Dry Sauna vs. Steam Room vs. Infrared, What’s the difference?
There are a few different types of saunas out there – namely dry sauna, steam room, and infrared sauna.
A dry sauna is what people normally think of when they think of a traditional sauna. A traditional sauna is heated to anywhere from 150-190 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity level is low – around 10%.
A steam room, or wet sauna, is usually between 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit at 100% humidity.
Both a dry sauna and a wet sauna create a heated environment, which elevates your core body temperature.
Because of the temperature and humidity differences, dry saunas make you sweat more than steam rooms do. This can flush cholesterol out of your system, and in turn, improve your cardiovascular health.
Steam rooms can help with joint pain, muscle soreness, improving circulation, breathing issues, and can help with skin issues. Although steam rooms are beneficial, it may be difficult to gauge how hot it is because of the humidity, and someone may inadvertently stay in longer than they should. From that perspective, dry saunas may be safer to use.
Infrared saunas have many similar benefits around detoxing and relaxation; however, what makes infrared saunas different from dry saunas and steam rooms is how it heats the body. Infrared saunas are heated through infrared rays. These rays penetrate the skin and warm up the body from within, versus other types of sauna that warm up the outside of the body with a heated environment. This mechanism may allow infrared saunas to promote further detoxification than a traditional sauna; however, there isn’t enough research to prove this one way or another.
Because infrared rays warm the body from the inside out, the temperature is lower than a dry sauna. It typically sits at 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows you to sit in an infrared sauna for a longer period of time than you would in a dry sauna, making the experience more comfortable. Similar to a dry sauna, it can promote more sweating than a steam room will.
Advantages of Visiting a Sauna Studio
There are many benefits to going to a sauna studio or facility with a sauna over having a sauna in your own home.
You can arrive and leave without preparation. Many places have the basics you need to do a sauna session, such as towels and a changing room, so all you need to do is show up and enjoy your session.
You don’t need to purchase equipment. Home saunas can be very expensive, and they can take up a lot of space. They can range from $4,000 to upwards of $11,000 depending on the type of sauna you choose to purchase. If you visit the sauna enough to justify a monthly membership, you can keep costs down and not have to worry about having a large, energy-draining piece of equipment in your house. Traditional saunas, if purchased for your home, can take up a lot of electricity.
You don’t need to clean the sauna. Not only is it generally convenient to not have to worry about cleaning or sanitizing equipment you use, steam saunas in particular can promote bacterial growth due to the moist conditions of the steam room. Additionally, it requires certain specifications in your house to accommodate adequate drippage and drainage.
Sauna and Longevity
Sauna bathing can provide a number of benefits that contribute to your longevity:
Improves your mood.
Sauna bathing can release up to three times the amount of endorphins than normal – this is comparable to the “runner’s high” you might experience in a middle distance training run (which leads us to ask the obvious question: why run when you can sauna?). Not only does sauna bathing release endorphins, but it has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression.
Improves your cardiovascular health.
An oft-cited Finnish study tracked the health of over 2,300 Finnish men to compare their sauna usage to the instances of cardiovascular diseases. The study found that increased frequency of sauna bathing was directly correlated to lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. Another study came to the same conclusion across men and women.
Can improve your cognitive health.
In a study that tracked the incidents of dementia in sauna goers, the researchers concluded that sauna bathing at least three times a week was strongly correlated with a reduced risk of dementia.
Lowers your stress response.
Sauna bathing has been shown to significantly decrease cortisol, a stress hormone. Chronic stress is a widespread and often unmanageable issue for many people, which makes it difficult for people to keep their cortisol at healthy levels. Sauna bathing is one way to effectively manage cortisol levels.
Increases the release of growth hormones.
Sauna bathing changes how some of our hormones are secreted throughout the body – one of those hormones being growth hormones. Growth hormones are in wide demand as they can help increase muscle mass, reduce body fat, and preserve bone mass.
Lowers inflammation in your body.
A study showed an inverse correlation between sauna bathing frequency and the level of C-reactive protein (a leading blood marker of systemic inflammation) in a sample of over 2,000 men. The study showed that the more frequently participants used the sauna, their levels of C-reactive protein were significantly lower. Additionally, sauna use has been shown to increase interleukin-6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory cytokine that plays an important role in the immune system, and interleukin-10 (IL-10), an anti-inflammatory cytokine.
Can potentially increase your lifespan.
Sauna bathing increases FOXO3, a protein in the body responsible for DNA repair and getting rid of senescent cells. Studies have shown that centenarians possess increased or hyperactive levels of FOXO3. Without being genetically blessed to have these amounts of FOXO3 in our bodies, using the sauna frequently can increase FOXO3 in our bodies.