You know how I like my sauna but, before this column gets heated, let me tell you of another string to my bow in this regard: the steam room.
For a long time, my routine was 20 minutes in the sauna followed by five in the steamie, so to say.
I entertained a vague thought that the sauna was the real deal and the steamie a bit soft: wrong!
The right sauna dress code
Indeed, I recall now that my introduction to all this heated malarkey began in the steam room of another leisure centre on another island village many years ago. I remember visiting it gingerly for the first time after my usual gym session.
Everyone else used it after the pool, and it struck me much later that folk might have thought it odd that I was wearing a towel rather than swimming shorts.
In other countries, there are strict rules about what to wear in the sauna – sometimes nothing at all. Disgraceful.
But, here, a towel was no big deal. No one minded, though they thought my anorak unusual. But I did enjoy my steam, which was odd as I dislike heat generally, particularly over-heated interiors.
Sauna Man and Steamie Boy
Back in the city, none of the sauna or steam room facilities were suitable for various reasons, so I went many years without. How lovely it was to find another village leisure centre that was hot stuff.
This time, I became Sauna Man rather than Steamie Boy. During Covid’s height, both the sauna and the steamie were closed but, once things eased, I was surprised at both re-opening.
For, while the sauna’s dry heat killed the bacteria, the steam room’s wet heat let it thrive. So said the only official research (by the Welsh Government) I could find on the subject.
So, I eschewed the steam room – until the sauna door got broken, and only the steam room remained available, which is still the situation as I write. And I kinda got to like it.
One of the lasses at the centre said the steam gets right into your muscles. “But I don’t have any muscles,” I explained. “Yes, I see that,” she replied, “but it’s still good for the skin.” “Whoop-de-doo,” I said forlornly.
Good for injuries
But I’ll tell you what: the steamie is good for injuries. Listen to this: I’d torn something below my knees, the patellar something I think, and it was painful. I did it doing a seated, toe-based exercise that was supposed to be better for you than walking. I’m such a daftie sometimes. (Readers’ chorus: “Correct!”)
Now I could hardly get in and out of the car but, as I’d booked the gym and steamie, manfully I hobbled along. And, lo, after five minutes in the steamie the pain had gone.
I knew it would come back, which it did, but it was much reduced and, next day, had gone altogether.
Dr Google had said it would last weeks or even months. So: result!
When the sauna reopens (you’ve no idea how long it takes to replace a sauna door round here), I shall split my time between the two, with cold showers in between.
My poor old body will reel in bewilderment. But I like to keep it on its toes.