The Germans take their spa culture pretty seriously. Since Roman times, when the spa culture first developed, spas have been recognised for their healing properties and contribution to mental and physical health, so much so that the German healthcare system regularly subsidises treatments as a preventative measure against illness. Yep, you read that correctly. Throughout German history, thermal springs have been used amongst all classes of the population for medicinal purposes. Over the years, this spa culture increased in popularity, commonly seen as vital to maintaining health.
What if you’re new to this?
Berlin’s steamiest spots
Nothing new about being told off, as even liberal Berlin, to which I recently moved, is full of baffling rules. For the Germans, this is as normal as a trip to the supermarket. As in Scandinavia, saunas are revered here for their relaxing effects, circulatory benefits and power to make you sweat a pint in 10 minutes.
If you have been to Germany, you know what I mean. Going to sauna means that you are going to see a lot of naked people. The most shocking thing for me at the beginning is: the sauna is mixed gender! It means that you are going to see both naked men and women in the same sauna! For German, this is something completely normal. This is part of their tradition. If you are new to Germany, you should keep an eye at the door of the sauna for any notice. It is often written that you are not allowed to wear your swimsuit in the sauna.
And so, even with centuries of history behind them, these rooms can inspire sweatier palms than foreheads. Luckily, editors Scott and Rebecca are here to help. According to Scott, many guys try and prove their toughness by staying in as long as possible or trying to outlast their friends in the sauna. First off—this goes against the chief principle of sauna-ing: relaxing and letting go. And nobody looks tough when they're dehydrated or passed out. Light stretching overhead is fine, but floor-quaking calisthenics distract other people in the sauna, and slippery floors can make it a dangerous game. Saunas are part of a tradition that could stretch back to the Native American sweatlodge, the Finnish lake-side sauna, and the Russian banya. People feel culturally connected to the practice and are usually happy to explain it to newcomers.