Don’t get steamed–use your best sauna etiquette

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer

There is no better post-exercise treat for your hard-working body than relaxing those aching muscles in a sauna.  Not only does the intense heat seep in and ease away tension, but the steam helps the body rid itself of any toxins created by the impact of a strenuous workout. Many individuals also embrace the tranquility of the tropical environment, viewing this time as a respite from the busy day and an ideal time to collect one’s thoughts.

However, just as there are rules to follow with regard to safely using fitness center machines, or allowing adequate spacing between other participants in a Group Exercise class, there is such a thing known as “sauna etiquette”.  This term attempts to define the common courtesies to which a user ought to adhere, particularly when in the company of others who are also trying to maximize their sauna experience.


Here, then, are a few suggestions to keep in mind upon entering your health club’s sauna ~


•     Public saunas are a place for quiet contemplation.

•     Leaving the door open will allow that precious steam to escape. Close the door as quickly as possible when entering or leaving the sauna.

•     Bring in several towels with you: one to wear, one to sit or lay on, and another with which to dry off once you leave.

•     Treat the room and the other participants with the same respect that is important to you.

•     Unless otherwise stated, common courtesy suggests that you remain covered, either with your towel or a swimsuit.

•     If you want to change ANYTHING (heat, steam, etc.), be sure to ask the other participants first. Keep in mind that what may be more comfortable to you might not prove to be the case with another individual… and it IS, after all, a public space.

• Electronics have no place in a humid environment; texting or playing games on a hand-held electronic device can prove quite annoying to others who are simply trying to “unplug” and relax.

• The sauna is not the place to shave…anything!

Compliance with these simple rules will guarantee a more pleasant and restorative experience for all sauna users.  Amidst all that relaxation, the last thing you want to do is get someone else steamed at you for infringing upon his or her sauna experience!  That kind of “hot air” is certainly not relaxing!