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“Sauna’s too hot”, “turn up the heat!”: One simple suggestion for a health club manager.

Are you a member of a health club?  I bit the bullet and joined one.  This health club sauna is as bright as a hospital room: walls tiled floor to ceiling, and there’s the imposing rules and regulations sign, including the buzz kill: “do not toss or spit water on sauna rocks.”

Post workout yesterday, cautiously, I  enter the sauna joining a guy fully clothed wearing headphones bobbing along to Lady Gaga or similar: more buzz kill.  A third guy enters.  An old school guy who’se developed the art of taking a swig of water and spitting it like a hose out his mouth onto the sauna rocks.  I’m debated whether to whistle the guy out, but a little Loyly is welcome, albeit mixed with his saliva.

Next comes the ranting:  “This sauna’s too cold.  They have a suggestion box, you know.  If enough people complain..”  It’s 175f.   I decide to argue the point with him, explaining that if they crank it up, others will complain that it’s too hot.  He resigns himself to:”can’t please everybody, I guess.”

Sure you can.

Heat rises.

All Health club saunas should be built with triple benches. The Lady Gaga guy can sit in his track suit on the lower bench, others can moderate in the middle bench, and this guy can spit water to his heart’s content up by the ceiling on the upper bench.

Next dream?  The tile saw, blazing a hole to the outdoors, to a fresh air chill out zone, where after a clean rinse, members can embrace the rubber band theory raising their hands in the air like Andy Dufresne escaping from Shawshank Prison.

Saunatimes will continue to wave the flag for folks to build their own backyard sauna.  Life’s too short.  Let’s go.  Let me help you escape to your own authentic Finnish sauna.

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4 Comments on This Post

  1. Great idea in theory Glenn, but the problem is that the temperature at the top bench will still be only 175°F. The health club can’t get the temperature any hotter. The root cause of the problem is building codes.

    Standard wire is rated at 195°F, so the good engineers put a 20° safety cushion there and limit the temperature in the heater to 175°F with a hard cutoff at 180°F. Next the thermostat is located within a few inches of the ceiling, so that top bench temperature will only reach 175°F. You could spec a higher temperature wire, but that would drive up the cost of the system.

    The bigger problem is the people who design fire protection systems and the insurance companies who mandate them have no idea how a sauna operates. From a sprinkler manufacturer’s catalog: “Saunas and steam rooms … typically operate at elevated temperatures approaching 120 deg. F”

    Until we fix these misconceptions, we’re going to end up with chilly saunas.

  2. Glenn,
    My 84 year old Dad recently sent along the following quote attributed to Mark Twain. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” I think it pretty well sums up your comments on virtues of building your own sauna vs. going to a “spa”.

    Chris,
    Thanks for the info on limit switches. Pretty much closed the door on my future attendance at any public saunas. Here again, the solution lies in the “remote by the lake wood fired home made sauna” No limit switches, and best for all, no wiring in the walls to soften…

  3. The wire is usually not actually inside the sauna, even in a commercial application. So it should nt be getting that hot. The wire to the heater, which usually runs as a 220-240V circuit, is either in conduit or in the wall cavity, well outside the sauna. Even a few inches outside the sauna, the temp will drop dramatically. OTOH, the amount of wiring we are talking about, and the length, it would only make a difference of couple of dollars to buy a higher temperature rated wire, with the higher temp rated insulation (you don’t want the plastic melting.) This is readily available because there are lots of applications (restaurants, ovens, industrial) where this is required. If your big box doesn’t have it, an electrical supply place will have it, and again, the price difference is just a few bucks.

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