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Sauna Talk: Max Valadzko from the Backyard Belarus Banya Bench

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Season 4 of Sauna Talk in the time of corona has been produced, like most all podcasts, via Zoom and teleconferencing. Yet this episode breaks that mold, where two people are gathered, once again, on the sauna bench to, er… sauna talk. Both Max and Glenn have been under pretty strict distancing. Glenn recently returned from 5 months on his island in Northeast Minnesota. Max is running a tight ship, with his wife due in December with their third child. (eg. no messing around).

So, this episode is a return to Sauna Talk on the bench

Max comes to sauna, banya as its called back in his native land of Belarus, through a life long tradition and experience.

“When I say 95 out of 100 of Belarusians go to sauna – I mean 95% of my friends and family that I know in Belarus go to sauna regularly.”

This is the culture of sweat bathing in Belarus.

Баня (Banya) is the Russian word for sauna; Лазьня (Laznya) is the Belarusian word for sauna, but most of the people who live in Belarus use word banya since they speak Russian as their first language. 

Banya in Belarus is a way to get clean. As Belarus is a country where the government shuts off hot water from time to time, it is also a country with not as developed plumbing infrastructure. Belarus is suffering from bad politics. Imagine a country where people are beaten for protesting the system. People lose their jobs for speaking out. People disappear, and are never heard from again.

Belarus is a country of great people, with a fucked up Government

Max is committed to help support people in his homeland. Max is right now building a mobile banya to help get people together, mainly people from his country who have emigrated to Minnesota. Max and a lot of his friends who live in the US buy groceries for people in Belarus who have lost their jobs due to their pro-democratic political beliefs. He and his country folk here in US help raise money to help people in need back in Belarus. 

Saunatimes is helping Max.

This podcast introduces you to the wonderfulness of banya as something positive and galvanizing. In the wake of a lot of bullshit at home, Max stays positive and hopeful, thanks to his positive outlook and supported by the endorphin rushing through the authentic sauna/banya experience.

Max and Glenn after 3 banya rounds, Glenn pointing to his pro democracy issued venik above his head.
Minneapolis, MN USA – backyard Belarus banya tribute

And here is Max’s best friend Dima’s sauna in the mother country of Belarus. Hashtag: universal heat!

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6 thoughts on “Sauna Talk: Max Valadzko from the Backyard Belarus Banya Bench”

  1. Hello,

    I am planning a basement sauna build (just purchased the ebook) & saw the post about using dog ear fence pickets (incense cedar). Would it be suitable as interior paneling? Only for walls that I would not be leaning my body on? Thoughts? Cautions? Affirmations?


  2. Yes. I like this product. Cautions: cedar dog ear fencing is vulnerable to shrinking. Take a sauna with it first. And you’ll like it more, as it won’t talk too much on the bench, or need spell check to type acclimate.

    Also, consider running the panels through a table saw to give the lengths a 45° profile.

    It can be a pain in the you know what to get all we need to build our own saunas, so anything that can be procured via pushing cart down the Home Depot isle gets a good look in my book.

  3. Hi Glenn,

    I’ve been a long time follower. Love the show and the energy you put into everything you share. Thanks !!!

    Great show with Max. Out of curiosity, do you know the name of the reggae song that starts at around 6min35 ? Love the beat.

    Blessings !


  4. Bob, irie, and thanks and praise for the kind words.

    That’s Aswad, “Need your love.”

    How about the worldliness of good sauna? A Canadian (you) writing me (an American) about an artist (English/Jamaican) shared with Max (Belaurian) while sitting on the sauna bench (Finnish).

    A favorite lp for sauna shuffle for me is Aswad, New Chapter of Dub. There’s something about drum and bass… the drum hits with good steam, and the bass hits with good lampömässa.

  5. Hi Glenn,

    I’m in the process of building a sauna and looking to get my hands on a stove. Please let me know the best way to get in touch!

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