11.20.2009

Steamed

Phil and I went to Banya 5 on Wednesday after the gym. When I was working at 9-1-1 Media Arts, right after it moved to South Lake Union, there was a neighborhood "get-to-know-your-neighbor" thing at that big space where they do Gay Bingo. Anyway, Banya 5 was newly opened and they gave me free passes and bottled water. It always intrigued me, but, for whatever reason, I never went.
So, five years later, 9-1-1 Media Arts has since downsized and moved. I no longer work in the neighborhood, but Banya 5 is managing to hold on.
If you're not familiar with the concept of a Banya, its basically a sauna. Banya 5 has a beautiful interior (even if some of the surfaces show the wear of 5 years). There is the "parilka" which is the centerpiece sauna. It has wooden benches, a brick floor, and an oven. It was 240 degrees on Wednesday. Phil wore his glasses in and the heat literally warped the lenses and the metal frames singed his scalp. WARNING: Take off all jewelry, glasses, etc. before entering sauna--oh! but keep your sandals on because the bricks on the floor are hot, hot, HOT!
After raising your core body temperature in the sauna, its time for the cold plunge. From 240 degrees to 52 in a matter of seconds, the jolt to your system is not entirely unpleasant. Yes, its cold. Yes, your nipples and nethers contract, but the rejuvenating, refreshing feeling is unparalleled and welcome after all that heat.
My favorite room was the Turkish steam. The room is all tile and steam. Bundles of eucalyptus are placed on either side of the entrance where the steam enters. As the steam blasts into the room, it heats the eucalyptus and releases its scent. Being a recovering smoker and sometime ashthmatic, I really feel the benefits of breathing deeply in a steam room (its the one thing I miss from my old gym even though it was only operational about 4 months in the past 2 years). Add the refreshing scent of koala food, and I felt like I was smoking healthy menthol cigarette.
Then you jump in the cold plunge again and get a double whammy of refreshing.
We stayed just over an hour and a half and I raised and lowered my core temperature multiple times, as well as floated in the sea salt pool.
They have spa services as well, like a mineral mud wrap and salt scrub. We didn't opt for them this time, but might sometime when we're feeling rich, we might.
We've already decided that Banya 5 will be an occasional apres-gym treat. The entrance fee per person is usually $35, but come in before 2pm on a weekday (by the way, they're closed Mon. and Tues.) and its half off. I can't wait to go again.

5 comments:

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Steam Rooms, Hot tubs, Saunas said...

Steam rooms, and saunas for that matter, are great for easing respiratory discomfort. Many people use them when suffering from a cold or flu.

As for the sauna warping the frames and burning Phil, I hope he's ok. It's very important to leave anything metal outside of the sauna (as you all experienced).

All in all it sounds like you had a very nice experience. Must say, I'm a bit jealous. :)

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