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  • Sauna Dilemma

    I happen to be a member of a large fitness centre with a sauna/steam-room/jacuzzi complex attached, and I am also on the members committee. The complex has recently had a complete re-fit, and the centre management has asked the committee to give views about how it should operate - it's been losing popularity and hence money for a while. One of the issues will undoubtedly be the matter of swimwear. At present we have men only sessions, women only sessions, family sessions and a single mixed session each week for couples only. Clothing is optional in the mens and womens sessions. It is also optional in the mixed session but in practice EVERYBODY wears swimwear during that period. Clothing is compulsory in the family sessions as children are allowed for these (but not at other times).

    When the centre originally opened (15 years ago) they made a strict "all sessions are mixed" rule and also an "all clothing is prohibited" rule - which they claimed would make us more "continental" and wouldd be "healthier and more hygeinic". The place was practically empty for the 16 hours per day that it was open and within a month they changed it.

    I know that some of the committee members would like the place to be clothing optional all the time, some would like to see it clothing compulsory all the time (i.e. me!) and at least one person believes that swimwear and other items of clothing have no place in a sauna, steamroom or jacuzzi.

    I would welcome your suggestions or observations about how we might structure the opening hours (7am to 11pm seven days per week) to allow for fairness to all whilst still attracting sufficient customers to make it economically viable. I promise to print them ALL off and distribute them to the committee members our meeting on Monday for discussion.

    Thanks,

    Stu

  • #2
    I happen to be a member of a large fitness centre with a sauna/steam-room/jacuzzi complex attached, and I am also on the members committee. The complex has recently had a complete re-fit, and the centre management has asked the committee to give views about how it should operate - it's been losing popularity and hence money for a while. One of the issues will undoubtedly be the matter of swimwear. At present we have men only sessions, women only sessions, family sessions and a single mixed session each week for couples only. Clothing is optional in the mens and womens sessions. It is also optional in the mixed session but in practice EVERYBODY wears swimwear during that period. Clothing is compulsory in the family sessions as children are allowed for these (but not at other times).

    When the centre originally opened (15 years ago) they made a strict "all sessions are mixed" rule and also an "all clothing is prohibited" rule - which they claimed would make us more "continental" and wouldd be "healthier and more hygeinic". The place was practically empty for the 16 hours per day that it was open and within a month they changed it.

    I know that some of the committee members would like the place to be clothing optional all the time, some would like to see it clothing compulsory all the time (i.e. me!) and at least one person believes that swimwear and other items of clothing have no place in a sauna, steamroom or jacuzzi.

    I would welcome your suggestions or observations about how we might structure the opening hours (7am to 11pm seven days per week) to allow for fairness to all whilst still attracting sufficient customers to make it economically viable. I promise to print them ALL off and distribute them to the committee members our meeting on Monday for discussion.

    Thanks,

    Stu

    Comment


    • #3
      Stu,

      As a regular sauna user at my local leisure centre (at least twice weekly) I can tell you what I observe.

      The sauna has two men only sessions, two women only sessions and one mixed session per week. The men and mixed sessions are for 3 hours each and the women's sessions are only 2 hours. So you can see it's not a hugely popular activity. I blame this in part on the leisure centre who do not advertise its existence in any way and those that attend the sessions tend to be a hard core of regulars with perhaps a new face every week or so.

      Like your centre, the men and womens sessions are clothing optional. I can't speak for the women's sessions but I would estimate that 75% who use the mens sessions do so nude and the others dress in a towel (which is provided). Occasionally someone will wear swimwear. The mixed session never attracts more than a small handfull of people, mostly men but occasionally women will use it as well but always in pairs. It's odd that it is rarely used by couples. The mixed session is clothing compulsory although some people use a towel rather than swimwear.

      You should note that, whatever the policy, swimwear is most unsuitable and uncomfortable for saunas and you notice that even those who wrap themselves in a towel tend to get fidgety as the towel gets wetter. The other thing you need to understand is that people who go nude in a sauna are no more likely to be naturists than those who don't. Indeed none of the people I regularly meet would consider themselves naturists and some even put on underwear to use the sunbeds - presumably to simulate being on a beach!

      One of the problems of attracting newcomers is that they tend to be put off because they are unsure of the clothing etiquette in saunas and are perhaps too embarrassed to ask. I've noticed quite often that newcomers start off wrapped in a towel or wearing shorts but often discard them on subsequent visits. If I was in charge of policy I would make the etiquette explicit in the promotional material and say something like "The session is clothing optional which means you can wear swimwear, a towel or just a smile". Younger people seem to have most difficulty with this.

      Talking of which, have you examined the ages and the types of people who currently use the sauna? The one I go to is used primarily (but by no means exclusively) by manual workers who use the sauna as a means of cleaning brick dust and plaster out of their pores. They tend to be in the 35 plus age group. More recently there have been some younger people coming (ie. late teens and early twenties) and although they don't always come as regularly as the older folk they seem to be able to spread the word to their friends so they always turn up two or three at a time. I think this also helps them with the etiquette problem as there's safety in numbers.

      What attracts me to the sauna is the total relaxation I feel. I normally stay there for a couple of hours which would include about 4 sessions in the sauna itself interspersed with long periods of lounging around chatting and drinking ice cold orange juice or coffee all of which is provided free. For me it's the only time I ever get to do nothing without feeling guilty about it. But many people can only think of a sauna in terms of the hot sauna itself and I think this also puts off many people - they just can't see the point of it so perhaps you need to 'sell' the benefits of the whole package to attract more people.

      You said "I know that some of the committee members would like the place to be clothing optional all the time, some would like to see it clothing compulsory all the time (i.e. me!)"

      I'm sure you meant that purely in commercial terms rather than betraying your prejudice about nudity but, as I suggested before, there are many people out there who really do not want to wear anything in a sauna but would be horrified at the thought of going nude on a beach so you shouldn't think it's just naturists that want clothing optional sessions.

      On the other hand if you had, say, one session a week which was advertised as 'naturist' then I'm sure you would find that naturists would come from miles around to attend. You would be able to get free advertising on websites like NUFF (Naturism UK Fact File) http://www.armage.demon.co.uk/nuff/ as naturists are desperate for places like this and word would quickly get around. There are very few sauna sessions in the UK which are specifically naturist unless organized by a naturist club as part of a swim. Obviously at a naturist sauna you could not exclude children and indeed you should not for if you advertise it as 'adults only' then you may find you get a different sort of clientele.

      Hope this helps.

      Rik

      Comment


      • #4
        Dear Stu,

        Here is my input regarding what I would consider fair to both the textile and non-textile members.

        1) Establish hours that would be strictly set aside for clothing only and hours that would be set aside for those of us who hate to wear clothing every chance we get...this way the rules are fair for both groups.

        2) Also set aside hours that are co-ed for both groups...and that way those who are uncomfortable with being nude will feel more at ease in the health club facility...

        3) Keep the prices the same for both groups...no one likes to feel like the other is getting any greater treatment than the other [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

        As much as it would be great to have the club only for nudist, in all fairness, it isn't any more fair to have the club any more one way than the other way [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img]

        Greensunshine [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

        PS

        Good luck in keeping everyone happy [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

        Comment


        • #5
          This is a two part response:

          First, the club I now use was in a different location several years ago. The schedule was men only three days and women only for three days then closed on Sunday. At the request of members, they opened on Sunday as coed. The main problem was their was only one locker room and shower.

          The Sunday sessions became couples only and worked well at first. With time a group started to dominate. These couples started with simple skinny-dipping in the pool which drove off some people but finally worked out. Later the couples became very sexual in the showers and locker room including intercourse and group sex in the shower and on the benches. Finally the Sunday sessions ended due to complaints about the public image of the facility.

          Second, regarding the current situation. I personnally enjoy coed all the time rather than alternate gender specific times. Regarding the clothing optional, I too would prefer only a towel in the sauna and steam room but this would not be possible all the time. I would suggest, having a coed adult time for an hour or so just before closing. During this period it would be advertised as clothing optional, period. If there is no interest then pass out the suits.

          Mic

          Comment


          • #6
            We have polls on this forum, could you have a poll of your members to see what they want?

            By the way, if a health club near me advertised naturist hours/days or sessions, I'd be there! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

            Comment


            • #7
              Mic are you from the UK? I have never heard of a sauna that was coed in the USA apart from facilities under the control of naturists.

              Last year I lived in a hotel in New Jersey, USA and our sauna and steam rooms were always men only. The ladies had duplicate facilities. Most of us went nude Though we sat on towels for hygiene, we did not wrap them around our torsos in the sauna and steam rooms.

              Children under 14 were not allowed in either room, apparently because of the greater danger of overheating for children and teenagers. Even adults had a 30 minute limit.

              At this same time, I joined a nudist club that had exclusive use of a health club one night a month. It was all very low key and discrete. There are fanatic groups that would have caused us all kinds of trouble if we were too open about our naturist meetings.

              Our coed nudist nights at the health club were lots more fun than the male-only club at the hotel. I'm not talking about sex, just the sheer joy of male-female sociability.

              Comment


              • #8
                I have attended a fitness center that had both male and female saunas. I cannot speak for the females, but the male sauna, 95% of the people who used the sauna were nude, myself included. It wasn't because I don't like to wear clothes, it was due to the fact I was more comfortable. Wearing shorts made it unbearable, expecially when you really started to sweat. Being nude (sitting on a towel) was much more relaxing. The showers were right outside the sauna door, so after a nice little warm up, I would cool down in the shower, sit a little while, then return back to the sauna.

                I have not been to a family oriented sauna atmosphere, so I cannot speak as far as family members goes. Being able to use the sauna while nude, is the only way to go. My vote would be for a clothing-optional use of the sauna. As stated, not everyone is nude, but there are those of us who are, purely for the relaxation aspect of it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  At my fitness club, the dry saunas were located in the locker rooms, and the steam room was co-ed and out by the pool.

                  The steam room users always wore bathing suits, maybe because it was so public.

                  The women's sauna users, however, ran the gamut from those in bathing suits to those wrapped in towels (some with an extra towel around the hair) to those nude who sat or laid down on towels.

                  I think probably the main reason it never became an issue is that it was so rarely used - I don't think I *ever* saw more than three people in there at once!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    quote:
                    Originally posted by Trailscout:
                    [qb]Mic are you from the UK? I have never heard of a sauna that was coed in the USA apart from facilities under the control of naturists.

                    Last year I lived in a hotel in New Jersey, USA and our sauna and steam rooms were always men only. The ladies had duplicate facilities. Most of us went nude Though we sat on towels for hygiene, we did not wrap them around our torsos in the sauna and steam rooms.

                    Children under 14 were not allowed in either room, apparently because of the greater danger of overheating for children and teenagers. Even adults had a 30 minute limit.

                    At this same time, I joined a nudist club that had exclusive use of a health club one night a month. It was all very low key and discrete. There are fanatic groups that would have caused us all kinds of trouble if we were too open about our naturist meetings.

                    Our coed nudist nights at the health club were lots more fun than the male-only club at the hotel. I'm not talking about sex, just the sheer joy of male-female sociability.[/qb]

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Try again, Mic!
                      You quoted me, but whatever you intended to post didn't make it onto the page.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Actually, Trailscout, I see quotes in here all the time that have no comment with them. I always wonder why someone would quote someone else and not comment on the quote. What is the purpose of doing that? Just wondering. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif[/img]

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          quote:
                          Originally posted by stu2630:
                          [qb]That should keep even the keenest naturists happy - six out of seven days clothing optional! Progressive enough for you?[/qb]
                          Not really. Your policy assumes that there is a sexual element to nudity hence the need to have separate sessions for men and women. This is contrary to naturist philosophy so I don't think I'll be making a special trip.

                          Now if you advertise one of the sessions as a 'naturist session' I might change my mind and you might make more money. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

                          Rik

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Rik,

                            you posted:

                            Your policy assumes that there is a sexual element to nudity

                            Well that's because there IS for the vast majority of people, even nudists!! (did you see Gary's recent poll??!!)
                            You can't get away from the fact Rik - that doesn't mean that the sexual element is 'bad' or 'undesirable'. It is just there, as its bound to be for a more or lesser extent when people are naked, same as it's there to a more or lesser extent when you go to a club and people are dressed up and are a bit tipsy.

                            Maybe nudity is completely 'non-sexual' for you - why won't you accept that is most certainly is not for many others, and thus that's why people would choose not to encounter it in most public places - ie. in a mixed sauna.

                            that said, there should definitely be some mixed sessions that are advertised as nudist (ie. appropriate !!)

                            Max

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Max,

                              OK, I should have said " YOur policy assumes there is an undue sexual element to non-sexual nudity".

                              I was not criticizing the policy itself which, in the circumstances, is quite reasonable. I was responding to Stu's question with its implied assertion that a single sex clothing otional sauna is somehow 'progressive'. It is commonplace - I've just returned from one myself less than a mile from my home - so it could hardly be described as progressive.

                              I don't take issue with you when you say "It [a sexual element] is just there, as its bound to be for a more or lesser extent when people are naked, same as it's there to a more or lesser extent when you go to a club and people are dressed up and are a bit tipsy." Indeed I made the same sort of comment in another thread (I think!) a few days ago for humans are indeed sexual beings. BUT you wouldn't consider separating the sexes at a club, or indeed anywhere where people are clothed, just because sexual tensions may exist so why would you want to do so when people are unclothed? The answer is of course that you are assuming that there is an undue sexual element to non-sexual nudity.

                              I also don't take issue with you when you say that many people think the same although it seems impossible to get them to talk about it. But it still doesn't explain why people would choose not to encounter it in a mixed sauna when, to use your analogy, they probably would choose to encounter it at a club with a few drinks inside them.

                              And a final point: if it is sexual tension which prevents people from going to mixed saunas then surely Stu's club should ban homosexuals from attending same sex sessions. Do they I wonder?

                              Rik

                              Comment

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