Spa experience & a few useful tips!
By Tina A. - April 05, 2011
So, as promised, this post will be all about the actual spa experience on my previous little mountain trip!
Now, I'll have to admit that it was my very first time in a spa, so I really didn't know what to expect, which of course meant that I had to try everything!!! The facilities included a heated pool, a jacuzzi, a hammam, a sauna and there were also massage sessions available as extra treatments.
Obviously, this isn't your average women's spa with the fancy mud baths and (overpriced) facials, but rather the more basic approach, which is a lot more fitting to the surroundings and the activities that those offer (who wouldn't want to relax in a sauna after hiking or rafting anyway)!
The very first thing that I tried was the heated exercise pool. The water was set at a comfortable 27 degrees Celsius, which seemed little at first, but only took a few seconds to get used to. Being an exercise pool meant that you had the option of swimming against the push of a water current created by a pump at one end - now this proved to be a little too demanding for my build, so I just went the old school way. You can use the pool before the rest of the relaxing facilities, if you want a bit of an exercise first, or after a round in the steam room or sauna as a way to relax - I would do a bit of both.
The jacuzzi was pretty basic and honestly did not impress me by itself. Out of everything, it was the most obvious relaxing choice, no doubt about it, but I didn't really notice see any of its benefits on my body other than a general feeling of relaxation, almost enough to fall asleep to! The placement of the jacuzzi in the room added to that effect: it was right under a huge window with a direct view of the high rock mountains right across (rough idea on the last photo on my previous post)!
The hammam (or steam room) was an interesting experience: you sit in a room filled with steam of high temperature - the second time I went in, I noticed it was set at 44-45 degrees Celsius (about 112 F). Steam baths are particularly beneficial to the respiratory system and the added eucalyptus scent (apparently frequent in steam rooms) aids to that effect. What I can personally say about them, is that it might take a bit getting used to (hey, you're in a small fogged up room), but you can relax and stay longer in it compared to the sauna.
Now, the sauna, is exactly the opposite: an extremely hot (I'd estimate the temperature was in the 70's?) but dry atmosphere, yet oddly pleasant and addictive! Now, you will sweat in the steam room too, but if you're looking for an extreme detox, then the sauna is your obvious choice, simply because the extreme heat will completely open up your pores and the sweat will rid your body of many nasty toxins - your skin will feel younger too! Hands down, my most favourite thing to do out of what's mentioned so far!
Another thing that impressed me was the muscle massage. Now I was lucky since my masseur guy was a trained chiropractor too, so I was obviously in excellent hands, but even if that wasn't the case, I know I would still see a huge difference in my body, especially my back. I would strongly suggest if anyone is suffering from bad posture or sore muscles to go book an appointment now - you'll thank me later. Makes one think that with our crazy rhythms, such treatments aren't really a luxury, but more of a neccessity, really...
Now, if you're going to visit a spa with similar facilities, here's a few important things to keep in mind!
You need to:
- start with a shower (it's pretty standard procedure anyways).
- have a warm shower before entering the sauna or steam room to make the transition to the hot environment easier for your body and to get rid of the chlorinated water sitting on your skin.
- relax in the sauna and steam room and take slow, controlled breaths - otherwise the heat will burn your nostrils and the humidity will put a bit of stress in your respiratory system respectively.
- don't just sit anywhere in the sauna: remember that the lower benches are generally not as hot as the higher ones.
- take note of the time! Don't sit in the sauna for more than 10-12 minutes at a time, unless you know very well what you're doing and been doing it for a long time. It's not a competition!!! In the steam room you can generally sit in for a bit longer, but still, listen to your body: if you're starting to feel lightheaded, it's time to get out!
- finish with a cold shower. This is key, as it will help close your open pores, cool down your body and decrease your elevated heart rate. It will also give an extra kick to your neuroendocrine and immune systems and will reduce muscle recovery time.
- lie down for a few minutes before you do anything else. You're probably feeling a bit tired by now, and your body is still warm, so give yourself some time to just relax and help your body settle into normal temperatures again!
And lastly, don't treat the spa as a...water park or the beach - it is meant for relaxation, so respect that it should be a fairly quiet place for everyone (cos, yeah, I witnessed that too).
I know guys, bit lengthy, but hopefully informative - kudos if you made it this far!!! So now, if you're a first timer like I was, you'll have an idea of what to expect and how to make everything work for you in the best possible way!
Sooo, have you been in a spa and what was your favourite thing to do/felt the most beneficial to your body? :) Do share!