Feature Story

FITNESS & HEALTH 101 Of the Idiot, By the Idiot and For One Idiot, like such ONLY!

Part 5

Madness in the Jacuzzi, Sauna and Steam Room

SINCE my options for workout had dropped dramatically due to my many illnesses and conditions (I take it’s my female hormones and the lengthy stay in the planet that should be held accounted for). My apologies to all the well-trained and professional gym instructors out there who earn their bread and butter helping and training so many men and women who entrust their physical well-being and form to them; and for good reasons. I also ask for the forgiveness and understanding of those who put on their gym clothes, carry their gym bags and head to the gym regularly. I do not demean your drives and efforts, I am just stating the fact that the gym and I do not add up effectively.

I am yet to find the fitness regime that would work for me. To be honest, I would rather be in a spa, pampered and relaxed at the soft trained hands of a massage therapist than spend any minute in a gym. But then, massages, facials, aquamedic pools, Turkish Hammam and other spa treatments could be good for me in many ways but not in my immediate need and attempt to lose body fat here and there (everywhere? Hmp!!!) to assist in the healing of my one and only body. I don’t believe in fast solutions like pills and other treatments that would involve huge amounts of cash and invasive techniques. I am old school and I believe in the conservative methods of attaining my fitness goals.

My fixation on spa treatments moved me to prefer that section in a fitness club or center that houses one, two or all three: Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. They incidentally call it “The Spa” for some reason; some may even have a resident massage therapist on call, while most don’t. In a fitness club/center, it’s the closest I could get to my preferred well-being venue.

Jacuzzi – It is actually a brand name that has become a generic term for whirlpool bathtubs and hot tub spas that this company manufactures.

Wearing my one-piece swimsuit (the one appropriated for internal, only females around use), I test the temperature of the Jacuzzi in the club. Should be okay I thought. Before going into the tub, I check the controls and instructions. I don’t want a scene where I would be front page as the woman who drowned because her hair got caught in the Jacuzzi. Finally, I sit myself down allowing the bubbles to tickle me. I look left, right up, down. What’s that? Something’s floating; I take a closer look without touching. “Oh it’s just a piece of cotton…” I tell myself. Cotton? In a Jacuzzi? Uh-oh! I’m out of the Jacuzzi in no time! My weird deductive super suspicious reasoning kicks in. Woman in Jacuzzi, cotton floating. Woman… cotton… hygiene pads? Most unlikely? Disintegrating tampons… Eeeew! That could have come only from someone’s Tampons? Exit Jacuzzi. Never to enter again.

Sauna – A small wooden room (more of a box to me) with seating area around it like benches attached to the walls, a stove or brazier with hot rocks, charcoal or fibers and a wooden bucket filled with water with ladle hanging on its side. Hot dry air is produced by ladling water from the bucket and dousing the heating element with it to produce more steam. People sit or lie down in a sauna to sweat profusely that is believed to flush toxins out, invigorate and promote health and a sense of well-being.

They say there is nothing more Finnish than saunas. And in Finland, it is not a big thing to be in the nude when in the sauna. I am in the Middle East, so the one-piece swimsuit comes out from hiding again. Besides, I don’t think I would be very comfortable to show so much skin to anyone, stranger or no stranger. The fitness center’s sauna is empty; I will be on my own. I enter with much trepidation, I haven’t been in one before, and I stare at the tiny but cozy hot cubicle for a few seconds. I look around me without sitting; I just stood at the center of the sauna. It dawned on me; the only wooden box I know of and would not want to be in one as yet would be a coffin. The sizzling sound from the stove startled me. It seemed like a bigger and wider version of a wooden coffin. I don’t want to be in a coffin, not yet. I suddenly feel nauseated, goodbye sauna.

Steam Room – the benefits of spending time in saunas and steam rooms are the same as they have the same methodology, to bring out sweat by means of hot steam. The steam room on the other hand is not a wooden box. It is a cubicle with moisture resistant polystyrene walls and benches, equipped with an apparatus that produces steam or moist air.

The steam room is not entirely new to me. I’ve been to one many times in the past. I like the steam room and the feeling I get afterwards. A maximum of 10 to 20 minutes stay is advisable. I use the steam room at least twice a week.

On my first visit to the club, I headed to the Ladies Lockers/showers wrapped myself with my towel and then headed for the steam room. As I opened the door, a burst of thick fragrant steam welcomed me. Ahhh, the sinuses open, it is so relieving, so rejuvenating. I stand in the center of the cubicle looking around me. Nope, I am not going to sit in those, I can imagine women seated there in the nude. I know hot steam/water kills bacteria and all. Nope, the thought nags. I just can’t. Even if I strip myself naked to sit on my towel, the towel will pick up whatever and I will take the germs or whatever microorganisms that would survive with me. So I stood in the center. Holding my towel tightly around me like someone’s trying to snatch it away. How can I stand in this hot yet invigorating room for 15 to a maximum of 20 minutes not doing anything?

I am not a person who can be idle at all; I have to do something, anything. Now, let’s try to figure out how I could be more productive while inside. One can’t read a book here, pages would go wet, you can’t even see properly inside because of the steam. Perhaps, I could bring the ingredients for the next meal and start chopping them in the steam room? No? How about the steamed siopao, shuimai and other dumplings? Could I cook them in the same steam room? Still no? The activity inside the steam room must not leave garlic, onion or prawn smells and one that allows performance at minimum vision. Hmmm, I know! There is piped in music; stretching, possible! I am usually alone in the steam room, I could dance perhaps? So I tried. Remember the adage “Slippery when wet” (shhh, not entirely a green joke), I almost twisted my ankle, I held on to the bench for support and sat to catch my breath. I sat on it!

Since I already touched and sat on the “juice” bench (hot steam kills bacteria…hot water kills germs… hot steam k…) Okay, now, think of something else; what can someone do while sitting in the steam room? Think think think.

On my next visit to the steam room, I was a little bit more prepared. I applied a bit of olive oil (coconut is also good) on my hair (used for hot oil treatments, please don’t use too much that you might leave drips on the bench and floor of the steam room, dangerous for yourself and other users, don’t use too much of it and not the types that would leave the steam room with the oil smell. Be considerate.) I wrapped myself with a club issued towel (kept my own to use after my shower) grabbed my pumice stone from my bag and hid it under one flap of the towel and headed for the steam room. Nowadays, I sit in the steam room scrubbing my heels with my pumice stone. I am doing something for my fitness and achieved my goal to do something in the room! What do you know? I have the smoothest feet in Fujairah!

Kleo Hernandez-Kannangara
Kleo has a Communication Arts degree from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines which she earned in 1986. She lives in the United Arab Emirates and is married to a Sri Lankan. She has four children, all of whom were born at the UAE. She describes her self as a “stay-at-home mom” who’s always on the road doing errands for everyone, and an “inspirational’ writer which according to her means "I write when inspired by a person, place or event."

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