A coed sauna refers to a sauna that allows men and women to use the facility together without rules of segregation. This immediately gives rise to a pressing issue: does this mean everybody gets undressed?
Understand that the sauna, by concept, is meant to be enjoyed in the nude. It is a super-heated room that provides beneficial effects to the skin and body, as well as deep relaxation.
The more clothes you wear in the sauna, the more uncomfortable you tend to feel. Some saunas do not permit wearing any clothes inside the room, including bathing suits. In fact, let’s discuss...
What then is proper coed sauna etiquette?
If you are enjoying a traditional Finnish sauna, or happen to be traveling to a European country, then do not give a second thought to nudity.
Not only is nudity not a big deal over there, but it’s not even sexualized. The Finnish people love their saunas and get naked in no time in front of family, friends and anyone else whenever it’s time for a relaxing steam.
Now here comes the complication: when you are in America (as well as a few other countries) sauna nudity is not allowed.
In fact, since nudity is banned in public places in America, bathing suits or at least towels are actually required.
Other countries which ban coed sauna nudity include Britain, France, Italy and Spain. Countries that do allow nudity include Finland, Scandinavia, Germany, Austria and most of Eastern Europe.
When it comes to single sex sauna etiquette, much of the same rules apply. (Bear in mind not all single sex saunas are gay-friendly.)
Naturally, the guilt-ridden United States bans all public nudity, regardless of co-ed policies.
Sauna facilities through Europe, however, do tend to have a more lenient view of nudity in single-sex sauna rooms. Regardless of what country you are in, you should always sit on a towel while relaxing in the sauna.
The answer is easy—when in Europe, always respect the custom of the coed sauna by removing your clothes. It can be considered disrespectful to ignore the custom.
After all, if you’re the only one wearing clothes inside the sauna, you are now making everyone else uncomfortable. Makes sense right?
Interestingly, in America and certain other countries wearing no clothes while everyone else wears swimsuits can get the same type of negative attention.
Regardless of co-ed sauna nudity rules, always carry a towel with you in public areas and inside the sauna. Remember, even in the U.S. where sauna nudity is not allowed, your swimsuit should expose most of your skin to the heat.
You do want to follow the rules, but at the same time, wearing heavier clothing or even full swimsuits is counteractive to the sauna’s benefits.
Guys should wear short a bathing suit or athletic shorts, and girls should wear a bathing suit or bikini, whichever they are most comfortable in.
The basic idea of a sauna is to expose most if not all the skin so you can clear your pores. In order for this cleansing to take place, your body must be exposed to open sauna air.
These basic guidelines can help you prevent misunderstandings when visiting a coed sauna in Europe or the U.S.
That's a very good question. Most of the gyms and health clubs in the United States have their saunas, if they do in fact have one, in the locker rooms.
As such, most of them are not coed. There is typically a large sized traditional sauna with an electric heater, a couple of layers of benches, a sand time indicator and a large temperature gauge on the wall.
Some gyms will have a separate steam room as well, which provides a "wet" experience as opposed to the dry heat of the sauna.
However, many of the larger health clubs have not only saunas in the locker rooms, but also communal saunas elsewhere in the gym, e.g. in the pool/hot tub area.
These tend to be coed saunas, and are typically larger than the ones featured in the locker rooms to accommodate more people. Obviously, no one is taking off all of their clothes to use this sauna...it's usually men and women over a set age that go into the sauna after a swim or a stint in the hot tub.
In this situation, everyone is usually in bathing suits and a towel.
The coed sauna experience is a unique one, and something that many people truly enjoy...just make sure you're doing it the right way...clothes or unclothed, depending on how its supposed to be done in your particular location.