The time-honoured ritual of rejuvenating in a steam room – the positive effects on skin, muscles and joints while also helping to relieve stress are well documented. However there are always a few people who manage to detract from the otherwise therapeutic experience. I like to think it’s more ignorance than anything else, so I thought I’d put ‘pen to paper’ on a few steam room etiquette issues, assuring the experience is enjoyed as it should be.
1. We are not in Ancient Rome; steam rooms are now mainly unisex, don’t come into the steam room naked. Even if you are in a single sex steam room, please don’t come in naked. There really is no need. If you don’t want to wear trunks, then fine don’t, however please have the decency to put a towel round your waist to protect your ‘modesty’. Furthermore, if you are only wearing a towel, don’t put your leg(s) up – needless to say, no-one needs to see that.
2. Shower before you come in. There’s nothing worse than someone stepping in the steam room straight from a two hour cardio workout, still dripping with sweat. Suddenly people become rather weary about the source of steam in the room, not to mention the ‘scent’. Have a shower please, it takes 30 seconds.
3. If the steam room is almost empty, don’t sit directly beside the only person in there, it’s awkward – use the space. Much like Thomas Fink’s of the Man’s Book method of selecting the optimal Urinal; leave at least one space between you and the other person where possible. Trust me, it’ll make for a more enjoyable steam room experience for all concerned.
4. Unlike the normal rules of Gentlemanly behaviour, do not hold the door open for the person behind you – they managed to get this far, I’m sure they’ll manage. With users waiting up to thirty minutes for the ‘optimal steaming temperature’, then Barry opens the door and holds it open waiting for Tina to finish showering… not cool, too cool.
5. You are either in or out. If you’re not sure you want to come in, think about it outside, not with the door open. If you are looking for someone, come inside rather than trying to see through the impenetrable steam, or waiting for all the steam to filter out to ease your line of vision.
6. Shaving. Now this is unbelievable; some actually think its fine to bring a razor into the steam room, and have a shave. Where do these people think the hair goes? It doesn’t matter how much hair you have, the hair still has to go somewhere. There is not ‘hair length’ related rule for this one, it cannot happen. Ever.
7. Conversation. While it’s polite to say a ‘Hello’ when entering and a ‘Cheers’ when leaving, conversation in the steam room should be kept to a minimum, and not forced upon any unwilling recipient. If their eyes are closed, it’s probably a good sign they want to be left alone. Gentleman, it is not a pub, do not use it as a venue to discuss your lurid stories from the night before, how well your job is going or divulge the inner workings of your ‘relationships’ – there’s a reason psychologists get paid. Comments such as ‘It’s hot in here’ are not required – we know it’s hot, that’s why we’re here.
8. If the sign says ‘No kids under the age of 16’ it means it. I would like to add that the age restriction also applies to mental age.
9. Don’t stare, it’s still rude, even if (you think) they can’t see you. It’s not polite.
10. And finally, if you must break wind, please, please, please do it outside; unfortunately the steam doesn’t numb the sense of smell.
On a more serious note, there are many benefits to using the Steam room as part of your men’s grooming regime. The heavy sweating induced by steam rooms opens the pores and allows dirt and dead skin cells to be flushed out, resulting in a more thorough clean than can be attained from most other cleansing methods. Furthermore the increased blood circulation brought about by the heat brings more nutrients and oxygen to the skin’s surface, which is said to be beneficial for acne sufferers and for other skin conditions.
I think that pretty much covers it, so now no excuses; the next time you go to the steam room follow these 10 rules and let your skin and mind enjoy the benefits.