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Etiquette at the gym regarding sauna use

RockingWithLJ Posts: 243 Member
edited June 2021 in Debate Club
I recently joined a gym that has a sauna. I've never went to gym before that had one so I was really excited about it.. That is until I used it with other people. When I've used saunas in the past, I would rinse off first, wore nothing but a towel (brought an extra one to sit on), had a water in hand and no devices whats-so-ever. I've use the sauna before and after every workout since joining* and every single time I go in there with another person they are fully clothed with shoes on and have their phones with them.
I'm curious if* anyone here uses a sauna and what your mannerisms are during that time. Am I displaying poor gym etiquette by doing what Ive done in the past at spas (towel optional)?
I posted this in debate because i personally think it is f***ing weird and quite disgusting to see people doing that.
I appreciate any and all respectfully shared thoughts.


  • goal06082021
    goal06082021 Posts: 2,080 Member
    I would assume what you're doing is the correct thing, but maybe check with the gym to be sure? I used to go to a gym with a sauna, only used it once just to see what it was like, and I did similar to you, though I did wear shower shoes. I can't imagine it's good for the phone to be in that environment!
  • OnceAndFutureAthlete
    OnceAndFutureAthlete Posts: 192 Member
    IMO, you're doing it right: Naked on a towel, or wrapped in a towel. Barefoot or shower shoes (left on the floor) only.
    Street shoes and/or street clothes in a sauna are GROSS! I've never been to or heard of a place that allows that in their sauna. Sounds like they need to put up a sign or something about what to wear (or not wear).

    The devices thing I'm a little less certain of, as I'm older and this may have changed. I'd assume it might depend on the locale, or maybe time of day? Personally I wouldn't mind someone bringing in their device if they needed to be available/reachable - like and MD or something, or if they listened to something quietly on headphones. But if it was disturbing my peace and quiet, like someone watching videos or chatting incessantly, that I would consider unacceptable. (Again, I'm an old.) Maybe you can ask your gym to set "quiet times" for sauna use: evenings and weekends or something?
  • tiptoethruthetulips
    tiptoethruthetulips Posts: 3,300 Member
    Whatever you are comfortable with.

    I personally wouldn't be comfortable using a gym sauna being naked sitting on a towel in front of a bunch of strangers or non strangers for that matter.

    Culturally I know its different in many countries and I had been brought up that way culturally I presumably would find it comfortable because its what I would be use to,
  • SuzySunshine99
    SuzySunshine99 Posts: 2,710 Member
    I would ask the gym management what their policies are.
    Most ban cell phones in locker rooms/changing areas, so I think that would apply to a sauna as well.
    But, check with them and let them know your observations.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,401 Member
    My gym has a list of rules posted outside the sauna. It's been a while (pandemic) so I don't remember for sure what they are, but I'm pretty sure they didn't say people couldn't wear clothes, or couldn't be naked.

    For sure I'd seen both, and things in between, didn't really worry about either extreme and just did my thing whatever it was. If it had ruled out clothes, I'd remember, because I did go in there dressed in a few cases - wouldn't have, if against the rules. Quite sure there was a rule that naked people needed to sit on a towel, and there was a rule not to put shoes on the (multi-level) seating platforms but OK on floor if I remember.

    The sauna was within the locker room, so women separate from men. There was a general rule against having cell phones out at all when in the locker room, posted on the outside door and other places. Most people followed it, at least when other people were in view, though might hold their device inside gym bag to check for messages or something.

    For sure, ask your gym for clarification, maybe ask them to post rules? Using a phone in the sauna or locker room, given that they generally have cameras, is really obnoxious & rude, IMO. (The gym is risking lawsuit, if things go really badly.) I'd feel that way about the sauna even if the rule required a bathing suit. Not everyone wants to be worried about photos even then, either body self-conscious, or at my gym we do have some hijabi women from time to time, they're clearly OK with changing around women, but I expect would be concerned with strangers' photos, even if dressed but not head covered yet.
  • panda4153
    panda4153 Posts: 413 Member
    I see both at my gym and, we don’t have a no cell phone rule but we do have a rule that states no taking pictures. Almost everyone has their phone with them, and uses ear buds of some kind. I have most people just want peace in the sauna so if you are not disturbing anyone you are good.

    As far as clothes go, I have seen fully clothed and naked on a towel. Both seem to be corrects my gym. We have separate men and women’s in the locker room, and a co-Ed in the pool area. I would not worry about it. You were good in how you chose to use it. It sounds like your gym is real similar to mine.
  • corinasue1143
    corinasue1143 Posts: 6,220 Member
    edited June 2021
    At the gym where I swam, several of us would go in for 3-5 minutes after swimming to warm up and wait for an available shower. Bathing suit and towel, flip-flops. That’s just about the only time I ever saw anyone in it.
  • nooshi713
    nooshi713 Posts: 4,834 Member
    I always wore a bathing suit while using saunas I’m the past. I would not want others to have phones in there.
  • MaltedTea
    MaltedTea Posts: 6,287 Member
    (nods head to everything @heybales said)

    While I've not been in a sauna in eons (i.e before cellphones were a common thing) it never once occurred to me that people would go in there clothed with more than a towel and shower shoes 🤔
  • nossmf
    nossmf Posts: 3,240 Member
    My gym's saunas are in the locker rooms, so men and women separate, can only speak towards the men's side.

    Gym policy is NO cell phone use in locker rooms, period, probably due to the cameras. Members risk getting their membership revoked, so I virtually never see cell phones in the locker room.

    As far as attire in the sauna itself, we are expected to have a towel to sit on or be wearing clothing of some sort. Rarely see anything other than towels wrapped around waists (have never seen actual nudity displayed) or bathing suits. Once in a blue moon I see somebody wrapped in a plastic sweat suit step in for a few minutes, stand still, then exit.

    Of course, I rarely use the dry sauna, I by far prefer the steam sauna instead. The steam provides a fair degree of privacy, and helps clear my sinuses. Plus maybe it's just me, but it feels hotter than the dry sauna. I have no fear of cell phones in the steam room, as I can't expect any electronics to survive unscathed in that environment for any length of time.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,735 Member
    My gym has three saunas and the rules are posted. They are coed and in a public area rather than in the locker room, so a bathing suit at minimum is required. Phones and other devices are not permitted due in large part to the fact that they have cameras...though I always saw people scrolling through there twitter feeds and whatnot in there.

    I always wore a bathing suit and my shower shoes and a towel to sit on. I can go 15-20 minutes without social media, so never took my phone in. All in all, I'd say the sauna at the gym is a much different overall experience than going to a sauna at a spa or resort.
  • RGv2
    RGv2 Posts: 5,785 Member
    Tanktop, shorts, towel, barefeet, water bottle, walkman and newspaper.
  • mom23mangos
    mom23mangos Posts: 3,071 Member
    My gym only has co-ed saunas in the pool area. People are either fully clothed in their workout clothes or wearing swimsuits. Almost everyone has a device.
  • nossmf
    nossmf Posts: 3,240 Member
    Almost everyone has a device.

    This actually amazes me. My work place doesn't allow cell phones in the office, so we have to leave them in our car. During summer months, I sometimes get back to my car and the inside is sweltering every bit as much as a sauna. When it gets this hot, my cell phone refuses to even turn on until it's cooled off a bit. All that to say I'm amazed others are able to actually use their cells inside a hot environment without the cells dying or turning off automatically as a self-preservation measure.
  • vivitori
    vivitori Posts: 9 Member
    edited August 2021
    I used to live in an apartment that had a sauna for the residents next to the gym. It was unusual and slightly creepy when residents would go in wearing nothing but a towel, even though I agree with you 100% that’s the right way to sauna. Most of us would go in after rinsing off after going in the pool or fresh from a workout and no shoes. I did think it was gross when people wore shoes in there.
  • lynn_glenmont
    lynn_glenmont Posts: 9,395 Member
    vivitori wrote: »
    I used to live in an apartment that had a sauna for the residents next to the gym. It was unusual and slightly creepy when residents would go in wearing nothing but a towel, even though I agree with you 100% that’s the right way to sauna. Most of us would go in after rinsing off after going in the pool or fresh from a workout and no shoes. I did think it was gross when people wore shoes in there.

    It's been so long with covid shutdowns, but the sauna at my gym prohibits bare feet to protect against transmitting athlete's foot/fungus. Most people wear flip flops or shower sandals -- street shoes or athletic shoes would be weird, and the humidity likely wouldn't be good for them.