Swedish challenge – Going naked to the sauna

When I started climbing last summer, I was told that my membership also included access to the shower and sauna. Having never used a gym in my life before I did not care to use the shower or the sauna. So I would climb, change and then go home to take a shower. I had no idea how the cultures are in the changing room and I was quite shocked when I saw people walking around naked in the changing room. I tried to act cool of course but I would never be completely naked while changing.

I asked my friends in school about what is okay and what is not okay in the changing room. My friends explained their experiences in a changing room and some of them were funny and some awkward. The moral was usually do whatever you feel like without disturbing or annoying others. My favorite one was about friend who changed his membership from a cheap gym to an expensive gym. The cheap gym was used by mostly young people and students and walking around naked was cagey and awkward however in the more expensive gym there were a lot of older people and they were super comfortable with being naked. My friend said that he felt amazing that he could just walk around be all naked without any worry! He also said that right from a young age nudity is quite common in Sweden ↗️ and that as long as I behave within my limits and do not do anything too flashy I should be fine.

So, one day I just went for it. I carried a towel and showered. It was juuust fine. People were talking in the shower and it was pretty cool actually. After a couple of times I realized I liked it all quite a bit! I then went to USA in December and used changing rooms over there and it was very different. I felt like this ‘Oh I love to be naked’ kinda person but everyone else was very careful about how they dressed and undressed! haha.

Traditional wooden sauna interior
Traditional sauna interior! / Photo: Emma Ivarsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Anyway once I returned to Stockholm, I started using the sauna. I hadn’t used the sauna too many times before and always wore trousers before. So, one evening a good friend of mine asked me if I wanted to join him and his friends to the sauna and a dip into the frozen lake. I was so excited cuz this was one of the those dreamy swedish things I really wanted to do! I had done it before but that time it wasnt completely frozen. Anyway, when we were changing, my friends and his friends all went in naked into the sauna and I did not want to be the odd one out so I just went in naked too! And the rest the say is history. Then we drank some beer and allowed the sauna to really warm our bodies up before walking (I really want to emphasize that we walked on an icy surface and did not run) to the frozen lake and dipped in for exactly 3 seconds. Though I do not remember too much I opened my eyes beneath the surface of ice and and it looked magical like the NatGeo documentary ice-on-an-ocean kinda thing.

So, that’s how I started going naked to the sauna. Now, I sauna at least once a week and I absolutely love being naked and all. Like the whole idea is very liberating in that somehow I feel like a some weight has been lifted off my head and I can just be free-er!

P.S: Link to a nice post about sauna etiquette in Sweden ↗️

P.P.S: Just wanna add that it’s totally cool to go the sauna wearing whatever you wanna! Whatever rocks your boat!


Written by Raghuraman

26 Mar 2016