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What’s Trending? We Are #NailingIt!

Well + Good’s 2018 wellness trends just circulated and we are delighted to find that the #3 trend reads: 

“Self-care is essential, not an indulgence.”

And…according to our own local research, this trend is real!

In our initial market survey, 79% of respondents cited self-care as one of their top motivations for soak/sauna use, second only to “relaxation” (89%).

That’s why we are creating a space to truly downshift in the midst of daily life—our contribution to both a needed cultural shift and the bathhouse revival currently underway in the United States!

Once open, Soak Boulder will be the only local, affordable option for a full hydrotherapy circuit.

Beyond the well-documented advantages of the increasing demand for water-based contrast therapy, another major trend illuminated in the Global Wellness Institute’s “Eight Trends for Wellness in 2018” caught our eye: the critical role of social connection in both wellness and happiness.

“The happiness science lessons are clear,” the report states, citing two recent global studies. “[T]he wellness world needs to put a greater focus on happiness generally—and on driving social connection and technology disconnection specifically.”

Gloriously, Soak Boulder speaks to these two interconnected factors. Not only will soaking spaces be “digital detox” zones, but our design includes a large community area complete with saltwater soaks, dry saunas and cold plunge—a hip, urban, hangout alternative to bars and clubs.

Of course, we’ll also offer private rooms with a complete hydrotherapy circuit if you’re seeking sanctuary or looking for a cozy space to have a meetup, both equally valid ways to unplug and spend time reconnecting with what matters most.

We can’t wait to welcome you to Soak Boulder and into a happier, healthier way of being.

Rising Tide: The Bathhouse Revival

Humans have long sought relief and renewal – physical, emotional, and even spiritual  – by immersing themselves in water and sweating intensely in heated enclosures.

Water connects. Water nourishes. Water heals.

Inspired by many ancient traditions, we see the bathhouse as a place for collective nourishment where we can celebrate the naturalness of being together. And we aren’t alone. In fact, the global tide of interest in bathhouses is rising rapidly.

Public bathing – in cold or hot water, dry or humid saunas – became a cultural norm in some countries, a community practice most often housed in town centers. As a gathering place, these communal baths were efficient and effective for everything from shared water use to negotiating business deals to spreading relevant news.

In the U.S., we’re commonly taught baths are to be taken privately, secretly, alone – a belief often rooted in bodily shame.

Rarely are the words “medicine” or “healing” associated with bathing and water in mainstream U.S. culture. This is in huge contrast to the early 20th century, where at least two hot springs were commissioned as military hospitals and “ordinary Americans traveled to curative springs” regularly.

For a brief stint in the 1980s-1990s, the word “bathhouse” was uttered more frequently yet surreptitiously. Bathhouses popped up across the nation as spaces for gay and sexually liberated subculture, then many closed during the era of widespread fear around HIV and AIDS.

Today, we are ready for a new story – or perhaps it’s a return to old wisdom: that bathhouses are spaces where we can be embodied and engaged, even while undressed. 

We believe in this shared vulnerability, there’s the opportunity for profound acceptance, safety and—despite the option to wear clothes—modesty. We can find our way back to honoring our bodies and shed the judgment, comparisons and anxiety that typically bubble up.

When you add the emotional benefits to the physical results of feeling buoyant, limber and expansive, there is a sense of being more free.

It should come as no surprise, then that people are increasingly seeking out mineral baths, hot springs and other water-centric experiences/ treatments, according to the Global Wellness Institute’s report from January 2017.

In fact, the industry just began collecting data specifically about mineral/thermal bathing in 2014 because of the surge in interest and, now with three years of data, the industry is projecting solid growth into the future.

Though conclusions still vary significantly, the study of balneotherapy—bathing in mineral water to treat disease—has also advanced, lending support beyond the feel-good vibes to the validity of these practices. As Dr Bruce Becker, a clinical professor of rehabilitation medicine at Washington State University, puts it: “warm-water immersion balances our autonomic nervous system, allowing the brain to make free-form associations, improve working memory, and foster creative thinking.”

In other words, bathing increases our capacity physically and cognitively, in large part because it is relaxing.

Soak Boulder is our contribution to the “bathhouse revival.”

Riding a huge wave of interest in the incredible health benefits of traditional soak and sauna practices, we also bring a fresh, innovative and contemporary approach to public bathing spaces and rituals. 

We are thrilled to be a part of this resurgence. It’s time for the bathhouse, steeped in ancient wisdom, to nourish North America.

We hope you’ll join us. See you at Soak!

Note: Quotes throughout this article are cited from the article “The Healing Power of Water” (Spirituality & Health, Dec 2013) found here.


Social Sweats: What We Can Learn From Europe’s Old and New Ways

Using heat to release toxins from our bodies is actually tens of thousands of years old, dating back to the Neolithic Age.

Here in the U.S., we can learn a lot from bathing/sauna culture.

Ancient sweat traditions span every continent and culture: the Arabic hamman, Japanese onsen, Russian banya, Native American sweat lodge, the Mesoamerican temezcal – and, of course, the most globally ubiquitous…the European sauna.

In countries like Finland (where saunas were born 2,000 years ago), Italy, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, etc., the rituals and facilities are often creative, deeply social and fabulous.

Plus, they have perfected the art of contrast therapy (taking a cold/snow plunge after, and repeating and repeating), recognizing this approach as key to getting the health benefits, and making those endorphins pump.

The most recent industry surveys predict European saunas will continue to set a high bar for sauna spaces and experiences, with sweating only getting more spectacular and social in years ahead!

The most powerful trend? Sauna as the new social, community-creating “hangout” (a healthy and hot alternative to bars and restaurants).

Another irresistible and fascinating recent trend is taking the tradition of “sauna meisters” to a whole new level. Those trained to administer “aufguss sessions” – where water or ice with essential oils are poured over the hot stones to increase humidity then actively circulated with billowing towels – are now touting unique, themed experiences and participating in competitions to identify the true masters! (To witness the fun – at your own risk! – check out this video.)

Sauna is simply a way of life in many communities and cultures.

And while the act is taken seriously, it’s also a source of fun, entertainment, connection and communal ritual; we look forward to seeding these possibilities here via Soak Boulder.