Germany has one of the most comprehensive spa cultures in all of Europe, according to HowToGermany.com. Germans use spa treatments for medicinal and recreational purposes. Insurance companies often cover spa treatments for those treating a physical injury or a chronic condition, and recreational spa houses are found at pools, in hotels and all around German cities. Sauna rules in Germany are very different than sauna rules in the United States, so it is important to learn them before venturing into one.
Sauna rules vary between locations and cities, but because Germans take their sauna experience very seriously, a list of formal rules will be visibly displayed outside of the sauna, usually in German and English. Some places will have separate saunas for males and females, most places will have just one sauna for both genders and other places will have a specific time of day where saunas are separated by gender. Make sure you check these rules before entering. If you are travelling with children, check the rules to see if they are allowed in the sauna. Some places do not allow children and others only allow them if they are accompanied with an adult.
Saunas in Germany are nude saunas in which you only wear a towel. Swimming costumes and clothing are not allowed. Before entering, it is a requirement that you shower first. When you are ready to enter, leave your shoes outside of the sauna, quickly open and close the door as you enter the sauna and lay your towel down on a bench. You can keep the towel wrapped around you or open it up, but either way, you must sit or lay on the towel so as to prevent all of your skin form touching the bench. Never stare at anyone else in the sauna. After remaining in the sauna for an average of 10 to 20 minutes, you are expected to shower again and then jump into a cold pool to receive the most benefits.
The procedure of pouring water onto the hot stones in a sauna is referred to as Aufguss in Germany, and guests are not allowed to participate in this process. A sauna employee will come into the sauna to pour water, often scented water, onto the stones and to then circulate the hot steam with a towel at regular intervals. If this Aufguss process is done at a sauna, the schedule will be posted on the door. The rules during this process are that you don't leave or enter the sauna during the process, which will cause a loss of heat and will seem rude, and you do not attempt to perform the process yourself. Those in the sauna often applaud the employee after he finishes his work.
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