Did you know that there's a way to put your body through a (mild) workout without actually heading to the gym? Simply go to a sauna.
How does it work?
Saunas are typically heated to high temperatures (usually, 158 to 212°F), which does two things to your body: 1) It creates an environment that induces sweating, which is how your body eliminates toxins, and 2) It gives your heart a workout by dilating your capillaries and improving your blood flow.
Plus, saunas have been found to help with a number of health issues, including: chronic fatigue, congestive heart failure, mild depression, and Rheumatoid arthritis.
So, what are you waiting for? Here's a list of my top five favorite saunas in Manhattan.
Aire Ancient Baths: If you're looking to truly unwind (and to treat yourself—in order to use the spa, you have to book a two-hour session that includes a massage treatment), Aire should be your first choice. A subterranean, cavernous spa that recently opened in a former textile factory in TriBeCa, Aire has dark, exposed brick everywhere, high ceilings, and candlelight and lanterns dotting the walls and floors. Upon arrival, you'll be served hot tea and supplied with a robe, a towel, and a pair of slippers. Then, the luxurious facilities will be yours to explore while you await your massage: six thermal baths (the hot bath, the ice and cold plunges, the warm pool, the jet pool, and the flotarium aka the salt water pool), as well as the eucalyptus steam room. The spa itself feels like the most peaceful corner of the world, and—trust me—the massage will be unforgettable.
88 Franklin Street, New York, NY
Bliss 49 Spa: Bliss 49 is one of my favorite Bliss locations in the city—two quiet floors that have helped me secretly unwind in the middle of a workday more than once this year. While you have to book a treatment to have access to the sauna facilities on the second floor (i.e., a facial, massage, or body treatment), it will be worth it: the locker rooms are super clean (you get a robe, slippers, and unlimited towels), the steam and sauna rooms are small but serene (and almost always empty), and the snacks in the waiting room include brownie bites. What more could you ask for?
541 Lexington Ave (at E 49th St), New York, NY
Great Jones Spa: This 15,000 square foot, 3½ story facility was inspired by the Roman Caracalla baths, where water was at the center of everything. While the spa is now showing signs of wear and tear (with renovations planned for September 2016), it's still a great experience for a public bath. Admission is $50 (or free for three hours with any spa services), and includes access to the River Rock sauna, the Chakra-Light steam room, the thermal hot tub, and the cold plunge pool. Great Jones provides you with slippers and robes, and you can BYOB your champagne.
29 Great Jones Street, New York, NY
Juvenex Spa: Located in Koreatown next to an H-Mart supermarket, Juvenex is a 24-hour spa that combines Asian, European, and American remedies. Not as clean as the other spas on this list (maybe being open all the time has something to do with it), the facilities include a jade igloo sauna (apparently made of 20 tons of semi-precious stones); a diamond herbal glass steam room; a baked-clay detoxification sauna; and Japanese-style soaking ponds filled with Sake, Kombu algae, and other things...like tea. It's women-only from 7am to 5pm, after which it becomes co-ed (and—if you stay late enough—occasionally host to massive parties).
25 W 32nd St, New York, NY
Wall Street Bath & Spa: A Russian spa designed to look like an 'Old World bathhouse' (with traditional decorations throughout), the two-story Wall Street Bath & Spa definitely gives you a bang for your buck ($40 admission for unlimited hours). The facilities include a Russian sauna, an Old American Schvitz room, an infrared sauna, an ice room, and an Eucalyptus steam room, as well as a cold plunge pool, a sizable swimming pool, and a jacuzzi. The best part? The low-key restaurant serving a full menu of Russian salads, appetizers, and entrees. The second best part? The delicious juice bar.
88 Fulton Street, New York, NY
By Ona Abelis
Ona is a Brooklyn-based writer who will spending the next year getting back into her fitness groove. And maybe skydiving.