Five Lessons From a Bath House

sitz bath and steambox

I have actually heard people say they don’t have time to take baths.  Being a longtime fan of luxurious bathing myself, I experienced the bath of a lifetime last week when I was speaking in Little Rock and treated to a quick, but very worthwhile trip to Hot Springs.

Hot Springs is an former gangster hangout with 5 beautiful lakes, natural mineral springs, and a street lined with bath houses, dating back to the early 1900’s.  The bath houses use the mineral water, long celebrated for it’s medicinal purposes, and comes out of the earth at 140 degrees Fahrenheit! 

Even though Al Capone frequented the bath houses, I wasn’t really interested in “taking a bath” until I saw the rooms, all in their original state and decided I wanted to experience the history (and the promised benefits).  It helped me remember how great it feels to take care of myself. 

1) Restore yourself.  First came the thermal mineral bath, where I reclined in a long, porcelain tub with toasy warm mineral water and Jacuzzi-like  jets. I soaked there for 15 or 20 minutes, (maybe longer, I fell asleep) and then “my attendant”, Glenda scrubbed away the  dry skin on my back, arms and legs with a loofa sponge.

2) Step outside your comfort zoneNext came the sauna and I decided to attempt the steam box.  (see above)  Although on first glance it looks like a torture chamber, I wanted to test my claustrophobia and stay in there for any amount of time I could.  Well, I only lasted about 90 seconds before I was hollering, “Get me out of here!”  It was really hot, but my panic had more to do with the fact my hands and feet were “trapped” on the inside , leaving me no sense of control to get out by myself.

3) Let someone else take care of you.  Next, I was wrapped in hot towels, literally head to toe, while I reclined on a cushioned table with a cool cloth over my face, refreshed several times.  I think I may have fallen asleep again, before I was taken to the “needle showers” where the water comes out horizontally instead of vertically, for a gentle rinsing.  

4) Invigorate Yourself.  After being wrapped in a sheet, like a toga, I was led to the last (but not least) part of my treatment, the massage.  I have had lots of massages, and I don’t know if my body was already prepared,  so warm and relaxed, or if Glenda was my special gift, but it was absolutely the best massage I have ever experienced.  It was definitley deep and methodical and I found it very invigorating.  After she assisted me off the table I felt as though I was floating across the bath house, feeling more light, relaxed and rejuvenated than I can remember.   

5) Remember the benefits of self-care.  All told, two hours for the best bath I have ever taken.  If you ever get an opportunity to visit the bath house in Hot Springs, I highly recommend it.  In the meantime, take time for a bath, take time for yourself.   The benefits will have a long lasting effect on your overall well-being, even if you don’t have Glenda with you.   

1 Comment

  1. Emily on August 27, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    That would have been pure torture for me! All but the massage part. You’ve probably heard people say alot of “new comments” after those two days! You should go back when you could stay a couple of days. Glad you enjoyed it!

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