I am joined by Rick Mouw, the owner of Almost Heaven saunas, manufacturer of beautiful quality, hand-crafted home-use sauna kits.
Rick talks about his background in the sauna world, including experience living in Finland, where sauna has been a cultural centerpiece for the past 800 years! He describes how the Finns practice going from 200 degrees Fahrenheit saunas to jumping into an ice-cold lake, which he partook in while in Finland. Fun stuff! I enjoy the same in my backyard when I pair sauna with a chest freezer cold plunge.
Hot and cold go very well together as shown with contrast therapy, whether the cold comes from snow, cold water, or even the air outside, which all provide a large, beneficial cool off after sitting in a sauna. It’s a great routine to get into for all body types, desires and conditions—it’s not just for athletes. The end result of a contrast therapy session is deep relaxation, that is for sure! However, I usually do a stand-alone sauna session, and stand-alone chest freezer sessions followed by jogging to rewarm. The sauna experience is centered upon relaxation as well as hormonal benefits so it doesn’t have to be an elaborate pairing with cold.
I’ll further detail the hormonal and metabolic benefits in future shows. The idea is to get in there, relax, and remain inside until you start sweating profusely. This is when the heat shock proteins are generated. Note: infrared sauna use is a different modality, whereby you are baking from the inside with a lower ambient temperature. Both types of sauna have supporting science, but I think there is something special about the ultra hot, dry sauna and the chance to sweat out the stresses of the day. I always start my session with a bunch of pushups and squats inside the barrel to speed up the process of sweating profusely, then lay down and relax for another 15-20 minutes or so. Indeed you want to stay inside until you are pretty uncomfortable, as this is when you get the burst of hormonal benefits. Rick is a great resource for all kinds of sauna insights, and he may just inspire you to take a look at his products and get yourself convenient home access to sauna any time. Visit AlmostHeaven.com and tell them Brad sent you for a special discount on your home use sauna!!
How does sauna differ from the spa experience? [00:08:23]
What are the aerobic conditioning benefits from sauna? [00:11:57]
Should one get uncomfortable in the sauna to benefit? [00:14:16]
The flight or fight response is being triggered here. [00:17:25]
How does sauna help athletes? Before or after workout? [00:21:12]
What are the temperature ranges and how do they benefit? [00:24:51]
What is kicking in when we get profound exposure to heat? [00:28:24]
What are the benefits of intense sweating? [00:30:56]
Everyone can determine on their own how hot, when to use, or what oils individually.
What is the difference with infrared, which is not as warm, compared to the sauna?
People are often uncomfortable getting in the sauna at the gym.When it is at home, it is
more convenient. [00:38:02]
How often does Rick use his sauna? How does he use it? [00:40:34]
What are the social and psychological benefits of sauna? [00:46:38]
Dr. Rhonda Patrick
LISTEN:Download Episode MP3
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Brad: Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is Brad Kearns. I cover health, fitness, peak performance, personal growth, relationships, happiness and longevity. So slow down, take a deep breath, take a cold plunge and pursue your competitive goals in all areas of life with great intensity and passion, but release your attachment to the outcome and learn to have fun along the way. That’s the theme of the show. Here we go.
Brad: I connect with Rick Mouw of Almost Heaven Sauna. These guys are a podcast sponsor, full disclosure, and this guy is the owner of a sauna company. So I don’t want it to sound like a commercial or push one over on you that we’re trying to sell something. But you know what? He’s a passionate enthusiast of this health practice has been for many years. I am now an extremely passionate, enthusiast of this health practice. Having my almost heaven unit in my backyard paired with the wonderful cold tub chest freezer, so I can do hot and cold therapy at a moment’s notice. So I think you’re gonna like the show and Rick gets into some really interesting topics relating to the best practices. We talk a little bit about the benefits not to get too sciencey. There’s so many good articles and content on the Internet.
Brad: Dr Rhonda Patrick, with her wonderful videos, discussing the benefits of sauna and the heat shock proteins that are stimulated when you expose yourself to hot temperatures. I’m particularly fascinated about the athletic, the fitness benefits, the cardiovascular benefits of sitting in a sauna. I can actually make you a fitter athlete and this is new stuff that we never even considered back in the day. We used to laugh at guys who would take their exercise bikes into the sauna and do a workout preparing for the Hawaiian Ironman, the extreme temperatures of an upcoming competition and it seemed like something that would just make you tired and sweat seven pounds of fluid out, but it actually does have an effect at the red blood cell plasma volume level. So the athletic benefits of a heat regimen are proven and very strong and very compelling. And the idea of getting your body temperature up and getting sweaty even to the point of being uncomfortable is a wonderful hormetic stressor that’s a stressor that delivers an overall positive adaptation.
Brad: So we get this fight or flight spike when we go in the sauna and then we recalibrate, we go back to homeostasis or we do a contrast therapy with hot and cold. And we’re going to get into a lot of these topics during the show. But I just wanted to tee you up cleanly for what Rick and I are gonna. Talk about, uh, alert you that it might sound commercially since we’re talking about a product from a business owner. But Hey, if you don’t want to visit almost heaven.com, that’s fine, but miss out at your own risk because the sauna experience is really a wonderful part and a wonderful balance to hectic high tech, modern life where we run out of time every single day to do things that are health boosting and relaxing, stimulating the parasympathetic response. Of course, after you get out and get over that fight or flight spike, that’s the whole point of what sauna, uh, and cold exposure is doing is an immediate stress response and then a recalibration where you feel those endorphins and that relaxation effect, and we got into this at the very end of the show just for a little bit, but I wanted to elaborate on the psychological and the social benefits of having a practice such as sauna or cold exposure.
Brad: And since I put my chest freezer and sauna in the backyard, this backyard has come alive to be a social centerpiece for young people like my girlfriend’s kids and my own kid and his friends who will drive out of their way to come out and hang out and try the cold tub. It’s a fascination. Oh my gosh. It’s so cold. You gotta try it and then going in back and forth and also going into the hot spa and it’s such a beautiful thing to see people convene over something other than a busy, crowded, noisy restaurant or going to a movie where you sit and watch another screen, a bigger screen, and now we can talk and have fun and laugh and sit in the box and relax and that’s where the conversation really starts to flow. There’s a podcast now defunct between Gabby Reece and Neil Strauss called the Truth Barrel and their gimmick was that they recorded the shows in their hot sauna so that people could relax and unwind and let it flow and it really does work and just like my ritual I’ve had with my son our entire life in the Jacuzzi.
Brad: He’s been going in there with me every night since he was zero years old. I have pictures of me holding onto this little body above the bubbly water and going in through the teenage years where oftentimes you don’t get a chance to have quality time and quality talk, but things sort of flow and let loose when you’re sitting in hot water and especially sitting in the hot barrel where you’re just relaxed and smiling and feeling good, and so don’t discount those social and psychological benefits of having a devoted health practice like sauna like cold exposure, like pairing them together. It’s wonderful and a super necessary element to inject into our busy, hectic, fast paced, modern lives. So please enjoy this show with Rick Mouw of Almost Heaven Saunas.
Brad: Rick Mouw from Almost Heaven saunas here to talk about heat therapy and the wonderful world of sauna, thank you so much for joining us.
Rick: My pleasure, Brad. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Brad: Well, I’m so glad to get hooked up and find out about your operation there from, uh, the amazing David Lapp health enthusiast who, uh, we exchange emails all the time and he says, yeah, I also got my own sauna, put it together really easily and it’s in my basement and I’m rocking and rolling. And I’m like, whoa. Because I love going to the health club and sitting in the sauna or doing it after the workout, but to have that opportunity right in your home environment, to me, especially because I’m a creature of habit and visual stimulation of whatever is around me. Boy, this is a wonderful new world and I know they’ve been doing it a long time in Europe, but it seems like you’re on the, uh, the forefront of something awesome here in the North American market to have a home sauna use become reasonable and affordable.
Rick: Yeah. We’ve become the largest manufacturer of do-it-yourself assemble in the home sauna kits in North America. So we’re very proud of that, but it’s got a lot to do with awareness and people like you learning about the benefits and the ease of owning your own sauna. So it’s an exciting time for us.
Brad: So it’s interesting, Rick, told me when we weren’t recording how you got started in the family business and, and transitioned all into all these, uh, uh, luxury therapeutic type of, uh, opportunities. Tell me, tell me about your career path to get to this point.
Rick: Well, the, a simple story, a short story is I grew up in the swimming pool business and a family business that evolved into a hot tub business and later that evolved into a sauna of business when we purchased a company called Almost Heaven Saunas as over 20 years ago. Since that time and got out of the hot tub business and the sauna of businesses just rocketed. And, and um, it’s an exciting time to, uh, to be in this industry, that’s for sure.
Brad: So I’d been a hot tub user my entire life. Absolutely love the relaxing regimen. I told you it’s a place where I’ve bonded with my son over the years since he was one years old and I’d take them out there and now he’s 20 and when we go and talk about life and just have that, uh, that nice setting in that nice ritual. Uh, but in terms of the physical experience, when you’re going and a heating your body temperature up, sweating inside the hot room, how does that differ from the spa experience?
Rick: Different in that I guess I look at the hot tub is being more relaxation, whereas the sauna is relaxing but adds the element of a wellness into the equation. In addition to being very low maintenance, very low operational cost. It’s more of a practical product for many people. Many a spa hot tub people are now purchasing saunas either in addition to their hot tub or replacing it, and the many health benefits of the sauna include aerobic conditioning, detox, respiratory relief, joint and muscle relief, arthritis relief, improve skin tone, just all these many benefits, many of which are medically documented I have created a wonderful opportunity for is an awareness that just wasn’t there 10 years ago.
Brad: Yes. Let’s talk about that aerobic conditioning aspect because it is kind of a bizarre concept to get hit with that literally sitting in a sauna can help make you a fitter athlete. But like you said, it’s been validated by science. Dr Rhonda Patrick has done a great job with her youtube videos describing the benefits of sauna to the cardiovascular system. Mark Sisson just did a great article on Mark’s Daily Apple.com detailing and sending links to all the studies. So it’s the real deal. I believe it’s a apparently it’s not new. It’s been going on in Scandinavia for what, 800 years or something, but now we’re finally awakening to the power of the sauna of, for, for physical benefit.
Rick: Well, you know, in addition to Finland in northern Europe for 800 or more years, you’ve got the Russian Banya. You’ve got North American sweat lodge in different places of the world. There are various versions and variations of the traditional sauna experience that. But they’re all basically the same concept where you, um, are sitting in a hot room, a pouring water on rocks to generate steam as desired. And then generally experiencing those, those benefits of both relaxation and wellness. To your comment about the aerobics is it is interesting for those who have been in a sauna that true sauna, they know that when you sit in that sauna in that heat, it does not take long for your heart to start beating faster. And I’d been in saunas where, especially in Finland, in Germany, where they get them so hot that, uh, your heart just starts beating like crazy. And, and, and, uh, you’re, you’re, you’re literally huffing and puffing in the experience. Now, of course, you control that by how hot you on it, but it isn’t an aeurobic experience, which then generates circulation, circulation improvement and uh, uh, expanded capillaries and so forth. And your body is your body heats. And then that generates all kinds of additional health benefits, many of which are medically documented.
Brad: So Dr Kelly Starrett, leading health authority, sauna, enthusiastic, uh, was describing to me the importance of getting a quite uncomfortable in there to where you feel quite hot and are sweating profusely to trigger these heat shock proteins and maximize the, the, the physical, hormonal and health benefits. Can you talk about the, the various temperatures that we’re going to experience, say in the health club or in the home setting, what, what options you have with your units and how all these things fall place, including, I’m setting you up for like a five part question here, but including the lower temperature infrared saunas. Compare and contrast.
Rick: Well boy, those are a lot of questions. Let’s start with that. Infrared for a minute. Infrared is low temperature generally getting to between 125 to 140 degrees. There is no water involved so there’s no steam and, and it may sauna hot to people, but 140 degrees is not hot to sit in that high is when you get to 185 or more. And uh, I’ve been in shows in Europe where there are upwards of 200 degrees and, and um, of course you don’t want to get so hot that it’s unhealthy. But, uh, most, most studies say that 200 degrees or less is perfectly fine. And uh, yes you do. You do have a quite an endorphin release when you’re in there. And then you go from the extreme heat into extreme cold and so you people hear about sauna is where they go from the hot sauna and then jump into the cold lake and back and forth.
Rick: Well, I will attest to that. I’ve been to Finland, uh, alone many times and I’ve literally gone from that hot style and after, you know, 10 or 15 minutes where it feels like I gotta get outta here and then jumping in the cold February water, have a hole in the ice. And of course having to get out of there instantly and you can’t wait to get back into the sauna and whether it’s an icy lake or a cold shower or a dunk tank or jumping into a swimming pool or a lake and back and forth is what becomes the true experience. And you know, over here when you go to a hotel or something, you say, “Let’s go in the sauna of that and you go in there for 15 or 20 minutes and you’re done. But over there, a sauna is not an event. It’s an experience and it can take hours where you’re just spending the better part of an evening going back and forth, grabbing some lunch in between and going back and forth again, and by the time you finished it is absolutely exhilarating and you are totally spent. Um, I’ve never run a marathon like you, but I’m guessing that when you’re all done with a true sauna experience, you feel as is wiped and relaxed as the hours following your completion of the marathon. It’s, it’s an amazing experience. It really is.
Brad: So I understand what’s happening here is the hormetic stress or the fight or flight response is being activated due to the exposure to hot temperatures and that causes the flood of stress. Hormones we’re familiar with the cortisol spike in the bloodstream and all these things that sometimes we talk about them in a negative connotation when you’re in the traffic jam, then you’re arguing with your boss and then you’re stressed about your bills and the prolonged stimulation of the fight or flight response is what’s destroying the health of the modern human. But in this case, we’re getting this short term hormetic stressor. And then when you exit and recalibrate and return back to homeostasis, you are strengthening your body’s reserves and your circulatory system, your oxygen delivery and all those things. So I appreciate how you described the sauna of experience, which is A going in there and getting hot and then B coming out and either going into cold, which is another hormetic stressor and turning into this contrast therapy, or I suppose if you just did the sauna Ah, and then returned to a, a moderate temperature shower and went about your day. You’re, you’re in this wonderful post post exercise or post sauna state where you’re getting a fitness and an adaptation response.
Rick: Certainly. And you know, I gave the extreme of my finished experiences going from 200 degrees to ice water. But of course that, that is the extreme hot and extreme cold when I, I’ve been through many sauna, but a recent one where I had one of our barrels sitting out in our back yard. And um, our, our office is in Michigan here. My home is in MIchigan, our factory is in West Virginia. But I would go in that sauna and when I to cool off, I just had a chair standing outside sauna in the snow and I would just go sit in the snow. It wasn’t a dark day, but my body was steaming. I’m sitting in this chair and after four or five minutes to that, I’m starting to cool off and I’m ready to get back into the sauna. And then I would take an arm full of snow.
Rick: I bring it in the sauna and I would dump it right on top of the heater. Those heaters are designed to, to take the water and that, that snow, which is gradually melted on that hot coals and just generate a perpetual esteem in the sauna. And um, so that experience was not as cold as this is an ice lake, at least at least the shock of it. Um, but it was a different way to experience the, you know, the transition from hot to cold. You could do it with a cold shower, you can do it with ice or a dunk tank. You could do it with simply stepping out of the sauna if it’s in your basement and just sitting in a chair for a little bit because going from, you know, 170 or 180 degree temperature to 70 or 80 degree temperature is still cooling off.
Brad: Right. And for the, the athlete, uh, this study, which is so interesting to me, it’s been passed around a lot. We’ll put a note in the, uh, we’ll put a link in the show notes. They’re talking about athletes going in there after workouts for half an hour and experiencing increased plasma cell volume, increased red blood cells, and then going and doing a performance test before and after this sauna experiment and increasing their time to exhaustion. So it’s sort of strengthening the fitness adaptation to the workout you just did by pairing it with sauna.
Rick: We spoke before this interview offline and I were an athlete and I told you I am not, so I can’t speak from experience to that, but I do know I’ve heard many stories, like you’re saying, where people following an intense workout like to get in the sauna. I’ve heard as many stories were, some athletes prior to a workout like to get into sauna and maybe it’s because they have stiff joints, maybe want to loosen muscles. Um, whatever. I think it underscores though that a sauna experience can be different for everybody. There are those that liked to work out in a sauna. This is why, uh, the advent of hot yoga is becoming a thing. It’s not hot hot, but it’s a warm room and lifting weights or exercising in a sauna in the warmth is becoming more popular. So some are finding the benefit before workout, some during the workout and some after it work out, which, uh, just shows the diversity of, of, of what a sauna I can do for different people and different lifestyles, different body types and different, um, uh, desires.
Brad: That’s so funny, Rick, because I mean, back in the eighties, 30 years ago when I was first preparing for the dreaded Hawaii Ironman out on the lava fields of the big island of Hawaii and the intense heat and how difficult it is to prepare on the mainland continent for that, that type of heat conditions. And guys would go in the sauna with their exercise bikes and do a workout and everybody thought they were crazy and they’d sweat a seven pounds of fluid out, but they were actually the, the, uh, the trendsetters, the early adapters because those sessions indeed help condition the body for performing in the heat, but not only that, they also improve the fitness adaptation. And now I’m, I’m, you know, when I’m in the, uh, the sauna at the health club, this guy came in there with full, full dressed for spinning class and he just sat and sat on the bench and they’re with me.
Brad: I’m in my bathing suit, finishing my workout, relaxing. And I’m like, what are you doing dude? He’s like, oh, I just, I come in here and sit down for a few minutes before spinning class. And it was, it’s an absolutely brilliant idea that I’d never thought of until I saw this guy come in fully clothed. And I’m thinking, you’re gonna, you know, you’re going to sweat through all your clothes.? No, he, he went in there for an appropriate length of time. And then when he sets foot in the gym or in the weight room, uh, their, their body is, is warmed up literally, and it’s, it’s injury prevention and just priming the body for peak performance because that’s what we’re doing in the first 10 minutes of the session. Anyway. That’s why the yoga class feels so good and you can hold the stretches deeper, uh, due to the elevated temperature in the room.
Rick: Well, in gyms, in hotels, in my experience, they, they’re not hot enough. They don’t let you use water. Um, it’s a typical American experience where they just don’t know what they’re doing. Our health club doesn’t even have sauna is not even hot. It’s, you don’t have best warm, but the true, true saunas but you go in there and you can be sitting in there for five or 10 minutes and actually because your heart rate starts picking up, you’re actually getting started on your warm up before you even get into spin class or whatever. Exercise Class. So it’s a little bit of a, I don’t know, it’s a little bit of a heads up on, on others were in some cases that feels good. You’re already getting your heart pumping by not doing anything except sitting there and then you’re ready to tear into it when you get into the class.
Brad: So tell me about the temperature ranges such as the lame hotel one that’s not hot enough. Can you give me some guesses about what we’re, what we’re seeing there, what is the Almost Heaven units, what’s their range and what’s the recommended a experience for the consumer? Are we going to work up to a higher temp and then you mentioned in Europe going over 200 plus and that sounds like that’s a rare but a valuable occasion to, to really get hot.
Rick: Well, there’s no rules and everybody has a different preference. So I’ll preface it with that. Um, and there is, there is the safety issue. Um, again, I’m not speaking from a medical point of view, but generally, you know, they’ll say that anything above 198 degrees is probably getting too hot for the acceptance of most people. I am saying, though, that in Europe and many of the experiences I’ve had, they’ve intentionally get them above 200, um, because that’s what they want. And some people can’t tolerate the heat, you know, your tolerance maybe at a 165. Mine might be at 185. Interestingly, in some of the fitness clubs in Finland that I’ve been to in Helsinki and the Avascular, they will have a, they call it a spa over there, so we call a spa hot tub. But power there as a, as a place you go and it will have many types of experiences including a big swimming pool and steam rooms and hot tubs, Saunas and, and over there.
Rick: And Finland. It’s men separate from women. And so when you go into the men’s section, they had literally forced sauna. I was lined up in a row. sauna is that would hold 10 to 12 people in them. And each one was set at a different temperature and so converting to Fahrenheit, maybe one at 160 degrees, one was at 170, one at 180 and one at 195 and they kept them at those temperatures and people would either select the sauna of temperature that they already knew that was best for them. Or sometimes people would graduate up, they’d started this one and then they cool off. And then they go into this one, once again, it’s not a 20 minute one and done experience over there. It’s a, it’s an event, it’s, it’s, um, you know, a multi hour thing where then you get cleaned up and shower and go to the swimming pool and go back in the sauna and it just goes back and forth. To your question, our saunas will get as hot as really you want them to up to the 200. But uh, the, the fair, typical range, I mean preferred is generally, I would say 180, to 195 that most people find that range to be an exhilarating sauna experience. But there are those that prefer to have their room at 150 and 160 degrees and keep it there. And the rare person that wants it hotter, if you can get them to do that as well.
Brad: Right? I’m going with Starrett, my man when he says get as hot as you can and sweat like crazy until you can’t hardly take it. And then exit. And I think he’s, uh, going with the concept that the generation of heat shock proteins is where you get these phenomenal health benefits. And if the listener wants to Google that to term or look for Rhonda Patrick’s video on it, uh, these are this, this wonderful adaptive response that has wide ranging benefits. Can you talk some about that or what’s kicking in when we get a profound exposure to heat?
Rick: Sure. There’s many benefits I’ve experienced personally is regularly would attest to this. And of course it’s promoted both on the web but also in many medical studies. Um, first of all, you know when your, when your heart starts beating faster in that heart high temperature, you’re pushing more blood through your, through your body. And by doing that, your blood vessels are expanding, you’re getting improved circulation and that can lead to improvements and just how you feel, of course, but also in a muscle relief and just feeling better about and more relaxed and so forth. It leads to a improve skin tone. Everything from just having, you know, darker complexion on a rate if you’re using on a regular basis, but also the sweating that many studies indicate that it helps with a acne. It helps was psoriasis and improved a skin tone. Uh, all of these things are side benefits. Of course they vary from individual to individual, but they’re pretty common across the board. A joint and muscle relief, you know, people with a sore back or sore muscles or it’s different than an infrared. Infrared, as I said, doesn’t get hot hot, but it also directs the heat just at, in one direction, one place, whereas a sauna of the entire room gets hot and the higher you get into the sauna, the hotter it is. And then there’s the respiratory aspect. When you sprinkle water on those hot rocks, you get this just as incredible burst of steam and if you mix a little of eucalyptus or one of the other essential oils in the water, you sprinkle that and you get the breathe that in. It’s like a, you know, in a, in a room with a delightfully smelling vaporizer and it dissipates quickly because all that moisture gets absorbed in that hot air. And that’s the sauna experience. It’s, it’s continually sprinkling water on the rocks as desired. And then that, that makes it a wet sauna. And once that burns off, it’s a dry sauna and it’s just back and forth. And in addition to them stepping out of the sauna and cooling off and in, back in, it’s just a, it’s always a back and forth. And you and I already talked about some of the health benefits of the sweating, the intense sweating that grows out in, in those temperatures. Um, as an athlete, you know, you are body sweats for really two reasons. You sweat to cool off and, uh, that obviously is very, very important. Uh, but you’re also sweat when you’re not feeling well when you’re, when you have a fever and what your body’s doing is trying to, to detox, it’s trying to bleed out, all those are sweat out all those impurities that are, that are making you ill or making you feel that discomfort and so it’s a very real experience and by artificially elevating the temperature in your body, by being in this hot room, you, you force your body to sweat and it, it. You’ve experienced this, this phenomenon you would get when you work out intensely or when you’re ill and you sweat, but the benefits of sweating, it’s a purification
Brad: Rick. You’re getting me excited, man. I mean, sounds too good to be true. It sounds like Almost Heaven just to go in there and have this be part of your daily routine and I didn’t know that was allowed. That’s, that’s great that you can put the essential oils in there and, and throw those on the rocks with the water and you get a, you can make a, a, a, you can lift us environment relaxed the heck out of you.
Rick: Oh yeah. There’s, there’s many different aromas that you can use. We offer a variety of different ones and it only takes a couple of drops, but of course people ask often, you know, when I buy my sauna and what should I do, how high should I have, what oils should I have? And the is no pat answer because it is personal preference as we talked about you, you will determine in short order, when do you like to use the sauna? Some people like to use it before bed, some hate using it before bed, uh, they prefer at first thing in the morning. Other thing, people, as we discussed before, workout or after, you’ll figure that stuff out. You’ll figure out the temperature, you like it, you’ll figure out how much time you want to spend in it. Well, how you want to cool off, you’ll, you’ll figure out what if any essential oils you like. You’ll figure out whether you like to do it with people. As you said, you know, and experiences sitting could conversation with your son or your spouse or maybe it’s just alone time. There’s no rules and and, and everybody will experience differently, but in all cases it’s a good outcome.
Brad: We don’t have any disgruntled customers saying their life’s been ruined by getting in the sauna frequently.
Rick: Not at all. Not at all. No. You and I, again, we talked a beforehand, but we’ve really seen in the last 10 years, I think a real increase ,of course, in the volume of sauna of sales, but also in the interest and, and the knowledge, the education. You know, 10 years ago people didn’t even notice and then the infrareds came, they started to think that’s a sauna, but then they started to get people that would buy them and read about and figure out what, you don’t really get hot and you can’t use water and that doesn’t mean they’re a bad thing. It’s just, it’s not a sauna. And I’m. So awareness is becoming a much more prevalent in sauna sales, ever generating, sauna sales and also our, what we’ve become very, very good at is building a sauna. I had a decent price that people can put it together themselves. So, you know, a couple could, could purchase this and it’ll be delivered to their home, at curb side, and they can get it in their garage and, and in a matter of hours they can get that set up outdoors and the basement and the gym, whatever, wherever they want to put it. But it’s not complicated a call, an electrician to do the wiring. Very simple. And I, you’re off and running enjoying a sauna experience and entering the world,
Brad: Right Rick, I, I’ve done a lot of research when I was deciding to take the plunge and get into this scene and get something at home so I would actually do it rather than look at my punch card and the gym and realize I haven’t been there in 17 days. And I looked into the infrared, talk to people in that game that had them and love them. And then of course got in deeper with um, the, the idea of seeing the best benefits when you’re, when you’re really hot and sweaty and I know you’re the owner of a, a, a, a dry sauna operation. And so you’re not the most independent observer here. But when you talk about that infrared, I know there’s health benefits to it, but you just describe it as a different experience. It’s not, it’s not really a sauna of because the temperature is not that high, but can you compare and contrast a little bit like what are the benefits that you’re getting from the infrared and we kind of have a sense of what we’re not getting, which is that that sweating, that detoxification, the heat shock proteins being generated from the extreme stress of going up to 200 degrees?
Rick: Right. And you’re, you’re, you’re right. I can’t be totally objective on the infrared experience and there will be those that disagree with me. I think many of the supposed medical benefits of the infrared to me are a bit dubious because they all have the benefits. They list list are the same benefits that a sauna at generates. But since it’s not high temperature, it really can’t be generated. I’ll leave that legal approval for that to an expert, not me. But you know, when it doesn’t get hot and it just, it doesn’t accomplish the same thing. But on the other hand, if someone cannot tolerate hot temperatures but likes it warm and also has very limited space or wants to do a plug in to 110 volt outlet rather than a wire to 220, well then an infrared might be their only alternative and that’s, you know, that’s a step in the right direction. I guess I can say that about them. Uh, we offer a few. But, um, again, it’s a very, very tiny part of what we do. You know. Can I say one more thing about the whole gym experience? This is a bit of an irony I think. But um, when you, you know, how people and they end up, if you get going to a gym, it becomes a bit of a habit. You, you’d go and you’d like to go. There’s many types of equipment. You can take classes. Most people I know who decided that they wanted to take a, do their workout at home and purchase their own exercise gym or do their own whatever. It’s a flash in the pan. They, they, they buy the weight set, they buy the exercise bike. They do whatever, but the discipline just isn’t there because, um, you don’t have the motivation of everybody else doing the same thing and I’ve seen many people do.
Rick: They invest in this stuff and then a, they don’t use it, but they got involved in a routine with a gym or something and they stick with it the opposite where the people are often uncomfortable getting into sauna at the gym or they, it’s not hot enough or whatever, but when you have your own sauna, you have privacy. It’s there whenever you want to use it. It’s a passive experience. You don’t need to get mentally prepared to work out and do all that or do you don’t have the right equipment. It’s, it’s likely better than the experience you’d have at the gym anyway in a sauna and they have all that at your own home, very affordably. It making it affordable is a, is a quite a different, uh, different experience, I guess, or a different outcome than investing in workout equipment for your home where you can never compete with the gym.
Brad: Oh, that’s a brilliant insight, man. I love that. And it’s so relevant to me because the, the idea of creating the optimal environment and you have all the fitness toys at your disposal at home, but that motivational factor of getting in the car and driving somewhere and now you’re committed, you’re not going to drive to the gym parking lot and go, eh, I don’t feel like it. I’ll turn around. Very unlikely. But when you’re walking past your weight bench in the garage, because you’re going to get some more a light bulbs, you very likely will look at it and go and not now. So the physical location and the act of placing yourself in a surround supportive environment with other people working out at solid gold. That’s why the gym’s exist. But then it’s sorta like the opposite. The sauna requires no discipline, but it does require that convenience factor where you can, you can look at it in your backyard and your garage and go, Oh, if I flip a switch a in 20 minutes, I’m going to be in heaven. And I think that’s, um, that’s super relevant to consider for everyone is that environment. In fact, uh, you know, I’ve mentioned Kelly Starrett on the show and we spent the large majority of our podcast together talking about setting yourself up for success and battling against all the untoward, unhealthy influences of modern life and we’re talking about technology and how you can put your phone plugged in outside your bedroom and that’s where the cord is so that you automatically will charge it up there and won’t have that temptation in your bedroom. And then all the way down the line to getting yourself committed to a class or a trainer and then having the accoutrements at home. And of course he’s got the chest freezer and the sauna as I do. And boy, you can’t beat that to have it right there. Snap your fingers and you’re going to town. So in your case, Rick, what’s the frequency of your use and what’s your recommendation to someone who’s just getting started? Do you do this as a daily practice a few times a week? How long do you spend in there, etc. ?
Rick: I knew you were gonna. Ask me that and I have to make a true confession right now. At this moment I’m between saunas. We moved into a small condo here and since our last home and we’re building a home, so I’m at the moment I don’t have a sauna in my house, However, after many, many years and I will shortly again. And um, you know, we’ve had um, indoor saunas and outdoors saunas. I like them a outdoor better. We manufacture both actually. We sell about 50 slash 50, uh, indoor and outdoor. But I liked the outdoor experience myself. And as far as frequently or frequency, I would use mine when it’s, when my had one set up and ready for use, probably four or fIve times a week. Um, I generally do. It’s about a 30 to 40 minute routine. I don’t do the finished program generally, but I like to do it to relax. And so I don’t do it before work out. I will do it a generally not. I go to the gym to workout. So it really has nothing to do with my workout routine. It has more to do with my after work routine or on a Saturday, late morning after I run my errands and had my breakfast and so forth. I’d love to just get in there and relax for awhile. Um, so that’s my routine. And, and temperature wise, I like about one that I generally like to start at about 180 sit in the sauna and it’s a dry sauna now. I’ve not used water yet. If it’s in the wintertime I’ll go then sit outside for five minutes and then I’ll go back in the sauna and now it’s a little hotter. Do that a few times. And by the time it’s up to about 190, I start sprinkling water on a rock to generate the steam and the wet sauna. And that’s how that ended up. So I did say after 30, 35, 40 minutes, that’s my typical routine and I’ll get cleaned up and uh, continue my day. I don’t generally do it before bed. It just, I don’t know. I’m a, I’m a veg out in front of my ipad and tv before bed. That’s good. The sauna it comes earlier in the evening or, or late in the day.
Brad: Well, we want the body temperature to drop naturally in tandem with the melatonin release and the other hormonal factors that are preparing us for a good night’s sleep. So I can’t imagine that would be too effective to get anywhere near the bed time. And I know I’ve been, uh, in that sauna, uh, in the gym after my speed golf session and then it got dark and then I’m over in the gym and then I’m in the sauna and it’s getting 8:30, 8:45 PM. I’m trying to go to bed at 10 and I had to solve that puzzle with a dunk into my chest freezer cold tub. Of course you can do the same with a cold shower. So I suppose if you use sauna in the evening, you could always pair it with a cold experience and have that be a wonderful, uh, evening ritual. In fact, the contrast therapy of going from a cold swimming pool to warm spa in the wintertime has been a part of my lifestyle for a very long time. But you, you’re not feeling a super hot after a session like that, especially because it entails water, not dry sauna, but um, that saunas like fun. And so, uh, you were saying you’re going in and out, uh, in the door and out, especially in the early part of your experience just for waiting for the temperature to heat up.
Rick: Well, yeah, when you will reach its maximum temperature depending on the ambient temperature, but a 45 minutes to an hour tops and you know, I’ll generally step into the sauna after I’ve turned it on 40 minutes or so and start, it’s not quite as hot as it’s going to get yet. And that’s when I go back and forth. You know, I mentioned the winter , Brad. We have snow here in Michigan in the summer. What I’ll do is I’ve got an outdoor shower , had an outdoor shower and put directly up to a garden hose and I couldn’t use in the winter because they’d all freeze and that’s when I’d use just the snow. But in the summer or early spring, late fall, that water coming out of the garden hose was in that outdoor showers. Just ac and um, that was just exhilarating. I love that. And then I go back in the sauna and I had the shower right outside the sauna sauna door, I mean, right there. So I stepped out of that shower, you know, and you’re sitting in that sauna or for 10 or 15 minutes and it’s 180 degrees of tell you what, that ice water feels just delightful. And then after a minute of that, you’re ready to get back in that sauna. I was just back and forth.
Brad: Yeah. It’s hard to describe how awesome that feels. That contrast of going hot, cold, hot, cold. And I find when I’m done with the experience, you’re just so incredibly relaxed. I wouldn’t do it right before you have to give a Ted Talk or run a triathlon because your body is just, you’re, you’re, you’ve never felt more relaxed. And so I wouldn’t say I’m highly energized after a contrast session, but boy, doing somethIng like that at the end of the day, I mean that’s when, you know, we talked so much these days about, you know, trying to come down off this fight or flight hectic pace of modern life where your brain’s going and ruminating all day long and you’re working through your to do lIst and you have constant stimulation from tech addiction and to unplug and stimulate that parasympathetic nervous system response is critical to general health as well as getting a good night’s sleep and all those important benefits. And I can’t think of a better way. There’s just no other way to get that relaxed. Maybe a, a, a full body massage for an hour and a half. But um, those are, those are few and far between for most people.
Rick: You know, when I’m in northern Europe and in Finland. But I get there several times a year over there. This, this, this multi hour experience that you’re not in the sauna of the whole time. you’ll often have snacks and food out there. And over there, I wouldn’t recommend it here, but they’ll have a couple of beers before the sauna and then afterwards, but they conduct a lot of conversation in business meetings in the sauna and so I’ve been there where, you know, I was picked up at the airport so let’s get to the sauna and that’s where you, you conduct business?
Brad: Yeah. And then they’ll see if this american guys that they’ll see if this american guy can hang, if any, if he begs out after 18 minutes and they’re like, oh, we’ll do business with somebody else there to see if you’re the real deal. And then, oh, here Rick have a third beer while you’re in a 180 degree temperature environment.
Rick: We have a wall here in our office. We have glass walls and we have a lot of us finish a sauna quotes and fables and so forth. And uh, odd talks about, I can’t say one verbatim right now, but some to talk about, you know, some of the business is conducted in the sauna. And a house is only a house. It’s a home with a sauna. And was just all kinds of Finnish proverbs that are out there that, uh, we start posting on our wall here and it’s kind of interesting how they look at the sauna over there. It’s a part of life, whereas it’s not that here and now as a manufacturer, I hope it gets to that point and it’s certainly heading in the right direction. But again, it’s uh, it’s about, uh, education awareness, actually having the experience. So, uh, we just need to spread the love of this.
Brad: Right? And we talked before the recording about kinda the, the psychological benefits, the social benefits of having such a ritual in play. And I told you that, you know, with my spa, my jacuzzi use my whole life. It’s been like a great bonding experience for my son starting when he was zero years old. I have pictures of me holding this little body in the, in the spa and we’d go out there every single night and over the years it would be a place where we, we’d get to talking, which is not, uh, an easy opportunity with a teenager, what have you. And now he’s a college student and we’re working through challenges of life and talking about the political environment and anything that’s on our mind, but you don’t usually get to this stuff when you’re at a busy restaurant having a meal or a driving in a car or even it’s just sort of a relaxed environment where you, um, you kind of unplug and let it flow. And I think the, the social and the psychological benefits are profound. The fact that you are taking the time to do something beneficial and relaxing for yourself, set you up for a happy balanced, fulfilled life. And I think, uh, if you don’t have time to go for a ritual of 30 minutes length everyday, then we got to take a close examination of your priorities because I’m betting that you have an impressive mowing down through your Netflix queue. But that’s not quite in the same category as this complete physical, psychological experience of, of being exposed to heat or doing the contrast therapies like the Finns have done. It’s, it’s a very important priority.
Rick: We, um, when we were kids, my kids were all grown now, but when they were younger we lived on a lake and we had an outdoor sauna there and my boys and I in particular we did and we do exactly as you described with your son. You did a conversation and then we went off the dock and jump in a lake and then we’d come back into sauna. And so that was that, that ritual. But um, I know again, back to Finland, my wife has joined me there several times and one of our more recent trips, we went in a couple different occasions in different saunas this family of, of our hosts join us and their young children or teenage children. And you just sit in the sauna and as you say, you talk and, and what’s interesting about the sauna of this, everybody’s level of heat tolerance or, or length of time. They want to be in the sauna of various. And so there maybe start with us to start six in the sauna, but after, I don’t know, some period of time two would leave and then they go in the showers or, or, or cool off in a lake and then two more would peel off and then another one would come back and pretty soon it’s just this, this hour long or multi hour experience. We’re just coming and going and sharing conversation as we go. Um, and it was real delIghtful. That was the first time my wife had experienced that and sheets. She just come in and how cool that was and how relaxed everybody was and that these young teenagers over there and just enjoyed hanging out with us, having conversation in the sauna. I’m much like you described in your hot tub with your son. So yeah, it’s a, it’s a, it’s an awesome opportunity to connect without the music or about the technology sitting around you and just talk.
Brad: Yeah, don’t bring your iPhone in there because you’re going to get the overheated warning anyway, man, just. Oh, I love it. Rick, would a beautiful summation of the, the whole sauna experience. And we do have to give a plug for your business because it’s within reach. It’s a, it’s an affordable experience now. And these units that you guys have are just absolutely beautiful. This barrel sauna made out of real wood. Everything’s over at. Almost Heaven.com. Get started on the get started on the decision right now. Hi Rick.
Rick: Yeah. Highly encouraged. Absolutely.
Brad: And you have these specials going and this is direct to consumer that allows you to, to make things really affordable. Like you said at the outset, the installation is so easy. So I don’t mind giving a big plug for you here. it’s, it’s gonna. It’s going to improve people’s lives. So I appreciate you spending the time to detail the benefits in your whole, your whole journey to the, to the Almost Heaven scene.
Rick: Well, I appreciate the opportunity to talk about not only our business but also a passion that we, you and I clearly share. So, uh, thank you for the opportunity and to all your listeners out there, Almost Heaven.com information and any questions. Got a full staff that can, help you anytime.
Brad: Well, not anytime because they take their breaks throughout the workday. Right? For that 30 minute stint, you’ll, you’ll get a recording and there’ll be back soon. Love it. Rick Mouw from Almost Heaven Saunas. Thank you.