With the stress from training starting to get to us, two friends and I decided to visit the local jimjibang. Located in the basement of our hotel, this Korean-style sauna was the perfect place to unwind after a stressful half-week of worrying. I wasn’t expecting much going into it, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to be parting with my swim trunks.

Catching the elevator to the basement, we paid the front desk about 7000 won (~7 Canadian dollars), and in exchanged received a key for a locker. Heading over to the men’s side, the first thing to do was to take off our shoes and place them into a small locker out front. Shoeless and sockless, we wandered into the changing room – where my friends informed me that it would be a completely naked experience. A bit shocked, I was told that it would be more weird to have a bathing suit on than to just take it off.

We all got changed, and after the initial shock of seeing new friends stark naked, it actually became pretty normal. I thought I would have been weirded out by the complete nudity, but it actually felt pretty natural, and a bit freeing if I’m telling the truth.

We wandered into the sauna, passing a barbershop and a grooming room outfitted with unflattering mirrors, q-tips, and hair dryers. The first thing to do on your arrival is shower off. There were a row of showers along the front wall with hot water and terrible feeling soap.

Along the back wall there were three large sized hot tubs – big enough to fit almost 20 people. Each was clearly labeled with an LCD screen above indicating the temperature. We jumped into the 40 degree one first. After soaking for 20 minutes, we explored the dry and steam sauna areas. It’s incredibly relaxing, but it’s easy to lose consciousness with the amount of water you sweat out; make sure you stay hydrated.

Figuring the 24 degree hot tub wasn’t that cold, we stepped in, only to discover it was a full on polar dip. I stayed for a little bit, mainly for my Canadian pride, before retreating back to the 40 degree tub. The tub to the left was 2 degrees hotter, but it felt like 1000.

With almost a full hour of lounging, soaking, and complaining about training behind us, we sat down on small stools, showered off, dried off, put our clothes back on, and kept studying.

I’m definitely going to make jimjibangs a regular part of my life.

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