We could all use an escape and one that benefits our health as well.
With or without a pandemic looming over our heads, life can be hectic. Finding inner balance while not having to sacrifice parts of your life, buying into fads, spending money on over-priced products or even injuring yourself in the long run might seem impossible—but with Formation Sauna + Wellness it’s not, or at least that’s what co-owner Sarah Hummel says.
“It was just like utterly clear. There was nothing that I understood more clearly than what I was meant to do, but I just didn’t know how,” says Hummel, who opened the new Nordic style health center with Nick Schonberger.
What started as just a favorite practice for Hummel became something much more. Seeing the sauna culture more prominent in the Pacific Northwest with Japanese and Korean influences and in the Midwest with Scandinavian influences, the Philly native—with over a decade’s worth of knowledge in the health industry—set her sights on bringing the steam, but with a twist.
Formation’s particular sauna combines the heat with the cold, and it’s that contrast that is key.
“The contrast with the hot and the cold is really the health component for your circulatory system,” explains Hummel. “It does something to create this bubble where your censors are shut down. We have a lot going on with [our] senses in the city, it’s hard to get into a place where you’re meditative and calm and you can think well. Sauna/contrast bathing does give you that deep satisfaction and relaxation and you eliminate all of that chaos. It puts you in a place where you are soothed and nourished on a sensory level.”
You’ve heard that nothing worth having comes easy, especially when it comes to fitness. But, that’s not exactly true here. At this particular venue, you can have your cake and eat it too, just in the form of relaxation.
“I think a lot of times the things that we do to keep ourselves well, require effort and some sort of sacrifice or a physical exertion or eliminating something from our lifestyle,” continues Hummel. “The amazing thing with this is, there’s no sacrifice. You just go, bring a book, sit with your thoughts, chill with a friend or a loved one, and you’re not giving something up. Instead you’re being replenished. It’s an infusion of wellness instead of an action of wellness, and it’s that inaction that creates the change within.”
What happens at Formation is a complete relaxation journey. From the time you walk in the door, the space invites you in with a playful and soothing atmosphere. The treatment itself just requires a cooling shower, about 15 minutes in the sauna, sitting in a chair sipping tea or reading, and then it’s repeated through for about two to three cycles.
Additional services offered at Formation include a therapeutic massage (which is said to be especially popular after the sauna) and meditative sound baths. Hummel, who has practiced in many forms of health exercises, also emphasizes that this treatment should not be done once in a blue moon. To truly reap the true health and social benefits of sauna, you must treat sauna sessions like yoga—practice multiple times per week or through weekly visits. Overall, the practice has a bevy of health benefits that reach past your circulatory system including reducing stress and anxiety, promoting muscle recovery, and immunity.
But the benefits don’t stop on the physical front.
“What’s so unique about sauna is that it creates this sense of community with just being there. You don’t have to know the people that are there with you, you don’t have to know why they’re there, you’re just creating community because you’re there for the experience of breathing and being,” explains Hummel.
The community aspect does play a big part, but as of lately, so does sanitizing and cleanliness.
“First and foremost, right now, during a pandemic, people’s safety and health is most important,” says Hummel. “We just want to make sure that everybody is taken care of and that we’re keeping everybody safe, both when they’re on site and then the people who are coming in afterwards. So, you know, everybody sanitizes and the massages always happen with everyone’s masks on for the duration of their stay, and with gloves on. Obviously, we wear masks [otherwise] as well.”
Typically, in a sauna practice, participants go in your birthday suit, but at Formation bathing suits are required, which does play into the community vibe.
“It’s having a place that feels open and it’s for you. It invites you to play and connect with nature and yourself. It’s a basic experience because it’s not heightening anything, it’s doing the opposite,” explains Hummel. “Everything we’re trying to do at Formation is subtle, but it creates an entire sensory experience.”
For more information about Formation sauna + wellness and to start your treatments, visit formationsauna.com