The Schwaben Quellen mineraltherme is my favorite. (Photo from Google search)

I’ve seen a few references to a method of destroying coronavirus using heat. The method is to inhale air at temperatures at or above 133 degrees F for at least five minutes. I don’t know if this is true or not. I tried to research some keywords and found little. The original book appears to be out of print. Until I find other sources, I’ll let it ride for the moment.

The short video I watched referenced a couple of methods to ensure that you were breathing in hot air. One reference was to use a sauna. In today’s environment, all gyms are shut down. Most of us have no access to a sauna unless you have one in your home. However, my memories of being in saunas have allowed me to write today about some personal experiences I enjoyed daily a while back while I was living in Germany.

I had one very delightful option to warm up in the winter when I lived in Germany – the mineraltherme (we call them spas) . One of the best mineralthermes is the Schwaben Quellen – located in Stuttgart, Germany. It was a ten-minute walk from where I lived. I routinely visited three different thermal spas, but the SQ was the absolute best. There is one small problem for Americans going to German spas – they are textile-free – no clothes – in other words, you enjoy yourself wearing nothing but a smile.

I’ve always been a big Jacuzzi person. I like the heat and swirling hot water. Unfortunately, German Jacuzzis are not very hot – barely body temperature. Japanese and Korean Jacuzzis are hot, hotter and even hotter than I can handle. My experience with saunas was limited to the typical gym sauna – a room for a half-dozen people at most and no-frills. German saunas are light-years ahead when it comes to frills and seating space.

There are some German spas that operate at 212 degrees F with varying percentages of humidity and aromas. It’s a combination of aromatherapy rolled into a moist heat blanket. There are some saunas that are kept around 150 degrees F and usually dark – meditation saunas of sorts. All the saunas can comfortably seat a couple of dozen to double that number if you pack them in. The best part of the German sauna is the aufguss.

The aufguss makes an ordinary sauna a super-sauna on steroids. Temperature and humidity are driven to the max. Typically, once an hour, the aufgussmeister (my term for the attendant who performs the ritual) enters the room with a bucket or two of scented water or ice slurry. He or she goes through a spiel about the benefits of an aufguss – it’s all in German, so I’m not sure, but that’s the gist. The water or ice slurry is poured over the coals and steam envelopes the room quickly.

The aufgussmeister then goes through the sauna and mixes the air/steam by twirling a towel overhead. More water on the coals next and everyone gets a personal touch – a super-heated blast of hot air/steam shot at you by the aufgussmeister snapping a towel in front of you. You are expected to put your hands up high in the air over your head and relax and wait for the searing heat of the jet engine as it comes by at Mach-3. Normally you get two blasts, but sometimes you might get three. You will never forget your first high-temperature experience.

The aufguss generally consists of three rounds of twirling and towel snapping. I’ve been in some saunas where I’ve had seven rounds of this bliss-enhancing treatment. In some of the smaller spa facilities, members of the sauna may perform the role of aufgussmeister.

If you were hot and sweaty when you entered the sauna, you are slithering under the door as a puddle of sweat with an inability to walk a straight line as you leave the sauna. The first thing most people head for is the showers to de-temp and gain control of your body again. Another option is a cold dip.

The SQ has many saunas, with all types of frills and excitement. But, three of the saunas are reserved for regularly scheduled aufguss treatments. Each one lasts about 12-15 minutes. They are spaced conveniently enough that you can go from one to another. I averaged at least three hours when I went to a spa – unless it was at lunchtime, and then it was only for an hour – and that happened once or twice a week.

I decided one night to just test my stamina and see what would happen if I did multiple aufgusses back-to-back-to-back. I decided to do two hours of back-to-back-to-back to see what kind of shape I was in at that time – I had been going to the saunas for nearly a year then.

I made it through the first hour without difficulty – as I usually did. After making three in a row, and feeling strong, I did the next hour standing on my head – not literally, but figuratively. Six aufgusses and I felt strong and determined. I did another three aufgusses (another hour’s worth) – nine total and still felt good.

Since I had a mindset to set personal records, I decided to continue – I had to make it to the double-digit level at least. I did my tenth in a row – just a little over three hours and decided that I could still think and reason and walk, so I would enjoy other parts of the spa and wrap things up for the night. I had about thirty minutes left before they closed the place – I wished I had started out a couple of hours earlier that night! So, my personal record is ten aufgusses back-to-back-to-back-to-back-etc.

A week later, I decided to test my personal endurance in the sauna. I stayed after one of the aufguss treatments – the room is extra hot and wet – and decided to see how long I could last at 212 degrees with extra-added humidity from the aufguss ritual. I set my goal for one hour. I made it to 51 minutes and bailed. I tried it again a week later and lasted another 51 minutes. I could usually do a half-hour or more regularly, but those last few minutes punctured my stamina. Maybe if I had started in a non-aufguss sauna I could have made one hour easily, but it wasn’t the same kind of challenge.

One thing I noticed when I got heated (I also noticed it with many others around me) is that I can sit outside in the open with snow piled up all around me. The snow and cold have no effect for the first five or ten minutes. At some point in time equilibrium is reached and the cold starts intruding into my body – then it’s time to hit the sauna again.

It snowed in Germany each winter I lived there. We might get a light dusting of snow in Houston every decade. Most people do not realize that the 24-hour record for Houston, Texas for snow is 22 inches (mid-February 1895). This week our forecast has 90-degree-days starting.

Maybe breathing hot air is a panacea for the coronavirus, maybe not. It did serve to bring some great memories back into my house-arrested lifestyle though. Too many days writing serious commentary about coronavirus and today I wanted to do something a bit lighter. I hope you enjoyed a few of my memories.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin

4 Responses

  1. Your posts are always a joy to read and very informative!! Thanks for sharing your experiences with the spas in Germany!! I never got to try that when I was there, but maybe someday I will!! Please give my love and best wishes to Marilyn! Love and Hugs to you both!! God bless!!!

    1. Debbie: Thanks for your comment. I don’t know what I am going to write about each day until I sit down and place my fingers on the keyboard. I give it a few quick moments and think about various things I need to share and add value to peoples’ lives. I didn’t want to write much about the coronavirus, but it seems that there is new information, valuable information to me, so I need to share it. It’s rare when I have time to post about personal experiences, but sometimes I can see a possible alignment of my blog thoughts to health, wellness, and related topics. I’ve written every day since January 1st and plan to continue a bit longer. I’m glad you enjoyed the quick trip to the German spa. There are so many things I left out that made those trips so enjoyable. Have a great one! RED

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