Fitness around Europe, part 4: What happens in the locker rooms?


Back in the locker room. The United Kingdom and Germany are the absolute opposites. In UK you try to linger out from your sweaty clothes exposing as few inches of skin as possible. You might wrap into a towel to take your clothes off. You might head to the loos to change your clothes. You… Basically show less in a bikini on a beach. And now we are talking abut the same girls who just sported for an hour in tight leggings and a bra size of a top.

Meanwhile in Germany – most likely, you just drop your clothes, grab your towel, take a quick shower, and head to the sauna. And now comes the surprise – in the sauna, you are not alone. No, I don’t talk just about you. I am talking about your gender. For some unknown reason Germans really don’t mind, and the saunas are often mixed. Yes, you Londoner read right. Men and Women together in the sauna, without any clothes. This is a newsflash even for a Finn (Finns don’t do mixed saunas with strangers). In sauna you live by strict rules – most likely you monitor the length of your visit, don’t talk, are not allowed to drink anything and are not allowed to adjust the temperature in any way. The worst thing you can do, is to not bring enough towel (again…) – kein Fleisch auf dem Holtz, no meet on the wood, meaning you are not allowed to leave even the bottom of your feet without a piece of towel. Maybe that’s why in female-only saunas almost everyone is lying, sometimes in positions which is again too much for the sensible Finns. What makes this experience so disappointing, is, that often these kinds of normal saunas are called

What makes this experience extra confusing, is, that often these kinds of normal saunas are called Finnisch Saunas (Finnish saunas). After the relaxing sauna experience, you head back to the shower, take your time, and don’t feel ashamed drying yourself in front of everyone. In case you still feel hot or just feel like it, you might as well apply your make up topless.

My local German gym didn’t have a sauna – if it had had one, I obviously wouldn’t have had the right mentality to visit it.

In Finland and Sweden – well, it would be something between it. Practical, I would say. You are in the locker rooms with fellow females and you go to sauna with fellow females. You can take your drink to the sauna, you can talk in the sauna, your enjoy it.