That One Time I Spent a Day at a Nude Spa
Hey, party people!
Many moons ago, before Donuts + Down Dog was born, I had another website that started this crazy adventure. It has since gone into (a very well deserved) retirement, but from time to time I will repost some of my favorites from the early days of blogging to share with you all.
The other day I was talking to some of my gal pals at The Riveter about the glory of nude women’s spas. They are, if you haven’t ventured to one yet, absolutely amazing. This conversation also reminded me that, ages ago, I wrote about my experience getting naked with a bunch of strangers. I’m sharing it again here for your enjoyment.
Thank you, as always, for reading!
Last week I was approached about the awesome/unique/terrifying opportunity to spend a day at Seattle areas famed nude women's relaxation station, the Olympus Spa. I've heard many a wonderful tale about ol' Olympus from one of my oldest friends, who has been going with her mom forever. Secretly I've always wanted to go but have forever been terrified to ask anybody to spend a day naked with me (other than my boyfriend, because duh) and had quietly accepted that I would likely NEVER go to Olympus unless some divine power of nudity and relaxation intervened. Thankfully the stars aligned and I was given the opportunity to go. YAS KWEEN!
Unbeknownst to me, my visit to the *nude spa* fell right in line with Body Positivity Week. I'm going to say it right now- I feel the same way towards Body Positivity Week that I towards Valentines Day. Why are we only celebrating this one day/week per year? Why not make this Body Positivity YEAR and then Body Positivity LIFE?! Body Positivity should be celebrated all day, every day, forever and ever, because there just isn't enough of it out there. But, I get it, that's not how these things work, and there is validity in calling such a sensitive topic to the forefront of popular media. Anyway, I digress. I went to the spa in the name of *relaxation* and also *body positivity week* because it conveniently worked out that way. And because being naked for a prolonged period of time around a bunch of strangers seemed like the perfect excuse to spend some serious time being *positive* about my body. Hey body, I like you.
To be completely honest, I was terrified to go to a naked women's spa. Even as a yoga teacher I tend to be shy about my body. When given the chance I will gladly change behind curtains or in a private bathroom. I've just never fully fallen in love with my body the same way my free-boobin', hairy-pitted counterparts have. I still fight the occasional urge to verbally bully my reflection in the mirror, and still sometimes find myself attached to the ridiculous numbers found on scales/pants/bathing suit bottoms. I was pretty anxious about being BUTT ASS NAKED LITERALLY for the majority of the day around strangers, but it seemed like a unique opportunity (COUGH A GREAT BLOG POST COUGH COUGH) and I figured it was worth the *experience*.
At Olympus you pay a flat rate for entry which can be used for as many hours that day as you want *all day* and gives you access to the soaking pools, the saunas, and the various themed rooms of different temperatures (more on that later). It's a great deal, but if I'm going to the spa I want to go BALLS TO THE WALL, so I also booked a full body scrub after lots of rave reviews from friends, and a foot massage because the majority of my job is spent on my feet and they've been feeling a little sad since my last half marathon.
Getting to the spa is a bit of an adventure. Olympus is essentially in the middle of nowhere, nestled quietly behind the Lynnwood convention center. There is minimal signage, so you BETTER hope that your Google Maps brings its A-game or you could be stuck in Lynnwood for the rest of your life. The spa is in a giant shopping plaza which gave me a twang of doubt upon first arrival but proved quickly to be completely unrelated to the *blissful* experience I was about to have. When I walked in I was greeted by a gaggle of kind, friendly women. They quickly ushered me in, walked me through my paperwork, and made me feel very welcome/not embarrassed that I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. I was handed a tiny robe, two towels, a key to my own locker, and a *really sexy* hair cap to wear all day, then given the grand tour. The robe was definitely not made for somebody my height. Since this was a *nude spa* I determined that was the least of my worries and ventured in.
While robes are doled out upon entrance, they really are only to be worn in the hallways, certain rooms, or the restaurant (BECAUSE HYGIENE). The second I walked into the giant soaking pool room I was instructed to disrobe, throw my things in the cubby that corresponded with my locker number, and to venture out in the nude. This was, obviously, intimidating. It's a long walk (read: 10 feet) from the cubbies to the hot tub, and it felt like a million miles. Since the tile was slippery I had to fight my urge to RUN across the floor. When my thousand-mile journey to the hot-tub was complete, I realized that nobody had been looking at me and that EVERYBODY ELSE WAS NAKED TOO (obviously) so my nudity was not shocking. At all. Literally nobody cared. I was greeted by a few quiet smiles (we were encouraged not to talk) and nods, and that was it. I wouldn't say that my hesitancy about being naked around dozens of strangers disappeared immediately, but it was vanishing at a much quicker rate than I'd anticipated. I was naked! I was free-boobin' it! My legs were hairy and nobody cared! I consciously stopped engaging my abs and let my stomach stick out into the depths of the hot tub. I felt like a relaxed, nude, lunch-lady in my hair cap. It was going to be a great day.
After turning into a raisin in one of the soaking tubs, a friendly woman in a black bathing suit called my number and lead me to my scrub. I had assumed my scrub would happen, much like a massage, in a private area but NOPE JOKE'S ON ME. She lead me to a plastic table right out in the open laying next to a bunch of other women in the *nude* who were about to be scrubbed. My scrubber- the official title I gave her just now- donned what I can only assume were medical strength exfoliating scrubs. She dumped warm water on me and started grating my skin off in a way I determined to be 15% uncomfortable and 85% glorious. She was probably half my size (I'm a tall gal!) but man-handled me in a very impressive yet soothing way. I kept my eyes closed because I felt awkward staring at the rows of naked women being exfoliated next to me, and because after a few minutes of being grated like a fine Parmesan I started to feel slightly sleepy.
Let me tell you friends, there is nothing more satisfying than getting your butt exfoliated. Like, I would gladly give up hummus if I could just have somebody exfoliate my butt weekly for the rest of my life. It's like getting a Brazilian wax, but ten times more satisfying. Also, MY ELBOWS FEEL LIKE BUTTER which I know sounds weird, but I didn't realize how dry and sad they felt until all that skin had been essentially torn off my body and I got back to the *virgin skin* down below. Pure heaven, I tell you. At the end of the scrub I was soaped up in a way that made me feel like I was covered in warm, fluffy lube, which was exactly as wonderful as it sounds.
Famished from my incredibly taxing hour of being treated like a human block of cheese, I ventured to the dining area. Since the rest of Olympus was so spacious and minimal, I expected the dining experience to be the same. It was great! But also slightly hilarious. While the soaking pools were reasonably spaced out, the dining area was basically a large closet that had recently hosted a half-hearted match of furniture Tetris. Lots of tables and chairs, very minimal room to walk. There wasn't very much space, but by this point we had all been *nude* together all day, so I didn't mind LITERALLY rubbing elbows with the person seated next to me. The food was incredible and satisfying and I will refrain from writing too much about it because I could go on forever but they were vegan friendly and I have been dreaming about it ever since.
As mentioned, once you pay your entry free you have access to all of Olympus' theme rooms. I didn't hit them all because it felt like there was an INFINITE AMOUNT AND I MIGHT NEVER FIND MY WAY OUT. I did venture to the Salt Room, which was essentially a large room with a bean-bag like floor where I laid down and did a few yoga stretches (we got to keep our robes on here, don't worry). The Salt Room was the same temperature as my bed when it's starting to get too hot but I'm too lazy to kick the covers off. I then ventured to the Charcoal Room, which had a really hard floor and a bunch of charcoal on the wall but was supposed to "get toxins out of my body". I stayed there for a few minutes but couldn't stop thinking about whose job it was to artfully burn all those damn sticks. Seriously though, whose job was that? That puzzle was hindering my relaxation, so I left. I ended in the Cabin Room, which was room temperature and decorated to look like a very woodsy log cabin. I still have no idea what this room was doing at an Asian spa, but I liked it and there were magazines. I am now sufficiently caught up on all the celebrities that could potentially be pregnant at this time. Feel free to quiz me.
I rounded out the day with my scheduled foot massage. At this point I was starting to feel super guilty about having been at the spa for so long, for no other reason except I AM A WOMAN AND WE PUT TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON OURSELVES AMIRITE?! My masseuse was adorable and soft spoken and didn't try to talk my ear off, which was greatly appreciated. The last time I got a massage she found out I was a yoga teacher and asked me about yoga for the full hour and I left feeling really annoyed and agitated and NOT CALM, OK?! I could've gone for a little more OOMPH in my foot massage rather than being caressed by her fairy-unicorn-feather-soft hands, but the experience was overall exceptionally relaxing and I almost fell asleep. To be fair, I can fall asleep pretty much anywhere, but I still consider this a compliment when faced with nudity in unfamiliar terrain.
I felt surprisingly sad throwing my robe and hair-cap in their respective bins as I re-donned my clothing. Spending a day naked with a bunch of strange women is extremely liberating. I had wrongly assumed, in my own anxiety, that I would be judged all day long for my cellulite thighs and beer-loving belly. I was not. Nobody cared, and the women were friendly and kind. Looking back, I don't know why I expected them to be anything but. Mostly, I had to get over my own discomfort with my body. I tend to assume that I will be surrounded by models wherever I go (Dentist? MODELS! Yoga class? MODELS! Jiffy Lube? MODELS!), and I'm working on changing that. At Olympus I saw mastectomies, cellulite, C-section scars, and beautiful women. All beautiful women who had bodies of all shapes and sizes that were fucking rad and I realized that I need to stop being so hard on my own.
I would like to apologize in advance to all the women in my life who will now only be getting gift certificates to the Olympus Spa for the rest of our lives. Sorry, but I'm not actually all that sorry. You can thank me later.
Go to the naked spa. Get the scrub. Your elbows will never be the same.