The Shvitz Gift aka Don’t Turn Down Bath House Generosity

So yesterday I got a text from buddy I used to work with, Craig. We got along really well at the old company. Great guy. He’s in town for work and he asked me to hang out Wednesday night to go to a bar.  Big party, he’s leaving his current company.

Can’t do it.  Got plans with Mona.

So he asked if I wanted to go for a shvitz, which is, I believe, the Yiddish word for sweat, but in this case it’s used to mean a visit to a sauna or steam room (yes, where people sweat.) People have been sweating in steam for thousands of years. It’s great for the body.

There are a number of Russian/Turkish bath houses in Manhattan and other places around the city. I’ve been to one in the Financial District that had different kinds of saunas, a hot tub, a regular pool and a cold rinse pool to shock the system after streaming.

The one he wanted to go to was in the East Village,  very similar. Like $40 per visit.


I told him I lost my job and couldn’t  make the expense. Then he countered, saying that he had a filled out punch card from previous visits and would give me the free visit.

BOOM. That’s what I’m talking about!

Granted, part of me wanted to turn it down out of shame like “I can’t let you do that.”

HOWEVER, he offered, I put no gun to his head. Who was I to turn down Craig’s generous offer?

“Thanks. Sounds great!”

Oh yeah.  We went yesterday. I believe there were FIVE different saunas:

1. A small one
2. A normal sized one
3. An extra steamy one which had a eucalyptus smell.
4. A dry one
5. a really hot one that we couldn’t spend more than five minutes in. It was so hot that it had cold water in a vat that people dumped buckets of water onto themselves.

Ok it’s called a Bath House but no baths, really. Just saunas. But whatever. Still AWESOME.


So relaxing.  Great for the muscles and therapeutic. Sweat out the toxins.

And in between each one we did a quick in and out in the cold rinse pool.  Like 48 degrees Fahrenheit. That was like the pallette cleanser in between courses.

After the first circuit, we got some pirogi dumplings and a Russian beer. Then did the whole circuit again. Showered and left.

SO THANKFUL for not only his generosity, but his thinking to hang with me in the first place. And if it meant I had to see his bare ass in the locker room,  then I guess so be it.


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