The Poor Man’s Poor Man’s Shvitz

by genspecial

Readers of Nothing Special know of our proclivity for the shvitz.  The shvitz is the age-old tradition, popularized by the Romans but probably known long before them, of going into a very hot place and letting your body sweat.  Out goes all the thinking and overanalyzing of one’s place in existence.  In comes the heat–the reminder that…oh yes, I’m  an animal.

Readers will also know that we’ve touted Wall Street Bath and Spa as such a place in New York City where one may shvitz (to the point that you might think they are sponsoring Nothing Special, which sadly they are not).  What we loved doing there, in the company of friends, was the pairing of “opposites,” moving quickly from the hot, dry sauna to the icy cold plunge pool, and back again.  The reminder that…oh yes, I’m alive!

Since the fancy spas, however, can also remind us how expensive being alive can be, we’ve taken the habit of going to our local YMCA for the shvitz.  After all, the Y has a sauna and showers, and provides two towels per visit.  Sure you don’t get the special bathrobe, the pickled herring or the sensation of being part of some secret subterranean club, but hey, those are all just dressings!  Since we’re already members of the Y, this shvitz is already paid for.  We therefore call this the Poor Man’s Shvitz.

Swipe in to Y and do some exercise.
5 minutes in Sauna
1 minute in freezing Shower
5 minutes in Sauna
1 minute in freezing Shower

Today, however, I was at the Y and found myself in a pickle.  I had done my workout and was looking forward to the shvitz, but poor time management (see many other blog entries) meant that I had but 5 minutes for the procedure.  There simply wasn’t time to sit in the sauna, then run down the hall to the cold showers, then go back to the sauna, etc.  I had to improvise, and somehow deal with the fact that I couldn’t do the full Special shvitz.  Should I give up and just chalk it off to a missed opportunity, or was there a way?  And then it hit me.  I stood under one shower and put it on hot.  Then I reached to the shower next to me, and moved its dial just a touch, leaving it at freezing cold.  After a minute of the hot shower, I jumped into the cold plunge, whooped for a moment, then leapt back into the hot, then back to the cold, whooping all the while.  A fellow shower room occupant looked on somewhat startled, as I proceeded to do this for all five minutes that I had.

They say that the greatest inventions are born of necessity.  Today, FOOS (Fellow Occupiers of Specialland), I invented something: the Poor Man’s Poor Man’s Shvitz.  I now put it out there  for all to try.  Or if not the Poor Man’s Poor Man’s Shvitz, something else that might not be perfect, but is still damn-well better than throwing nothing.  As for me, you might catch me one of these days in the Y shower, yelping from the cold, jumping back to the heat, side-stepping into the cold, all-the-while shouting:

Oh yes…I’m cheap, pressed for time, and not all that special … but I’m alive!  I’m aliiiiiiiiiiive!