You know how sometimes you wish the internet was scratch and sniff? Well right now I wish it was like Pat the Bunny so you could feel how amazingly soft my skin is.
When the idea came up for me to write about new experiences, the Korean spa was one of the first things on the list. My neighbor has been with her book club. Another friend went with her roommate. And then a few days ago my San Diego friends brought it up as a possible activity. It’s like a secret society or something.
So in case you don’t know, the clincher in the whole Korean spa thing is that you’re naked. Completely. In public. It’s quite possible this is the case in most foreign spas, but I went to a Korean one, so that’s the experience I’ll offer here.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind being naked. More often than not, if I’m home alone, chances are I’m not wearing any pants (except underwear). In case you were wondering, and in an effort to make this all seem less awkward, I do have pants on right now.
Point being, despite being comfortable wearing less clothes, I don’t make a habit of being naked in front of friends. Or strangers for that matter. Read as hardly ever/never. I mean sure there have been skinny dipping ventures…but showering with other ladies (not even in h.s. gym class!)? Walking around in front of people and sitting in saunas and having someone else scrub you down COMPLETELY?
There’s my comfort zone and then there was Natura Spa.
I went with my neighbor. We had brought it up at the brunch as a possible fun group activity, but since the naked reveal was of initial concern, I thought it would be better to ease myself in one friend at a time. I tried to be less prudish about it. Logically speaking, my friends have seen me in a bikini. Bikinis often leave little to the imagination. But that little bit of fabric makes a big difference.
And then you think of all the times people see you naked. When you go to the doctor. When you go to the laser place. When you eventually have a kid. When you do what it takes to make a kid. This wasn’t going to be that invasive. This was walking around. With people who you weren’t trying to impress and have the same body parts as you.
By the time we arrived I was talking myself into a “what’s the big deal?”attitude…then I got to my locker. Took off my clothes and put on the little robe.
And here’s the thing about being naked in front of other people, (whether you know them or not)…you’re not really LOOKING at them. It quickly becomes a new normal, and except for the one lady with weird dimples in her butt cheeks, I didn’t make note of anything. Long story short, the robes lasted as long as it took to walk to the shower. (You shower at the beginning and then in between every room/activity.)
Did it help that the place wasn’t uber crowded and that most of the ladies were older and Korean? Probably. But it also helped that it was so serene, and – like I said – not a big deal.
Ok so I’m walking around naked. First obstacle. Check.
We got into this super hot tub and then transitioned to a steam room. I can probably count on one hand the times I’ve done anything more than hot tub when it comes to spa-like activities, so the steam room was a lot for me. We also visited the dry sauna and a clay room. I felt like I was in an episode of Sex in the City. I learned I have a short attention span for laying around in hot places. Maybe if I were better at meditating. I could feel my pores opening up, tho. So things were working.
Then it came time for the body scrub. I’ve had one professional massage in my life and I didn’t like it. I’m too ticklish. I’m too tense. I can’t relax when someone tells me to…I sound like so much fun, right??
I was excited about the scrub tho. I hate lotion so I use it very sparingly. I was happy to get all my dead skin sloughed off. And boy did it ever. They pour water over you and go to town with this brillo-pad-type mitt. The pressure was enough that I only got ticklish and reflexively almost kicked the girl once. Oh and PS. The ladies scrub you down whilst wearing their bra and underwear. New experiences!!
I have to say. I LOVED the scrub. Your body acclimates to it enough where it doesn’t hurt, and every time you open your eyes you see rolls of your dead skin laying next to you on the table. And you’re like, Ew! Gross! This is the best thing I’ve ever done for my body!!
I wanted to ask if I had more or less dead skin than other people…but my neighbor was surrounded by little dead skin joints too so I’m going to assume I’m average. After they scrub you down – and I mean SCRUB YOU DOWN (first you lay on your stomach, then you lay on your back, then you lay on one side, then the other)…they wash you. And now I understand why in the old days, rich people paid people to bathe them. It’s more than kind of awesome. I had another little tickle spasm in my back, but again, nowhere near as uncomfortable as I get, say, during a pedicure.
And then came the coup de grace. The shampoo. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE it when someone washes my hair. I have a friend in STL who cuts my hair and gives the best head massages while scrubbing your scalp and locks. Love it.
And the whole time they’re rinsing you off by pouring buckets of water that was neither too hot nor too cold over your body. While she washed my hair she put warm wet towels over my body. Dreamy.
Body scrub. Aka obstacle #2. Check.
So there were three things we hadn’t tried yet: another, less hot, tub, the jade room and a cool pool. We tackled them in that order. The cool pool was the hardest to reconcile, but I figured at this point I had checked everything off the list, so why not go for a freezing cold dunk. I was in and out in like 15 seconds. And it had a nice lasting effect.
The bummer then becomes putting your clothes on. I mean seriously. You’re just so soft!! I was pretty sure she had scrubbed whatever was left of my tan lines off. It was at least the outermost layer of skin. Left in its place was the kind of skin you come into this world with. Baby-soft skin.
So in closing, I highly recommend you grabbing your nearest and dearest, getting naked, and getting your scrub on. Great gift idea. I’d say perfect for bridal parties, but I’m not sure there’s a need to ever see your mother-in-law naked. Unless she was super cool. Which, in your case – and some day in mine – I hope she is.
Footnote: This spa was ladies only. There is a different part of the building for men. Just in case you were wondering/worried. In addition, the price was really reasonable, and we ended up spending just under two hours there. I can’t wait to get another scrub once the winter is over. Dry skin city!!