banya with an ice hole in Moscow

russian_flag русский

While there is hardly any evidence of the snowstorm Nemo in NYC anymore, and most of the city dwellers yearn for warmth and summer, here is a naturist take on dealing with the snow in Moscow, a city where snow cover stays for 3-5 months a year.

So, luckily Russians have ‘banya‘ – traditional steam room, often located next to a lake or river, and there is a whole culture around it. Unfortunately though, the traditional Russian steam room is becoming less and less common, especially in urban areas. Most ‘banyas’ in Moscow would rather offer dry Finnish saunas, and even steam rooms there are more of Turkish style than Russian. This is mostly because traditional Russian banya requires wood to produce heat and a lot of steam, at temperatures much higher than Turkish hamam,  which makes banya much more expensive and complicated to operated. Another part of banya ritual – skinny-dipping in some natural waters between the sweating sessions – is even harder to achieve in urban environment.

However, there is at least one banya in Moscow that boasts a proper ice hole in the river. My friend Kolya just found it online, and I am not sure, if there is any alternative within the city boundaries. It operates as a rent facility with up to 8 person capacity for 3000 roubles an hour (2hrs min) – for arrangements call +7 (495)507-45-52 or +7(925)002-80-72. Perhaps not surprisingly, it is located in one of the biggest parks of Moscow, Serebyany Bor (Silver Pinery), on the banks of the Moscow River (upstream of the city), next to the well-known nudist beach. This is where I used to hang out on warm days during my student years (I described this beach but unfortunately never managed to get any proper photos there), but this winter was the first time I appreciated this place with all the snow and ice.

Upon arrival, we first tried to get the music equipment work (there was a proper turntable and good loudspeakers but we didn’t bring any music with us).

naturist 0010 Banya, Serebyany Bor, Moscow, Russia

Then we realised it wasn’t why we came there and went to the steam room. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough steam for a proper Russian banya (it was rather a modified Finnish sauna), but it was good enough to make us sweat. And after all, the main reason why we chose it, was not even the sauna itself but the ice hole in the Moscow River.

Kolya was the first one to go for a quick dip, but he practices bathing in ice holes regularly, and even without banyas nearby! It took me a little while to get ready.

naturist 0000 Banya, Serebyany Bor, Moscow, Russia

The next one already dived in without any hesitation!

naturist 0008 Banya, Serebyany Bor, Moscow, Russia

It is difficult to describe the feeling, but it is quite close to euphoria! after heating up in the sauna, it actually seems as the right thing to do. Rapid changes in temperature is supposed to train your cardiovascular system to control the tonus of blood vessels. Just don’t stay in the cold water too long.

naturist 0006 Banya, Serebyany Bor, Moscow, Russia

It was also nice to chill out inside the cabin and look outside the window at some people… playing beach volleyball in the snow! That was some anti-nudist volleyball though, but I won’t judge them as the temperature was below freezing after all.

naturist 0011 Banya, Serebyany Bor, Moscow, Russia

One of the pleasant side effects of our trip to banya was realising that when people are confronted with ‘casual’ nudity, they are actually fine with it (similarly to the World Naked Bike Rides in NYC and Madrid, or at a naked stroll in San Francisco, for example). There were numerous skiers passing by the ice hole while we were skinny dipping, and we got a lot of smiles and encouragement!

naturist 0003 Banya, Serebyany Bor, Moscow, Russia

I wonder how many winter visitors of Serebryany Bor witnessed something like that… but I hope those who did were inspired!

naturist 0001 Banya, Serebyany Bor, Moscow, Russia

Naked Gym in Paris (again)!

naturist 0009 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Many people, including me, find working out in the gym too boring… But as in winter the number of outdoor activities is rather limited, and even more limited if you want to do them naked, a gym may seem a little more attractive. And one way to spice up the exercises a little is to do them in the buff!

naturist 0010 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

I already reported about a gym and a swimming pool in Paris with naturist hours a year ago, and we visited it again last December. First, my boy and I had a dinner with the founders of Oh!naturist network, Philippe and Laurent, from whom I actually first heard about this gym.

Then it was a good time to burn the calories.

naturist 0007 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

This time we didn’t go to the pool and treadmills and concentrated on more serious work out😉

naturist 0008 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Also, this time we took our camera with us and tried to capture our exercises on as many machines as possible till the gym would get crowded.

naturist 0001 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

It is, of course, more fun to exercise in a good company.

naturist 0000 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Also we were kind of lucky to see Paris covered with snow. Such heavy snowfalls are rare in Paris, and this one caused quite a bit of chaos in the city. But we decided to enjoy the snow, fully!

naturist 0003 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Not only did we run naked in the snow,

naturist 0006 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Laurent even dared to lie down and create a so-called snow angel.

naturist 0004 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Then, of course, a snowball game followed🙂

naturist 0005 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Luckily, the gym has a steam sauna, so we could warm up.

So if you like to work out and hang out naked in company of good people, this gym is perfect!

naturist 0002 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Go to my previous post for more details and links.

Salle de sport à Paris : faites de la musculation nu !

English

Dans certain pays européens la nudité est tolérée en public, mais il se pose un grand problème naturel : l’hiver ! De plus, les endroits où l’on peut pratiquer le naturisme à l’intérieur sont peu nombreux, surtout si l’on excepte les saunas. Par contre, Paris a une salle de sport qui est naturiste 5 fois par semaine et une piscine 3 fois par semaine, grâce à l’Association Naturiste de Paris. Des piscines naturistes se trouvent à Berlin, à Madrid et à Londres, mais je ne connais aucune autre salle de gym naturiste, alors que le mot “gym” implique la nudité et vient du mot grec γυμνός [gymnos] – nu.

Voici l’endroit où les naturistes parisiens s’entraînent pour garder leur forme quand il fait -10°C !

naturist 0013 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

A l’intérieur il fait assez chaud pour que l’on puisse se mettre nu🙂

naturist 0011 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

La salle n’est pas grande mais équipée avec toutes les machines qu’il faut.

naturist 0015 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Et la grande surprise : la première visite est gratuite ! Il suffit de remplir l’invitation.

En plus, l’entrée est gratuite pour les jeunes de moins de 27 ans !

naturist 0014 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Parfait pour les jeunes sportifs😉

Les adhérents sont très gentils.

naturist 0016 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Merci à Laurent pour les photos !

 

French translation by Laurent

Gym in Paris: Work out naked!

français

In some European countries public nudity is accepted in many places, but there is one big natural problem: winter! And the number of indoors naturist facilities is very small, especially if you exclude saunas. But Paris boasts a gym with naturist hours 5 times per week and a swimming pool three times per week (piscine Roger Le Gall), thanks to the association of naturists of Paris. There are pools which serve naturists also in Berlin, Madrid, London, but I’m not aware of any other naked gym, although the word ‘gym’ implies nudity, coming form the greek γυμνός [gymnos] – naked.

So, this is where parisian naturists maintain their shape when it is -10ºC!

naturist 0013 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Well, actually inside the gym it is warm enough to be completely unclad🙂

naturist 0011 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

The gym isn’t big but with all major types of machines.

naturist 0015 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

And there is a pleasant surprise – the first visit is free of charge, just fill in an invitation form!

Furthermore, youth under 27 years old has free admission!

naturist 0014 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Perfect for the young and active😉

The members seem to be very friendly.

naturist 0016 Gym of Association Naturiste de Paris, Paris, France

Many thanks to Laurent for the pics!

Check out our post from another visit a year later!