Interview with founder and owner Tomas Hansson about how he came to be a sauna lover and start a floating sauna business in Oslo, Norway.
How did a Kiwi come to love saunas?
Well, we definitely don’t have the same sauna culture in New Zealand but it is fairly common to have saunas and steam rooms at public swimming pools. I first started using saunas when I was around 10 years old, but only occasionally. My real love for saunas started when I visited my brother in Malmö, Sweden and experienced the famous “Kalbadhsuet” built out on the canal separating Sweden and Denmark. It was here I first experienced an Aufguss sauna ritual and ice bathing. It was not long after this that I started to frequent the first of the waterside and floating saunas in Oslo (circa 2018).
Why did you decide to start Oslo Fjord Spa?
Oslo Fjord Spa actually started out at an electric boat company, so nothing to do with saunas. Since we had a dock for electric boats in a central location and winter was fast approaching I thought “why not put saunas here so we can have business all year around?”. So I invested all the money I had made through my kayak company Mad Goats, and bought two floating saunas from Sweden – so much for plan to start saving for an apartment! After some time we realised that we were much more into sauna life than boat rentals (even though I fully support the electrification and sharing of boats – if not just to have cleaner water to swim in and a more peaceful fjord) and decided to focus solely on saunas.
Sauna culture in Norway is booming! Tell us more…
It certainly is! Of course that darn annoying virus got in the way of business for a couple of years but in general sauna life is becoming more mainstream and people are realising that is not only very fun but that it is also extremely good for their health. I suppose, in a way, Covid may have proliferated the sauna industry further by people waking up to the fact that a healthy life, and consequently a stronger immune system, is the best defence against disease and illness. We are super busy at Oslo Fjord Spa, with new members signing up every day. 2022 is off to a good start and we are very positive about what the future holds for Oslo Fjord Spa and our other projects.
What makes Oslo Fjord Spa special?
We see ourselves as a place where people can feel welcome and at home, a place where it is ok to talk to strangers and make new friends – a very important part of being a happy human. We are social creatures after all that crave social interaction. If lockdown has taught us anything it is that the world is experiencing a loneliness pandemic – and we believe sauna life is the part of the solution.
If you want a quiet mediative experience watching the sunrise we have the perfect spot looking out over the fjord and Akershus Festning but if you also want to come to unwind after work, meet new people, jump from the roof, splash, and listen to music then that is totally ok too!
Sauna aufguss rituals and ice bathing is also a big part of what we do, and in Oslo for our epic “wrath of the dragon” aufguss rituals and weekly ice bathing event “The goblet of ice”.
Working at a public sauna, you must go to the sauna all the time?
All the time! I like to go to the sauna about five times per week. Usually, I do 2 x 20-minute sessions at about 90-100 degrees followed by a 3-minute ice bath (cold water immersion). I try to go home after ice bathing without going back in the sauna to increase brown fat. There are some pretty compelling studies about the immense health benefits of hot and cold therapy such as regular sauna use and ice bathing.
What is so great about sauna life?
Health and fitness benefits, social life, challenging yourself, mindfulness, great conversations, equality, sauna rituals, combining with ice bathing, all year round activity, meeting new people, having a few beers with friends and strangers alike. And relaxation.