The health benefits of saunas and aufguss

Published 05th Apr 2024 by Ellen Cummings

Champion sauna master Pavel Poliacek, tells us about the benefits of saunas and the competitve world of aufguss. 

What does a sauna master do?

“If spa guests are just using the sauna, they’re only getting the heat factor.

"However, if you have a sauna master there to use an ice globe and essential oils on the stones, and then use the towel technique to circulate the air towards the guests, it makes it easier for them to sit there for longer than 10 or 15 minutes so that they get the full benefits of being in the sauna.

“There are so many benefits of saunas – they get the red and white blood cells circulating more in the body, it’s good for your breathing, it boosts relaxation and it’s also great for muscle recovery if you’ve been training in the gym. It also helps to prevent colds; I haven’t been sick in a very long time.”

How do you train into aufguss?

“I walked past a sauna at Galgorm about eight years ago and saw another sauna master doing it. I laughed at him and was like, ‘What on earth are you doing?’ He just handed me a towel and told me to give it a go, and to be fair to him, I’ve been hooked ever since.

“That colleague taught me the basics and showed me a few tricks, and then Galgorm sent me over to Aqua Dome in Austria for a week for more training.

"I learned a lot about the sauna experiences because Aqua Dome does saunas every hour and they have so many different types of sauna.

"Galgorm have been really great at helping with my training and getting people to cover me if I’m travelling to different countries, so I’m truly grateful to them. They gave me such an amazing opportunity.”

Do you design your own sauna rituals?

“Yes – the ritual depends on the clientele and the kind of day we’re having. I choose the essential oils myself, so if it’s a dull day I’ll use something uplifting like spearmint to energise the clients, and if it’s a sunny day I’ll choose something more relaxing.

“I can also tailor the heat of the sauna, so if it’s a hot day then I won’t do a really hot sauna because going from warm weather to a hot sauna isn’t as beneficial for the body.”

Does aufguss offer opportunities to travel?

“I’ve travelled to more countries in the past two years to work with saunas and see different sauna masters performing than I’ve been to in my whole life. I’ve been to Hungary, Romania, Germany, Poland, and of course Austria at the start of my sauna career.

“I’ve also competed, which has helped me a lot. I never knew there was a competition side of aufguss until about two years ago when I was contacted about it, so I went to Hungary to watch their national championships and it was amazing to see the different types of tricks.

“I went to the UK’s first National Aufguss Championships last year at Rudding Park in Harrogate to showcase my skills and ended up winning.

“However, one of the judges said he believed I could do a lot better and that I needed to focus on my storytelling. So, when I went to Germany for the World Championships, I did as he suggested. Instead of focusing on tricks, I used props to tell the story of me moving from Slovakia to Northern Ireland as a young boy.

“My goal was to not be last; I wanted people to think I was good enough to be competing there, and not just because I came first in the Nationals. I ended up coming in 32nd place, and the judge who saw me at the UK Nationals congratulated me afterwards and said I’d surprised him – so I was pretty happy with myself.

“Galgorm is hosting the National Aufguss Championships in April this year, so I’ll be competing in that, and depending on what happens there, I’ll be going to the Aufguss World Championships in the Netherlands in September. The goal is to be world champion this time!”


Ellen Cummings

Ellen Cummings

Published 05th Apr 2024

Ellen Cummings is the senior content writer at Professional Beauty, working across the magazine and online. Contact her at [email protected]

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