I love that Ben and Melissa may someday tell their kids that they met at the Sauna Co-op. But this is much more than a “how I met your mother” story. The video reveals—what is to me—the very essence of Authentic Sauna.

After hosting thousands of guests in my backyard and at pop-up residencies around the city, I’ve become attune to the signs of an authentically saunafied guest. You can hear it in the way they say thank you. Its sincerity almost surprises itself. Each of these moments of connection is also another triangulation point, a clue for how to orchestrate conditions at the sauna to support an authentically enjoyable and healing experience — in any given setting or location. As we emerge from the depths of winter, I’ve started charting another sauna season of data. The pattern is so clear that I’ve decided it needs a name.

Avanto is a Finnish word for a hole in the ice, either man-made or natural. It’s where/how you cool off between rounds in the hot room.

The more you enjoy the avanto and the cool-down, the more you’ll enjoy and benefit from the heat. This is because cooling down helps activate your thermoregulatory system (which controls and moderates your internal temp during hot and cold rotations).

The Avanto experience doesn’t just apply to the cold plunge, at least not my translation. You can use Avanto as a concept and constellation to optimize the physical, psychological and social aspects of the experience, which brings us back to the 612 Sauna Society, the nation’s first Sauna Co-op.

When you’re at a Co-op residency, you’re sharing the bench with the Member-Owners who are making it possible. For anyone trying to thrive (or even just survive) a frigid place like the Twin Cities in the winter, the connection of this authentic hospitality can be as refreshing as any cold plunge.

Whether you intend to share your next Sauna round at a Co-op residency, your backyard or a hot spot around town, I encourage you to take advantage of the Avanto effect by asking yourself the question how could I make this more approachable and comfortable — at every level. Consider the physical, psychological, and social dimensions of the experience to unlock the ah-hamoment of deep release and reset — the North Star in the Avanto constellation of Authentic Sauna experience.

612 Sauna Society Reservations and Membership information