The HotBox Mobile Sauna is a bitty steam room on wheels which has been roving the city in a rental pickup truck, offering visitors a shvitz and shower since the start of the year. Currently parked behind a large yurt in the sprawling outdoor beer garden at Ridgewood, Queens event-venue Nowadays, the tiny steam sanctuary has windows on either side, looking out onto the surrounding fire pits, benches and bar.
The movable, wood-burning sauna accommodates eight in its toasty backroom, which creator couple Jackie Aude M., 31, and Paula Wegman, 33, keep at a scorching 180 degrees, and also has a cooler break room with shower in the front for when the heat becomes too much. Sauna goers looking for a real shock to their system can pop outside to another shower after a good sweat. “That’s our cold plunge,” says Wegman.
Aude calls the mobile sauna an “alt space for self-care.” It also offers an escape from the ever present cellphone, because the devices are not allowed in the HotBox.
Admission to the sauna starts at $40 for 90 minutes, $25 for 30 minutes before 10 pm and $20 for 45 minutes after 10 pm, and that includes free towels. A robe rental costs an additional $3. Full nudity is a no no; bring your swimsuit and sandals.
There are some terms and conditions to accept before sweating it out, and a few rules as well. Drinking alcohol isn’t allowed in the sauna itself, and neither are those who are visibly drunk. Per tradition, though, having a drink before you shvitz is totally acceptable. Those with health issues and pregnant women should consult a physician before sauna-ing — it can be a lot, even for the able-bodied.
It’s recommended to only spend 10 to 15 minutes in the sauna at a time, but quick breaks between sessions can allow users to enjoy the heat for much longer than that. Caroline LeFevre, 32, and her hubby-to-be Loren Dent, 37, who usually hit the steam room at the 14th Street Y, spent more than an hour-and-a-half at the sauna at Nowadays last Saturday. “This is a nice little treat to find out about,” a sweaty LeFevre says.
HotBox Mobile Sauna is at Nowadays, 56-06 Cooper Ave., Ridgewood, Queens, till Dec. 28. Visit ComeGetHot.com for details.
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