where women celebrate their ageless authenticity

The Beauty of Baths

The Alphabet Adventures With Nancy Hubbell Fournier (pronounced Forn yay)

Journey along with our resident humorist Nancy as she embarks on unusual adventures from A to Z. With the alphabet as her guide to new experiences, Nancy will rate her excursions as a “Fourn-Yay” or “Fourn-Nay.” Got something fun on your bucket list she should try? We’d love to hear your suggestions at intentfullyfit@gmail.com.

LETTER “B”: Baths – Hot, Cold, Muddy and More…

On many “winter” evenings in Southern California, my favorite activity is to step into my big ol’ bathtub and enjoy a soak. When we remodeled our house, having a big bathtub was on the top of my “must have” list.

And while I’ve always enjoyed the thought of experiencing other types of baths, I never really made the time to do it. Enter this column. It’s not just a day at the spa…it’s research!

My friend, Karen, jumped at the chance to join me at Glen Ivy Hot Springs, a retreat in Corona, Calif., that has tapped into local mineral springs and offered relaxation and therapy baths for more than 150 years.

Sign that says Club Mud

The resort offers numerous bathing opportunities:

  • Club Mud – red clay from the local mountains to draw impurities and exfoliate skin.
  • Mineral Baths – natural geothermal waters with a “sulfurous aroma” to help reduce stress and improve circulation.
  • Hot and Cold Cycle Pools – hydrotherapy to increase circulation and eliminate toxins.
  • Saline Pool – infused with Epsom salts, which are commonly used to treat aches and pains.
  • Various Pools – used for lap swimming and water aerobics classes, relaxing and lounging.

Glen Ivy also offers many spa treatments, lounges, an outdoor yoga area, a hot/cold grotto and dining opportunities in its lush environment.  It really is a surprising enclave tucked against the hills in Riverside County.

To start the day, Karen and I ventured to Club Mud to scrub away any impurities before heading into the other pools. I dipped first and dug into the clay from the turtle-shaped mound in the middle of the pool. Or maybe it’s a desert tortoise? I don’t know…I guess they thought it looked better than a big pile of mud.

Woman in pool

Per the instructions, I applied a thin layer of mud which slid on like smooth cream on my wet skin. Weird. Very weird. I was happy to put it on my extremities but drew the line on putting it on my face. Karen followed me in the mud pool but missed the memo about applying the mud in a thin layer.

Woman in swimsuitShe layered it on thickly and as we sunned in lounge chairs and let it dry, her legs took on the look of a woman decades older than she is. Let’s just say she was anxious to scrub it off when it dried.

From there, we headed to our massage appointments, because, why not? We’re here…let’s make the most of it!  After our massage, and a wonderfully fresh lunch, we hit the rest of the pools.

The Saline Pool was basically a large jacuzzi and was hard to tell if those Epsom Salts were truly making a difference, but I’ll go with it.  Pretty much the same with the Mineral Baths. Is that “sulfurous aroma”, i.e. rotten-egg smell, making me more relaxed? I figure there’s a reason people have been coming here for 150 years, so sure.

The Hot and Cold Cycle Pools were much more memorable. Lesson No. 1 – start with the hot pool.  I didn’t do this. I hate cold water and thought, “let’s get this over with.” There was no “plunge” for me. I tip-toed, whined, complained, held up the line and eventually shocked my system with 60-degree water and stayed in for the suggested 45 seconds. Then I dashed to the hot pool with its 102-degree thawing capabilities.

The recommended cycle is to enjoy 4 minutes in the hot pool, then head to the cold pool for 45 seconds to a minute. Repeat 5 times.  As a result, you cross paths with people going back and forth between pools and sense of camaraderie develops.  As I would enter the cold pool, strangers would offer tips: “just come in fast and submerge to your shoulders,” “it gets better the longer you stay in,” “think about the health benefits…this is soooo good for you.” etc.

Swimming pool with spa

At my fifth (and final!) cold plunge, Karen surprised me with “I like the cold pool better.” Good for her. While it definitely became easier each time, I DID NOT like the cold pool.  But would I do it again? Yep. It was an adventure.

Karen and I spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the various pools around the property and enjoying the sunshine. We left feeling relaxed and dare I say it, healthier, for our day at the baths.

It’s a wrap: (Please note: This adventure was fully paid for, this is not a promotion or partnership)

Fourn-YAY: Trying different kinds of baths in a beautiful setting is a great way to spend time with friends and pamper yourself.

Fourn-NAY: We went on a weekday in the summer. Based on the volume of lounge chairs, the resort is likely teeming with people on weekends. If you think too much about all those bodies in and out of pools, there’s a definite “ick factor.”  Just don’t think about it and have fun.

Not into baths?  Here are some other adventures that start with B: ballooning, bike riding, boating.

Nancy Hubbell Fournier montage of fun faces