If You Can’t Stand The Heat In The Sauna, Try The Ganbanyoku



Many of is have tried the conventional spa as part of a spa experience which has lots of steam and is either a shared space or a confined cubicle. I am not a fan of this type of sauna as it’s way too hot and I find it difficult to breathe, I have to keep opening and closing the door to get some fresh air. Also, the profuse amount of sweat produced from every pore bothers me.

As an alternative, the Japanese synergy sauna, also known as Japanese bathing rocks or by its Japanese moniker “Ganbanyoku” sounds pretty appealing. I was shown the Ganbanyoku during my 1st visit to Estuary Medispa & Esthetics at Scott Garden.

To some of you, this is not a new concept as you may have heard of Ecoparadise of which there are a number of outlets in Malaysia. Ganbanyoku is a sauna in which you can detox without suffering the steam and intense heat. Unlike conventional saunas, Ganbanyoku is also said to have more health benefits as the heated stones release far infrared rays and negative ions which normally can only be found in really far-from-the-city destinations such as waterfalls, beaches, mountains and forests. How many of us city slickers have the time to trek back to nature, much as it is good for our mental and physical health?


The Ganbanyoku is like a dry sauna as there’s absolutely no steam coming out from any corner. Donned in disposable bra and panties, wrapped in a towel and a fluffy pink bathrobe, I was ushered to Estuary’s Ganbanyoku for a 45 minute session in there. I’d read a bit about the advantages of the Japanese synergy sauna before my visit and these included glowing skin, stress relieving, burning calories, stimulating metabolism towards achieving weight loss. Basically, all the things I need!

Once in the Ganbanyoku, it’s off with the towel and bathrobe. The tip is to totally relax as you lie down on the towel on the stone slab and try to sleep, something which I failed to do as I couldn’t get used to lying down on a hard surface. I mean it wasn’t uncomfortable but it wasn’t a mattress. You’re also advised not to bathe at least 2 hours after the Ganbanyoku session. The therapist made me as comfortable as possible by bringing me a cold towel to place over my face (the comfort of that lasted about 5 minutes) and I had a rolled-up towel for a pillow. She also brought me a jug of water and a cup. That was a really nice touch although I didn’t feel thirsty until the session was over.


The Ganbanyoku was designed to look like a Japanese bath house or what I’d envision one to look like. The lights on the side and above the stone slabs can be dimmed or switched off, according to your preference. As I lay on the stone slab, it gradually got hotter but never to the point where I wanted to  run out of there. After half an hour, the therapist came to check on me and asked me whether I could take another 15 minutes. Yes I could because I never give up on anything half-way or in this case, two-thirds of the way. The next 15 minutes actually felt longer than the 1st half an hour simply because it did get a lot hotter from there and I was beginning to sweat a lot more than the 1st half hour. It’s not sticky sweat though. I could feel my heart beating a little faster.

Back on with the towel and bathrobe, I was ushered back into the treatment room where my belongings and clothes had been placed securely in a locker (how convenient for customers to have the locker in the treatment room itself). The therapist is from Surbaya and has at least 4 years experience in the spa industry.

She rubbed her palms with Geranium Essential Oil and asked me to inhale a few times. Then it was on to the aromatherapy massage with lemongrass essential oil. Estuary uses Anubis Barcelona products for their body treatments. The massage was an hour long. I like the fact that the therapist asked whether I’d like to have my stomach massaged. 10 times out of 10 massages, the therapist has never asked me whether I’d like my stomach massaged and just went on to it. I believe that at Estuary, the therapists are instructed to not overlook the tiniest detail. During the massage, my body felt warm thanks to the Japanese spa session.

The Ganbanyoku experience was interesting and this is one sauna I don’t mind trying again because the heat was at a very tolerable level and given a second time, I may just get more used to it and snooze a bit.

Anyway, don’t just take my word for it. If you’d like to have a tour of Estuary, this Saturday (May 25th 2013), on behalf of Estuary Medispa & Esthetics, I’d like to extend an invitation to you to join in their 1st Anniversary Celebrations from 12pm-5pm. Buffet lunch will be provided and there will be a lucky draw. Who knows, you might just win some spa treatment. Do email (editor@junipersjournal.com) me by this Wednesday if you are interested in visiting Estuary during the Open Day as I need to let them know how many readers are turning up. Alternatively, please contact Estuary directly for more details.

Estuary Medispa & Esthetics is located at S-2-23, The Scott Garden (Level 2), 289 Jalan Klang Lama, 58100 Kuala Lumpur (tel : 03-7983 8998).

The Ganbanyoku Spa & Aromatherapy Massage session reviewed here are courtesy of Estuary Medispa & Esthetics.