Rob da Bank aims to transform the Isle of Wight into a popular destination for saunas, drawing inspiration from a Finnish connection.

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The DJ passionately discusses the advantages of sweating excessively and is one step closer to creating the UK’s “sauna isle.”

Bestival co-founder, Rob da Bank, has made progress in his mission to transform the Isle of Wight into the UK’s “sauna isle” after receiving a specially designed sauna from the Finnish people.

The DJ, who firmly believes in the benefits of sweating profusely in a wooden cabin, aims to have a sauna on every corner of the island to enhance mental health and wellbeing for the population.

“It simply makes you feel amazing,” he explains. “It’s like being reborn, as if you’ve just been unwrapped and are brand new.”

Da Bank, along with his wife Josie da Bank, recently launched the Slow Motion Sauna in Freshwater Bay, Yarmouth. The sauna offers contrast therapy, where individuals raise their body temperature in the sauna and then plunge into freezing water – a common practice in Nordic cultures for thousands of years. When Da Bank jokingly asked the Finnish Institute if they had a spare sauna, he unexpectedly received a positive response: “Funny enough, we do, and you can have it for free.”

The sauna, designed by architect Sami Rintala and the University of Westminster, was originally created for the London festival of architecture and drew inspiration from the tube network. Following the festival, the sauna traveled across the country, from Lake Windermere to Dover, according to Jaakko Nousiainen, the director of the Finnish Institute.

“After a year of managing it, we wanted to find a suitable permanent home for it, and luckily we made contact with Rob, whose passion for saunas was a perfect match,” Nousiainen explains. “We’re thrilled that our sauna has found its forever home with him.”

The mobile electric sauna, which has been functioning alongside its wood-fired Lithuanian counterpart for the past several months, will embark on another tour, this time participating in a three-month wellbeing program in King’s Cross from mid-January onwards.

While research on the health benefits of saunas in the UK is limited, a study conducted in Finland in 2017 discovered that men who regularly used saunas had a 65% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia over the next two decades compared to those who only used it once a week, even when accounting for other factors such as drinking and exercise. A 2020 study involving almost 14,000 Finnish individuals seemed to support these findings.

It’s no surprise that the UK, known for its rainy winters and gloomy summers, is finally catching on. According to the British Sauna Society, the number of “authentic saunas” listed in its directory has significantly increased over the past year – from 49 to 73. “The amount of people reaching out to us is almost overwhelming,” says Gabrielle Reason, the society’s secretary.

The society will host its second UK Aufguss Championships in April, where an “aufgussmeister” creates a sauna ritual that includes the invigorating experience of having hot air forcefully directed across your face. “People who have opened saunas always describe the transformative look on users’ faces the first time they try it,” Reason shares. “It’s as if they emerge completely renewed.”

Da Bank, who also teaches meditation, is one of the sauna enthusiasts hoping to spread the love and the sense of community it fosters. “Having a proper sauna is like meditating,” he says. “In the sauna, you escape your thoughts for a little while.

“And here’s the 21st-century twist – you can’t bring your phone into a sauna because it might melt. So, you can spend half an hour or more just being present. It works wonders for me on various levels.”

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