My wife and I recently decided to see what all the hype was about at Winnipeg’s new spa retreat, Thermea (not to be confused with hypothermia, which, thankfully, you’re at very low risk of catching here).

Wow, what an experience. Here’s my Thermea Winnipeg review…

Right from the front desk staff to the cleanliness of the facilities, it’s first-class all the way.

I took in the standard Thermal Experience while my wife got a body treatment. Of the sauna options, my favourite one was definitely the vaporo orange sauna. Per the Thermea website, the Vaporo building houses two steam saunas, a type of sauna from a Mediterranean tradition dating back to the Roman Empire, and perhaps even beyond.  The vaporo orange is a little warmer than the other, and the released steam carries the scent of natural orange peel, which is a nice touch. There are also two dry saunas that’ll warm you up right, too.


I stuck it out in the steam for about 10 minutes, before braving the cold to attempt the 10-degree Celsius cold pool (affectionately known as the polar plunge or ICERBER & POLARËR in the native tongue). It was a nice contrast, and surprisingly not as painful as I expected, lol.

I’ve written about the health benefits of hot/cold therapy before, but to reiterate:

  • Heat therapy, which a sauna (visit for more info on getting your own) or steam bath comprises, increases insulin sensitivity by suppressing inflammation. You’ll notice an increase in metabolism after your time at the spa. I was starving when I got out like I was fresh out of the gym after a hard workout. To explain further, soaking in a hot bath or sauna causes a slight increase in core body temperature that turns on the cellular ‘heat shock’ response. This response suppresses inflammation (good) and increases blood flow to muscles (uber good). But the benefits don’t stop there, with the Thermea website stating heat therapy can eliminate toxins, relax muscles, improve sleep quality, boost the immune system, and increase body oxygenation. By purifying the body and spirit, it enables enthusiasts to find their natural balance – click here for full details.
  • In contrast, the dip in the cold engages the body’s “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system, which subsequently triggers brown fat into action, oxidizing calories for energy, and later body fat stores, to keep you ticking along. Read up on brown fat and its importance here

To receive the full benefits of the thermal experience, Thermea recommends you follow this regimen:

1. Warm up in the sauna or steam bath for 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Do a quick pass under the cold waterfall or take a dip in the temperate pool for a few seconds.

3. Rest fifteen minutes in one of the relaxation areas, outside or inside (I skipped right to the hot tub, but that’s because I was riding solo and I didn’t want to snuggle up next to a couple on the eve of Valentine’s Day).

4. Repeat this rotation three or four times, finally immersing yourself in the whirlpool for a moment of total relaxation.

In case you were wondering, there are no time limits, though three hours seems to be the general recommendation. I personally felt plenty satisfied after 90 minutes,  but you can make that judgment call yourself when you go.

In Closing

Life can get the best of you at times. At the very least, a trip to Thermea is a good de-stresser  that may do a lot more good for you than you think.

Winnipeg should consider itself lucky to have such a unique retreat in its own backyard. Get your sweat on and enjoy life once in awhile.

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Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavyset in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life.