A guided tour of the water circuit with Geneviève Émond
The Porthole: Could you tell us briefly about the different steps of the water circuit and their benefits? I heard there were three steps… Hot-Cold-Relax, is that right?
Geneviève Émond: Exactly, and every step is equally important.
The first step is exposure to heat for 10 to 20 minutes in a hot tub, a sauna or a steam bath. Heat sources activate the heart, and breathing and blood circulation accelerate, dilating blood vessels. The blood is “pushed” towards the surface of the skin; this is why your cheeks blush, just like when doing sports. At the same time, the skin pores are dilated and the sweat glands are stimulated, supporting the elimination of toxins.
Then you have to muster the courage to go into cold sources for a few seconds or up to a minute. The skin pores close up and blood circulation is boosted, making the blood flow quickly back to the vital organs to protect them from thermal shock. This step strengthens your heart and relieves muscle pain and stiffness. Moreover, with the water cold enough (less than 7°C/45°F), you produce more white blood cells (antibodies) and increase your resistance to winter sickness.
Finally, the relaxation step allows you to enjoy the moment while the body recovers its regular speed, significantly boosting the benefits of your next loops.
TP: And why the name “water circuit”?
GE: We wanted to reinforce the image of a pre-established circuit. Based on our observations, many people who go to spas tend to skip one of these three steps: either they don’t feel like they could handle the cold bath or they don’t take time to enjoy the relaxation step. The idea behind naming “water circuit” what other spas call “thermal experience” or “baths” was to underline the importance of each step of the cycle.
TP: Is there a time limit to do the water circuit? Should we set ourselves a limit?
GE: No, there is no time limit. Taking your time is much better than just rushing through the circuit. What matters is to listen to your body and respect your own limits.
TP: How often do you recommend going on the water circuit so we can fully feel its benefits?
GE: Ask any Finnish person, and they’ll answer every day! There is always a sauna on any Scandinavian freight vessel as it is part of the daily habits there. Seriously, there is no maximum frequency for the water circuit; what matters is to stay hydrated. More reasonably, we recommend going on the water circuit twice a month; the key is to find time to do it!
TP: Winter is just around the corner, and some people may be hesitant to go on an outdoor water circuit in the middle of winter. How would you convince these people?
GE: Well, I would give them four main reasons to go on the water circuit during winter.
1) The water circuit strengthens the immune system, so it is especially beneficial during autumn and winter.
2) Our outdoor baths are heated by the renewable energy of the St. Lawrence.
3) Facing the wind on the upper deck might require a small amount of courage, but once you’re there, you will feel like a child playing in the snow, a snowflake on your nose, enjoying a spectacular view.
4) If reasons 2 and 3 are not convincing enough, reason 1 is the most important, and you don’t have to step outside to navigate between the saunas, the steam bath, the relaxation rooms… and the restaurant for a nice cup of hot chocolate!
Enjoy and relax!