This week the ViviMarbella team travelled to the Netherlands to attend the Aufguss World Championship which started on Tuesday 13th September and ended on Saturday 17th September, bringing together more than 100 participants from 22 countries at the Hotel & Wellness Centre Therme Bussloo. The Dutch resort, which already had 16 different saunas inside, opened its huge "Sauna Theatre" just this month to accommodate up to 200 people at the same time, enjoying the aufguss.
The championship, which has reached its 10th edition, is represented by almost all European countries, with Japan for the first time, with a delegation that reached the finals on Saturday. Spain had no candidates as the ritual is not yet widely known or practised. Recently an association was founded to promote aufguss in Spain and that has aroused our curiosity to go and discover what it is about this ritual that brings together so many enthusiasts from all over the world in competition.
Participants could compete either individually or as a team, achieving a different score and aiming to win in both categories.
This year's winners were Poland's Maciej Pizcura who shared 1st place with the Netherlands' Laura Lenders in the individual category, while the team formed by the Italians Massimo Gelli and Simone Mannelli won 1st place in the team category.
For those who do not know it, the Aufguss is a sauna ritual well known in countries with a well-established sauna and spa tradition and consists of turning and shaking a towel after having placed ice balls scented with essential oils and water in the brazier dressing, in order to diffuse jets of steam into the atmosphere. The aim of the ritual is to achieve a much more pleasant sauna stay for the user, thanks to the harmonious movement of towels by an expert who moves the towel, not only chooses the most appropriate combination of oils for his audience, but also accompanies it with music and lighting, so that the sensory experience is complete and the user experiences the sauna ritual as a moment of well-being at 360 degrees and not as a 10-12 minutes of enduring heat and sweating.
The exhibition stage is a "sauna theatre" reminiscent of Roman amphitheatres, with a huge brazier in the centre, a giant screen and a small stage for each participant to perform his or her show like a real sauna actor, dancer and athlete (as it requires quite good strength, physical preparation and heat resistance). The shows were inspired by films, books, stories or real characters, with free interpretation and choice of aufguss technique. The jury, consisting of one expert representative from each country, began scoring the scores on Tuesday, leading up to the finals on Saturday.
Among them, Riccardo Marzi, an Italian veteran of the championships, details the scoring criteria and techniques used.
"The evaluation criteria consist of:
- professionalism and overall impression (10 points): evaluates the professionalism of the Aufgussmeister (MOA) in the execution of the ritual. In particular: the preparation of the aufguss (precision, punctuality, respect of the rules), the opening and closing of the casting, cleanliness and order of execution and materials in the cabin and the general performance understood as charisma, empathic contact with the guests, fitness, performance management.
- Heat build-up and distribution (10 points): assesses the heat management so that it is incremental over the three/four turns of the jet with a final peak, that it is neither too warm nor too hot. The effectiveness of the heat distribution is also assessed, i.e. that the air displaced by the MOA during the jetting and its ability to direct the vapour is clearly perceived.
- Classical ventilation and show techniques (15 points): basically the four basic ventilation techniques: helicopter (circular movement), parachute (up and down), flag (sideways), comb (down and up). They are the original techniques in the execution of the ritual and the most effective in the distribution of steam and heat. They are of German origin and then spread and evolved in all countries where the performance of the ritual is distributed.
- Whereas the more choreographic movements (throws, pirouettes, one-handed movements, etc.) are movements that have a limited effectiveness in heat distribution but make up the choreography of an aufguss show. Let's say that Italy and Germany are the first countries that introduced the so called show movements, then we moved mainly to the north (Holland and Denmark) and to the east (Polish, Hungarian and Czech school) and nowadays there are always new ones.
- Dosage and use of natural fragrances (10 points): divided into perception of the fragrances and in the different rounds, correct use of water, ice and products, creativity and quality in the desired fragrances. It should be noted that Aufguss WM promotes and encourages the use of natural products (essential oils, infusions, incense or other aromatic products). The use of chemicals is not allowed and in case of detection all points will be forfeited.
- Theme and implementation of the theme (15 points): where the subject and plot presented, the sets and elements of choreography and costumes, the use of lights and visual effects, the creativity and originality of the theme and the international understanding of the theme are evaluated.
- The atmosphere/emotion generated in the audience and in the jury itself (10 points)
- Team spirit and synchronisation (10 points, only for teams): the harmony and fair division of the aufguss execution time between the team members, the synchronisation in ventilation, execution and performance, the interactions between the team members are evaluated.
- These same evaluation criteria are also used in all national competitions that serve as qualification for the world championships.
The experiences and stories of each participant are different, but all of them, thanks to the aufguss, keep a permanent and satisfying job all year round in top hotel establishments, many of them start their courses already 2 years into their internship.
We asked Sara Niederkofler, a 25-year-old Italian from South Tyrol, how she lives her passion for the Aufguss. "My story started about 7 years ago after I finished high school. I went to Cron4 (a sauna centre in Italy) to work there and learn how to give Aufguss, there I had the first competition. After half a year I went to Austria to do the fitness trainer school and after finishing it I went to the Andreus hotel where I work now for 6 years". Sara is also a pole dancer so her technique is related to dance and what she likes most is to do the espagat while waving during an aufguss show.
We will tell you more details and experiences of these intense days of wellness and learning in the coming days.