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Markus Räty - The Saunaist

Markus Raty, Saunaist

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Raty loves saunas the way the Cookie Monster loves cookies. – Toronto Life, September 2022

Born in Toronto in 1975 to immigrant parents from Finland, I was inculcated into the sauna life from birth. In fact it was at the age of 4 months that my father first cradled me on his lap on the top bench of the sauna he built on the shimmering shores of Georgian Bay, Ontario. Sauna wasn’t something my parents introduced to me as a symbolic rite of passage, rather it was simply them bringing a kid along the journey of life as they knew it. But as I rounded the corner of first in my teens, I started to realize that not only had I adopted this strange custom of theirs as my own, it had found its way to the very soul of my being. 

 

My father’s untimely passing in 2003 was an inflection point along my journey. My North Star was gone, and, in his absence, I was a wayward ship. My sauna practice played a significant role in maintaining my connection to him and in time I became a zealous disciple. Sweat. Freeze. Rest. Repeat. As often as I could, wherever I could. My travels took me to over 100 public and private saunas in over 10 countries. I built my own backyard sauna. Our cottage sauna became (and remains) the Holy Grail of my personal sauna orbit. Friends and strangers alike would come and sit and sweat and marvel at the glorious suffering they were happily enduring. My best guess is that I have enjoyed over 4,000 sauna sessions since that first one in the summer of 1975.

 

For years I twisted in the winds of contemplation; how to memorialize my father's life and what is the best way to share my life's passion with the world. The ship had sailed on becoming an engineer like him and if there was a throughline in my life it was that virtually everyone I had introduced to sauna - and I mean the authentic expression of sauna - became a convert. 

 

As I sat with these thoughts, often immersed in the depth of my sauna practice, my ikigai slowly revealed itself and became fully formed. In 2023, in part to commemorate the 20th anniversary of my Dad’s passing, I committed my future professional journey to sharing and spreading my love of the sweet heat. By day I design saunas and sauna experiences for clients in the Toronto area and by night I create content for Saunaist. 

 

So here I am, at 48, with a new beginning that feels like a worn in old baseball glove. 

Markus Raty

Toronto, Canada

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