My Hot Tub Story / by Nicole Paulus

My Hot Tub Story

For anyone who isn’t familiar with German culture, let me give you a recap, they love to be naked. I’m not talking, let’s walk from the bathroom to the bedroom with no robe on, naked. I’m talking, let’s congregate with hundreds of other nude strangers next to a large body of water, naked.

Yep that’s right. In the summer, Germans hang out at the nude side of the lake and sunbathe/swim with zero clothes (and zero fucks given.)  And don’t think for one second that this freedom is only reserved for the beautiful people, quite the contrary. Everyone (regardless of shape, size, or age) is free to free ball here (sorry, I couldn’t help myself.) 

In the winter, however, the Germans are wise enough to know not to let it all hang out. Instead, they flock to their nearest spa to get their public nudity fix. 

Last January, a guy that I had been dating was telling me about a spa that he had been to recently. Not only did this spa have multiple sauna rooms with varying infusions, but there was also an ice bath, a hot tub, and an indoor pool that was designed to be womb-like in nature, warm and dimly lit with speakers delivering soothing music underneath the water. 

Because I had lived in Europe for a good six months, and I had assimilated in just about every way other way possible, I decided that it was the right time to start shedding my 29 years of good, old-fashioned American body shaming. That’s how I found myself on a very interesting, very naked, very European date. 

Much to my surprise, the being naked part was not only easy, it was fucking fun. Who the hell was this person? I didn’t recognize myself, and yet, somehow, I never felt more authentically me. I told my date “the old Nicole never would have done this,” and I meant it. After nearly sweating to death in a room that felt more like being on the Sun than in a sauna, I cooled my most intimate parts in a vat of icy water. The extreme difference in temperatures promptly turned my brain into a melty daydream. It was then that we decided to make our way to the hot tub outside. Might I remind you that it was January in Berlin and temperatures were unforgivingly frigid.

And then, a very magical, very lovely thing started to S-N-O-W.

Six months prior if you had told me that in the near future I’d be floating in a hot tub at a concrete-themed, minimalist spa with a handsome Irish boy sitting beside me while pails of majestical powder poured down on us, I never would have believed you. Subsequently, I never would have believed that this experience would then go on to influence others to shed their layers, and start living a more authentic version of themselves. Let me explain...

A few days after my magical spa experience, a friend from the US asked me to Skype with her. Her long term relationship was ending and she was at a crossroads. Unhappy with her job, and unsatisfied with the city she lived in, she was wondering what her next move should be. Because she read my newsletters and knew how happy I had been since I had made the leap across the pond, she began to inquire about my new life. Before telling her that literally anyone could and should do what I did, I caught her up on Nicole's latest happenings. It was then that I relayed my recent hot tub story. 

Little did I know the impact that this silly story would have. Last week, nearly one year later, I was attending an opening at an art gallery that the same friend currently works at…in Berlin. She was introducing me to a friend of hers and after the friend heard my name she said... "Nicole..aren’t you the one with the hot tub story?” I had no idea what she was talking about. It was then that my friend refreshed my memory, “the snow in the hot tub story, it is one of the reasons I moved to Berlin.”


Later on in the evening another one of her friends (who had also recently moved to Berlin) admitted that, he too, knew about my hot tub story. He joked that it had also influenced him to move to Berlin. Whether or not he was telling the truth, there is no denying the impact that I (and you!) have on others.

While you can’t fix all the world’s problems, you can make one promise to yourself—that from this day forward—you’ll be the most authentic version of yourself. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get naked and jump in to a hot tub full of jolly Germans, it just means you have to be you — the real, beautiful you. 

And you never know…your happiness might just have a ripple effect on others, inspiring them to shed society’s constraints and forge their own way towards a more authentic existence. 

I’m excited to hear your hot tub story….