The 612 Sauna Society Cooperative is a member-owned co-op enjoying and sharing a transformative Sauna experience with the Twin Cities community.

Spawned from a facebook group and sauna sessions hosted by our founder John Pederson, the Co-op was formed in 2016 following kickstarter campaign. Today we have over 150 members and own and operate a mobile sauna unit, which is currently open Thursday-Sunday at the Loppet Trailhead in Theodore Wirth Park.

Check out this Podcast interview with 612 Sauna Society Founder John Pederson to learn more about how and why we became the nation’s first community-owned-and-operated mobile sauna. 

Join us! 

  • Enjoy the sauna experience! Book a session or buy a 6 or 10 pass from our homepage and bring your friends!

  • Buy a pass as a gift this holiday season

  • Become a member, which gives you access to a lower price member rate for sauna sessions, exclusive events, and more. 

  • Make a financial contribution to support building our second mobile sauna. Email us at admn@612saunasociety.com

How it works

How it works

The Co-op’s Member-Owners gather every spring to elect a Board of Directors. The Co-op’s Board of Directors is composed of five seats with staggered two-year terms and is responsible for executing the organization’s mission of creating and sharing a transformative Sauna experience with the Twin Cities community.

Our part-time staff, Manager John Pederson and hosting team, work with our members, community partners and volunteer team to create and share a transformative sauna experience, this year at the epicenter of winter family fun in the Twin Cities, Loppet Trailhead center! 

For more information about our voluneer program, please email volunteer@612saunasociety.com.   

Since its founding in 2016, the 612 Sauna Society Cooperative has partnered with dozens of  local businesses and neighborhood organizations to provide thousands of reservations at The Forge mobile sauna. The Co-op held its first elections for the Board of Directors in April of 2018.

Our Story

The story of the 612 Sauna Society began in an expedition tent called The Surly. Camped underneath the mighty auspices of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, right there on the century old trading floor, the tent was often used by Members of COCO (a collaborative coworking space) for lunch ideation sessions. There, future Sauna Meister John Pederson tossed out the idea that he might pivot his current tiny house project, instead creating a mobile sauna.

In that moment, you could feel the flames of tradition rekindled, completely reimagined. A movement was born.

John (JP) went on to finish that little mobile sauna with the help of Hack Factory tools (a non-profit Makers’ space in South Minneapolis) and a ton of Community support. It would be called The Firehouse. Rollerblading ahead of his brother’s truck with a 15’ measuring pole, JP made sure The Firehouse made its way safely to its next home, and immediately began hosting sessions that would grow in frequency and depth – each magical night producing at least one new Sauna Enthusiast, and memories forever.

In the winter of 2014 it was obvious that something special was happening. Architects Molly Reichert and Andrea Johnson designed and created Little Box Sauna – bringing striking design to cool places throughout the Twin Cities. Restaurants, cafes, breweries, Lake Como – even Nicollet Mall. But soon, the thirst for bench time outgrew the available seats. The Sauna Society would grow to over two thousand participants in the winter of 2015-16!

In the fall of 2017, dozens of volunteers started laying the groundwork for a Sauna Cooperative – a business model designed to bring the joy of Sauna to as many people as possible throughout the Twin Cities. Through this planning and discussion, it became evident that in order to become a workable reality, the 612 Sauna Society would first need to own its own Sauna while simultaneously building a core of strong financial and volunteer supporters. It also became evident that there would be no better way to do this than to build our very own Sauna – together. Cooperatively.

We rallied support through a successful Kickstarter campaign to build an urban sauna space dubbed “The Forge.” The 612 Sauna Society Cooperative was then formed to own and operate the space, making it the first community-owned and operated mobile sauna in the country.

Since its founding in 2016, the 612 Sauna Society Cooperative has partnered with dozens of  local businesses and neighborhood organizations to provide the Twin Cities community thousands of hours of warmth, wellness and connection. The Co-op held its first elections for the Board of Directors in April of 2018 and opened its doors at the Loppet Trailhead for the 2018/19 sauna season.

Board of Directors

Karoline Lange - Board President

Karoline Lange - Board President

Karoline's Leadership Statement and Bio:

The 612 Sauna Society has been an inspiring project to me from the beginning. It’s focus on bringing people together to enjoy and share sauna traditions, relax, and promote health together is something that I enjoy and love. I grew up in Germany, where there is a strong public sauna culture. I have seen that sharing sauna experience together promotes healthy communities. The Twin Cities are home to diverse communities and traditions of relaxing together in a communal space. I see an opportunity for the 612 Sauna Society as a co-op to create a new sauna culture that is based on tradition and open to creating new traditions. As a member of the board, I would like to share my German sauna experience to help contribute to a vision of the sauna society that is welcoming and distinctly local to the Twin Cities. 

Areas I’d like to advance
The areas I would like to advance are in marketing, operations and development. My background is in medicine. I have hosted several Aufguss sessions for the sauna society this season and know how important a welcoming environment is when being introduced to sauna culture. As a member of the board, I would like to focus on investing in active and engaged Stoker and Saunameister teams.

I feel strongly that they are essential to growing and strengthening the community of the 612 Sauna Society.

Email: a.karoline.lange@gmail.com

Glenn Auerbach - Volunteer and Member Liason

Glenn Auerbach - Volunteer and Member Liason

Glenn's Leadership Statement and Bio:

I am deeply committed to advancing awareness and appreciation of authentic sauna.  Being lead builder of the 612 sauna – The Forge, I dedicated myself to helping ensure that our sauna is of utmost quality and performance.  As we expand the reach of the coop, I feel it important that folks understand the quality of our sauna as well as the appreciation of the entire sauna experience which extends beyond the hot room (cool down, clean rinse, etc.). 

Areas I’d like to advance:

Lend support to the excellent job done with community outreach (residency locations, media relations, servicing members with ideal reservation locations and time blocks, etc.).  Open to offering lots of community outreach ideas for the coop, without being offended if the board knocks them down.  Eg. Member raffle for free sauna weekend.  MN Wild Private sauna party.  Special Olympics Polar Plunge (with extended lake shoreline residency and Avanto – hole in the ice – access for members).  Minneapolis Park Board Sauna Day – free access to Park Board family and staff on a strategically cold October day. 

Email: glenn@saunatimes.com

John Pederson - Founder

John Pederson - Founder

John's Leadership Statement and Bio:

I discovered the benefits of a regular Sauna practice as an exchange student in Helsinki. Without access to an authentic Sauna experience back home in Minneapolis, I started building.

My first Sauna was a tiny house-sauna mashup called The Firehouse.

I’ve been building and hosting Sauna ever since: first at the Firehouse, then Little Box Sauna and The Forge (the nation’s first community-owned mobile sauna).

Whether it’s a mobile Sauna Co-op, rooftop hot spot or backyard retreat, I believe that authentic wellbeing is worth creating and sharing wherever we can.

Bio: John Pederson is the Founder of the 612 Sauna Society Cooperative, a Member-owned 308B Sauna Co-op (the nation’s first) serving the Twin Cities Metro area. John discovered Sauna and Sauna Society as an exchange student in Helsinki in 2004. He started his first sauna build—a mobile Sauna-tiny-house called The Firehouse—under the guidance of SauanTimes Founder Glenn Auerbach in December of 2013 and opened the doors to family and friends the following winter. He embraced his role as the neighborhood “sauna guy,” hosting over 1100 guests for small back yard gatherings before becoming the official “Sauna Meister” of the Little Box mobile sauna in 2015. John Founded the 612 Sauna Society Cooperative in 2017, where he currently serves as the Chief Firewood Officer and sits on the Board of Directors.

John graduated from the UW-Madison School of Journalism with Honors in 2005 after internships with NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” and “To the Best of Our Knowledge” programs. In 2006, he moved to Indonesia to start the country’s first student-run radio station as a Fulbright Scholar in Sumatra. He moved back to his home state of Minnesota in 2008 and served as the first Communications Strategist for Seed Savers Exchange from 2010 – 2012 before joining the Mighty Mo Design Co. as the Director of Operations in 2013.

He joined the Musicant Group in 2016 where he he oversaw placemaking and Community Management projects around the city. He formed the 612 Sauna Society Co-op Steering Committee later that year. The Committee launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that fall and opened the doors to the nation’s first community-owned mobile sauna, The Forge, on January 1, 2017.

John founded Sauna Society Builders in 2018 as a B-Corp (Benefit Corporation) to bring the wellness benefits of steam bathing to life throughout urban America with trainings, events and product development.

Email: jp@612saunasociety.com

Max Musicant - Treasurer

Max Musicant - Treasurer

Max's Leadership Statement and Bio

… and Principle of the The Musicant Group. Under his leadership, the firm has pioneered a holistic and organic approach to the creation of place that integrates design, events, and management systems all through the lens of the user experience. Since its founding the firm has demonstrated that community and commercial interests all benefit from more humane, inviting, and lively places for people. He was the first Partner-Sponsor of the 612 Sauna Society and has been instrumental in the groups emergence as a community movement in the Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Email: max.musicant@gmail.com

Vanessa Eickhoff

Vanessa Eickhoff

Vanessa's Leadership Statement and Bio

I have been working as a Stoker with 612 Sauna Society since the start of our 2017 residency. I have had the privilege of engaging members and guests through the Forge, coordinating volunteers, and working with our host locations during that time. As a member of the staff for the 2019 season, my focus is providing a consistent experience of excellence for our guests and to provide the link between host staff, our stoker volunteers and the board. My goals for this year include looking for new ways of engaging the public through the Forge and 612 Sauna Society through strategic collaboration. I am a practicing landscape architect with focus on publicly accessible projects.

Use the individual contact info at the end of each Board Member Bio, or use the form below to send a message to the entire Board. Thank you for your questions and feedback! A member of the Board will reply to your message via email and post your question/comment to our Feedback bulletin board page

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