From Yiddish, meaning "to sweat", as in:

Boy am I schvitzing today. I guess I shouldn't have replaced my anti-perspirant with Folger's Crystals.

Used as a noun, the word means a trip to a bath house -- specifically a traditional public bath house, as in:

Cancel my three oclock and hold all my calls, I'm gonna go catch a quick schvitz.

Public baths were social staples of Russian and Eastern European culture, and (in America as well as in Europe) were considered hygienic necessities before modern plumbing was widely available. Public baths still operate today, mostly in major cities, mostly offering the traditional "Russian" bath: A long quiet sit in dry, 160 degree heat supplied by gas-baked boulders (this is where the schvitzing comes in), during which one periodically pours ice cold water over the whole head and shoulders. This is followed by a light meal or a full body massage (being buffeted with a bundle of wet oak twigs) and then more schvitzing.

Recently, professional spas have begun to imitate this style of bath in an attempt to capitalize on the "Old World" appeal. If you visit a bath house that doesn't look like its been there for *long* time, then you might not be in the presence of the genuine article. Don't be fooled by impostors: Make sure that it is so hot that you think that you can't stand it and make sure they offer buckets of ice cold water. The presence of large Slavic men beating each other in the groin with sticks is always a plus.

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