Sauna House Bonita Springs Florida
Meet the owner bringing Sauna House to Bonita Springs, Florida: Rob Sorenson Sorenson, PhD
Robert Sorenson, PhD is the owner and soon-to-be General Manager of Sauna House Bonita Springs. He’s an awesome guy with an equally awesome mustache. He’s got a deep love for fitness, ultrarunning, and recovering from both with sauna and cold plunge. Becoming a Sauna House owner and building a bathhouse is no small task, so we asked Rob to share his backstory and what’s driving him to bring better bathing to Bonita Springs. It’s an inspiring story that left us a little teary-eyed.
I spent my entire childhood dealing with compromised health. As a result of being misdiagnosed with a medical condition, I was heavily medicated with high doses of prednisone, which took its toll on my physical health and caused me to become overweight. This led to torment and bullying during my elementary school years. I turned to food for comfort, which only further prevented me from being physically or socially active. My best friends became video games and fictional worlds.
One memory from my childhood is trying out for the basketball team in sixth grade. After just one practice, I was cut because I couldn't keep up with the other kids. This experience only exacerbated my situation, and I began using my health as an excuse to avoid participating in physical education classes. In middle school, I joined the track team as a backup shot-putter, but I never actually got to throw. Instead, I would go to the concession stand during track meets and load up on cheeseburgers, convincing myself that I needed the energy in case the starting shot-putter got injured.
High school was a continuation of this pattern. I tried out for the football team but, despite some encouragement from friends, quickly quit due to the physical demands of the very first practice. Once again, I found comfort in food that was far from nourishing and spent most of my time in front of the computer.
However, the computer also provided a connection to my brother, who was seven years older than me. He was the stereotypical cool kid - popular, athletic, good at everything he tried. As a teenager, I finally felt worthy of his attention when he invited me to play online games with him. We grew closer, and I cherished those moments of bonding. When I was 15 years old, my brother tragically passed away in a car accident. This loss sent me spiraling into depression, and I isolated myself from the outside world. Online gaming was my only social interaction through the second half of my high school experience.
As I graduated from high school and moved into college I did find myself beginning to move my body a little more, only by the encouragement of my mom. She had been physically active her entire life – I have many memories of her running on the treadmill in the same room that I was playing on the computer. I started to bicycle a little bit, but was still engaging with unhealthy eating patterns. Getting active was a good start, but I was a long way off from establishing a good relationship with my body and my wellness.
In college, I initially pursued a degree in Biology with the intention of becoming a veterinarian. My family had a strong love for animals, and I often found it easier to connect with them than with humans. However, I struggled with the advanced biology courses and couldn’t to maintain the high grades I was used to. It became clear that I lacked the dedication necessary for success in this field. At 20 years old, I found myself without direction, out of shape, and finding solace only in the digital worlds of my computer.
Approaching my 21st birthday, I had to consider my next steps in education. While browsing the university degrees, I stumbled upon a new program being offered - Human Performance. It focused on the science of improving human abilities, making them healthier, faster, and stronger, much like leveling up in a video game. The courses I had already completed for my biology degree aligned well with this program. I changed my major and spent the next year completing the prerequisites for acceptance into the two-year program.
During this time, I turned 21 and decided that if I was going to help others improve their health and wellness, I needed to do it for myself as well. With the support of my mom, I bought my first pair of running shoes and went for my first run. I could only manage 200 meters on my first attempt, but I pushed myself to double the distance the next day and triple it the day after that. I quickly became hooked on running and purchased a gym membership. I set a goal to transform myself physically before starting the Human Performance program.
Once enrolled in the program, I became even more active and formed friendships with like-minded individuals. Within a year, I ran my first 5k, 8k, 10k, 20k, and even completed a half marathon alongside my mom. Despite the physical challenges, my grades remained among the best in my class, and I found myself continually inspired by my own physical accomplishments.
I purchased equipment for at-home workouts and began doing P90X. I pushed myself to do two workouts per day - one in the morning and one in the evening. High-volume training became my passion, and I found myself craving longer runs and more intense strength sessions. I wanted to discover and expand my own capability. As a result, I ran my first self-supported ultramarathon at the age of 23, even though I was unprepared and carried only a single water bottle. I relied on the support of my mom, who provided a water drop for me around the 30-mile mark. Without her, I don't know where I would be.
Over the next 12 years, my commitment to fitness grew both personally and professionally. Following graduation, I started in an entry-level position, working to support the health and well-being of seniors in a retirement community. By the time I resigned from my position, I had operational oversight of an award-winning wellness and campus life program for over 1,000 residents.
My journey through health and wellness has been incredible, both physically and mentally. I constantly challenge myself, not only for my own benefit but also to inspire and support others. Leading by example, and using yourself as a test subject, is essential in this field. In my pursuit of this, I have completed countless marathons, ultramarathons, CrossFit competitions, paddle boarded across the ocean, and more.
Through both the highs and lows, I have learned many valuable lessons. I have faced surgeries and injuries, but one practice that has always supported my longevity in sports is sauna and cold plunge therapy, whenever, wherever, and however I could do it. It was pure chance that I stumbled upon Sauna House Asheville and experienced its incredible benefits during a visit to the city. From that moment, I couldn't get the idea of bringing this concept to my hometown in Naples, Florida, out of my head. After reaching out and discovering that Sauna House had plans to franchise, my dream became a reality. Now, 18 months later, I am on the verge of bringing the single greatest passive wellness experience to the community in southwest Florida, and I couldn't be more thrilled.
- Robert Sorenson, PhD