Sweatheory: My First Infrared Sauna Experience

There are some things that happen to you when you move to LA.

The change would start the first time you walk into a SoulCycle class, and then triumphantly grab a bottle of alkaline water at the end of your class. And then comes the brewing your own Kombucha (or, as my best friend succinctly calls it, gizz tea) from the glob of mucus that’s called The Mother within your own home.

You also become convinced that you’re gluten intolerant and start devouring bread alternatives that essentially, taste as good as sawdust. And you also contemplate veganism, try it, and fall head first into a Double Double Animal Style burger at In & Out.

I’m not going to lie, since I’ve moved to LA, I have missed that sheen of sweat you get on your face just from existing in Singapore. Not so good for the foundation you shelled out $80 for at Sephora, but really good for your skin. Sweat does your skin good, really – no matter if you get it from just being outside, a good workout session at Ritual, or a rigorous romp between the sheets.

And because I didn’t feel like running a 5K for that ‘glow from within’ sheen, I booked myself a 60-minute ($35/session) infrared sauna session at Sweatheory, which is just one of the many infrared sauna locations that’s populating New York and Los Angeles.

What is an infrared sauna?

While traditional saunas use high heat and humidity to warm the air, infrared uses light and radiant heat which warms the body instead, and can do so at lower temperatures, allowing you to sweat like a porn star at church. Think of infrared heaters basically emitting the same rays the sun does, without the harmful UV.

The technology has existed for years, in fact these heaters are used in neonatal units to warm prematurely-born babies and for athletes as a form of therapy for strength and endurance training.

According to Sweatheory, here are more benefits you will experience:

• Infrared heat penetrates about 1.5” deep into skin tissue; deep heat stimulates release of toxins from subcutaneous fatty layer (which are then eliminated through sweat) and stimulates sebaceous glands to eliminate heavy metals

• Sweating helps purify skin and cleanse pores, improving complexion, tone, texture, elasticity

• Helps lower blood pressure by dilating blood vessels; results in lowered cortisol, increased relaxation afterward

What Does It Feel Like?

After I was given a cayenne shot, that Sweatheory claims, would help your body expel toxins from your body, I was led to a private space with the sauna in one corner, and a shower in the another. The little infrared sauna was the right amount of space for the 1.73m tall me, with just enough room to stand, and sit cross-legged. There are also couple saunas available.

The sauna was set to 138 degrees Fahrenheit, which is almost 60 degrees Celcius. I’d like to pretend that I found myself while meditating completely butt naked to the soothing sounds of Deepak Chopra’s CD, while sweating up half my body weight worth of water. I did sweat up a storm, and I did try one of the meditation CDs that Sweatheory provided. Unfortunately, due to my accelerated heart rate because of the heat, I was in no mood to meditate – I was in the zone to sing to Beyonce and cuss out “Becky with the good hair”.

I was sweating profusely – harder than I ever did when my husband figured out that my Charlotte Olympia heels weren’t purchased ‘on sale’, like I claimed they were. I had to get out of the sauna twice to chug down water and I recall wishing there was actually enough space to lie down, because, well, it would have been comfortable.

At the 55 minute mark, I decided I had enough. Before showering, I checked out my reflection and realized that my complexion was instantly brighter. The zit I had on my cheek had flattened out and I felt as good as I did after a Bikram session, without having to deal with other people dripping on my mat.

I felt exhausted at the end of the day, but calm, and relaxed and lulled into a deep sleep so easily. A day later, I can feel how relaxed my usually tensed muscles from HIIT are, and my skin is glowing. Let’s just say I may have found a new addiction.