Adventures in Infrared Sauna-ing.

I deliberately planned this wellness challenge to be (besides being at the start of a brand new year) during my least busy time of work so that I could spend some time really researching and trying all of the things, even the ones that might seem a little out there. Crystals, infrared saunas, putting a salt lamp by my bed, speaking to healers, talking to witches – the whole thing.

The thing I was probably most excited to try was an infrared sauna. My friend Julia raves about them, and the idea of it just sounded so good. First of all, I love being warm (especially this time of year). Second, I don’t really sweat that much when I work out (to the point where it bothers me… even when I was able to run marathons 10 years ago I wouldn’t get that sweaty!!!) so I like the idea of something that really forces my body to sweat it out. And the heaters emit infrared light which waves which create heat in the body rather than heating the air, meaning that you can stay in longer + sweat a lot more. As an added bonus, it burns quite a few calories. I put the word out on Instagram stories and everyone’s responses were the same… Shape House! HigherDOSE! And so off I went, trying them both. In the spirit of full disclosure, both places gave me a free session to experience the treatment so that I could write about them; but I ended up buying packages at both with my own money.

Before we dive in… Shape House has a special gift for The Stripe readers (new clients only!)… they’re offering you your first sweat, on them. Book your sweat online, and when you check in, show them that you follow them on Instagram, mention my blog and code “GRACESWEATS” and they will take care of the rest! This applies to all locations – New York and LA. Valid through the end of March.

My Experience at Shape House.

I was totally obsessed with Shape House. To anyone who has asked (or hasn’t asked), I liken it to being on a business class flight… except you’re not flying and you are really, really sweaty. (You should know that flying business class is one of my favorite things in the world – not something I get to do very often, but truly one of life’s greatest pleasures in my opinion.)

First, they give you an all cotton outfit to change into (socks included). You lay down on this lovely reclining chair (a lot like that fancy airplane seat) and then they wrap you in an infrared blanket for 55 minutes. To your right is a big bottle of purified water, in front of you is a flat screen TV. Once you’re all swaddled and warm, they give you a remote, place noise canceling headphones on your head and you have 55 minutes to Netflix (and not chill?) Throughout the session, an attendant comes and checks in on you multiple times. They’ll bring you more water, and when you’re about 35-40 minutes in, place a cold lavender towel on your forehead which is heaven at that point.

I love Shape House because you get to be the absolute laziest, while burning calories and doing something really good for your body. Having an excuse to watch a full hour to watch TV feels so indulgent and is kind of just the best.

relaxation room at Shape House
Sauna at HigherDOSE

My Experience at HigherDOSE.

Okay this is totally different, but equally amazing! I went to the 11 Howard location. HigherDOSE actually takes up several rooms on the floor, so your personal sauna is actually a reconfigured hotel room, meaning you have your own bathroom and a little changing area. It’s a really nice setup. The walls of the sauna are clear glass so you won’t get claustrophobic, and they have a giant cooler of filtered water so you can have all the water you want. They have this cute little bluetooth speaker you can hook your phone up to and you can play music or a podcast. I brought a book. The full dose gives you 60 minutes in the room… you can use some of that to shower and clean up, or you can stay in the sauna the whole time. I opted to stay in the sauna for 50 minutes. I sweated a LOT. 5 minutes in, sweat was running down my back… 15 minutes in, I was covered.

You can book the sauna for up to three people but I went in alone. I like going in alone as I think I’d get claustrophobic with another person (and I like laying down), and also… I don’t want to get that sweaty with a friend. You can wear a bathing suit, or go naked.

Which one is better?

Honestly, you can’t really compare the two… they’re both really amazing! They are both pretty intense. I would say that Shape House is my personal preference as the TV element really really helped me. Aa a “beginner sweater,” it distracted me. I really think it’s a personal preference/what you’re in the mood for. If you want to feel swaddled and attended to (or if you are a fellow TV junkie), go to Shape House. If you want a more traditional open air sauna and don’t need a distraction (and want to really aggressively sweat), give HigherDOSE a try.

Random things to Know:

Sophie Chiche (the founder of Shape House) told me this: if you are about to get your period or have it, you will probably sweat less/have a harder time sweating as your body is naturally hanging onto water. This makes total sense. The first day I tried Shape House, I was PMSing and barely sweat. The second time I sweat a LOT.

If you can, avoid showering right after. The sweat is really good for your skin (I know, it sounds gross) and you want to encourage your body to keep sweating after the treatment. Showering right away can also make you feel faint.

I got asked a lot of questions about if these are okay if you get claustrophobic. I get claustrophobic and had no issues. The only thing I would say is that for HigherDose, you can technically fit 3 people in the sauna. That sounds like my worst nightmare. I’ve only been in alone and don’t plan on going with friends. At Shape House, you can book beds next to a friend, which is a nicer way to sweat with a friend.

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Benefits of Infrared Saunas.

  • Weight loss! Besides the obvious water weight that you temporarily lose, sitting in/getting wrapped burns quite a bit of calories. According to Shape House, a single session burns between 800-1600 calories, and according to HigherDOSE, an hour in the sauna burns upwards of 600 calories.
  • Stress + anxiety.
  • Detoxification
  • All that sweating boosts collagen levels and makes your skin soooo soft.

How often to do it.

  • This really depends upon your goals. According to the Shape House website, “If you sweat on a regular basis, with two to three days between sessions, you can expect to lose one clothing size within six to ten treatments, assuming that you are also pursuing a reasonable diet.” Sounds pretty good to me! Personally, I have been alternating… going to Higher Dose once a week and Shape House once a week. I’ve definitely noticed a difference in how my clothes fit, but I have also been working out most days and not drinking much alcohol.

Leave a Comment

Comments

  1. I’ve never heard of infrared sauna before! Not sure if I can find it here in Hong Kong. It was interesting reading about your experience, though. Very quirky!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Brianna says 2.7.18

    I Have literally NEVER heard of this but it’s so fascinating! I am SUCH a sweater that honestly walking up my steps is prob equivalent but really cool. I may look into a place in Philly.

  3. Katie says 2.7.18

    What an interesting experience! Definitely something that would be cool to check out!

    xoxo,
    Katie
    chicincarolina.blogspot.com 

  4. Neely Moldovan says 2.7.18

    If Im going to be there in April should I call and ask if they would honor the code?

  5. Rebecca says 2.7.18

    Hi Grace, so interesting learning about both these places…I likely will try it out. I feel like you spoke a lot about the experience of being in the actual room but very little about the benefits you personally felt, such as on your energy level, mood, anxiety, etc. Can you comment on those? (Also random aside – will you be posting about your sister’s new bedding line? Was curious to see your top picks, thought you may have published something yest when it came out.)

    • Andrew Booth says 2.8.18

      Energy level increases for at least 5 days! Mood increases….I always feel content, happy and less anxious for sure.
      Plus the heat, AND adjustable “light therapy” color options which are on the roof of the sauna (the style with the glass) are supposed to help with seasonal depression and getting color/benefits of sun (without any harmful UVA/UVB rays or anything). I loved loved the experience! You feel like you got out of a 3 hour warm bath and had a massage….in just 40 minutes!

    • Hi Rebecca!

      We have a post about the bedding coming up next week! Annnnd a giveaway so get excited!!! We did a big shoot a couple weeks ago and just got images back – I am obsessed!

      I feel amazing after both treatments… so much energy, and also very hungry (so be sure to bring a snack!) It also helps a lot with sleep – I slept like a baby! As for mood and anxiety, I can’t speak to those (I think it does help, I’ve just been in a good mood and a lot less stressed out as Jan/Feb are a slower time with work and I’ve been getting a lot of sleep and taking better care of myself. Will be interesting to see how I feel during a more stressful time!)

  6. I went to the sauna so much while in Finland this month! I prefer traditional sauna over infared sauna but they are both great! Thanks for sharing your experience!

    If you want to read my post: https://www.herheartlandsoul.com/how-to-sauna-like-in-finland/

  7. David Springhetti says 2.8.18

    There is not one shred of scientific evidence that infrared saunas detoxify the body anymore than what he body does naturally. Detoxification and cleansing is a fraud and mythical. Site one double blind study, conducted by a noted University, who has no vested interest in the health diet industry, that proves saunas, smoothies, and other concoctions cleanse or detoxify the body. The body detoxifies naturally, lungs, liver, kidney’s, and other internal organs do the job perfectly. Drinking kombucha smoothies, sweating, and 1, 2 and 3 day cleanses have no scientific evidence of speeding up or aiding the bodies ability to cleanse itself or rid itself of toxins. So enjoy the sauna, enjoy the food, and the drinks, but you are not doing anyting that is science backed. Please, no studies from diploma mills. No endorsement from the manufacturers of Super Foods. And please no anecdotal endorsements. Show me a legitimate double-blind study.

    • Hi David,

      Oh wow. I don’t know what brought you to my blog but it’s a personal blog (not a science blog) where I share my experiences with things I try in my own life. I felt amazing after trying the sauna and love how much I sweated. I had so much energy afterward and slept like a baby.
      And I never talked about kombucha smoothies or cleanses so I don’t know where that came from. You’re very riled up!!!

  8. This sounds so interesting! I would worry about feeling kind of faint while wrapped up in that thing though (I’ve been known to pass out on super hot days). Did you feel faint at all during the process?

    • I have only felt faint once, and it is because I also did hot yoga on the same day (idiot!!) If you go, just let them know this and they can set the temperature a little lower – I have a friend who does it!!

  9. Andrew Booth says 2.8.18

    Really enjoyed your article! Here in Buffalo NY, we have “Aura Salt Cave and Wellness”….they have a man-made, truly awesome Himalayan salt cave where 15’ish people can relax and soak up the relaxing-and physically beneficial properties of the salt room. (I’ve YET to try it..but keep hearing great things). I’m on to my 3rd visit today in there Infrared sauna (very similar to the glass one at Higher dose)… And so far- soooo great! Just like you said….plus your skin has a nice glow/look/feel for 5+ days after each visit. You have energy!! You sleep well, you feel relaxed and peaceful. Plus, they have changeable color therapy lights on the roof of the sauna with each color focusing on different metaphysical properties. Last time I chose Yellow…and liked it a lot. You can adjust the sauna from 115-140 degrees F. I usually start about 125 and go up to 135.
    My new favorite hobby…and I’ve got my mom and dad trying it…and NOW, loving infrared saunas too!

  10. Dana says 2.8.18

    Just booked my appointment! SO excited to finally try this out. Thanks so much, Grace!

    The Champagne Edit

  11. Cynthia says 2.8.18

    We have Cure Infared Sauna in Southern Oregon. I go regularly and the first session is always free. It is similar to the Higher Dose sauna. No personal or group shower though . They do have hyperbaric chamber in addition to sauna rooms. Have not tried.

  12. Kate Scott says 2.9.18

    LOVE infrared saunas! I’ve tried both as well and I think I like Shape House better too. I sleep so much better after I go and I recently went while sore from a work out and it made me feel a lot better as well. Thanks for sharing both!

  13. Wendy says 2.11.18

    I just did my first infrared session, 30 minutes, yesterday at a local place and loved it. I’ll definitely being going back. I took a book and just relaxed. I’ve done a salt cave as well and didn’t feel any different and was sort of annoyed at wasting $30, I also don’t care for the fact that there can be other people in the cave, whereas in the sauna, it’s private.

    • grace at the stripe says 2.12.18

      Oh that is annoying – I agree, I like doing it alone/in private!! When I did a salt cave it was at Premier57 and the room was very crowded but it was fun as I was with my girlfriends.

  14. Marisa Benoit says 2.22.18

    Hi Grace,

    I went to Shape House yesterday and it was fantastic! I did a session at the UES location and they said you have brought them a ton of new business in the last couple weeks 🙂

    After experiencing the 55 minutes of sweating while being (happily) distracted by TV, I’m not actually sure I could handle Higher Dose and be left in a sauna for the same amount of time alone with my thoughts. As it was, I was checking the timer probably every 30 seconds for the last 10 minutes of the session. However, that small amount of torture was completely worth it; I slept great last night and feel fantastic today. I will most definitely be going back again – thank you for introducing me to a new type of “workout”!

    Cheers,
    Marisa

    • grace at the stripe says 2.22.18

      I am so so happy to hear that!!!! I love it so much – going tomorrow and can’t wait!!!

      Higher Dose is definitely a lot harder to do as there isn’t a distraction. I listen to a podcast or I bring a book… but yeah, it’s harder, which is why I generally prefer Shape House.

  15. Kristene says 3.20.18

    I went to Shape House today based on your post, and it was great! The last 10 minutes were challenging, but I feel so relaxed now. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

  16. Sasha says 3.30.18

    Just used your code and tried this- absolutely obsessed! I feel sooo relaxed and blissed out right now. Thanks for the suggestion (and code!)

  17. Theodora says 6.6.18

    I’m really glad I read the part about not going PMSing. I’m PMSing and feeling super bloaty and was thinking about booking a session so just reread this…and will wait a few days now!

  18. Rose says 6.18.18

    Thank for sharing, It was interesting reading about your experience. I have a portable infrared sauna in my house. I use it 3 times a week and it also gives me an amazing experience. I have not enough words to say about the benefit of infrared saunas. I hope many others will try and get benefits from your post. Thank you again for sharing!