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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.