Forget rhythmic chanting, ritualistic dance, and the cramped confines of a desert teepee. The modern-day sweat lodge is the latest and, yes, hottest, way to rid the body of toxins. Los Angeles' Shape House brings the sweat lodge firmly into the 21st century. Detox devotees and fitness fans alike are booking sessions at the quaint Larchmont Boulevard bungalow to release toxins, boost metabolism, and catch up on their Netflix all in one efficient hour. Shape House, however, is not a spa. Founder Sophie Chiche is quick to point out that "Here, it's all about the sweat."
A longtime believer in the healing benefits of far-infrared heat, Chiche has translated the technology and concept into a pristine outpost where you can release everything from toxic chemicals to toxic thoughts. "Fitness-oriented people really understand the benefits. It draws lactic acid out of the muscles, it can help with injury recovery, and your metabolism speeds up as your body tries to cool itself through sweating," she says.
What to know: You can't see far-infrared energy (part of the natural light spectrum), but you can feel it as radiant heat. It penetrates to the subcutaneous fat level where absorbed chemicals are often stashed. "It's clinically proven. As your body heats up the blood vessels open, improving oxygenation in all the interstitial spaces between the cells, so you start releasing fat-soluble toxins like parabens, phthalates, and pesticides," explains Dr. Jeffrey Morrison. "It also promotes intracellular metabolism because whenever you have more oxygen going to the cells, they burn calories more efficiently, just like with exercise."
What you'll do: Step inside the charcoal-grey Craftsman with the hot-orange door and staff in neat, gray dresses steward you (yes, flight-crew style) into your own infrared sweat pod, where you'll get toasty to the tune of 158 degrees as you kick back and sip pH-balanced Kangen water. Take a nap or breeze through your Netflix queue, and feel free to buzz for a cool towel on your brow.
What to bring: A loose, long-sleeved cotton top and pants are recommended to protect skin and retain heat as you sweat (if you show up unprepared, they're provided), and a change of clothes for after you hit the shower.
How you'll benefit: Consistent sessions could up your game. "When those blood vessels open up, more blood is circulating all over the body so cardiac output improves," says Morrison. You might lose weight, too. Chiche credits detox sweats for a 40-pound loss, but stresses that physical and mental detoxification are the focus. "I'm more interested in the holistic part of it than in having people lose three to five pounds," she says. Even spirit gurus like Marianne Williamson and Gabby Bernstein have come in for mind-body tune-ups. "I need to bottle that energy and keep it here," chuckles Chiche.
About the author: Q by Equinox is the daily blog of the luxury fitness brand. Check back here weekly for new posts that tap into Q's stable of world-class trainers and experts to keep up with all things health and well-being.
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